Alright, so to start my weekly shopping I try to get a plan together of what I will need and want; I decided this week to take it a step further and really get a sense of what I already have.
I inventoried both our chest freezer and the freezer that is attached to our fridge to see what all we had. I was surprised to find that we had a lot more meat than I thought we did! I want to try to use up the meat that we have before it goes bad and to also help create room for future freezer-stocking trips. I plan to type up both lists and post them so that we can cross stuff off as we use it, or write in items that we add.
I cleaned out the fridge so that I could take anything that needed tossed right away instead of letting it sit and stink up the house.
Then I sat down with my lists and started to pick out meals. I picked five dinners and one baked good for the week. Lunches I kind of make up as I go and there are plenty of options in the freezer as well. Since we had so many meat options in the freezer, I was able to make a fairly short list for the store.
I broke my list down into categories based on the store departments. I find that I spend less when shopping from a list no matter what, but I spend even less if I avoid aisle I don’t have any business in. I keep a rough tally at the top for money spent so that I also know when I need to stop shopping or start putting stuff back.
I shopped at Martin’s today and I have one of their bonus cards. I saved $11.19 with my bonus card, and $1.00 with a coupon I found in the store. They double coupons up to $1.00, so even though the coupon I found was actually for $0.55 they added that $0.45 as an additional savings. They also offer a discount on gas based on points you earn in the store! I am up to $0.40 discount per gallon, so I will have to use that before the end of the month.
I didn’t really save a ton of money or get a ton of food, but I did make smarter choices. I was looking for fruit to take with lunches and saw that they had 5 pound bags of apples on sales for $5. It was a better deal than any of their bulk apples, and cheaper than oranges etc this week. So I purchased a big bag of apples. This also helped me to steer clear of the snacks in the check out aisle. It seems like no matter what I end up hungry by the time I finish shopping, but instead of grabbing a candy bar I promised myself an apple in the car.
I purchase predominately organic food. I know that causes our grocery bill to be higher than if I was to shop for the cheapest deal. I believe that our overall health starts with our food, and while I will grab junk food from time to time, the bulk of what we eat is good healthy food. I would rather spend an extra $0.10 per pound on bananas than $40 on a prescription. I also feed our pets a fair bit of “human” food, and I will only feed them organic. Their bodies are not nearly as tolerant as ours are with consuming pesticides etc and since they rely on me to make the best and healthiest decisions for them, I am going to do that. If we were really tight on money, I would eat the cheapest of the cheap and my animals would still eat organically. It’s not something I will budge on.
That being said, I do still shop for good deals. I was looking at butter in the cooler of the “health foods” aisle and it was $7 for a pound of butter. I passed it by and figured I would check the regular butter cooler. I found Nature’s Promise organic butter on sale in the regular cooler for $3.99 a pound. I opted for cage free eggs that were on sale for $3 over the organic eggs that were $4.98 a dozen. They had some that were $5.79 a dozen! My milk that is normally $3.99 was on sale 2/$6 so I bought two. I will consume it before it goes bad, and spending an extra $2 this week will save me $4 next week.
My bananas from last week have taken on a strange hue, so I will be making banana bread out of them as my baked good for the week. I purchased flour, eggs, and butter to do so on my shopping trip today. I am hoping to start doing things like this more often instead of just eating them for a couple more days and then tossing them out. I also found a partial container of cranberries in the fridge, so I will be doing one loaf as banana cranberry! I’m excited to bake!
I need to scrub my fridge shelves, yikes… This was before shopping, and after. I had $100 when I went in, and I came out with $2. You can see I got a fair amount of food for that price, especially for two people. I also had 3 jugs of juice, 4 more gallons of water, and three bags of dry goods that got put in our pantry. The only freezer food I purchased was ice cream.
Hopefully in the future I will be able to do a grocery “haul” with coupons, sales, etc, and really stack the savings and show you guys how to make that fun. For today, I just wanted to share my current process. It is in no way perfect, and will certainly improve with time but for now it is mine.
If you are having problems with over-spending in the store, these steps would be my recommended first course of action:
- Inventory what you have. You don’t necessarily have to keep a running inventory, but if you look in the freezer and see a chicken breast, see Panko in the pantry, and some fresh veggies in the fridge, you have a meal. That can help you omit both over-spending and wasting food that you already have.
- Clean your fridge regularly. It’s easy to open the fridge and “see” food but have nothing to eat because it’s spoiled or you haven’t looked in the pantry/freezer for meal ideas.
- Plan a list of meals. Use stuff that you already have and then start a list of things that you will need. This will be the start of your shopping list. Have pasta sauce and pasta? Add a meat and side to your shopping list. One meal down!
- Make a shopping list. I find it very helpful to divide it by department, but try it out and see what works best for you.
- Shop with your list in hand, a pen, and a way to record spending. You can tally the top of the list or simply use the calculator on your phone. I’ve done both and they work about the same.
- When you get home, fight the temptation to just unload the car and leave the bags on the counter, put them away. You will be able to find things easier, and you will feel better for having less counter clutter.
- Repeat on your next shopping day.
Another tip that I would like to share but am not sure on where to place it, plan out your “ingredients” so that they have multiple uses. Example, I bought a pound of carrots. I have both a stew and a stir-fry on my meal list for the week that will use carrots. The rest I will chop into carrot sticks for lunch, and ultimately the dogs will get a few. If I had only had stew on my list, I would NOT have added carrots. There is no way that I could eat that many carrots with my lunches for the week; the carrots would have gone to waste. Be sure that if you add an “ingredient” food that you have a plan for the full amount that you are purchasing. If not, find a smaller quantity. If you can’t find a smaller quantity, then find a substitute.
With that, I leave you for the night. I hope that you have a lovely evening, and I’ll see you tomorrow for a currently un-named post. Haha!