I have set my monthly grocery budget at $300 this year. My plan is to maintain this number throughout the year if possible. I think it should be, although it is definitely cutting back from the previous year by quite a bit. Partly that is because I have much more time available to make all of our meals, but also because our income is significantly less than it was last year (hence time to make all of our meals). We do have quite a bit of food stocked in the freezer and pantry, although there are some items I would really like to stock up on if possible this month. We’ve made some small changes to our diet for health which are resulting in us running out of certain foods more quickly than we had in the past. I’ve been reading The Prudent Homemaker’s blog for quite some time now and really like the way she has been posting her grocery goals for the month. I am taking a leaf from her book in the way I post below:
Save – a – Lot
- Onions, they are on sale until 1/13 at .33/lb (3lb bag). This is the lowest I ever see onions and I use them all the time (as I imagine most people do!). I saw somewhere online a tip to hang onions in knee-highs as a way of keeping them dry and maintaining quality in storage. That has been very successful for me (humidity is a HUGE issue here in Florida and I am always weighing the value of a low price vs the likelihood of something spoiling in our climate). I bought knee-highs when they were on a great sale at Walgreens and even with the additional cost of the knee highs, the onions were/are still below .40/lb. I also plan to buy some to cook and freeze, as I love caramelized onions in everything.
- Idaho potatoes, 10lbs for 2.99. We never see the low prices on potatoes that some other areas of the country see, but I suspect that is owing at least somewhat to our climate. Even though this is a very good price, I will only buy one bag as they are likely to spoil if I buy more than that. I have not yet found a good method for storing potatoes down here (we do not have an extra fridge, so that option is out).
- Dried beans, approximately .99/lb. Not on sale, but this regular price is less than anywhere else that I have priced them in this area. We eat a lot of beans anyway, and have increased this part of our diet.
- Loss leaders — Winn-Dixie typically runs good sales on chicken and pork, as well as other grocery loss leaders (sometimes produce, sometimes not). I will primarily shop for those items at this store and will not buy much else here. The current best deals are:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale for $1.98/lb. This is one item that we have been consuming in high quantity as part of our dietary changes. I want to purchase several packs to freeze.
- Cabbage, .39/lb. We really enjoy cabbage as a side and in soups. I hope to stock up on several heads to blanch and freeze.
- Loss leaders –Publix runs greatBOGO sales and as a rule they are my favorite grocery store, although not always the cheapest. The current best deals are:
- avocados, $1 each
- sour cream, 16 oz for $1 (possibly free if I can find the on product coupon in store, but I am not banking on that)
- canned fruit and canned tomatoes — both on sale for 50% off; I can combine with a coupon for the tomatoes as well. This isn’t quite as cheap as the tomatoes available in the huge cans at BJs, but this small size works much better for our small family of just my husband and myself.
- Dairy — I prefer the quality of Publix dairy products and am often able to get pretty good deals on chunk and shredded cheese by combining sales and coupons. Publix has a very generous coupon policy.
Native Sun (local organic store)
- Local eggs, $1.99/dozen. This sale price is available until 1/6 and is a great price for local, humanely produced eggs. I will buy several dozen.
- Oats? — Their sale flyer will roll over on 1/7 and I hope to see that oats are on sale in their bulk area. Sales at this store run for a full month. I confirmed with the store manager that I can place an order for a 25 or 50 pound bag of sale items at the sale price. I have seen rolled oats below $1/lb here when on sale and I hope to capitalize on that. The cheapest I am able to find otherwise is about $1.20/lb. I am somewhat envious of those folks who can find oats for well under .50/lb! I suppose this is the benefit of living close to where all of these grains are grown.
- Cleaning products — This store generally puts cleaning products on sale during January and they have a few items that I feel work very well on pet stains and other odors/messes.
BJs Wholesale (like Costco or Sam’s)
I cannot find my prices for BJs, but we generally purchase the following food items from this store (not always on the same trip):
- Organic frozen broccoli — we really like broccoli as a simple side dish with our evening meal and I need to replenish my supply.
- Organic frozen spinach — fresh spinach is often available for a good price but I like having frozen spinach on hand to throw into soups or egg dishes.
- Shredded cheddar cheese — sold in two sets of two 24 oz bags. I freeze one and keep the other one in the fridge.
- Romaine lettuce — 6 romaine hearts much cheaper than I can find at Publix–in fact, the cost of one bag of 6 hearts from BJs is only slightly more than the cost of three hearts from Publix. We eat a ton of salads and romaine lettuce and fresh spinach are staples for our salad base.
- Sunburst cherry tomatoes — $3.99 for 24 oz — this is a treat item, but something I really enjoy on salads and fits into the larger question of having a healthy diet.
- Bananas — .39/lb, lower than the grocery stores by .30/lb and the bananas keep very well (although we go through them quickly)
- Rotisserie chicken — $4.99. I don’t always buy this, but it is a tremendous deal as the price of whole chickens has risen over the last two years. It is also nice to take home for an easy meal — I try to combine trips to this store with the days I work at the library and so get home rather late.
- Carrots — Cheapest price I have found (I did find juicing carrots for significantly less, but many of them were rotting which did not seem worth it to me). Sold in 5 lb bags.
- Jasmine rice — this may be available for less at an Indian grocer but I have not had the opportunity to explore that option yet. Sold in 25 lb bags. We are almost out of rice, so I need to decide if a 25 pound bag is something we can use up in a reasonable amount of time.
- Nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds) — lowest consistent prices on nuts; I use quite a bit in oatmeal and granola, among other things.
- Raisins and craisins — sold in three-pound bags and significantly less expensive than those for sale at the grocery store.
- Toiletries — we don’t currently need any toiletries, but do find decent prices on razors and over the counter drugs at this store. I can get better deals on soap, toothpaste and so on by combining coupons and sales at stores like CVS or Walgreens.
I will also watch the sales flyers and pick up fresh produce and dairy each week. We do incorporate frozen vegetables into our diet pretty regularly, but like to have fresh fruit and vegetables for snacks and salads which are a regular part of our diet. I have on hand a lot of supplies for baking from the sales last month, so shouldn’t have to pick up any flour or sugar for quite some time. I do need to get out in the backyard and clean up my garden beds — January is the perfect time to start planting here (cool season veggies) and I want to take advantage of the mild winters in a way that I wasn’t able to do when I worked full-time.