Looking for Ways to save Money - Houston,TX

Updated on May 18, 2009
E.C. asks from Houston, TX
11 answers

Hi, ladies. The question of the day for me is how do you moms save money on groceries? We,ve taken on some more payments resently and the family budget is really tight. Seems like every time I go grocery shopping I do something wrong, I end up buying not that much, but it sums up in a much bigger number than I'd like to see. I have a 4 yo and a 7 months old baby (I breastfeed so for him the main spending is diapers).
Also where can I get recepies of kid-friendly nutricious meals or maybe some of you moms can share? I would appreciate any advice. Thank you so much in advance.

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answers from Houston on

Meal plan, use a grocery list, buy in bulk ONLY the things you use often. Limit buying junk/snack food and drinks - those are grocery budget (and health) killers.

When it comes to meals, thinking kid-friendly tastes will limit you greatly (consider the kid menus at restaurants - all the same things) and cost more if you fix dinner for you and your husband and another dinner for your daughter. Have your daughter start getting used to whatever you fix - she may not like it at first but all kids will eventually eat whatever they are offered. Its not like you'll be serving weird things every night, like liver or stuffed pig. Instead, think kid-friendly as in presentation - use food for plate art, make patterns and shapes, use her play kitchen or tea party dishes to eat on, throw it on a stick for an instant kabob, give her chop sticks to eat her bbq - stuff like that.

Coupons and playing the Grocery Game are good if you buy alot of processed foods, which I don't. Good luck and happy shopping!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I make a menu for the week of what I'm going to make for dinner every night (keeping in mind any plans or other schedule things going on for the family) and I buy only for those meals. I always have a frozen pizza or a bag of Bertolli pasta in the freezer for emergencies if I need something quick, but try to cook a nice meal most nights. I have a cookbook that I love that has tons of easy, fast, yummy recipes. It's called "Desperation Dinners" and I highly recommend it. Then, I have some soups, salad stuff and sandwich stuff on hand for lunches. By having a list that covers everything I will need for the week, it cuts down on random trips to the store (more opportunities to buy things I don't need just because I see it and it looks good) and I have a plan so I'm not scrambling to figure out what to do for meals. Ever since I started this routine, our grocery bill has dropped and we have been eating better food!

As for the kids, my 3 year old daughter eats what we eat for dinner. She doesn't always love it, but she has to try. If it's something spicy, I might make her some chicken nuggets or something, but usually, she just has what we're eating. This took some training, but is worth it because I don't cook 2 meals anymore. A lot of the stuff in the cookbook I mentioned is kid friendly, so she has been able to eat most of it. As a result, she eats all kinds of things you would never dream of a toddler eating. She eats artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, mushrooms, onions. She "helps" me make dinner which has also helped to get her interested in trying what we're having, so if your daughter isn't helping you make dinner (or at least watching), then you might want to try that.

I would recommend trying to look for coupons on the things you are going to buy anyway, but make your list first and then check for the coupons. I had a bad habit of buying things just because I had a coupon for it and that actually made my bill higher! I don't use coupons much anymore for that reason. I'm an impulse buyer, so I really have to stick to my list or I get crazy. ;-)

Best of luck to you. I know how tough it is. I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old who weaned himself about a month ago, so now we have to buy formula too! I hope you find something that works for you. If you can, I would also check out Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It is offered at a lot of churches and the info you'll get from that will really help you figure out how to manage your finances through the tough times (and help you make sure you have the means to get through them in the future!). Seriously, anything by Dave Ramsey (he has a few books) can help you a lot and keep you from getting into major debt during this time. Good luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Hi, E....

Well, I agree with another mom- make a menu. It really helps to make sure you know what you need before you go shopping. You may even want to keep different meals on index cards (like recipe cards) with the ingredient amounts. That way, you know how much you need of something.

