We have all been spending more money on groceries since Covid 19 hit. Prices went up at first because of shortages. Then with all of the money that the government has been spending (printing out of thin air) inflation started to take hold and will continue to go up with each new spending package. This trend will continue on the backs of middle class Americans. The people whose taxes they will raise are corporations and many small businesses who will raise the prices on their products which gets passed down to us.
Since I had been stockpiling during part of 2020, I was spending a fortune. I was trying to stick to my budget but it was becoming very difficult. So I was taking lump sums of money from savings to continue that way of shopping. When I took a step back during my break from here, I realized we were spending a fortune. I was finally well stocked and really needed to slow the shopping down and get on a regular budget again. I think many of you can probably relate to this.
So about 6 weeks ago, I started doing things differently. I know prices are up and will continue to go up. But I slashed our grocery budget to $400. per month. I am going to try to continue budgeting that amount as long as I can by incorporating into our meals everything that I can from our stockpile ( pantry, freezer, and refrigerator items).
I am menu planning a month at a time now so that when I go to the grocery store I know what I need for the month for the meals that I have planned out.
One week a month I do a large shop at Walmart, Top’s, Niagara Produce or Aldi’s or a combination of them. I do not buy meat at Walmart except for frozen chicken wings. Most of our meat comes from the other three stores. This week I spend the majority of our monthly budget.
How do I determine the big shop week? I watch the grocery flyers and my Niagara Produce weekly specials and go the week that has a lot of things on sale (especially meat and fish) that are needed to replenish what we are using. Meat and fish are expensive so buying at a good price is the best time to stock. Walmart and Aldi’s has the cheapest prices on other items that we use.
I actually was considering joining Costco before the gasoline prices went up. However, it is a 110 mile trip to the closest one. We only get 20 miles to the gallon so that trip would cost us about $16.00 in gasoline each time we went. After paying a $60.00 membership fee, I couldn’t justify the cost. We know the gasoline prices are only going to go up further.
Then I took a look at joining Sam’s Club which is 37 miles round trip. That would only cost us about $ 5.80 per trip. They have a membership deal that works out to be free after a $45. gift card they give you to join. This would be my logical choice if I decide to join. Costco is so much better than Sam’s or B.J’s. I did not renew my B.J.’s membership because I believe they are going belly up. They’re never well stocked and the prices are prohibitive for the quality. So for now I will just stick to my current plan.
The other weeks of the month, I just shop the loss leaders on things like fresh produce, creamer, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, eggs, and butter, etc. It takes me a few minutes to make a list every week and just go in each store for those items and nothing else. No impulse purchases! These shops don’t cost a lot and keep me within my budget.
This has really been working well and is saving me time and gasoline. Before I was going to too many stores just about every week.
Also, we make sure that every morsel of food is used up that is purchased. Nothing goes into the trash! We have a leftover night or two a week which is built into our menu plan. If produce isn’t getting used up, we freeze it for smoothies. If we have onions, celery, or peppers starting to get soft, we slice them and flash freeze them and use them in casseroles, stews or omelets.
If prices keep going up, I will find other ways to stay under budget. For now it is working.
On Wednesday, I will show you my small shop from last Friday. It was an inexpensive week.
Are you finding ways to stay under your grocery budgets even though prices are rising? Feel free to comment and share with all of us.
4 replies on “Our New Grocery Budget”
Hi AD. I like what you said about doing the math and other considerations about joining Costco or another warehouse club. Very practical. They are not always a good purchase for everyone. It is similar to how I decided that Amazon Prime is not a good purchase for us at this time.
My $100/ week grocery budget has still been working most weeks. If I go over, I try to spend less the next week. I am still going to one grocery store once a week, mostly Kroger, sometimes Meijer. I have only been to Aldi a couple times during the pandemic b/c I have not felt safe in their stores here. Walmart is not close to us. I have also not been buying greeting cards at Dollar Tree, but using what I have. We are fully vaccinated now, but our kids are just starting, so I will give some of these things a little more time before venturing out more.
I have been using my credit card to pay for everything during the pandemic, but trying to decide when would be good to go back to using cash. I would be interested to hear your thoughts about this. Before the pandemic I had been using my credit card mostly just for gas and online purchases.
Thanks! I felt safer in Aldi than anyplace else during the pandemic because less people,their sanitary conditions, and social distancing.
I wish I could go to just one store but the variety of stores we have close to us is not good. So I have to do more than one. Yeah on using up the cards!
Chris, I have been using cash on all of my grocery orders except Walmart delivery. I keep sanitizer on me so I use it frequently and always after I leave the store. Then I wash my hands really well when I get home.
After spending between $600 to sometimes $700 a month on groceries (due to stocking up during the pandemic) I’ve finally gotten it down to the $400s per month. I will only go into Aldi (because of less people and good sanitizing) and a special gourmet supermarket to get better quality chicken @$1.99 a pound, local veggies or Italian specialties. That’s it! Everything else I order online from Amazon or WalMart. I miss going into Dollar Stores but now that I am fully vaccinated, I may reconsider. Aldi has very good frozen fish, especially flounder and excellent fresh salmon (Atlantic type). Their boneless chicken breast, chopped turkey and all pork products are excellent. I won’t buy their beef. I’ve also mastered the art of cooking beans from scratch (got all the beans from WalMart). We’re eating less red meat. I can’t believe how much our dietary needs have changed due to this pandemic and the rising costs. I did have a vegetable garden this past summer. I froze a lot of produce but over the winter we ate absolutely nothing from what I froze. Which makes me think having the garden was a big financial flop. Produce is so inexpensive at both Aldi and that local gourmet store we shop at that it was silly to have a veggie garden (which cost me $452 to set up and plant first season). I could have bought a helluva lot of fresh, locally grown veggies with that money and froze it myself without all that backbreaking work. This season I’m turning our former veggie garden into a wildflower garden and just tossing seeds onto it.
Live and learn.
I feel so much safer since we got fully vaccinated. But I still do the same as I always did. Wash hands a lot, sanitize them, and keep them away from my face. I agree with you on the fish at Aldi. I love, love their salmon. But we do like their Never Any ground beef and chuck roasts. You have to love gardening as a hobby because you are right. It does cost more than just buying produce at Aldi or in my case, NP. It also takes a lot time. I can save more money spending that time doing other things. That said, I may try planting some lettuce, tomatoes and peppers from seed this year.
Thank you for sharing what you do. It helps others.