One way I save money is to meal plan. I use three steps to make my meal plan each week. They are:
1. read the sale flyers
2. check my freezer and cabinets
3. ask Jon if he has any requests and look at the calendar to see what is going on that week.
With step 1 I look to see what fruits and vegetables are on sale as well as any stock up items that I keep on hand. I don't watch sales for meats because I buy my meat at a local meat store every 4 to 6 weeks. No matter what the price of meat at the grocery store I rarely find better pries than at Arnolds. Occasionally a whole chicken or ribs will be a better price but not chicken breasts or ground turkey.
I also look to see what deli meats are on sale, for lunches, and snack items for the kids. I try to keep one or two types of snakc items (aside from fruit) on hand for Madeline and Owen to ahve during the day. I also have an ice cream addiction to go along with my soda addiction so those are on the lise as well, but I stockpile when there are sales and NEVER pay full price for either.
For step two I go through the freezer and cabinets to see what I have on hand. I really, really, REALLY hate to pay full price for most ingredients and try not to plan meals that require me to do so. If there is something I want or need that is not on sale I do my best to find a coupon to use. I also do my best to try and match coupons with sales when I can. We eat a lot of the same types of foods so many ingredients I will have on hand and have been slwoly building my stockpile of seasonings and spices as well in order to cook from scratch more often.
For step three, well I feel bad if I am in total control of the menu so I ask for Jon's input. Often he tells me he doesn't care. Luckily he is not a picky eater. But I don't eat red meat (other than hamburgers on the grill) so if he wants it he has to ask. He does sit down with the grocery flyer and will tell me if anything that is on sale is something he wants. I fit it into our budget as often as I can. I also look at the calendar to make sure I am not planning meals that need more time when we don't have it.
By taking these three steps I am able to avoid going to the store more than once (most of the time at least) and also being able to stockpile items when they are on sale. Meal planning also helps me to avoid having so much food spoil. I was finding some fruits nad vegetables spoiling too often. By focusing on my meal plan better and buying less produce I have been cutting back on the spoilage.
My bill has been growing lately and I am not happy about it. We are still well withing an acceptable budget for a family of four (one of them pregnant) but I want to cut back more. I am playing around with ways to do that. I hope that once I am off this special diet it will help. I won't have to buy extra food for myself (because my family does not enjoy the low carb lifestyle!). Our garden will also hopefully help cut back our vegetable bill. I am really watching where our money is going and will find either that I need to accept the fact that we are eating more (with two growing children it shouldn't be a shock!) or that I have been spending money on food that is not necessary. I should know in a few weeks! But I do know that, until recently, since following a meal plan my grocery budget has gotten much much much better!