I use the Grocery Game, and I know a lot of people save a lot every time they go to the grocery store (like 60-70%). I don't always save that much, but I do save, at least, 30-40%. So, it does work. Where I really save with the Grocery Game is on toiletries (shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, etc.) and stuff like dish-washing liquid, detergent, diapers (much cheaper than Wal-Mart for brand name diapers), hair products, make-up, and such. I find it so easy to use (GG), and even my husband enjoys shopping with the list.

One thing that has really helped out is a deep freezer. When frozen veggies are on sale, I love to get those. You can also freeze meals and save them for later. So, that's really nice if you like to use fresh ingredients. You can make a different "Big" meal every week, then divide it up into your family portions (so enough for 3 of you). You may get 3 or so meals out of that one evening's cooking. Then, you can use it on a night when you're on the go and need something quick. Just microwave and eat. (There are also recipes for baked meals, I believe.)

Best wishes to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

I would say to coupon cut and look for great deals that you can stock up on. I never used to coupon hunt, until recently and let me tell you, we are saving hundreds. I go through the grocery store ads and circle everything that I see on sale that we eat or need. Then I go and only buy those items. Unlike most people, I plan my meals around the things that I get on sale. It works great...for us!! If there are things that are not normally on sale and it is a good deal, then I stock up!
I buy my son's pull-ups at Costco or Sam's Club, it is great when you can find a coupon for those stores too!!
Hope this helps.

C. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

E., What I do is keep a grocery list on the fridge and write things down as I need them. I shop the circulars to see what is on sale and that is how I plan my menu. I'm also a coupon clipper but be wary not to just buy something because you have a coupon cuz that can get you into trouble. Also since my budget is so tight, I took the advice of Dave Ramsey. I have an envelope system so each week I put my grocery money in that envelope. When it's gone it's gone so I find myself being very cautous. As I have practiced this, I have found that after my shopping, I have money left over and that is put into a savings for a rainy day or emergency. It's been working great for me.

When I cook, I try to make things that can be put into the freezer if need be. That way it doesn't go to waste and it can be a quick and easy meal if needed. I work full time and I'm a S. so I'm always looking for quick, easy and nutritional meals. I use my crock pot alot to try and save time because my life is so busy. You might want to google that and see if anything looks good to you & your family.

Hope this helped

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Visalia on

I plan 2 weeks worth of meals, making a detailed shopping list, so I don't buy anything that's not on the list. I also make almost everything from scratch (cheaper than buying boxed/frozen meals), including snacks like cookies. I also buy almost everything store-brand (sometimes up to 50% less than buying name-brand). My 2 week grocery bill (including diapers and pull-ups, dog food for 4 big dogs, toiletries, cleaning products, etc.) is usually around $200-250 depending on if I need to stock up on things like toilet paper. I always buy big packages of items like laundry soap, b/c the bigger packages are usually cheaper per unit. And I don't buy individual servings of chips or crackers or anything like that. I buy snack/sandwich baggies and divide them up myself.



answers from Killeen on

I see you are in the Houston area. H.E.B!!! I love that place. I live in the Ft. Hood Area, and when I meet women that just moved here, I always tell them to go to H.E.B. At one time, I was taking care of three children (1 not mine), working two part time jobs, and getting no assistance from the state. I was able to go to H.E.B. and purchase enough for two meals, and only spend $40. Always look for their meal deals. You buy one or two items and you get the rest of the meal for free. Right now, they have a meal deal going. Spend around $30 for a fully cooked brisket or ham and get the fixens for free. There is enough there to eat one meal and have left overs. They also have buy one item and get one or two more items for free all the time. Granted, sometimes walmart prices are lower for the item you are buying. But walmart doesn't offer anything free.



