Sunday, August 15, 2010

Three Tomatos, Half an Onion, Half a Pepper and One and a Half Bags of Salad...

...are the contents of my produce inventory last week, two days after a shopping trip. These are the results of our efforts to keep our grocery budget down to $50 a week. Stop snickering. I know that's an ambitious goal for a family of four, but Coupon Mom does it. And I want to stay in the black with two children without having to go back to work full-time. Our savings, to which we used to contribute monthly, had been hit hard with medical bills, and personal expenses we covered while I was out on the unpaid portion of my maternity leave. I feel much better having the savings. I feel it gives our family more freedom.

We haven't quite mastered the Coupon Mom method, however, and the results are less than satisfying. While we kept to our budget, we will not be able to stick to it long-term if it means constantly compromising the taste and nutritional value of our diet. We were paying about $130 a week on groceries, which may seem steep to some people. The upside is we always had plenty of produce and a well-stocked pantry. Now we have "shopped our pantry" to the point where it is dwindling. Fiona also really likes yogurt which is one of the few healthy foods she will eat. Rob insists we stop buying yogurt because we were spending about $10 a week on yogurt. I would like to keep within our budget and still buy things like produce and yogurt.

I'm not saying it can't be done, what I am saying is that we haven't mastered it yet. What I have been learning quite well is the art of getting good deals on diapers using a combination of sales / coupons / Extra Care Bucks at CVS. By purchasing diapers when I see a deal and stocking up, I have been spending the same to diaper Paul in Pampers and Huggies as I did to diaper Fiona in Costco and Walmart brand diapers. I have a good diaper stockpile, and have now focused on tracking the diaper sales, hoping to roll-over my Extra Care bucks that I earned on my last diaper purchase to earn more Extra Care bucks on my next. I don't want to overstock my diapers since he could outgrow them. This is all an art.

Now, I am starting to track other grocery items in an attempt to master the Coupon Mom system. This week we are still within budget, but the only fruit we have in the house are bananas, and I plan to make a trip to a produce store this week to get about $10 worth of fruit and vegetables, which will bring us about $8 over budget. It is a work in progress.

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