Since October, I've been following a couponing blog and changing my shopping ways.  I've cut coupons before, only to discover that I'd buy things I didn't need and spend more money than usual, so I just gave up and continued shopping according to my menu list and picking up a few things here and there when they were on sale.  I resisted the idea of having a family of six, seven, eight, now nine and being able to have a grocery budget under $1,000 each month.  I refuse to feed my family junk, or high fat, prepared, unhealthy food.  (Just for the record, homemade anything regardless the nutritional value is not junk!  :) )  I'd read the amazing stories of the women with families of 4-5 that had a $100-$200/month budget.  The first time I tried the method offered by two Lincoln women to spend less money, I was thrilled...I saved something like $12.00!  OK...not bad, I wonder if I can do better...and then the bug bit me!  A new challenge, a competition, the grocers?  myself?  doesn't matter, "it's ON!"

This not only changed my way of shopping, but how I spend some of my free time, how we eat, how I cook...I don't necessarily feel like I buy things that I don't need, but in the month of NOvember and some of December, we definitely ate differently...lots of convenience foods...frozen pizza, frozen flatbreads, granola bars, cereals, frozen pizzas, frozen pizzas...and was at the store at least 4-5 times a week.  I've modified again and again, figured out how to arrange my coupons, which stores I will shop at, how I make my shopping list, what to stockpile and what to buy because of my menu.  My menu has been modified too.  I used to primarily shop for my menu and now my menu is planned based on my pantry...not always, but often.

I am five months into "spending less" (different from "saving more") and I'm pretty sure that we've cut our grocery budget...I think at times by half, but I decided today that I would start recording my shopping trips and spending so I can be sure.  I guess I need to start TODAY.  It will be too hard to go back to even yesterday.  My pantry, refrigerator and freezer are full and for the most part weren't empty before my trip to HyVee today.  So, 2/9/10:  I bought 153 items--blocks of cheese, lunch meat, bread, yougurt, pudding, soup, beans, rice, crackers, fresh fruit and veggies, sour cream and veggie dips, cereal, frozen entrees (weight watchers), frozen pizzas--single and multiple serving, chicken nuggets and patties, tortillas, baby food, birthday party paper supplies and 10 reusable grocery valentine bags for MOPS.  My total before coupons was $252.21.  According to my 77 inch (really) receipt, I saved $4.13 with 25 store coupons, $52. 18 with 54 vendor coupons and $1.00 from a random discount for a total of 80 discounts for a total savings of $57.31.  I spent a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes from start to finish (parking my car to leaving the parking lot).  Amelia slept almost the entire time.  :)  I left knowing that there were some "deals" that I didn't take advantage of because I couldn't find the right coupon. 

My "extra" pantries and refigerator spaces in addition to my already full pantry and kitchen refigerator.  My next challenge:  not going to the store for more than milk bread and fruit for at least one week.