(Is it feminist to talk about coupons?) Or, How I Got a Week's Worth of Groceries for $38

While many of our expenses are fixed (rent, parking, Metro, Internet), our monthly grocery bill is something we can have a bit more control over. This is our first month budgeting together, but we gave our best estimation and designated $250 for groceries this month (approx. $55 per week). Up until last night we'd done a bulk of our grocery shopping at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, a relatively low-priced store just a mile from our house. Each week we sit down to make a meal plan and write a list. Generally speaking, we follow it almost exactly with the exception of an occasional impulse ice cream or candy purchase. (Before entering the store, I'll scrawl "candy" on the list and claim that we must get it since it's written on the list.) Each week we spend approximately the same amount of money on groceries, generally between $50 and $60, no matter how much or how little we buy. While reasonable for two people and even well below most of my friends' grocery bills, I still thought we could do better.

A few weeks ago I got something in the mail that our local Target was opening a fresh food section in their grocery department. Although I'm quite the Target lover, ours had been cramped and understocked, most likely due to the redesign, but last night we decided we'd try it and compare some prices, figuring we could get anything we didn't find there at the grocery store in the same shopping center.

As it turns out, everything on our list we found at Target. Note: we didn't need a ton of fresh stuff this week as we had leftover fruit and veggies, so that made shopping there a breeze. Here's what we got for $38.
Strawberries (on sale for $1.79)
Target brand half-and-half
Lunch meat
Garlic Bread (coupon for 50 cents off)
Cottage Cheese
Tomato Puree
Pepperoni
Two boxes of whole-wheat pasta ($1 coupon)
Newman's Own Pasta Sauce (75 cents coupon)
Graham Crackers
Marshmallow Fluff (in oatmeal--seriously, try it)
Granola Bars ($1 coupon)
5-lb bag of flour (for pizza dough!)
Dove chocolates ($1 coupon)

Now, you may be thinking, "Gross, what could you possibly eat?" Before heading to the grocery store, we made an inventory of stuff we already had and what we could make by supplementing a few things. Generally, we never buy for a dish that requires us to buy all new ingredients. We incorporate what we already have and supplement each week. We buy things we use all the time at Costco (for a later post) and shop at the grocery store to fill out with extras in order to make meals.

Our cuisine isn't sophisticated, but we do eat relatively healthy dishes and don't find our evenings too chaotic with trying to make elaborate dinners. All in all, it works for us, and we're saving a lot of money in the process.

But, this post brings up a point about financial blogs and gender norms that my friend L and I were discussing. This is something I'd like to explore, but I wonder if others have thoughts on this. Our sense was that women generally talk household expenses and men talk investment, retirement, etc. Is this true? And if not, can someone lead me in the direction of a feminist financial blog? I used to follow Feminist Finance but she's taken a hiatus for quite some time.

2 comments:

  1. ooh good question.

    There are a few female pf writers I read, although I don't know if any would call themselves feminist. See:

    http://www.myopenwallet.net/
    http://www.wellheeledblog.com/
    http://www.paidtwice.com/

    But one thing I've noticed is that at least the female pf bloggers I've found tend to spend more time talking about reducing spending (as opposed to investing, asset allocation, etc) and also talking about their individual finances rather than teaching about finances in general.

    I don't think coupons are an unfeminist topic (who wants to spend more of your money on groceries than you have to!). But I do wonder if in our society, men feel more at ease teaching and learning how to make more money while women are encouraged to stretch the dollar they have.

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  2. That's an interesting theory, and to be honest something that I never thought about before. But now that you mention it, I think it's pretty accurate.

    I do agree with Lisa, though, that I don't think planning for household expenses is inherently UNfeminist. To me, feminism is about having control over your own life. Taking control of your finances by spending less or saving more in any way you can is VERY feminist.

    I don't focus on exclusively on household expenses. I handle all of the investment and retirement accounts in my marriage, too, only because I'm a better planner than my husband. But I do talk more about the household expenses just because it's what I'm looking at day to day, and I enjoy planning and budgeting (I know, I'm crazy. :) )

    For me, investments and retirement accounts are more boring. And at this stage in our lives, they're just something I look at once a month or so for maintenance.

    As for feminist personal finance bloggers, I can't think of any that are necessarily feminist, but Wisebread (http://www.wisebread.com) and Queer Cents (http://www.queercents.com) take a more egalitarian approach to managing household finances. You might like those if you haven't read them already!

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