Every week I budget $40 for groceries. This is pretty hard for me, because I'm a real foodie and my grocery budget used to be $150 per week! I've had to be pretty careful and creative to make my new food budget work, without dooming us to rice and beans every night. Here are the methods that have worked for me.
Angel food ministries: If you've never heard of this organization, now is the time to look it up on the Internet! Basically, you pay $30 for a big box of food that would normally cost maybe $50-$60. I got the September box for the first time this month and I have to say, it's really helped me to save some money. What came in the September box was, about 8 pounds of chicken parts, 3 rib eye steaks, 4 turkey burger patties, 1 pound of ground beef, 1 pound of frozen green beans, 1 pound of frozen sweet potatoes, 12 eggs, 1 can of pears, 3 pounds of potatoes, 2 pounds of onions, 1 quart of milk, 1 frozen can of orange juice concentrate and a package of bake and serve oatmeal raisin cookies.
I used up those chicken parts like crazy! I made crock pot chicken, baked chicken, chicken pizza with leftover chicken, chicken broth with the bones and so on. If you're having trouble buying quality food, or you just want to spend less, give them a try and see if it doesn't save you some money!
Wic: This is the Women's infants and children nutrition program. If you have a child under 5 and don't make a lot of money, you will probably qualify to be on this program. My youngest is 3 1/2, so I can still be on Wic for about 16 months. Wic doesn't provide a TON of food, but it provides enough to really help out. My 3 1/2 year old gets 4 bottles of juice, 4 gallons of milk, 2 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of cheese, 24 oz of cereal and a jar of peanut butter every month. Every little bit helps, when you've got a tiny budget!
Coupons: I actually don't find that I save a TON of money by using coupons, but I usually save roughly 5-10% off of my total bill. That's pretty good for doing something that literally takes me about 20 minutes of effort while I watch t.v.!
Make a menu plan for the week and when you're figuring out your menus, plan to use groceries that are about to expire, or ways to use leftovers. This also helps when you go shopping, because you can make a list and stick to buying only what you need. If you need frugal recipes to get started, check out my other blog at: http://www.frugalliz.blogspot.com/
Plan little "extras" so things won't get depressing and bleak. Not having money really stresses me out and eating the same meals every day makes me really depressed. My best advice is for everyone to invest in a cookbook that specilizes in budget cooking. My favorite is called, "Cheap Fast Good!" and it was written by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. It has tons of awesome recipes that are easy AND frugal and it also has a ton of grocery saving tips! Best of all, it's a really big book and it only cost me like $13. The "extras" I plan are things like, a special dessert (Not expensive, but tasty.) Some of the ones my kids love are, cupcakes, homemade pudding and pretty much any cookie. I also used a coupon and got a lemon merangue pie for $2.95. I'm saving it in the freezer for a special day, like one where we go to the zoo or just cook a feast for no reason!:P