Friday, October 26, 2007
FRUGAL GROCERY SHOPPING
I had an interesting experience at the grocery store yesterday. I took $194 cash with me to shop, and, even though I didn't count as I went along, I was becoming concerned that I was exceeding that amount. I wasn't too worried because I had my debit card with me, but, my husband and I are successfully trying to use a cash only system.
One thing I've been doing different when I grocery shop is to make sure I am not purchasing any convenience items. Carrots that have been peeled, lettuce that's been washed and cut up, beans that have been cooked, chicken stock that's been made for me, butter that's been whipped, etc. Another thing that I've been doing is to purchase meats and fish only if they are on sale. Fortunately, Meijers had whole chickens for .79 per pound. I purchased six of them, only because that's all the will fit in my freezer.
Although its mostly just my husband and I, my husband is a H-U-G-E eater. He eats enough for a family of four or more easily. When he eats, he stands over the sink and devours an entire chicken. Then he moves on to the next item and devours it, etc.
Two weeks ago I purchased six pounds of mixed nuts for $24. That's only $4 a pound! A great deal. Today there pretty well gone. Well, that's not such a great deal any longer. In fact, that's quite expensive. Twelve dollars a week just for nuts is no longer a bargain.
Knowing about my husbands tendency to binge on certain foods, I seek out cheaper and cheaper prices in those areas where he's tearing through the pantry. Yesterday, I found ballpark peanuts on sale for .99 per pound. Of course, I stocked up on them. My other trick is to buy nuts that my husband doesn't really like, like walnuts. Since he eats nuts everyday on the advise of a medical program, (he's supposed to be eating 3/4th cup a day), if there aren't nuts in the house than he thinks he's not on "the program".
Finally, I've started really stretching the foods. Rather than even having a whole chicken around for him to eat, I've been making meals where I break up the chicken and mix it with other items that will fill him up. Spaghetti sauce with chicken over brown rice, chicken soup with vegetable and rice, tonight there's chili, etc. The rice is made in a $8.00 rice cooker I bought recently, and I make 6 cups every 3 days. Two pounds of rice costs $1.25 and lasts for a couple of weeks.
I've been purchasing ground turkey when it's on sale and making large batches of spaghetti , last night I bought some kielbasa and steak that I'll figure into some sort of mixed dish rather than a single serving of the meat. This allows me to have more more than one serving of that meat, and sometimes up to three. Ie. spaghetti with rice for dinner for both of us , the next days lunch for my husband , and one more meal for both of us.
This is something that I used to do when my children were little and I didn't have a lot of money. I stretched everything! Fortunately, I have the knowledge and skills to do this.
It actually doesn't take that much more time to do this. I usually spend half a day on the weekends cooking, making large salads, peeling a large bowl of carrots, cutting up a large bowl of celery for the week. I cook more than one kind of soup at a time, or spaghetti and soup, I have more than one burner going. I make enough to freeze two or three large servings of each.
One challenge I'm having right now is that I don't have an oven. Its been broken since the summer. We've been cooking on the grill outdoors and I've been using the cooktop. Well, its getting a bit cold here in Michigan so I need to solve the problem.
In order to solve the problem I went on line to see if there were instructions on how to repair a fairly new GE Monogram Oven. There is. I've followed the beginnings of the instructions and need to continue on to the next step. They recommend putting a piece of paper on the connector, which I did, then if that doesn't work I'm to take off one of the parts and see what happens. I've never done this before, but, I feel its worth the money savings to attempt to do this myself. I'm not going to let myself be intimidated.
Finally, when I got to the checkout counter at Meijers, my cart was filled to the top. I was pretty certain I had gone over the $194 - or thought I was very close. The cashier rang up all the items, packaged the cart with about 30 bags, and my total was $124! I was pleasantly surprised, the cashier was shocked though and commented on how a basket that size would cost her more than a couple hundred dollars.
She let me know she had a family of 5 and 3 grandchildren living in her home. I passed on my secret of no convenience foods and felt great that my frugality may help another.
Prior to my starting this program of debt reduction and frugality, my grocery bill was over $1000 every month. This month I have spent approximately $350, and, I can see where I can reduce this even more.