Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cinching the Belt: Update

Remember when I blogged about our grocery budget, and how I was taking steps to shop and cook frugally? I was feeling a tiny bit proud of myself for being so creative and flexible, and for learning new ways to save money and yet put delicious and nutritious meals in front of my family.

Well. Our total grocery bill for the month of January was $750. Yes, we were 25 percent over our budget. I practically fell off my chair when that number came out of Mr. Peevie's mouth.

What does this mean? Is the budget unrealistic? Or do I just need to try harder? Or both?

My single friend Zzilda, who shops at boutique food stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, told me that she spends close to $500 a month on groceries just for one person! Of course, at those stores you can easily spend $50 just on cheese and crackers.

What do you spend on groceries for your family? Do you try to shop frugally, or do you just go for convenience? Do you shop at different stores to save money? Do you use coupons? (I'm not patient or organized enough to use coupons, but if you can show me a simple, not-too-time-consuming way to do it, I'd consider it.)


Boy George said...

I find Trader Joe's to be a great place for some good deals (especially on wine--not Two Buck Chuck, which I guess should be called Three Buck Chuck in Illinois, but brands like Terra Australis which usually go for around $5 per bottle). You have to be careful what you buy, but I find the quality to be excellent on so much of their stuff (not to mention just having fun browsing the wonderful variety of items available).

Have you looked into Costco? You can find excellent bargains there, especially if you buy in large-ish quantities.

Don't ask me how much I spend, 'cause I have no idea whatsoever. I'm with you on coupons; I quit clipping coupons years ago, because I never remembered to take them with me to the store, and then they started putting unrealistic expiration dates on them, like half a year before I finally get around to looking at the coupon.

E. Peevie said...

Boy G.,

I think we use Two-Buck Chuck as our communion wine, and I'm not a fan. I'll have to ask Mr. P about Terra Australis, since he's our resident oenophile.

I pass a TJ's four times every week-day, so maybe I'll start making that one of my once-a-month grocery stops. What, in particular, do you recommend there?

We DO shop at Costco, and in fact that's one of the reasons our food bill was so high in January--bulk shopping. Theoretically that should mean that I'll be under budget in Feb. It's not looking good.

Actually, I have to send Mr. P to do our Costco runs, because I can never stick to the list. Which is maybe why I should stay out of TJ's.

E. Peevie

Boy George said...

Trader Joe's is good for frozen meats and fish. (And staples like dark chocolate can be had for a decent price.) Stay away from a lot of the perishables, though--rather on the pricey side as I'm sure you know. It's really hit or miss as to what's a really good deal. Especially when you're shopping for a big family with still-growing eating machines. (Stuff that could last an adult household quite a while might be gone in a flash once it's seen by the littler ones.)

Something I forgot to mention in my previous post was Mexican grocery stores. They can be wonderful places to buy fresh produce and meats, and once you see the prices on dried spices and herbs you won't want to ever look at McCormick again. And you can find lots of other Mexican products you won't find at Jewel or Dominick's. Plus, you get friendly, less harried service and you're supporting smaller merchants.

But wherever you shop, just say no to browsing the chip aisle! ;)