These are the changes I've been making that really have been saving us money, in case you are interested. :)
(1) Planning. I plan out all our meals for the entire week (Mark's work lunches included). I know exactly what meats and produce I need, and buy accordingly. I can also then buy in bulk and not waste anything.
(2) Continuing the point from above, I have been trying not to waste ANYTHING we buy. Which means that we (a) use those green bags for our produce (they really do work) and (b) eat the more perishable items sooner after buying them and (c) freeze things that might not last for an entire week, just in case.
(3) Fewer shopping trips. Because I know what I need for an entire week, I can go to the store only once a week. Last month we went to "top up" on groceries every couple days (we might run out of milk, or ham, or something essential) and as a result we would end up buying all kinds of things we didn't need just because we were already there (like muffins, chips, treats, etc).
(4) Drink more water!! I drink a lot of water, but Mark is a juice fiend. And he drinks a lot of milk as well, which is great for strong bones, but also very expensive. He could probably go through like $15 of juice per week if he had his way. But now grocery nazi (me) is rationing his juice supply, so he has to drink more H2O, which means more money saved!
(5) Cutting out so-called luxury items. This one is the hardest, but probably saves the most money. We would wander through the aisles and grab some random items we just felt like having, but didn't really need (for example: we currently have FOUR cartons of ice cream in our fridge. Why? I'm not really sure.) We also have cut out the excess cookies and crackers, which means we eat more healthy snacks! A win-win.
(6) Leaving Mark AT HOME while I shop. He is a serious budget buster. :)
(7) Moving away from the brand name products. You can get pretty equivalent loaves of bread for either $2 or $5. We were getting the $5 because it's Mark's favorite, but the $2 one tastes pretty similar. This is true for a lot of the things we buy.
(8) Stop buying produce in bulk. It's cheaper per unit (you know what I mean), but we almost never ever eat it all, which means we waste a lot more and really don't even take advantage of the cheaper bulk prices.
(9) Taking advantage of free food! While I'm at work, I am free to eat any of the food that is there. The food they have is not always my favorite, so in the past I was packing snacks for myself from home. But now I just get a little more creative, and just eat what's there, which saves some money.
Now there are a few things that we have agreed that we don't really NEED, but they make us happy, so we will buy them anyway. Plus, I'm still pregnant, and there are still certain favorite foods of mine that I always want, and am not really willing to give those up! Frozen fruit is really expensive here, but I drink a LOT of smoothies, and they are healthy so I will continue to do so. Mark LOVES these little strawberry popsicle things, and they aren't that expensive, so we get them. But come on, by making all the above changes, I could potentially save us $500-$600 a month. Totally worth it. So for all you nay sayers laughing at my savings goal... HA!
Oooh and another definite perk of this savings plan? I am becoming a MUCH better and more creative cook, and I'm really liking it. Some days it's hard to get motivated to cook (and clean up) after I get home from work, so on those nights I make an easier dinner, and usually I can get enough leftovers to give to Mark for his lunch the next day! Another win-win! So only a few weeks to go, and I will let you know the total savings!!