Inflation has really taken a toll on our grocery budget the past couple of years. I would bet that it has also taken a toll on yours unless you are in the top 5% of income. But I suspect that none of my readers are in that top 5%.
Our family consists of just Hubby and I. So our budget has to cover all of our meals as well as any family or friends who we entertain during the year. We rarely go out to eat but when we do, it comes from our entertainment budget not our grocery budget.
What does our grocery budget include? It includes all food and beverage, cleaning products, and over the counter health and beauty products. It does not cover our prescription drugs.
We have a pantry that we have stocked up a bit over this year because of inflation. Knowing that inflation would keep going up and suspecting that prices will sky rocket right after Christmas, I would buy a couple of cans or other items each time I would grocery shop. That gives us a little bit of a hedge on inflation especially since we live on a retiree’s fixed income.
There have been months during 2022 that our food budget got out of control. There was even a month that I spent over $900. I would guess that many of you have gone over budget with these rising out of control prices.
But I do not want to do that in 2023. So I will be doing whatever is necessary to stay within budget. We have finished our budget for next year and our grocery allotment per month will be $ 300. or $ 3600. for the year. I believe that amount is doable no matter how high the prices go. To be totally honest with you, I am also starting the year with a $100. Amazon giftcard and $ 50. in Walmart giftcards. All of the gift cards can be used for necessary things we might need like OTC drugs, health and beauty aids, and/or food.
How will we accomplish sticking to this amount of $300. per month? First we will stick to doing portion control of our food. As I have said before, Americans including me eat too much food. So we are back to eating the way we did in the 1960’s and 1970’s. My grandmother always cooked up the proper portions for our meals. Obesity was not a big thing back then because we didn’t overeat. Just think how much money you will save by serving a 3-4 ounce portion of meat instead of a whole steak, or two hamburgers, etc. This is our portion for all meats, poultry, and fish. It is no bigger than the size of a deck of cards.
Then we have a half cup, a cup, or two cups of vegetables. If I serve leafy greens, we can have 2 cups a day. If I serve any kind of raw vegetable, we can eat 1 cup. The same goes for tomato or V8 juice. Eight ounces is enough. When we have cooked veggies, I serve 1/2 cup.
If we have rice or pasta, our portion would be no more than 1/2 cup cooked. If I serve potatoes, our portion is the size of a small potato. One half of a bagel or a slice of toast is what we will eat when we do bread. Since we don’t eat a lot of bread, I make a loaf when we want some and freeze it in slices. We eat our hamburgers bare or in lettuce wraps so I don’t need buns.
For cheese, we eat 1 ounce or the size of two dominos. For Keto ice cream or yogurt, we eat 1/2 cup.
We rarely eat fruit because it is not good for diabetics. If we do, we eat berries and just a small handful.
Sometimes, we only eat veggies and a protein portion for dinner. It depends on how hungry we are or how much exercise we have had that day.
I think you get the idea. But we are older adults so we don’t need as much food as younger healthy extremely active adults. So check out this site to see what your portions should be for your family: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/09/26/back-basics-all-about-myplate-food-groups
I have also dug out some old cookbooks that I will be using for our meals. Many years ago a reader of my blog sent me a depression era cookbook. I don’t remember who it was but I am thanking her again. I also have some old cookbooks from the 1960’s and 1970’s. One of my favorites is the Child’s Hospital Cookbook of Buffalo. My SIL gave me this one for my bridal shower. It got so worn from being used that it fell apart. After cutting out a couple of our recipes that we used all the time, I threw the book out. That turned out to be a big mistake. After we moved here, I was able to find a good condition used copy of it online. I immediately purchased it and have been using it a lot ever since. I also have the Living on a Dime Cookbooks that you can purchase here: https://shop.livingonadime.com/collections/print-book
I bought her first book, Not Just Beans, twenty years ago which is basically the same as her Dining Volume 1 and I have Volume 2. The reason I like her books is they are basic recipes that don’t use a lot of ingredients and they taste good. The less ingredients you use in your meals, the cheaper your meal will be.
I do have some Keto cookbooks that I use occasionally and I have a lot of local women’s club and school cookbooks that I have collected wherever we have lived. My MIL had a lot of cookbooks from after WWII that I inherited and use.
We now eat meatless meals at least once or twice a week and we will continue that. Meat has gotten very expensive so we eat a lot of salads with a cut up egg for protein. I realize eggs are also expensive but one egg is still cheaper than a piece of meat.
Dairy has also become a major issue in our area. Heavy whipping cream is almost impossible to find and so is half and half. When I do find it, the price is ridiculous. So we will be resorting to using powdered creamer or canned cream if the prices continue to rise. I buy eggs in the 60 count box at Walmart. But lately, I have been not able to find them. So I get them where ever I can find them the cheapest. We rarely buy ice cream except for family holiday meals. I make Keto peanut butter ice cream occasionally. It is not an every day thing.
We will buy fresh vegetables that are in season or on a fantastic sale. We do buy lettuce, carrots, onions and celery because we eat a lot of salads and soups. My stores have not had any lettuce for a couple of weeks until I found it at Aldi’s(finally) this week. I was beyond delighted. If this happens again,we will buy fresh spinach or bagged salads on sale. I always check the fresh price of veggies against the frozen price. Many times the frozen is a better deal especially at Aldi’s.
I always buy our meat on sale. When there is a good sale on chicken, I have been known to buy 20-30 lbs. and freeze it in portions. The same goes for ground meat, lamb chops, pork, any kind of roast, and fish. When you buy it in bulk on sale, you never have to pay full price for it. If I run out, I won’t buy that particular meat until it goes on sale again. An example was when I purchased two extra turkeys at Thanksgiving at $ .58 a lb. I hadn’t purchased whole turkeys since last Thanksgiving. Those will give us a lot of meat this winter.
Ever since we got married well over 50 years ago, I have always stocked my freezer and pantry with sale items. Then I have made my meals from what I have stored. I never plan a menu plan and then shop for it. I really don’t like making menu plans but have done it occasionally especially if I know that we have a busy week. The only exception is holidays and then I still try to buy my needed items on sale. Otherwise, I decide the night before what we will eat depending on what we are craving and just take it out of our freezer to thaw or our pantry. Knowing what I have on hand, I can peruse my cookbooks for a recipe.
This post is getting very long so I will continue it tomorrow.