Musings: Lowering the Grocery Budget

SilverwareandDollarBill

Um…I think I’m going to be ruminating on this topic for a little while…feel free to wander away and explore the other content on this blog like grocery hauls and decluttering efforts…miles of excitement around here…

Last Tuesday I mentioned some goals in relation to getting back on track with what we spend on groceries and how we eat. My first goal was to actually reduce our budget. Right now our monthly goal is $400. This is for two adults over 19 and under 50; according to the FDA budget plans we are slightly above the thrifty meal plan but well below the low-cost meal plan. I would like to see if I can effectively reduce this by 25%, to $300/month. I think for August and September this may turn out to be a bit sleight of hand, as I expect to end up relying on take-out and dining out as I adjust to my school schedule. There are two days where I will have very little time to eat between work/school/other commitments. I’m planning to forgive myself in advance if I end up relying on quick options during this time. Longer term I’d prefer to drop that $100 completely, but baby steps. In the meantime — strategies for actually dropping the budget:

  • Cut back on needless junk food, number one. That maybe seems counter-intuitive given the above, but if we’re eating more take-out, I really don’t need to purchase splurge foods like chips and cookies and ice cream. Additionally I really prefer the homemade stuff in this category.
  • Don’t go crazy with the produce just because it’s there and looks good. We do eat a lot of fruit and try to eat a good amount of vegetables as well. But one of my weaknesses is getting excited about beautiful produce to the extent that I overbuy and cannot use it all before it goes bad or has to be cooked very haphazardly.  I consider some vegetables staples to just always have on hand: carrots, onions, celery, garlic, shallots, greens. I also keep frozen spinach, peas and corn on hand at all times. Beyond that I think I need to prioritize one or two additional vegetables.
  • Mostly buy ingredients, not convenience foods. But….
  • Be strategic in the purchase of prepared foods. These two go hand in hand; mostly I need to buy snack foods that are healthy and will help keep me from crashing into that nasty, nasty low blood sugar place. Right now protein bars, small packs of nuts/dried fruit and cheese sticks/slices seem like the best store bought options.
  • Commit to a weekly food prep session.When I was doing this all the time, it really helped us stay on top of our fresh foods and it helped make it easy to eat at home.

So that’s it, I guess. Far less junk food, thoughtful as opposed to extravagant produce purchases and minimal prepared foods. Plus dedicated and THOUGHTFUL (having time set aside is worthless if I don’t actually know what it is I’m going to make…) food prep time each week.

Next week and maybe the week after I am going to post lists of foods I like to keep on hand and meals we like to eat made from those foods. I find that we tend to cycle through different tastes and periodically making these lists helps me remember old favorites and rotate them into our menus again. Also, I really need to focus on generally healthier food. I would like to loose some weight and we both would like to cut back at least a little on the amount of meat/poultry we eat.

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2 thoughts on “Musings: Lowering the Grocery Budget

  1. These are great steps!
    I keep my grocery bill in line by shopping weeklysales and doing menu planning at that time. This way I can indulge without wasting. It’s also a nice way to stock up on convenience foods and snacks.

    1. Thanks! I also follow sales, although I try not to be too sales conscious (it leads to overspending). I like a broad meal plan, as I shop both to keep fresh foods on hand and to fill our pantry. I don’t always follow my meal plan specifically, but if I know broadly what things I want to prioritize using up, I tend to make the effort to cook them. 🙂

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