Vanquishing My Debt

I'm 29 and trying to get a handle on my finances so that, one day, I can buy a home of my own. I've been reading personal finance blogs recently and decided to start one chronicling my own struggles and success (hopefully). I am lucky, considering the amounts of debt and tales of tragedy I've read about... but I am making some positive changes and moving in the right direction.

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

Monday, October 02, 2006

How I'm spending our grocery money

An online friend had asked me how I spend $40 a week on groceries for 2 adults, 3 meals a day, so I figured I'd start posting what I'm spending my money on.

- First of all, almost everything I buy is either on sale or I have a coupon for it... or the best option of all, both.
- I'm also a big believer in stockpiling items when they're on sale, which means I have a brimming freezer full of chicken breasts and a makeshift pantry of staples such as rice, flour, pasta, pasta sauce.
- I also shop at several different stores on the way home, although Ralphs is my favourite because they double coupons - which I keep in mind while reading the grocery store advertisements each week.
- I am also a huge supporter or, which lists the best deals to be had at area supermarkets by combining sale items and coupons.

Store #1 - Trader Joe's $8.76 total
1 loaf of bread
1 box of cereal
2 boxes of snack crackers

Store #2 - Vons $10.87
1 bottle of apple juice - on sale
1 jar of chili - I had a register coupon for a free jar
2 green bell peppers - on sale for $1 a pound
1 package of mushrooms - on sale for $1
one bag of mini carrots - on sale for $1
3 heads of garlic
3 avocados - on sale for $1 per avocado
Total saved - $8.65

Store #3 - Ralphs - $18.70
1 bag of salad - on sale with coupon
4 packages of sliced cheese - on sale
1 package of lunch meat - on sale
1 package of butter - on sale
1 container of eggs - on sale
1 package of Chips Ahoy cookies - on sale
Total saved - $9.56

I'll probably go a few dollars over my limit today, by buying several sale items with coupons at Ralphs on my way home - cat litter, more apple juice, and more chili (I have more register coupons for 2 free jars). R is responsible for buying cat food and litter, so that's something I don't deal with - unless I can get a great deal, like today.

For breakfast this week we're eating oatmeal (purchased last week at Ralphs for $1 a canister, on sale), which we make with apple juice instead of water for added flavor. So breakfast for 2 people is costing us basically $3 this week. On the weekends, I usually make pancakes from scratch, which is very cheap.

R likes to have the same lunch week in and week out - a cheese and lunchmeat sandwich, baby carrots, crackers, and sometimes soy yogurt (not this week, babe - sorry!). Sometimes we'll steam veggies in the morning to pack, too - this week it's brocolli, which was on sale last week for $1 a pound.

This week I'm taking burritos with black beans, chicken, rice and cheese - all of which we had in the pantry and freezer. We have some apples left over from last week, too.

Dinner will have a salad for several nights, and I'll be leaning on previously purchased foods for the main portion. Frozen chicken, veggies, pasta, and I sometimes make bread from scratch. Italian food, Mexican food and Chinese food can be made with these ingredients.

The hardest thing about this venture was stockpiling pantry foods and freezer foods for the times when money is tight. And I've learned how to cook from scratch, which saves a lot of money! I think the turning point for me was when I reading "The Tightwad Gazette" and the author talks about how buying bulk potatoes is the cheapest option instead of buying instant mashed potatoes, frozen french fries, tater tots, hash browns, etc. I realized that I can make this stuff - and a lot of it turns out a heck of a lot better tasting than the store-bought versions!

It takes me time each week to read the advertisements for the different supermarkets, visit, and clip the appropriate coupons - maybe an hour at the most - but it's completely worth it.


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