How I Feed Our Family of 5 for $50 Per Week

Guest post from Emily of I Have Coupons for That

I have always enjoyed getting a good bargain on just about everything. However, it wasn’t until after my husband and I married (nearly 12 years ago) that I began using coupons on a regular basis. And while coupons helped save me money when I shopped, I also noticed that sometimes I would spend more than anticipated.

By the time our third child was born, I was shopping every two weeks at the base commissary, spending $250 to $300 each time I shopped. I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing wrong.

Fast forward to today and I am now able to shop for the same items (for my family of 5) for only $50 each week — which saves us nearly $400 per month, or $4800 per year!

How did I do it?

It took a lot of trial and error and it was definitely a learning process, but sticking to the following “rules” helps me stay on track each week:

1. Carry your grocery-shopping budget in cash.

This was my first mistake. Carrying my debit or credit card provided room for overages at the register. By restricting myself to cash, I could only spend up to my allotted budget.

2. Use a calculator.

Keep track of the amount you are spending as you shop.

3. Shop small, save big. 

Instead of shopping twice per month, I now shop every Monday. My shopping list is smaller and I spend less.

4. Know what you already have. 

This used to make me so mad! I would purchase something because I had a coupon and would return home to find I already had three more of that very same item.

5. Make advanced meal planning a financially healthy habit. 

I prepare my meal plan one week in advance, working from my family’s sensible stockpile, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Any items I may be missing to complete a meal are placed on my shopping list the bottom of my meal planner and those are the items I shop for on Monday.

6. Build a sensible stockpile.

Creating a stockpile that was practical and would sustain my family in between store sale cycles took some time. Now, I am able to rely on the items within our stockpile and eliminate the need to shop for those items. Without even leaving the house, I have already saved money!

7. Understand smart coupon use and store sale cycles.

Learning to better match coupons to store sale cycles will offer additional savings.

I was able to conquer our new grocery budget within nine months. Since that time, I have been able to maintain a budget of $50 per week for groceries and household necessities, without having to sacrifice preferred brands.

Emily is a born and raised Virginia Southern Belle, mother of three, proud military wife, and penny saver. She has an eye for things that sparkle and a love for a good bargain. She shares her daily frugal adventures at I Have Coupons for That!

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Comments

  1. says

    I think everyone works with what they’ve got – it sounds like she is a busy mama – and there are A LOT of people who buy convenience item and spend a whole lot more than she did – and we dont know if this was just one pic – we dont know if/when she buys fresh produce etc – maybe she just pulled a few things out of the pantry bc it was closer – she probably didnt realize how excited everyone would get 😉 – I personally work from home and my big kids are in school 3 days a week -that gives me a lot of time to make big batches of pancakes, cookies, soups, bread, etc – but some people just arent in that stage of life – it is SUPER impressive that she can make do with $50 a month even if it isnt all stuff some people in here would eat.

    lets all be nice.

  2. Sarah says

    hi there!

    This might of already been brought up…. but I love the meal planning sheet that you used for the week. Do you have that posted on your blog to print out and use? Thanks!

    • Stephanie says

      Military commissaries will periodically sell items to military members and their dependents in bulk for discounted prices. For example, instead of buying one package of crackers for $2/box, they may schedule a case lot sale and sell a case of 18 boxes of these crackers for $27, effectively making each box only $1.50. I’ve only gone to these a few times, but my impression is it’s similar to discounts you might receive for buying in bulk at a store like Costco or Sam’s.

      • Kris says

        Case lot sales happen at several of the grocery stores where I live. You do not have to be military to get the good discounts. You can still buy most of the canned, boxed, refrigerated, frozen, or bagged food items individually at the cheap price but the stores stock up so you can buy them in bulk. There are huge discounts on these items and they are a great way to stock up.

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