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March Grocery Challenge: Update #1

Stop & Shop trip #1
Date: Sunday, March 4th
Total: $110.28

Target trip #1
Date: Thursday, March 8th
Total: $6.11

Stop & Shop trip #2
Date: Sunday, March 10th
Total: $126.74

As you can see from the breakdown above I have spent $243.13 on food so far this month. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but compared to last month I’d say I’m doing pretty darn well.

I have stuck to my routine of planning all the meals for the week on Sunday, making a detailed list of  everything we need for those meals, and doing one big shopping trip per week. The big difference is that I’ve been following Tip #4: use ALL the items in your pantry, fridge, and freezer before buying more. By being creative and forcing myself to use what I have instead of automatically running to the store to satisfy every craving (even if it means bringing a peanut butter sandwich for lunch), I am able to only go to grocery store once a week. I didn’t used to think twice about running to the store 2 or 3 times during the week to “grab one quick thing”. Now I realize that those trips add up. (I did grab a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa at Target on March 8th. Again, please don’t stone me)

Now that I’ve told you I am a fan of Tip #4 I am going to go ahead and tell you that I am not a fan of Tip #1: AFTER making your list, clip coupons for the things you need. Nothing on my list coincided with the coupons I found in the Sunday paper. I did clip 1 coupon for $1 off a gallon of certain brand of milk. Proud of myself for actually remembering to bring the coupon to the store, I walked up to the milk case and discovered that even with the coupon I could buy a gallon of Stop & Shop milk for $.87 less.

I must confess that my “junk-food-loving boyfriend” has still been coming to the store with me. Trip #1 was a success and he was able to stick to only buying what was on the list. Trip #2 he relapsed a bit (as is reflected in the total). I do have to give him credit though. Instead of buying Pop Tarts, Milano Cookies, and Buffalo Flavored Wheat Thins he only bought the Wheat Thins. I think we’re making progress people

In the original post I mentioned that I may come up with some new tips to share; and I have.

Here are 2 more tips to add to the original 6

7. Buy generic or store brands BUT make sure you still compare prices. In the case of the milk it was beneficial to buy the store brand instead of the brand name. But in a lot of other cases I found that the store brand wasn’t always the cheaper option. Just keep your eyes open for the better deal.

8. Use the Portable Barcode Scanner (or as I like to call it, “the gun”). Not every store offers this but I’m fortunate to have this option and it’s a huge help. As I shop, I have an exact running total of what I’ve spent so far. And depending on where I am in the store, it alerts me of certain deals. It is an extremely helpful tool for not going over budget.

Although I could continue to rant about everything I’m learning in my quest to become a better grocery shopper, I will save it for the next update.

In case you’re keeping track, I have 2 more “Shopping Sunday’s” remaining this month and $246.71 left in my budget. Do you think I will achieve my goal?

ABOUT AUTHOR / Madison

Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

View all author posts →

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