How I manage my household grocery/toiletry needs on $50 a week

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That’s how I do it – I have my son balance the budget. End of story. JUST KIDDING! 😉 Clearly, we all know that is not the way to go. Has anyone ever gone to the grocery store with a toddler? A toddler like mine? One who has my sweet tooth? $50 would not go far.

So how do I do it? Let me explain this too – $50 extends across the board for everything we need from groceries to toilet paper to cleaning supplies to paper towels (which are only used sparingly). I don’t have sub categories for anything, because I do not have time for dividing that money up and paying for the groceries separately, out of separate envelopes, etc. Nope, $50 across the board. I was skeptical in the beginning – as to whether or not we could do it. And it caused a few arguments with my husband and I. But we worked out the kinks and now it’s a fun game for us to NOT spend the whole $50 every week. I like to have at least a few dollars left over. 🙂

I’m writing this blog post because I’ve been chatting with an amazing childhood friend over the last week about budgets and money and she encouraged me to write a post about how we do it – so I am. Thanks, girl! 🙂
First up – I plan our meals for a whole month. Yup, a whole month. Why? Well, I’m OCD and love order, plans, lists and schedules. LOVE them. Does this mean I don’t stray from the menu? No. BUT it helps with staying in our weekly budget. Why?
I only buy the groceries I need for the week. 
I don’t buy cereal (that’s too expensive for us now, seriously. It’s not worth it to me, and most cereal isn’t that healthy – not the ones that could be in our budget). 
I buy eggs (30 for $3.99 at Kroger! And we go through about that much a week, between our meals and baking) for our breakfast. My son eats eggs every morning, and has since he was 6 months old. He doesn’t stray too often from this. Once in awhile he’ll let me make him pancakes, but he prefers eggs. I’m good with that. He gets good protein and nutrition from eggs.
We go through a gallon of milk for my husband and a gallon for our son. I try to always get that on sale, and Kroger usually has it for $1.99 – $2.50 a gallon. 
I watch for meat to be on sale and if it is, even if that particular meat isn’t on the menu for the week, then I buy it (if there’s cash available). 
As much as we love cheese to eat as snack, we don’t buy it anymore. 🙁 UNLESS it’s super cheap. This is a hard one, because we LOVE cheese. Like, a lot. But it’s not worth paying debt down slower, just to eat some cheese.
Snacks, in general, are limited. I buy a big old bag of Skinny Pop popcorn at Sam’s for $5 (sometimes, I’m lucky and it’s on sale!) and that usually lasts for a week or two (depends on how often my son and the boy I babysit want to eat it as a snack). I also buy animal crackers at $2.50 a bag (big bag) at Wal-Mart for the boys for their snacking, along with raisins (which I buy in bulk at Sam’s – it’s cheaper). There are certain things we buy that aren’t as healthy (sometimes chips are on sale at Kroger for $1 a bag and so, um, we buy them. Because they’re delicious. LOL!) and if I see a certain thing on sale that’s not on the list, I buy it, if we have the extra cash. 
If you have a Kroger, use it! They have an app, which also has Free Friday download. You can download their coupons virtually. You go online, select the coupons you want and it automatically loads to your card. If you don’t carry your card with you (I don’t), you just plug in the associated phone number as “alt ID” when you check out and all those coupons will be applied to your bill.
The Free Friday download is a free item from the store. They usually keep the item at the front, near the checkout. Kroger also now has a program where your child(ren) each get a free produce item every month! SWEET! I’m all about FREE, folks!!!
Once Upon a Child (do you have those where you are? I hope so!) just had a deal on President’s Day where any child who just came into the store, no purchase necessary, got a free book of their choosing! So you bet I went in there with my son and I found a really cute, in great shape, VeggieTales book! 🙂 I am on their email list AND liked the local FB page, so I get the scoop on any sales. Now, I don’t go in there and buy anything full price. I wait for their $1 clearance days, or the “fill a bag for $15” sales. It’s just who I am, people. I am thrifty and frugal (or cheap, I am not offended if you call me that). 
I do try to feed my family healthy food, but I have to be conscious about pricing. So we fill up on less meat (I usually have meat at every dinner meal, but I use less), and more carbs/starch/veggies. Rice is my new friend, or when pasta goes on sale, I stock up. Produce is hit and miss, because it can be so stinking expensive!!!
We used to buy most of our groceries, in bulk, at Sam’s Club – until I read a blog post about how buying in bulk was not always a way to save money. PLUS, $50 does not go far when you buy in bulk. AT ALL. That’s like 2.5 items at Sam’s Club, lol! I do still buy some things at Sam’s Club, because things like peanut butter, jelly, honey, spices, flour, and sugar are cheaper there, by far. Those items I use quite a bit and so it’s definitely better, in the long run, to buy at Sam’s Club.
Another way I save? Generic. All the way. I don’t buy name brand, unless it’s cheaper (because of coupons/sales) somehow (very rare!).
Also, I’m on at least 20 buy/sell/trade sites (or mom2mom) sites on Facebook. If I’m looking for something, I post on there and look on Craigslist.com. If I’m selling something (we’re trying to sell a 40″ TV and our Impala), I post on there and Craigslist.com. I’m all about finding a deal. It may take longer by looking online, and I may have to put up with “used” and “tenderly loved”, BUT if it’s for our son, chances are, he’ll just wear it down more. 😉
So that’s how I keep our grocery bill at $50 a week or under. I watch for sales, I shop at Kroger (it’s cheaper than Aldi, for us!) and use their app, I only buy what I need for the week, and only buy sale items (extra) if we have the cash available.
Oh, and here’s a good way to end – my husband had today off work and did the grocery shopping while the boys napped….He came home with $9 left over. 🙂 AND he got some extra items. What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man. 🙂

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