I have been following this blog for several years now and love it! What I am challenged by are the grocery savings that many of you are able to enjoy in other parts of the U.S.
I reside in California and grocery prices are very high here. I am unsure how I would only spend $70 a week on groceries for three of us let alone five! I work part-time and am currently advancing my degree so I don’t do a lot of couponing. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Hi there! Your question is one I’ve heard often and I decided it was high time I answer it. And I hope that what I share encourages you to not only know that you’re not the only one who feels this way, but also to know that there are practical things you can do to save a lot of money on groceries.
Here are my suggestions for you:
1. Focus on the Positive
It’s so easy for us to focus on the negative things and miss the positive things about our circumstances. Here’s the thing: While cost of living might be higher in CA and grocery prices on some things might be much more, that’s definitely not the case for ALL groceries.
You see, I’ve actually shopped in CA before and found great deals there! In fact, when I shopped there, I was shocked by how inexpensive some of the CA produce prices were. They were incredibly cheap compared to what I’m used to paying in other parts of the country.
The mainstream grocery stores, like Albertsons, Ralphs, and Vons, usually have one or two loss leaders each week. But the smaller chains like Henry’s and Sprouts have a whole barrel of bargains on a weekly basis. A peek at my recent finds:
swiss chard $2
green onions $0.25
Now maybe you can’t find all of those same prices at your local stores, but I bet if you looked around, you’d see that there are, indeed, some pretty great produce prices in California. And there are probably other great deals and sales on other items, too!
2. Stop Saying “I Can’t”
If you pre-decide that you can’t do something, there’s an almost guaranteed chance you won’t be able to do it.
This means that if you decide that that you can’t save money on groceries because groceries are too expensive in California, you’ll likely not be inspired or motivated to try to cut your grocery bill.
On the other hand, if you pre-decide to have a can-do, creative attitude, you’re going to be a lot more successful at saving money on groceries. Stop telling yourself that you can’t save money on groceries because you live in a high cost area, and start challenging yourself to find creative ways to save.
2. Pick Your Own Number
I noticed that you said you can’t figure out how on earth you could only spend $70 per week for your family of three, let alone if you had a family of five. Well, guess what? You don’t have to!
The only reason I share about our grocery budget here is to show you ideas of how we are keeping our grocery budget low. But the $70 grocery budget number is not something I’m putting out there saying you need to do, too.
That’s just what works for our family right now based upon the time I have to shop and the stores and prices I know I’m able to get and how much (and what type!) of food our family consumes.
There is no one-size-fits-all grocery budget number because everyone is in a different season with different needs, different capacity, different stores, and different options. So choose a number that works for you and your family based upon the time you have, your dietary needs and preferences, and your store options. And don’t feel guilty if the number is very different from the number another family has!
3. Find Someone to Do the Legwork For You
One of the best ways you can stay inspired to save money (and save a lot of time in the process!) is by finding a blogger who is covering the deals at your local store.
To do this, just search for your local store + “blog” or “coupons” or “deals” and search until you find something relevant. There are typically blogs or forums covering deals at just about every store in the US.
4. Make it a Game!
Think about when any pro sports team plays against another team. They have to change up their approach and their plays each time because each time is different. But the goal is the same with each game: they want to win!
It’s the same with saving money on groceries. I’ve lived in multiple cities and each one had different stores. I’ve learned that you have to change your strategy each time, but you can keep the end goal the same — to save money on groceries.
It’s all about being creative, thinking outside the box, pairing sales with coupons (you can search our Coupon Database to easily find any available printable coupons for items you are already planning to purchase), and following the deals that a blogger shares for your local stores (hopefully you can find one!)
I also recommend looking into whether there are any discount grocery stores in your area, looking for markdowns at your local stores, learn to buy ahead when there are great sales (that way you never pay full price for most things you buy), plan your meals based upon what is inexpensive and on sale, and just do the best you can do!
(Need more ideas? Read my post on 10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill by $50 This Week.)
Do you live in California or have you lived there before? If so, I’d love for you to chime in with your best tips and tricks (and if you know any great bloggers who are covering deals there, leave their link in the comments).