as requested by Kaitlin.
There are two HUGE reasons why I was able to buy our groceries for so little this week:
#1 - I've been cloth diapering a lot more lately and so I don't need any disposable diapers, saving around $10. (I buy Luvs.)
#2 - Last week I had extra money and stocked up on formula, saving $14 this week. (I buy the Kroger soy brand.)
Going over my receipt I purchases 43 items, and the only name brands were parchment paper (Reynolds was the only brand available), Post cereal ($1 a box after store sale + coupon), Hallmark cards (coupon), Dial soap (only kind Trav will use), Angel Bath Tissue (sale), Starkiss Tuna (sale + coupon), Marzetti dried cranberries (sale and the cheaper brand).
Everything else was store brand or fresh produce (peaches, strawberries, corn on the cob).
Buying store brands saves a ton of money, especially because Kroger usually discounts their store brands for their members (meaning I have a little card that they scan.) I'm pretty sure that when I signed up for the membership card I also marked to receive coupons. They mail us a packet of coupons 6-8 times a year. Some are from the manufacturer but some are based on my shopping - those are very valuable. I've gotten bread, Nestle chocolate chips and tortilla chips for free several times because of the personalized coupons.
The other thing that is just as important as buying store brands is prioritizing. If I would have needed formula we wouldn't have gotten the peaches, parchment paper, cranberries, and some crackers I bought for the kids.
Having a garden has saved us money. I also ration milk: Trav, Lydia and I each get only 1/2 gallon a week. I make bigger dinners so we can eat leftovers for lunch (this is especially easy and inexpensive to do with pasta). We don't buy really nice bread (it's $1 a loaf) but my hope is to someday get a craigslist bread machine and fix that. We rarely buy pre-made food. Even frozen pizzas are a rarity around here anymore. The only thing I buy in the frozen food section is veggies and the occasional ice cream treat.
Also, I have done some comparing and it seems that for the products I buy, I spend less at Kroger. Often people think I'm crazy for shopping at Kroger over Wal-Mart on such a tight budget, but I honestly save more at Kroger than at Wal-Mart. However, I'm pretty sure that's not true for everyone.
Lastly, I go to the store with cash and a list. I stick to both and I use my phone's calculator to make sure I'm not going over my allotted amount of money.
So there ya go, Kaitlin. I hope you can use an idea or two! :)