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A trip to the mini mart

February 17th, 2008 at 03:09 pm

A while ago, I started seriously clipping coupons to make the most of my grocery money each month. A friend referred me to the Grocery Game and I've been hooked ever since.

Each Saturday afternoon, a new list of my local sale items is posted along with detailed instructions on the quantity to buy using which coupons. I print out the list and based on what's on sale and what I already have, I make up a weekly menu. Then I go shopping. (In my case, I shop from home and pay $10 extra to have my groceries delivered since this virtually eliminates impulse shopping, which is huge with me; plus there's the time factor, which is also huge with me.)

For our family of three humans, two dogs and a fish, I try to keep my spending at about $100 a week (including food, cleaning products, and personal care items). Most weeks I come in way under that amount. (Just to give you some idea of the savings, in my pre-couponing days,I could easily blow $200+ a week at the grocery store.)

A lot of serious couponers will buy multiple papers just for the coupons and they'll make multiple shopping trips to multiple stores to buy large quantities of sale items.

Sorry, but I'm not that much of a savings freak. I get one paper each Sunday and I make one shopping "trip" a week to one store, plus an additional stop every two weeks at Whole Foods for dog food and tea. And one stop a month at Costco for things like soymilk and Starbucks coffee for the caffeine fiend. (By the way, after I started shopping with coupons elsewhere, the Costco bill went from $300 a month to about $100 a month.)

Also, when I first started using coupons, I was buying a bunch of crap that I normally wouldn't have. This happened once or twice and then I realized the money I was saving on junk food wasn't worth the resulting heart attack that was sure to happen if we ate it all. So instead, I started stocking up on healthy things that I knew we would use.

For instance, the last two weeks my grocery store has had a sale on beans -- kidney beans, great northern beans, black beans -- they were all on sale for 44 cents a can. Since we eat a lot of beans, I bought 24 cans of them over the last two weeks. I then stored them in the basement Mini Mart (or as my daughter calls it, "the snack aisle"). They joined a case of soup, which my daughter loves; a bunch of tuna; cereal; fat-free popcorn; and various varieties of canned tomatoes -- all bought at drastic discounts or even free in some cases. (And, yes, I still buy the occasional box of Pop Tarts. Man, woman and child can not live on healthy food alone. ...)

In addition to the basement Mini Mart, we have the upstairs drug store. At last count, I had 20 bottles of shampoo, 12 tubes of toothpaste, and enough deodorant and feminine hygiene products to last a lifetime.

So that none of the food stuff goes bad, I make sure to rotate the older stuff to the front of the shelves each week. I won't buy sale stuff even if I know we'll use it if my shelves are already full. And, at least once every month or two, I try to skip grocery shopping entirely and plan our meals based solely on what we already have in the house.

The system isn't perfect. I know there are others out there spending a lot less on grocery shopping (like this woman). But it works for us....

5 Responses to “A trip to the mini mart”

  1. luxlivingfrugalis Says:

    Thanks for the link - She's an inspiration all right!! We have a mini-mart in our basement too! When we moved here Hubster assembled me a bunch of metal shelving and I keep us well stocked. I got my MANY MANY (maybe 20ish??) metal shelves at a scratch n' dent store for $2.00 a box. Some had missing pieces so I probably bought about 30 boxes and got 20 shelves when all was said and done.

  2. compulsive debtor Says:

    I just have the ugly plywood shelves in my laundry room that the last owner left. My husband is worried that the shelf with all the canned stuff is going to collapse. I'm hoping it does because my dream is to put up nicer shelves a door to hide all the goods from prying little eyes.

  3. reflectionite Says:

    it was interesting to look at the link you provided, unfortunately i like to eat fresh food so the market will always be the way to go for me. my theory on junk food is, if you want to eat it, you shouldn't be saving money on it! my bf spends his own money on chips, lollies, chocolate etc. also i think buying it when you actually want it is a bigger saver, because if it's there, you'll eat it. if it's not, you'll eat something else, which most likely will be healthier for you.

  4. katwoman Says:

    I think you're doing great with the changes you've made so can I offer a couple of suggestions?

    Dollar Tree sometimes carries WestSoy organic soy milk for $1. If I ever see it in their refrigerated cases I buy ALL available as the expiration date is so far out. That and the fact that I've got some unknown shopping competitor out there that will buy it all up if I don't. Having an extra fridge helps with the storage problem.

    Don't know about dog food but the Vitamin Shoppe does sell doggie treats that are healthier than most. You can buy online/catalog (prices do vary amoung store/web/catalog) and if you use their loyalty card you get points that are converted into $$$$ reward certificates for future purchases depending on your prior years' level of spending. It's a tiered program. You get points just for signing up for the loyalty card. Fatwallet dot com has an entire thread devoted to Vitamin Shoppe coupon codes.

  5. compulsive debtor Says:

    Ummm.... I don't think we have a Dollar Tree around here, but I'll look into it. Thanks for the suggestion.

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