Friday, June 6, 2014

Grocery Budget Struggles


The rising cost of gas and groceries tends to irk me just a little.  Especially groceries, but the two always seem to go hand in hand of course.  I know there is nothing I can do about the rising cost of gas as I have no influence there.  Nobody will listen to me!  So I concentrate on what I can do things about and that is finding ways to economize on groceries.

Lately the staple items I purchase have escalated in price and recent sales haven't been much to brag about either.  I'm finding it much easier to go over budget and run out of things which can be rather frustrating.

The first thought was to up my budgeted amount every month to compensate for the increases but that, to me, would be the easy way out.  It's not that I can't afford to spend more on groceries but more that I really don’t want to.  Plus I love the challenge of making this budget work.  I'm thinking with a little more effort I should be able to tweak some things and get a better handle on it.

Sales and coupons are an obvious solution but there are also other simple options for economizing:

Investment cooking - the name says it all.  I love to take a hunk of meat, cook it up in a variety of ways and then freeze it to use later as a key element of future meals.  I'll be posting more about this in the coming months.

Serve more soups and meatless dishes - we love soup.  One of my favorite meals is simply soup, salad and bread.  Homemade soups are the best and also a great way to use up leftovers, especially produce that is close to giving it up.  Plus soups freeze and reheat so well.

Make more items from scratch - I have to be honest.  I've let this slide quite a bit and I need to get it in gear and focus more in this area.  Even though I'm working full time, the reality is I still have time to do this more than what I have been.

Make larger meals and serve leftovers more often - meat loaf or pot roast is a prime example.  I almost always have enough left over for another meal.  Roasted chicken too.

Cook once, eat twice - freeze the extra meal for later.  Things like lasagna and enchiladas are a lot of work so why not double the batch and make two instead of just one?  The extra effort is minimal in comparison to making them separately.  Make a double batch of spaghetti sauce.  Next time all you have to do is boil the pasta and reheat the sauce.

Eat less, use better portion control -  I tend to eat too much and gain weight so using better portion control will help me shed the extra pounds, maintain my weight and make our food last longer.  Kids on the other hand, no such thing when they are busy, active and growing. J

Make do with what we already have - no need to make a special trip to the store for items you don't have on hand.  Make something else or make something else work instead.

Shop less - that's a no brainer.  I have to admit, sometimes I get a little caught up in the bargains and buy things I really don't need.

Don't waste food - another no brainer but we all know we are a country of food wasters.

I think the biggest thing is not to get discouraged and just keep trying. 

How are some ways you are combating the rise in grocery prices these days?

8 comments:

  1. I have been price matching regularly to get the lowest prices on things at one store rather than wasting gas. We live in a small town in the country, so I would have to drive a lot to shop at various stores. A store 15 minutes away allows price matching, so I shop there. I have noticed that a lot of people are starting to price match.

    I have been baking more to avoid spending money on junk food. We still have junk food, but less and less of it.

    I have been stocking up on sale items to try to build a small stockpile. It seems a very smart way to save in the long run.

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    1. Oh and I am like you, I will not raise my grocery budget until I am forced to.

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    2. Walmart is about the only store that price matches here and I rarely shop there. It is also way out of my way to go to. Luckily I have two stores on my route to and from work that offer great sales so I can shop the loss leaders. The sales seem better this month, but prices are definitely higher on a lot of things.

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  2. I have been doing some of the same things as Theresa stated above. I have been stocking up on sales the last couple of months. At the time I buy an item in bulk it seems to hurt my budget since it's a chunk of money at the time, but I see the difference it makes down the line. Last month I stocked up on sale priced ground beef and I felt like I overspent, but now I don't need any at all this month on into next month. This morning I ran to the store and I saw Italian sausage that had tomorrow's date on it. Each package had a sticker on it that said "managers special" (which translated means "we cant keep it on the shelf after today so buy it cheap right now.") So I got 12 pounds of that thick rope Italian sausage for $15 and I don't have to buy it for months! Now that is less money coming out of our grocery budget this month and next month, which could be saved or used elsewhere.
    I have also stopped buying prepackaged snack things for the kids. We are using up what we have in the house and I have been making more snacks from scratch and the kids haven't complained at all and so far they seem to enjoy everything I have made. I don't always feel like putting in the effort to make everything from scratch so I compensate on those days with more convenient snacks like fruit, popcorn, homemade bread, pop tarts or a bowl of cereal.
    I have also started taking tips from you and I now make a monthly meal plan instead of a weekly meal plan. That seems to make a difference in what I buy since I plan around what is already in the freezer and pantry. Thanks for that advice from your postings. :)
    Sometimes I feel like I cut every corner I can possibly cut and I end up having to go over budget, but I try to make up for it the next month and spend less.

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    1. I have a very full freezer and pantry so I shouldn't probably complain. It just took more $$ to get it that way than in normally does. Now I will work to maintain it within my budget. We don't buy junk food or snack items very often. I do buy tortilla chips though. I'm so glad the monthly meal planner is working well for you. I tried it weekly and monthly just seems to work much better for me too.

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  3. Lentil burgers are quite nice - Bill likes ketchup on his. Loads of things you can do with lentils as well
    http://shelleyshouse.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/lentils-for-terry.html
    Same with beans - kidney beans, black eyed peas and black beans are some of my favourites. With spices or just a bit of pork for flavouring they are really nice. And beans and lentils are both very healthy, unlike red meat. I didn't much like beans until I got older and had a more open mind about food. I'm glad I kept at it. We buy dried beans, soak some for 24-hours, cook in the crock pot and freeze; each step takes a couple of minutes at most. One cup of beans makes three meals for two people. Between liking really cheap food and being able to grow at least some green veg in our back garden (NE England doesn't have much summer) I know I'll never starve. After that it's just a matter of how much else I can afford. Our splurges tend to be salmon steaks and red wine, but I can cope with fish paste (with yogurt on pasta) and tea just as well. My favourite 'junk' food is popcorn, which has gone up in price here. I can only get it in health food stores, oddly! Just as well, it's not great for the waistline...

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  4. Also, meant to say that stir-fried meals are one of our staples. I start with diced onion and while it cooks I chop the next vegetable or put on something to steam. I add vegetables or meats in the order they need for the longest cooking and if needed I add some liquid and put the lid on to let it simmer a few minutes while I make dessert. I can start from scratch ingredients and get dinner on the table (main course, veggies and chopped fruit for dessert) in 30 minutes.

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    1. These are wonderful ideas Shelley. I'm trying to do more with beans and although haven't been much of a lentil fan I do have a lentil soup recipe a friend gave me that I do enjoy so I'll keep at the lentils. Maybe I'll broaden my taste for them. Have you ever made black bean burgers? I'd like to try those some day, I think. Love veggies and stir fry too. I think I also need to check out he bulk bins at the grocery store. You can scoop your own into bags and save plus less packaging waste. I buy all my dried herbs and spices that way.

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