answers from Killeen on

Hi E.,
I dont go out of my way to look or use coupons unless I am going to buy it anyway - you can waste a lot of time and energy, looking, clipping, and driving to several stores. If this holds value for you, plan to go to one store on one shopping trip then the other the next time you go. I shop usually at HEB because of their meal deals and in store coupons for groceries. I go to a diff store for diapers on another shopping day. I took a couple days once to look and write down how much it is price per ounce (should be next to each price label on the shelf).... and found that the bulk items are cheaper than buying twice or 3 x the smaller size. Bulk is not always easier to by everything at once, if you need to - buy one bulk item at a time. Buying in bulk helps you plan better.. ie you know you use up toothpaste a tube a month, you bought 6, you should reorder 6 more 6 months from now...
Places like a Bishop's storehouse & Costco sell things in bulk. I dont use tupperware (though I like the company) and instead I use freezer bags and ziplock bags to separate... as I use or open each item.
Also I found that some items are more expensive than other places. For example same can of corn is 86cents at the grocer is sold at the dollar store for a $1. At two diff grocer stores I found my meats & frozen cheaper at one place, while canned and packaged items were cheaper by another(same brand)... by 50 cents or more! After a while you will get an idea at what works best for you.

As far as menu/ recipe ideas... My family loves pancake night. Pretty much breakfast for dinner is simple and easy. I change it up with the syrup and butter... You can put applesauce or other fruit toppings, Peanut butter... Not to mention we have more time to enjoy this meal at night then in the mornings.

Soups or crockpot dishes are also good budget dishes.. You can feed a med - large family on less than $10 a night. I also use veggies and fruits from the freezer section. Its healthier than canned items and you dont have to worry about throwing food away because you didnt use it before it went bad.

Also milk is pretty expensive if you don't get WIC. Look for mixes that dont need milk and can be completed by using water. Or try using powder milk in your mix recipes.

Generic brands (like HEB) are similar to brand names but cheaper (I do buy one or two things brand named because of the taste)and can make a big difference.

I also looked at the snacks I was buying for my kids. This ended up being a large chunk of change! So I switched to popcorn, cookie mixes, jello mixes, apples, oranges, and carrot sticks. (I dont buy that all on one shopping trip or they would eat it all in one week) It ends up being healthier for them and my budget too.

When cooking try to make 2x as much. Then before serving the dinner put half away and put it in the fridge or freezer. This will help out with the energy bill as this become more of a habit.

Also look at the distance of your grocery store. If you end up driving 30 min for savings... how much did you spend in gas? Usually this ends up costing as much as going to a local grocer store. You could also look into online stores - some will ship free after a min purchase. Angel food ministries are for everyone and are good budget savers. Dream Dinners is good if you want to premake or preplan gourmet meals.

I think a menu plan was mentioned - Its a great idea! It will help you not purchase groceries that will sit around and go bad...

Hope this helps! Let us know what you decided to do!



answers from San Antonio on

I am the oposite of evenyone else I suppose. I shop what is on sale at HEB. If there are things that we love, I try to find a coupon (usually online) before we leave for the store. Once in the store, I shop around the outside of the store and pick up any yellow coupon deals that we like or I think I can do something with. (You can buy as many of the deals as you want unless there is a limit and there rarely is.) Then I look at what is in my cart and suplement with pastas, breads, spices, and canned goods from the "inside isles."
I used to clip and print all of the coupons and plan the meals and create the master list. It is a pain and doesn't always correspond with what is on sale. I tried shopping at Walmart with coupons- my bill litereally doubles each time I do. Now I only shop at HEB (they have better produce anyway). I spend at most $75/week but usually around $50/week (two weeks at a time). When I get home, I fix all of my meals, freeze half, then don't have to deal with cooking or food in general for 2 more weeks. This also helps me remember what I intended to do with each product and nothing oges to waste. (It is my husband, my 4year old daughter and myself eating if that helps.



answers from San Antonio on

If you live in San Antonio, find a grocery store called La Fiesta. They are way cheaper than HEB on produce and meat and just about everything else. Also, when you do shop, buy only what's on sale. I look at the sale paper and plan my menu by what's on sale. We are 6 in my home and I spend around $130 every two weeks. I have gotten very diligent with only buying what's on sale and on my list. For example, this week HEB had dollar sale on some meat, so I bought the pork ribs, chicken thighs and roast from HEB, this week. Hope this helps.



answers from San Antonio on


I use this site to track all savings at HEB and other Local stores. Saving a lot of money, I follow the blog and get alerts.

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