Every Day

Our Grocery Strategy

Grocery and meat prices have rapidly risen since this sickness came here. Beef prices are extremely high per pound as are many other meats. Chicken seems to be about the only thing that I can purchase at a decent price. But with inflation already here and continuing because of the stimulus payments and other acts that were passed or may be passed, everything will continue to go up. So much money has been printed that we will not see prices in the future like we are used to.

I was in sticker shock when I shopped last Sunday. So many grocery items have risen so rapidly. There has to be a better way to purchase what we need without paying so much money.

The first thing I do is make a list of what our necessities are. Then I check the ads and Flipp to see who has the best prices on those items. The first page of the ads are usually the best prices or what they call the loss leaders. They are the items that the store puts on sale and lose money on hoping that you will buy a whole lot of non sale items while you are in the store. I will strive to only purchase the loss leader items. Then I look at the back page which usually shows the fresh produce sales and I strive to buy those things to make our salads and other side dishes. To me the front and back pages are where you strike it rich!

The second thing that I have been doing is going into the grocery stores as early in the morning as I can so that I can scope out the prices and pick my items according to sales. No more grocery pickups for me. Walmart usually was out of 10-15 items every time I ordered but didn’t tell me until the morning of my pickup. It was frustrating me because I would then have to go into a store anyhow. I used Instacart a couple of times and the fees and the higher prices on each item weren’t worth it to me.

I also have been very conscious of using up everything we buy. Not so much as a teaspoon of food goes to waste!  We eat leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We use everything. We eat a lot of salads and soups to use things up. When I got home from my trip, I found potatoes going soft so I made mashed potatoes and froze them. Tomatoes were getting soft so I made spaghetti sauce. Onions were also getting soft so I diced and froze them. We had bread and rolls getting stale so I made salad croutons. There are so many other ways to use up your food. Don’t throw your money in the garbage! You work very hard to make that money.

I refuse to raise my grocery budget for the things that we buy and like. Fortunately, we have full freezers and most of the items in them are meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. It should last us at least 6 months. Perhaps by then, some of the meat prices will come down a bit. If not, we will find cheaper ways to get our protein like eggs, beans, dairy, and peanut butter.

We do have a good supply of frozen and canned vegetables and fruits too. Condiments and sauces are in good supply too. We will use them up and perhaps learn to make many of them. I make quite a few now but not nearly as many as I could make. 

I told Hubby that we are going back to basics for as many things as we can as our food gets used up. As rolls and bread get eaten, I will make those things from scratch. Flour and sugar is cheap purchased in 25 lb. bags or stocking 4 or 5 lb. bags during the holidays. I will be checking recent prices at all of my grocery stores and the warehouse club. I am doing a good job of checking most prices and updating my price book. 

I will buy as little prepared foods as possible. 

In the future,the majority of my shopping will be done around the perimeter of the store: produce, dairy, meat, bacon, fish, seafood and some frozen(mainly veggies, emergency pizzas, and ice cream). The bakery will be skipped. I already make most of our cold cuts from cooking turkey, chicken and ham. We slice them ourselves on our meat slicer. 

The grocery aisles will mostly be potato chips, tortilla chips, popcorn kernels, baking goods, dry beans,  canned tomatoes and tomato sauces, canned vegetables and fruits, corn or flour tortillas, chocolate chips, cheap cake and brownie mixes($1.00 or less), canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce(around Thanksgiving), cheap after holiday candy(for Halloween, gifts, and to put in cookies), nuts, coconut, olive and avocado oils, vinegar, spices including salt, coffee, diet soda or flavored seltzers for Hubby, Crystal Light, Gatorade Zero, canned meats like tuna and chicken, pasta, rice, evaporated milk, raisins, cream soups, salsa, olives and pickles, bouillon cubes, tomato powder, chicken and beef broth when it is cheap at Thanksgiving, a few boxes of cereal, pizza sauce, rock bottom priced spaghetti sauce, and a few other things that I have probably forgotten. I will buy more store brands of these items if they are cheaper.

I am including HBA, OTC meds and vitamins, paper products and cleaning products in our budget. They will be purchased when needed on sale and with coupons if there are any.

We spend $500. a month now on our food and our HBA, OTC medicines and vitamins, paper products, and cleaning products. I do not plan on raising that any time soon. I will include any family feasts or holidays in this budget also.

Any Fetch gifts cards or bottle deposit money will be turned back into the grocery budget.

To be right up front with you, we have not spent any of the $1200. of stimulus that I have earmarked for  stockpiling meat at rock bottom prices. We got $2400, in stimulus. We saved the other $1200. As the freezer starts to get empty, I will be looking for rock bottom meat and frozen vegetable deals and will use some of that stimulus money to restock it.

I will keep track to the penny what we spend and on what and share it with you. I will also be updating our inventory so that we always know what we have on hand. 

