Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grocery Shopping: Save or Spend?

There is a blog I follow regularly. It has blessed my life, and my family’s pocketbook, in many ways—mainly in teaching me to excel at becoming a “money-saving mom.” As much as I love this blog and think its writer is a fine Christian woman, sometimes I have struggled with feeling inferior after reading her many money-saving ways. For example, she is able to feed her family of five for $40 a week. I wholeheartedly applaud that. She feeds them well, and I believe their menus are nutritiously-balanced. I, on the other hand, cannot feed my family of five for less than $100 a week (sometimes I can, but rarely). She, and other bloggers, will photograph how much they bought and how little they spent. It almost always makes me feel deflated. After struggling with this, feeling competitive, and wondering why I am failing so miserably at menu-planning, couponing and anything else it takes to shave sixty bucks off my grocery bill, it finally dawned on me--I DON’T HAVE TO!

Our families are all different; our budgets are all different; our food preferences are all different; our towns are all different. We happen to live in a small town whose newspaper lacks decent coupon inserts, and it is illegal and also impossible to retrieve extras from the recycling bins (I’ve looked into it, trust me). So I do the best I can with, grocery store sales, fairly frugal yet healthy menu plans, and other tips I’ve learned here and there. And that’s ok! The point is not how much, or how little, we spend to feed our families each week; but instead, are we being good stewards with what we’ve been given? Are we feeding our families well? Are we seeking to find new ways, or improve old ways, to stretch those hard-earned dollars? We should rejoice with each step we make, whether it saves one dollar or a hundred. We should not get into a competitive numbers game, as I admit I was guilty of (and still am, to some extent, since I happen to find saving money fun).

I have to add my husband’s perspective here. Food is necessary to survival, and it is about so much more than just buying food. Enjoying eating, enjoying time spent together eating. Why take something so necessary to human existence and make it something to slash so severely in the budget? (For the record, though, I don’t see anything wrong with trying to save as much as possible in this category). As my husband pointed out (and it’s his money I spend!), it’s also ok to not spend as little as possible either. So shop wisely, spend confidently what your family is comfortable with, and then eat and enjoy the bounty!

If you’re comfortable sharing, how much do you spend a week on groceries? Are you happy with that amount? Or would you like to spend less or be able to spend more? What are some of your favorite tips for saving money at the store?

(This post is linked to Frugal Fridays)


  1. We are a family of 6 I think we spend about $120 or $100 a week.

    I don't do the grocery shopping. I have to admit I am sooo bad at finding good deals. I tend to go on whims, "what sounds good tonight". Besides it was getting too hard to lug the kids around and get the groceries let alone find the deals.

    Now, my husband has an eye for deals and will literally have a tear glistening on his cheek as he walks through the door bearing his grocery bags. "Honey, we saved 53%"!

    I make menu plans on what he brings home on sale. We eat well and I am not going to feel bad about it. Good blog!

  2. Thank you for this post. What a blessing. I, too, sometimes feel inferior between money saving or trying to get raw milk or organic food. I do the very best I can with my family of six (all teenagers or college now). My husband does the shopping and we cook mostly from scratch. We try to stay under $100 a week. I try to get organic for our staples, but can't afford it for everything. I also work part-time. My husband does a great job buying on sale and in bulk. He is amazing.

  3. 80 to 100 for a familly of four. I ready MSM also and it does make me feel defeated at times. My main concern is that I'm really into all natural products and most of the time you can't get coupons for those. I do the best I can and try not to stress about it.

  4. Ugh! I need to get out of the city. I can barely feed myself for $50 a week!

    Love ya!

  5. This is very encouraging! Thank you! You know, I have struggled with feeling really frustrated in the couponing arena, as well. I often find I don't have the 10 coupons needed, or I don't understand the "stacking" lingo, etc. I have defaulted to the advice of Miserly Moms author, who puts menu planning and wise USE of food ahead of "couponing." In addition, the very wise author of Complete Tightwad Gazette is very financially successful-- and not a coupon user. I personally don't find it very helpful to drive to three stores and wrangle coupons while buying items I otherwise wouldn't! Our weekly budget for a family of 6 is $125. ;) And I spend every darned penny! Plus, we have one meal a week that we eat at a restaurant. (So the total weekly food budget is likely more like $155.)

  6. We are a family of 8. I have 5 boys 13 down to 4 and a girl who is 2. I try to spend $150 a week, but I don't kill myself to do it. I try to buy in bulk and on sale when I can, but the couponing that I tried (with limited success) was about to put me over the edge! I do my best and that is all that I can do!

  7. It's hard to do couponing and sale ads when you have to drive an hour or so just to grocery shop. So since I do our big grocery shopping once a month I have to do the best with what we have. We end up spending anywhere from $300-$400 a month on groceries for the three of us.

  8. My family of five spends $70 a week. This seems to be a comfortable number for us. I've tried to go lower but then we run out of items or feel too limited. More, and I feel like I'm just buying things without thinking. It took a long time to arrive at this number. I coupon like mad and save a lot, but I live in a small town with only one grocery store plus a Walmart. I do the best I can and that is what is the most important!

  9. I have a goal of $60 per week for food for my family of four. In our small town there aren't any good coupons either. I don't buy organic anything, nor would I if I had a lot more money to spend.

    If I want to keep my job as a homemaker, then yes, I need to keep my budget this low. We buy what is on sale, not always what we really want. For example, apples are on sale this week so we'll eat a lot of apples instead of grapes. We don't eat a lot of meals with meat as the main ingredient and my family isn't picky about very many things. I also make almost everything from scratch. All of these things help me to keep my budget low.

    I will say that I don't look down on anyone who has a higher budget than I do. The only time I think twice about it is when they complain about not having any money.

  10. I read the same posts and wonder how they do it. But you are right, we are all different. Our budget is quite generous in that we regularly feed 5 of us (includes 3 teenagers) and frequently add 2 or 3 of our older sons to the dinner. My husband set the budget and I do my best to keep in it. Coupons, sales, and specials help stretch it and enable me to stock up when the time is right. We have to be concerned with our own households and be the best stewards we can with the blessings the Lord has given us.

  11. I spend $40-50 on our family of 3 people and 2 dogs. I am content. We used to spend over $100 a week. The people I read about online have certainly inspired me and given me tips on where to cut back, but I am not them so I cannot shop exactly as they do. It is easy to measure yourself against others. In real life and in reading blogs.

    Everyone buys different things. Bottom line.


  12. Amen!!! I live in Canada, where coupons for food are very hard to come by. When you find them, there is no such thing as double or triple coupon days. I cannot get below $100 a week. I've tried, it is not going to happen. I am grateful....actually that is about the biggest understatement, that the Lord has provided for us immeasurably and we do not need to stress over grocery money. God willing that will not change. If it ever does I will do what it takes to provide for our needs. I think that too much blog reading can be a negative thing in that we tend to compare ourselves to others.....we can NEVER know the whole truth of any blog/blogger.

  13. Great post! That's so true -- for so many reasons, it's easy to feel inferior when reading other people's blogs. And, you're right -- grocery shopping is certainly one of those areas that we can feel really bad. I average about $120/week for groceries for our family of five (this includes paper products, cleaning supplies, etc.).