Grocery Geek Presents: What $107 Buys You in Southern California

It can be done. I was worried that it couldn’t. But I think it can.

I think it can.

Living frugally in Southern California is within reach.

I entered 2009 thinking I might reduce my couponing efforts, but going over budget early on made me rethink that idea. With the start of March I decided to make a more concerted effort to stick to our grocery allowance. I made a thorough meal plan based on the sales, got cash for groceries instead of relying on paying with plastic, and put in the time for coupon matching. And it has paid off. The first week of March resulted in this huge load of food.

And this week’s shopping trip(pictured above) reinforced my belief/hope that we can make ends meet, even living in Southern California.

This week’s total was $107.00, so I’m reducing next week’s shopping accordingly in order to stay on track with our $100/wk budget. Here’s how this week broke down:

taco shells $1.30/box
saltines $2.29
olives $.99/can
pasta $1/box
lasagna noodles $1.69/box
baby rice cereal $2.99
cereal bars $1.49 after coupon(s)
cup o’ soups $1.00/6 pack after coupon(s)
oreos $1.29 after coupon(s)
no yolks $.25 after coupon(s)
ice cream $1.99
orange juice $.98 after coupon(s)
yo plus $1.25/4 pack after coupon(s)
french bread $.25 after coupon(s)
hot dog buns $.99
4# chicken breasts $3.16 after coupon(s)
top sirloin steaks $7.54 after markdown
gr beef $1.49/#
8# oranges $2.99
caesar salad kit $.98 after coupon(s)
-$10 store coupon off entire purchase

danimal crush cups $1.00/4 pack after coupon(s)
instant oatmeal $.50/box
Progresso soups $.15/can after coupon(s)
bagged salad $1
frozen salmon $3.73
rubbermaid containers $.99 after coupon(s)

bananas $.77/#
tomatoes $.69/#
strawberries $1.50/#
bell peppers $.77 ea
cilantro $.25
green onions $.25
celery $.99
radishes $.25
onions $.25/#
bread $.99-$2/ loaf
milk $1.99/gallon
canned organic tomatoes $.25 after coupon(s)
cukes $.99 ea

To see more super saving shopping trips, visit Money Saving Mom on Saturday mornings.

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  1. Hey, I live in S. CA, too. Where do you shop?? I like Smart & Final and Trader Joe's for good deals (though I don't think Trader Joe's does sales.) I am terrible about food budgets… 😛 I also shop at a couple of natural food stores since I cook vegetarian food.

  2. FishMama says:

    Hey Joelle,

    This trip was from Ralphs, Vons, and Sprouts (like Henry’s or Wild Oats). I also go to TJ’s, Henry’s, Costco, and Albertsons. It just depends on who has the best sales. I buy exclusively the stuff on sale and as little of non-sale stuff as possible.

    I try to be healthy. I never buy cup o’soups, but for a buck, I figured that they might go nice in an emergency kit or for donating. Cooking from scratch is generally what helps us stay on track.

    If I stay away from TJ and Costco, I can usually stay on budget. They have way too much “fun food.”

  3. LaVonne Long says:

    I am in N. California. Good job! Keep it up. Saving money is worth it. Plus, look at all the food you got. All the meals you can make will cost much less now. Kuddos to all the work you put into this post too.

  4. Donna(mom24boyz) says:

    Well, I am not living in CA, however I use to live in CT–land of double couponing. When I moved back home to WV…the land of no doubling..I gave up couponing until I found Moneysavingmom. There are still times I get burned out on couponing. However, I really do save when I do it. It is just sticking to it.

    I like having my cash..I am more determined to come in under budget if it means saving some dough in my hand for more personal fun spending!

  5. JessieLeigh says:

    Fantastic job! I am very impressed. My family and several friends all live in CT and the Boston area (also notoriously expensive parts of the country) and your trip is definitely a great inspiration. I’ll pass on the link!

  6. I really love all the information you pass along. You are motivating me to try to be more frugal and to use coupons. Thank you!

  7. LaVonne Long says:

    I blogged today about the misery of shopping with a toddler and I linked to your post here. Thanks again for all the work you put into it.

  8. Martha (aka Yvette) says:

    ooooooo yeah I’m so glad I found your blog :). I also live in Southern Calif and I am just starting with couponing. My husband is retiring from teaching in June and I’m working on cutting our expenses down where I can. I use to coupon years ago but got lazy. I can’t believe how much food you got tooo.

  9. Wow, that was an awesome trip. Reducing the grocery budget has been a goal of mine for the past year. Last month was my very first month of success. I am hoping that it will continue.

  10. Amanda from Faith, Food and Family says:

    You did an awesome job! That’s a lot of food!
    God bless,

  11. I’m so glad I found you through Money Saving Mom. I’ve been trying to get the scoop on the best grocery stores to shop in So Cal. Many bloggers seems to be in mid-west so their deals and/or stores are not local. Could you give an outline of what you do to coupon-wise and research-wise to strategize your weekly shopping plan? You are an inspiration. Thank you.

  12. Rose, that very post is in the works for next week. I’m just amazed at how great the deals are here. I didn’t think I could do it, but it’s so possible.

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