How do you plan on making every penny of your food budget count? Are you buying cheaper cuts of meat or more store brands? Are you eating every drop of food and not wasting any? Have you cut back your portions? I would love to know. We can each help each other by commenting and telling us your tricks to contain your food budget.

16 replies on “Our Grocery Strategy”

Hi Lisa,

When I lived in AZ, we had no basement and the garage was very hot. So I stored things in the garage that could be stored within those hot temps- usually paper goods and soaps. Then I used a guest room closet that I put a bookcase in. I also put things in boxes under beds that could easily be pulled out.

Very good article full of good tips. We are doing much of the same as you searching for any way to save. We like chicken thighs but so much skin left on to boost price annoying. Besides whole chickens what parts do you buy. We are very stocked as of now 2 freezers full we buy beef and pork by the quarter has been cheaper that way time will tell. Like the tip on front and back pages knew about loss leaders think I will be trying your method. I try to stick to 400.00$ a month. Take care and thanks for tips. Joyce pa

Hi Joyce,

Do you have BS chicken thighs out there? Are they higher than the ones with skin? I buy boneless skinless chicken thighs, breasts with bone or boneless, whole chickens, and ground chicken. It depends on what is on sale for the best price per pound and how much bone is in them compared to boneless. Does your $400. a month include non food items? You are very welcome.

Thanks for the tips on chicken. Yes $400 does include non food also. Its getting harder to keep at this price but so far so good.Then I am stocking up more now also. Joyce pa

Hi AD, this is Chris. Great post today. I do much of the same things you do when I go grocery shopping. I have also just been going once a week to one store instead of multiple stores. Since the pandemic started, I have not been doing my usual cash thing, but have been putting our purchases on a credit card and paying it off when the bill comes in. I am thinking to go back to my cash thing at the end of the summer after daughter has the baby. So far I have been able to keep in my budget. I try to buy extra when something is on a good sale, like this past week I bought extra peanut butter for us, and to give to the local food pantry. I bought enough to last us until the next sale. I am like you, and mostly shop the perimeter of the store.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for sharing. I was using the credit cards while my bank was not open except for drive thru.But they are open now so I can get the cash. I wash my hands or sanitize them so often that I am not worried about using it.

I love how organized your pantry is. I have shelving on one wall of my office that is my pantry. We had to raise our food/hba/paper/otc, etc. budget to $500 a month from $400. Prices are crazy. I can still get BSCB for $1.99/lb. Ground beef is ridiculous. Although I was able to score 80/20 last week for .99 markdown. I was able to get 4. We also waste nothing. I'll eat spaghetti for breakfast rather than it go to waste. I've had some luck with prices on Amazon S/S. It's alot of work to stay in budget.

Hi Kathy H.,

Thank you. We can get the BSCB usually for $ 1.99 or under on sale. I agree with you that ground beef is ridiculous. Up to $7.00 a lb. here. However I can still get grass fed ground beef on sale for under $5.00 a lb. Yeah on getting such a great price on the ground beef markdowns. WOW! We actually like leftovers for brunch or breakfast. It sure is a lot of work!!

Great post today AD! I have had some food waste the past week. Tortillas that molded so fast (less than a week in the fridge) and some grapes that went bad. I went through my produce drawer and saw some green onions that were turning, so I cleaned them and chopped them for the freezer. I will be better at not wasting. We have not had any good sales really, so I am trying to get less expensive meat. I am stocking up my freezer right now, because our area of California has had a big increase in cases, so I am trying to make sure we are set for at least a few months. There are great deals right now at our produce market on summer squash, stone fruit, and corn, so I got as much as we can use and plan to incorporate the fresh produce in our meals. Anything that is not used fresh will be frozen for future use. I did find a couple of containers of pumpkin puree in the back of my freezer that I used today to make pumpkin muffins. My boys all love them!

Hi Olga,

It's good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing. Yeah on the less expensive meat. I got a deal on chicken today. More about that tomorrow. Yum on the fresh produce. When we ate corn and my kids were little, I used to blanch fresh corn on the cob and freeze it. We would eat it all winter. How do you freeze your squash? I have never done that.

Hi AD…I freeze summer squash and zucchini all the time. The texture is not exactly the same, but because I use it in soup (I chop it, blanch it, pat it dry and freeze it) and in quick breads (shredded) and I also add it to pasta sauce and in my chili to bulk it up (shredded). It really gives my sauce a great texture and does not change the taste.

We spend about $200/month on food. We each buy our otc and meds. He has his cheap tp and I pay for my more expensive tp…lol. Today, I shopped and found my melatonin for 1/2 price, but I will have to half the pill, so 1/4 price to take. I need shelving unit to store things since bending is not possible most days. Like you, I shop the perimeter most of the time.

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