Saturday, January 19

Resolution Help: Grocery Shopping 101

One of my girlfriends asked about my grocery shopping habits because she is noticing that for just her and her husband, she is spending a lot more than she'd like. I have come across a lot of frugal tips on grocery shopping in my web searches and unfortunately many of them recommend saving money by recommending unhealthy meals (for example, meals prepared with canned soups and a lot of starch ingredients). If you are literally on the brink of starvation this may be a good option, if not, read on....

1. Use meat as a part, not the main attraction, in your meals.
Simply cooking chicken riggies instead of a meal like baked chicken will save you money. Make your meat go further.

2. Dabble in veggie meals.
Rice and beans, vegetarian chili, burrito casserole, gnocchi with sauce, pierogis with fried onions and sour cream - these are a few of my family's favorite veggie dishes that satisfy my family's hunger. Meatless meals do not have to mean hungry stomachs. All the experts say that eating more than a few meals with meat each week is not healthy.

3. Find out what foods cost less. Pretty much anything that is already prepared for you is going to cost more.
Boxed cookies, cold cereal, instant oatmeal, freezer meals, veggies with sauces, canned soups, baking mixes - all these will add dollars to your meal.

4. Give your favorite companies feedback.

Do you just love Seventh Heaven's toilet paper ;) but can't finagle the extra cost? Write or e-mail the company to tell them how wonderful their product is and kindly ask for some coupons. It works.
5. Bargain shop and stock up when a good deal is found.
One of my pet-peeves is well-meaning bloggers encouraging women to stock up on food full of chemicals and preservatives in the name of good stewardship. Simple, healthful eating actually
gives you more value for your money. The organic oatmeal I buy in bulk costs less per pound than the boxed cereals and has so much more nutritional value.

Begin to make a stocked pantry. It can be one shelf or an entire cabinet that you use to house the basic cooking/baking items that your household uses on a regular basis.

One of my favorite places for finding good deals on organic pantry items is Big Lots. I once
bought an entire shelf of organic canned tomatoes because they were a dollar each, and these were the big cans! I've seen organic baby food, cereal, tea, snacks, canned fruit, mac and cheese and more at Big Lots. If you have one nearby, check it out!

6. Avoid the big market bulk stores.
It will get you a lot of shopping done at once to shop B.J's or Sams Club and while they have a few good deals, it will end up costing you the same or more as shopping at a regular grocery store.

7. Shop the smaller bulk stores.
We have a local store run by Mennonites and another that is a co-op. These are great places for stocking up on flour, sugar, dried fruit, etc. We buy our flour and sugar in 50lb bags this way.

8. Learn to love water.
For yourselves and for your kids, this is the best drink. Our kids usually have milk at dinner and get enough other calcium and dairy through cheeses and yogurt. Not having to buy sodas and a lot of juices saves on the grocery tab.

9. Make a weekly or bi-weekly menu.
Every Sunday night or Monday morning I look quickly through the fridge and pantry, jotting down on a piece of scrap paper any ingredients we have that need to be used that week.
My list of leftovers may be:
Cheddar cheese
Baked chicken

Ripe tomatoes
(If the budget is tight that week, scan your pantry for existing canned or boxed items that you can use up to lower your grocery bill.)

8. The menu:
Monday am- pancakes and orange juice
lunch - yogurt, raisins, apples
Dinner - chicken and biscuits (using leftover baked chicken)

Tuesday am - cream of wheat with brown sugar, water
Lunch -pb&j, applesauce
Dinner -
homemade quiche (using those eggs and cheddar cheese I need to use up), fresh canned veggies

Wednesday am - cold cereal with bananas, tea
Lunch - leftover quiche
Dinner - Date Night (kids have boxed mac and cheese and a veggie)

Thursday am - smoothies (frozen strawberries from summer picking and clearance bananas), banana bread (clearance bananas)
Lunch - Crackers with nutella, orange slices, raisins
Dinner - White garlic pizza with sliced tomatoes (using ripe tomatoes)

Friday am - pancakes
Lunch -leftover pizza
Dinner - Homemade macaroni and cheese (using leftover cheese I needed to use up), venison steaks

For this weekly menu I needed to buy from the grocery store:

bananas (found on clearance)
orange juice
frozen corn for chicken and biscuits
mozzarella cheese
Everything else, the pasta, cold cereal, peanut butter and jelly, etc. was already stocked up in the pantry.

