Today was our first shopping trip after coming home from vacation. If you’ve been following along you know how I’ll be challenging myself to spend under $200 a month for our family of three and our four pets while also utilizing what we already have in our pantry and freezer.

We scored big at the bread outlet. I rarely eat bread from a loaf, and if I do I prefer 100% whole wheat. Have you seen what a loaf of bread, pitas, and English muffins are going for lately? If you buy three of these items you’ve spent ten dollars already, but not if you shop at the bread outlet.

We found…

2 pkg of Thomas’s High Fiber Honey Wheat English Muffins and a pkg of Honey Oatmeal Bagels for $4.00

2 pkg of Weight Watchers Pita Pockets and a pkg of Weight Watchers Bagels for $3.00 (These appealed to us because daughter and I are looking to consume more fiber and these contained 9 g of fiber per serving.)

1 pkg Multigrain sandwich thins for $.89

1 pkg Maier’s Italian bread (for husband) for $.89

1 pkg Entenmann’s coconut mini donuts (for daughter) for $.50

The grand total was $9.28 and we’ll end up stretching some of these items into next month. We’ll store most of it in the freezer and get individual items out to toast or defrost as we use them. This works really well for bagels, muffins and things you end up toasting anyway. I’ve also had good luck with pitas from the freezer.

My regular shopping trip was at Giant. I spent $92.12 and saved $36.40. I typically save around 50%, so not great savings this go ’round. I suppose it’s good if you think about the $127.77 I would have spent with no savings at all. 🙂

The total so far is $101.40 and I still have a trip to the butcher this week. Because husband is paid twice a week we try to only shop that often and some items last into the next month and even beyond. I recently read a post by a once a month shopper. I’m not sure her list showed enough variety for my family, but I’m still considering it because I love the simplicity of it. More about that later.

Our Giant trip consisted of a little of everything, from produce to diary to pet food. My menu is planned through to the next pay date, and I have all of the bases covered, plus some. It’s always a good idea to leave a little wiggle room in your budget for unadvertised specials and stock up items for which you have coupons. For instance, one of our favorite pastas was on sale and I combined it with a coupon to get it at $.50 a box. Our favorite jarred sauce was also on special for $.99, so I grabbed more than one.

We’ll use our fresh produce the first week and rely on frozen or canned during the second. We have strawberries and peaches for fresh fruit choices. Buying ten lbs ($4.99) of potatoes was cheaper than buying two separate five lb bags ($3.49) in two separate weeks, and potatoes keep for awhile, as do onions. I opted for hearts of romaine instead of the clam shell of baby lettuces or the bagged stuff because I find they keep longer. They are also very easy to wash. Don’t forget about the farmers’ market as a great place to look for produce deals. If you have a garden it’s practically like going out and picking free food. I’m really looking forward to roasted garden veggie stuffed pitas for lunch.

What do you do to save money on groceries?