I love small towns. While my sisters thrive in the five lane, 24 hour-a-day, neon glow convenience of Las Vegas, I schedule my life around the 8-12 hour days of most businesses in my community. They are just two people in a city of 1.8 million. I, however, am one in 1,700, and I like it that way ... except when it comes to grocery shopping.
I try to keep a tight grocery budget: $40/week, plus we set aside $10/week for buying bulk purchases as needed. For a while it was really easy to keep. I shopped the sales, brought my coupons, and often had a few bucks left at the end of the week (which went into our bulk fund).
Since we've moved, however, that's changed. It's been a constant struggle to get everything we want (and need) without going over budget. I'm not willing to sacrifice on a lot of things, so buying certain generic brands or processed food isn't an option (which means it isn't cheap). Granted life's been busy and I haven't been able to watch the ads like I used to, but it was really getting ridiculous. Try as might, though, it never seemed to work out.
Then last week Matt and I ran some errands "in town". Some of those errands took us to larger grocery stores. Holy price drop, Batman! I'm not talking about 10-20 cents ... we found three different items that were at least $1 cheaper at the supermarket. Just looking at a few items we found over $5 in savings ... imagine if we'd done ALL of our shopping there??
I'm still not comfortable doing my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart (no offense to anyone who does - I appreciate the low prices for those who truly can't afford other options), I'm okay with Meijer (a Michigan based store), as well as our locally owned Spartan stores (Tom's/Oleson's).
I decided to hit Tom's (10 miles away) instead of Meijer (20 miles away) this week. I grabbed my sale flier and my coupons, then headed out. While I still don't save the way my sister does (her sales put mine to shame), I was FINALLY able to get all of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and lunch foods that we need for the week, PLUS I bought laundry detergent, toilet paper, and razors (it'll be shorts weather here in another 4 months ... gotta get ready!).
Overall, I was very happy. It got me excited about grocery shopping again. Now that I know I can get more than two bags of good food for my $40, I'm looking forward to the challenge of seeing how many bags I can fill!
If you've got any advice you'd like to share, I'm willing to listen!