We spend under $100/wk on groceries (that's less than $75-80 in USD). That's with Havalah in the house. I think the things that we find absolutely necessary are starches, milk, and coffee. I wish it was a healthier list, but it's not, so... oh well. Matt and I drink a lot of coffee. We probably don't have the healthiest eating habits, but it's what works for us. Because of the coffee drinking we go through milk really quickly. Oceana's not big into cereal, so most of the milk goes into baking or coffee. More so coffee. When a recipe calls for milk I use (at least) half and half with water, or almost all water, depending on what the recipe is like. With milk at $5.80 for 4 litres (1 gallon) we really try not to drink it/use it up quickly. We try our best to use only 4 litres a week. We've run out early this week, but that's because we're getting used to having a 3rd adult in the house still. Anyone done that change? Where you go from one to two or three adults in the house? It's funny the things we run out of quicker. Coffee, bread, and milk. :)
We've simply learned to cut foods out. We barely ever buy cheese because when it's on sale it's about $11 for 2lbs of cheese. It was only $5-6 last year on sale, so we've stopped eating cheese almost entirely. Milk went up to, but cheese has been the worst. Matt went on a diet last year (and lost 30+ pounds) and so we've cut out almost all of our junk foods.Once in a while we get a bag of chips, but it's rare. We pop our own popcorn (limits the oil/butter intake) and it's cheap. When popcorn is cents/ounce or cents/100 grams, it's just a simply snack! We barely ever buy soda/fizzy drink. We did buy Raro/KoolAid for a few months, but we drink water instead these days. When we cut out the junk food, we cut about $10 out of our weekly budget, and now we spend that on veges and meat instead.
We are very strict about turning off the lights and we've slowly changing over to low watt bulbs. Honestly, low watt bulbs annoy me, because they're never bright enough. I think I may insist on a few high watt bulbs for reading at night or things like that. High watt bulbs will still be cheaper than visits to the optometrist because we've strained our eyes! :)
I hate my big energy zappers. I don't use a drier at all, obviously, since we don't own one. This saves TONS of money. I can only guess how much it saves us, but driers are big big big energy zappers. We try to do cold water wash if possible. Your hot water cylinder is your MOST EXPENSIVE appliance. Our hot water is on a separate metre and it uses the same amount of energy as the rest of our house in a month! I know that some stuff just NEEDS to be washed in hot water or at least warm, but I've found that most every day stuff doesn't need warm water. This also saves me the time of sorting out the laundry or waiting for a white/colour load to fill up. We don't have a dishwasher now, but when we did, we still didn't use it. It's a BEZ too.
I don't run out to the store for something if I don't have it. This takes a bit more control now, since we live so close to a big supermarket now. But this saves some serious money! The exception to this being a few nights ago when Oceana painted the rental carpet and her clothes and her feet with nail polish and I didn't have enough remover to deal with the situation. (But that was a heart in my throat moment!) It's so easy to think, oh I could make X and then be tempted to run out and get the item. I've learned to hodge-podge my recipes at times. It's all about creativity. And sometimes we have a boring dinner because of it, but we saved money, and we didn't starve.
I'm a brand snob about a few things. Like: Palmolive dish soap. Matt bought me a the cheap version a few weeks ago and I'm more convinced than ever that it's a waste. I use to much more because it doesn't do the job that it doesn't save us any money! I usually buy whatever in terms of hair products, because my hair reacts pretty well. But I do need good conditioner, or else I don't want to leave the house. None of us have sensitive skin, so I buy whatever laundry detergent is on sale, even the Budget brand (yes, NZ has an official "BUDGET" brand). :) We almost always buy Pam's Peanut Butter (but it's still one of the cheap brands), because it's the best tasting (at the store we go to). And anyways, NZ PB has something to be desired, so it's only going to be so great. Sorry NZ, but I miss my PB with sugar in it. Hehehe.
I cook with what's on sale. If pork is on sale, we eat pork. One week we ate shrimp, because it was cheap (We won't do that again soon, Oceana wasn't thrilled, and I wasn't happy about peeling them either). We try to buy two meats a week, and I alternate them by nights. I don't cook vegetarian, simply because I can't think what to make. I get totally confused when I try to cook without meat. I wish I didn't, because I know it would save us money. I know we could eat more beans, but Matt's not to happy about the pinto, navy, chickpea idea. Haha. We have a joke in our house that I don't know how to cook without meat. And it's pretty well true.
I bake/cook, instead of buy. Cookies, rolls, french bread, etc. These are little costs, until you realize how much money you've spent on a little bit of this, a little bit of that. We eat chips (french fries in newspaper) once a week or so. That's a good, cheap meal for us. $4 feeds 4 people a good (fatty) lunch. I don't buy prepared stuff, TV dinners, box foods, or mix and cook stuff. These may be time saves, but they're not money saves most of the time. And most of them aren't that healthy.
If we run out. We run out. Simple as that. If we run out of peanut butter before Friday (shopping day) we don't go out and get more. We eat something else until Friday. The exception to this is milk. Matt and I can't go days without coffee. But the milk shortage only happens about once every two months.
We don't drive around. With petrol prices where they are, we can't run into town for the heck of it. We consolidate trips. Matt and I walk or bike to work occasionally. We'll drop each other off if the other is doing errands. This makes life a bit complicated at times, but we try really hard to keep our petrol spending to a bare minimum. Some weeks it works, others it doesn't. But if you aim for nothing, you're sure to hit it every time.
Matt does the shopping. I know, rare, huh? Matt's the analytical one, like I've said before. He can go shopping with a number in his head and make it home under that number. I usually say, 'Well, I'm sort of close to that number....'. He saves us money by shopping. Sometimes I go, sometimes I don't. I've let go of that "control" thing in that department, and I'm fine with it. Sometimes I'm not thrilled with what comes home, but it's never been a disaster. We work it out. No big deal.
So that's part of how we save money. I hope this is helpful to some of you. Please, don't do it all at once. Your head will explode. And there are DOZENS of frugal momma blogs out there, search them, they have fantastic ideas!