Couponing, do I really need a paper cut this week?

I’ve been grocery shopping at Aldi for a while now.  The choice to start shopping there was done grudgingly, I hated the idea of only getting generic foods, and didn’t want to have the stigma of only shopping at the “cheap” store.  I also figured their food wouldn’t be nearly as good as the name brand items.

I was wrong, the only thing I wasn’t happy with at Aldi was their coffee, I like their pasta sauce much better than Pregu and their selection is actually pretty good even though it’s limited.  The only real downside is that they don’t carry a wide array of cleaning supplies and I’m a cleaning supply junkie.  I adore going to a store and browsing mops, cleansers and sponges the way most women enjoy shoe shopping.  My solution to this was to start being more aggressive in my couponing.

I signed up for The Grocery Game to get the flyer for Walgreen’s each week.  I can read the flyer and figure out what I have a coupon for but using the Grocery Game’s flyer I could see what was at the best price and find items not in the weekly ad.  The last time I went I saved $35, my best buy?  Make up that was on sale BOG50% with a coupon for BOGO.  SCORE!

But as much as I can see the savings on my regular grocery shopping at Aldi, I began to worry about missing out on savings for a regular store with my coupons.  To fix that I have begun a spreadsheet on Google Documents and started to add the purchases, along with their price.

I went with Google Documents because I can quickly get that information on my BlackBerry or any computer I’m near.  My goal is to be able to compare the sale with coupon price of an item with the price I’d pay at Aldi, if enough are on sale cheaper at my local grocery store I’ll go get them there, if not I’ll stick with my Aldi list.

I’ve also found this is a great way to generally track my expenses and to figure out a bi-weekly grocery list quickly.  Really, I’m doing a few things at once to keep track of my family’s grocery budget and once my regular purchases are in the spreadsheet it won’t take as long to update because they’ll already be in there.

It’s been a lot of fun, weird I know, to spend less each trip while bringing home more and I love to figure out how much I saved.  It’s been a bit of a shocker to figure out that, on average, I’ve been saving $50 each trip vs. the regular store.  For a family of 3, well 2 and 1/2, I spend $240 on groceries.  That doesn’t include my Walgreen’s trip or diapers/wipes though.  Add those in and we’re at about $360 each month.  I know people who spend $240 on one trip.

The really, really nice thing about this has been weeks where we need to cut back for whatever reason.  Last month I only went shopping once because I had been able to get a pretty good stockpile of foods we could use.  Sure, I had to get a little creative with what I was cooking, but I was still able to make healthier foods at home without needing pre-packaged foods.

So, keeping track of what I’m spending on groceries is a new budge control tool I’m using.

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