9. To coupon or not...

In my experience, couponing may encourage you to buy products you may not need to stock the pantry or that you would not normally use. That is why I like searching the internet for a specific brand coupon or contacting the company and requesting some coupons.


Charity Grace said...

Hannah, I just found your blog through the comments on Frills, Frocks, and Fancies, and I've enjoyed it so much already. We have #4 on the way in 7 1/2 years, so we are just behind you in that regard. Your children are precious and your pictures are lovely. I was also excited to find the link you provided for making a Waldorf doll! I have searched unsuccessfully for such a tutorial in the past. Looking forward to trying one myself...


Meredith said...

What great advice!

We eat similarly, though we do dabble in condensed-soup-casseroles and hams at holiday times.

Otherwise, we, too, are appreciating the organic products making their way to Big Lots! Wish our Mennonite market was closer.

Found your blog through Charity Grace and look forward to paging through the archives.

Me said...

Thanks so much, Charity Grace, for stopping by! That tutorial for making a German doll is the best I have come across. It was very easy to follow!

Meredith, I often enjoy your blog as well! Becoming educated about certain ingredients in most condensed soups may cause you to decide against them - or maybe not. I'm an ingredients girl. If the item in question is made out of good stuff than I'm all for using it! I've found that most recipes calling for condensed soups can still be made by simply substituting sour cream or cream for the soup and adding onion pwdr or bullion for the flavor.

mama k said...

OMGosh! Love this post! I found myself nodding in agreement. Chemical/preservative filled foods and personal care items are never a good value in my opinion. Even if they are almost free! I am discourage that most frugal bloggers seem to tout them. I am trying to live a more organic/frugal lifestyle and have employed many of your suggestions over the past year or so. And I too have stocked up on some serious canned organic tomatoes at Big Lots! LOL

(PS found you via Meredith!)

Me said...

Thanks MamaK for stopping by! THe mass production of unhealthy personal care items also gets to me...

BessieJoy said...

I also found you through Meredith. I enjoyed this post on food shopping! I agree and shop as you do! Lots of wonderful healthful, whole food!

Thanks for the encouragement! said...

Hannah... Found your blog and have sooo enjoyed all the things we seem to have in common thus far. I plan to be a frequent visitor! If it's all right with you, I am putting a link on my blog to yours... I know my readers will enjoy your blog, too!

Thanks for the many great, thoughtful posts.


Ann @TheAssetEdge said...

I just found you via Meredith as well. I echo your Big Lots suggestion - you never know what organic products you might find there! And if you sign up to be a Buzz Club member, you'll get periodic emails for 20% off your purchases. That makes purchases a really good deal!

threelilmnms said...

Referred through Meredith's wrote some great encouragement! Thanks! Leinani

Anonymous said...

Would you share some of your veggie dinner recipes? The ones you mentioned in this post sound like things my family would eat - meat lovers that we are. :) One other tip I'd like to add to yours (your's were extremely helpful and I agree - cheap food isn't always the best choice.) When you do buy meat, buy an entire animal or portion of it with friends. You can locate organically raised cows, pigs and chickens and stock your freezer very economically.

Zombiemommy said...

Thanks for the tip regarding Big Lots and organics.
I didn't see any when I went, but there is a bigger Big Lots that I could try.

Also I am getting into couponing and using a price book (tightwad gazette). There are some things that coupons are good for, like toiletries, coffee, etc.
(I prefer chock full of nuts, but I never see coupons for that brand).

PS I like the music widget!

Zombiemommy said...

Thanks for the tip regarding Big Lots and organics.
I didn't see any when I went, but there is a bigger Big Lots that I could try.

Also I am getting into couponing and using a price book (tightwad gazette). There are some things that coupons are good for, like toiletries, coffee, etc.
(I prefer chock full of nuts, but I never see coupons for that brand).

PS I like the music widget!

Me said...

Thanks ladies for stopping by and thanks Meredith for the link to Cultivating Home and sending so many ladies this way!
Susie, I'll post soon some of the recipes!