To be honest, I haven't kept to a food budget for years. So, I had to save my grocery receipts up for a couple months and see what I spend. I did not change my buying pattern for this and told myself I wanted this to be as honest as possible so people could see what I actually spend and buy.
For the month of August, which has five grocery trips in it for me since I go on Fridays, I spent $447.15 for the month. That is $89.43 a week. We have four adults in my family. I took a picture of all my receipts. This price includes all toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper products, cat food etc. It does not include going out to eat, which I consider entertainment and we do that a couple times a month (rarely at full price, of course). When we were younger, I kept a very meticulous food budget. Now, I feel like a spendthrift! We eat well. I buy a lot of produce and good food. When we were younger, I had to make the money work no matter what. Now, if I want to buy something because it looks good, I can, but with my frugal genes, that happens only some of the time.
So, what do I buy? Let me take a look at these receipts. Almond milk, cheese, lots of produce, tortillas, pizza, chips, tomato sauce, juice, yogurt (yes it's very cheap to make but I hardly ever get around to it), bath tissue, beans, ketchup, brown sugar, eggs, real butter, chicken breast, hey, I even have two packages of ahi tuna in here! So that gives you an idea.
So, what is the process?
First of all, I think I used 3 coupons for all of this. I have been a coupon queen in the past. I could save more money with coupons, but I use the time to work on my business instead. I have to make my choices. Coupons can be annoying. But I salute people who do use them more than I do.
I am not store loyal nor brand loyal. I go where the deals are. These receipts are from Wal-Mart, Aldi and Marketplace Foods.
I do Wal-Mart ad match most weeks. To do this, I go online to all the stores within a 30 mile radius of Wal-Mart. I look at all the ads and print off the deals I am interested in. I make a list and highlight the deals. I keep the items for ad-match in one area of my cart so I am very organized when I get up front. This is more work for the cashier and time the people behind me have to wait, so I try to be as organized and courteous as possible. I save maybe $20-$30 a week doing this. It takes about 1/2 an hour to prepare. Ad to this that lately, Wal-Mart has started marking down the products for everyone, so you don't have to do it at the front. This makes it much easier. However, you still need to do the front work so you know what is on sale. You get the products and then when you get to the front, just show the cashier the ad and they will give you an equal discount.
Wal-Mart has Ad Match policies that need to be abided by. Actually, the cashiers and managers don't know what they are half the time. They will tell you one thing one time and another another time. I try not to get discouraged by this and just do the same things all the time. I do try and abide by the policies. Here is a link to the ad match policies. http://corporate.walmart.com/ad-match-guarantee
I have a mental note of what items are cheaper at Aldi. If you are looking for the least expensive place to buy groceries, where you can blow through and not do any front work, Aldi is the place. However, they don't have every item you might want there. Some people recommend keeping a price log for comparison purposes if you can't remember prices.
If you want to, you can use coupons. When I did this, I bought a couple of Sunday papers weekly. The inserts are a great place to get coupons. You can also print coupons online, but not all stores take online coupons. If I were using coupons, I would do the ad-match first and then try and match the coupons with items that are on sale. I would probably rarely use coupons otherwise or you can end up going backwards. Companies want you to buy their products with a coupon, thinking you are getting a great deal, but you may not be.
Another way to save is to look for clearance items. I do this every week. Also, when items are on sale, stock up so you rarely, if ever have to pay full price for items.
So, I rarely spend more than 30 minutes a week at home on this process. We eat venison for red meat and have some garden produce, which is why I say that I save about $20-$30 a week on groceries doing ad-match but I save $226.68-$798 a month more than the average costs. I also save shopping clearance items and rarely pay full cost for items. Did I mention I have a very full pantry? My family calls it my mini-Wal-Mart. ;) Happy shopping!