Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Costco Saved My Family Money

When I decided to stay home this year and take an unpaid leave of absence from my job, I knew I needed to buckle down and really set a tight budget.  I changed our television service provider, discontinued our use of TiVo (serious sad-face), I canceled our home phone, and I did not renew my Sirius radio.  Doing all of this probably saved us about $100 a month.  It actually made me angry that I had been wasting $100 a month all this time.  But $100 a month savings was not going to cut it when losing half our income.  Aside from our mortgage and my car payment, our biggest budget buster was our grocery costs.  We live (literally) right around the corner from Kroger.  We've always loved it.  If we didn't know what to fix for dinner, we'd hop on Pinterest or All Recipes and find something that sounded good, then go to Kroger to get what we'd need.  I would venture to say we made at least two Kroger trips a week.  My husband loves to cook so he would always want to try out new recipes.  They were always good, but sometimes used really strange ingredients that we would never use again.  Being around the corner from Kroger is a curse when trying to stick to a budget.

About a year ago, Costco came to our area.  Not around the corner; more like 25 minutes away.  We love everything about Costco; the free samples, the decent prices, the pizza at the Cafe!  We even like their business-sense and how they treat their opposed to that other warehouse store.  Once we finally hammered down a grocery budget, we set out to shop once a month at Costco for nearly all of our monthly groceries.  Of course, we still needed to visit Kroger once a week or so for milk and bread and such.

Before our Costco trips, we plan meals for the month.  I would say this is the hardest part.  How do I know what might sound good to eat at the end of October?  Especially with our crazy Ohio weather...we might plan for Chili and it's 85 degrees outside (this actually happened this weekend).  We don't stick to our meal plan religiously, but it really does help.

We also have weekly meals.  Our favorites that my son can count on.  The two that we have every single week is Taco Tuesday and spaghetti with meat sauce.  When my husband travels, my son loves to eat butter noodles (egg noodles with butter and parmesan cheese).  I really dislike cooking, but this is one thing I can make and we both actually like to eat it.  We also do pancakes for dinner when my husband travels.  Again, something easy that I'm pretty good at making.  And I make them from Bisquick here!).  Having certain meals that we eat every week or every other week make the monthly menu planning much less daunting.

We write a list and stick to it...for the most part.  You know, sometimes they just get you with those dang samples!  The list reflects our monthly menu and anything we might need for school lunches.  Once every few months, we need to stock up on toilet paper and paper towels.  But that's the beauty of buying in bulk, it's only every few months.

Buying in bulk really is cheaper.  We buy our ground beef in 10 pound packages.  It comes out to $2.99 per pound, nearly a dollar less per pound than at Kroger.  We have a scale and a food saver, and my hubby weighs out the meat and packages it into 1 pound portions.  We also buy 10 pound packages of chicken breast, but those already come prepackaged for us.  We have a small deep freeze and a second refrigerator to store anything we buy in bulk.  A package of capri suns, go go applesauce, and string cheese will last for two months worth of school lunches.  We buy lunch meat in bulk as well.  We freeze the packages until we're ready to use them.  We even buy our eggs in bulk!  There are a few things we found that is actually cheaper at Kroger.  Just this week we were going to buy a chuck roast, but Kroger had a buy-one get-one sale.  So, you still do have to watch the sales to make sure you are getting a better buy, but normally Costco is the way to go.

Sticking with this plan, we have kept our grocery bill to under $300 a month for three months straight!  We do get our produce through a delivery service, which is $35 every two weeks, so I guess technically, I should say our total grocery bill is under $400 a month.  That's still pretty good for a family of four.  That's $3.57 per person per day!  

How does your family save money?

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