Lisa and I are starting a new monthly series on our blog called Money Hip Chats. It’s basically the transcript of an informal chat between the two of us. We write it together on a google doc and then post it for you! We thought it might be fun to occasionally switch things up and be a little more casual and fun.
For our first topic, I suggested budgeting. Lisa wisely wanted to be more specific and suggested grocery budgeting. To which I respond:
Lauren: Ugghh. That is what I’m the worst at.
Lisa: That’s what makes it fun! And by “fun” I mean it in the way that dental check-ups are “fun.” (But really, now that I have kids, going to the dentist, relaxing in a chair, putting up my feet, and chatting with an adult is one small step down from a spa retreat). Anyway… it’s “fun” that we all have different opinions about where money in the budget should be spent. If I recall, Lauren, the food account is one of your splurge accounts?
Lauren: Yes… Aaron is very understanding. I’m great at watching how much money I spend on most things (like clothes and eating out), but I really hate grocery shopping on a budget. We’ve basically figured out how much I spend a month on groceries (without thinking too much about cost) and just use that as our budget amount. We’ve taken money out of other places it could have gone and gave our grocery budget lots of padding. Essentially, we’ve budgeted for the extra amount I spend not budgeting for groceries (did I just blow your mind?). I still figure out how much I spent at the end of the month, so if things start eeking beyond the budget (even with its crazy padding, it happens-- I’m talking to you, goji berries-- dang, those things are expensive), we either adjust the budget amount or I adjust how much I spend (like making more meatless meals, buying fewer things from Whole Foods, etc.). This works for us now. But if Aaron ends up going to school next year, we’re not going to have that luxury anymore. And that’s fine, I’ll adjust. Lisa, I figure you’re probably more disciplined than I am-- what’s your system for grocery budgeting?
Lisa: You shop at “Whole Paycheck?!” I love this, Lauren. I think people who read this blog had gotten the impression we were uber-cheapskates. Now they know the truth: you’re a high-rolling foodie. ;) Here’s our system for groceries: The grocery ad comes in the mail on Monday or Tuesday. Using that and going by what’s on sale, I plan our meals for the next week. This also helps avoid the “what am I making for dinner tonight” frustration. I do our shopping on Wednesday because that’s the “double sale” day at Sprouts where I buy all my produce, so we’re able to get tons of fruits and veggies for cheap (especially when I buy what’s in season/on sale). As for “pantry” type items, because we live in the pricey Bay Area, I find it’s cheapest to shop at stores that use National prices, so I shop at Target (plus I have their card, so that’s an extra 5% off). About once every other week, Bryan takes the little tyke with him to Costco for things like milk, cereal, cheese, and meat (we buy in bulk and freeze). I don’t have my own Costco card and would love to keep things that way for life. It gives me a break, plus I think Bryan and the little guy like having their “man-time” to eat pizza and hot dogs. So basically, I just try to shop using our system and not stress about it too much as long as we stay close to our budgeted amount. I’m not morally opposed to couponing, but I find they’re usually for processed foods which I try not to buy anyway (good for our budget and our health). If I happen to have a coupon for something I plan on buying anyway, I’ll use it. Otherwise I don’t bother. My time is worth something, too.
Well, since we’re chatting about groceries, what is your guilty pleasure purchase? Mine is Chocolove Almond & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate. They are delectable.
Lisa: What was I thinking? You can pick as many as you want, *especially* when you’re pregnant.
Lauren: We do a lot of Trader Joe’s shopping. My current favorites are their kettle cooked olive oil potato chips, kettle corn, and any of their trail mixes (especially the “Oh My Omega Trek Mix”-- throw that on some lettuce with some feta and it’s instant company salad). And their green smoothie-- probably not as healthy as the stuff you make yourself, but when I make my own green drinks they make me want to vomit.
Lisa: Sounds awesome! Good tip about the instant salad. And so weird...I crave potato chips when I’m pregnant, too. Pretty much anything crispy and salty. Well, good chat, Lauren. Until next time!
What's your "system" for grocery shopping?
What are your pregnant cravings?