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.