Wow, who knew grocery budgeting would be so... conversationlistic? I haven't quite figured out how much is too little or too much, but I definitely appreciate the feedback! Thank you, thank you :) The problem with eating cheaply is that most cheap meals are overly processed. Example: Top Ramen or boxed Mac & Cheese. We do eat those on occasion, especially when we're feeling pinched in the pockets. But I do my best to healthify them as best I can when we do eat them. Like my Fancy Ramen or my Sneaky Noodles! Otherwise, my pantry is seriously lacking in prepared food.
Which brings me back to coupons. I definitely admire those who take the time to make them work. It's a skill I do not have. But as many of you said, unless there are coupons on produce or whole food items, coupons just don't do it for me. Call me lazy, but I don't like driving around to five different stores to find the best priced item either. I'd rather save the money in gas... But we do buy stuff in bulk. Costco is our friend :) We have to be very careful though to go there with a list in hand. Something that we have learned with a small wallet and a small house (no real room for food storage) is that overbuying is the ultimate downfall.
My best trick for making my groceries go farthest is to plan my meals. If I know what I'm buying and why I'm buying it, then we're pretty safe. I'll never buy 20 boxes of Fruit Loops, because we won't even eat one box. But I look forward to the day when we can afford to buy 10 pounds of oatmeal, and have a place to store it. On the other hand, I'll never have room for Kool-Aid ;)
Next question(s): Bountiful Baskets vs. CSA. What's the difference? Anyone have any experience with both? And how do they compare to a Farmer's Market? Thanks (much) in advance! *B