I got all these groceries for only $30 at Ultra. The bologna is for a charity project that I'll be reimbursed for, so the $5 I spent on that didn't count toward my budget. (Carrie Kirby)

This is a (mostly) weekly series about grocery shopping for a family on a budget. Setting a budget and stick to it is the absolute No. 1 way to cut your grocery budget. Without clipping a coupon or reading a grocery circular, you will automatically spend less on groceries if you simply give yourself only a set amount to spend.

My budget is $100 a week for five people and two cats. That covers all food bought at stores (not takeout or restaurants), plus the household goods you need to constantly replenish like toilet paper, cleaning supplies and cat litter, over-the-counter medicines, etc. This is a pretty generous budget -- on it we are able to eat mostly humanely-raised, hormone-free meat (which we buy in bulk and keep in a freezer), and some organic produce (the most important ones to buy organic). But I don't hold that every family should be able to eat on the exact same budget that we do. The point is to set a budget that challenges you a little but works for your family's needs, not to match your budget to someone else's.

Last week with the holiday Thursday I did not get a chance to post about how I did with my week's shopping, so I'll post about two weeks at once now. These were fabulous shopping weeks thanks to all the Thanksgiving sales.

Altogether, we spent $133.50 over the past two weeks on groceries and supplies. Now, the holidays are sort of non-typical -- we were out of town overnight twice, once stuffing our face with someone else's turkey (we brought a pie, a bottle of wine, a tube of Crescent rolls and a box of Golden Grahams). But to balance that out, I was also able to put a 12-pound turkey and a 3-pound turkey breast in my freezer. I was also able to stock up on my favorite hand cream (50% off at CVS), and got a lot of toiletries at CVS and Walgreen's for a donation project that my daughter's Daisies troop is doing.

My shopping was spread out over six stores: Jewel ($33), Dominick's ($11.53), Ultra: ($22), Walgreens and CVS ($21 between them) and Petco ($35). My husband spent $10.97 at Dominick's on food for his work lunches (all on items I had coupons for, naturally). But hey, it's still better than going out to lunch.

What kind of great deals did I get to be able to feed the family on under $70 a week? Well, the turkey was only about $2 thanks to that great $10 off coupon that Jewel had, and the turkey breast was free using another of the same coupon. I got $20 in free groceries for buying $100 in Kohl's gift cards, some of which I used for some Christmas shopping on Black Friday. I had a coupon for $2 off Hefty bags, and thanks to a tip from the blogger Mashup Mom, I found a small box for about $2.28 at Ultra. All kinds of produce -- sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccoli -- was deeply discounted for Thanksgiving so I loaded up on that. Ultra had an amazing sale going where a number of items were only 88 cents, including one-pound chubs of ground turkey; I got five which I hope to use to supplement our cats' food.

I also had a few coupons such as Walgreens Register Rewards and CVS ExtraBucks to spend, which subtracted from my total, but not many. I earned a LOT of these coupons this week, thanks to the Black Friday deals both drug stores were offering. I didn't include those new RRs and ECBs in my budget for this week, but they will supplement my budget in weeks to come.

And of course, I have a stockpile in my freezer and pantry -- the meat we ate during these two weeks came from the freezer, as did our Friday night frozen pizzas, the flour I used for baking, and many other things.

I also supplemented our budget by ordering toilet paper and cleaning supplies from Soap.com using a Groupon I had purchased with credits. I got the credits for getting other people to sign up at $10 a pop*.

So, during these two weeks I was able to save $65 toward our next bulk meat purchase, putting my fund at about $250. Which is great, because the half pig we purchased this spring is gone except a few hocks and one ham, and the quarter cow we purchased last fall is gone save a few soup bones.

* Now that I write for a Tribune, I no longer publish affiliate links, but when I was an independent blogger I used to post affiliate links and earned a lot of credits that way. Even if you don't have a blog, I'd encourage you to sign up for the affiliate program for Groupon and other daily deal sites -- most are paying $10 per referral right now so it's really easy money.