Saving on groceries.

May 28, 2014

I am on a real budget-y food kick that needs to not just be a trend for me but a way of life. We have some financial priorities that need to be taken care of and with summer camps and all the extra curricular activities I have realized that being frugal needs to be part of our family budget. What took me so long? I actually thought I was being frugal yet when I went over the grocery bill I realize that we could do better.

Here is an example of what a week of meals is looking like thus far:

You may notice we eat a lot of Mexican food, being from California and well, Mexican this is my normal. Because we buy organic meat this is where the high cost comes in so I try to make at least 2 meals vegetarian and one fish dish.

Monday: Pasta Meal-this is a simple dish that my son loves, rigatoni or spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. Sprinkle with Parmesan for the boy and capers added for my husband and myself.

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken

Wednesday: Enchiladas made with the leftover chicken

Thursday: Tostadas with beans

Friday: Taco Salad with lean ground beef

Weekends: Depending on what we find at the farmers market it can be fish, maybe a roasted short rib with a salad for Sunday. Other favorites are barbeque chicken with corn and quinoa.

My Tips:

  • Break down your meals before you grocery shop. Search your favorite sites and recipe books for inspiration.
  • Cut your weekly grocery bill by including pasta and beans in your meal plan.
  • Keep in mind that you want to have leftovers for either a second meal or for lunch the next day. My husband is not a big pasta person or beans so I only do one of each a week.
  • Use what you have. We buy a lot of tortillas. I use the tortillas for the enchiladas and tostadas. If we buy low carb flour for the boy (not gluten for we can never find) I make him quesadillas and Mexican pizza for a lunch snack. If we have have gluten free bread in the house we will use every bit of it. Sandwiches for work lunch, poor man pizza for the boy. I almost never buy pasta sauce for at my neighborhood market the healthiest brand is about $7 and frankly I'll make my own. When we can get to Trader Joes I stock up on chicken tenders, pastas (will buy sauce here) and our favorite dishes so we can make instead of eating out.
  • Teach yourself how to make your favorite dishes from some of your favorite restaurants. My family is obsessed with Pies and Thighs so I have taught myself to make southern fried chicken and it is quite good! Email me if you would like the recipe.
  • Eat locally if you can. I feel that farmers markets have this sort of air about them that they can be expensive however when you buy locally you are not only able to eat healthy the veggies last so much longer then when purchased at the grocery store. Also the quantities are generous and can usually be used for more then one meal.

What I have cut out:

  • Breakfasts and lunches at least 2 /3 times a week at my work cafe. My cafe at work is a bit popular and people love to come to eat at it but frankly my food is just as good and I hate spending $12 for a salad that I am just okay with. 
  • I try not to order out unless I have had a long workday or have to get up early the next day. Instead when I know I am going to have a long day and the thought of cooking dinner is the last thing I want to do I just use the crockpot. I am the first to admit I hate getting up early to get the crock-pot going but when I get home and dinner is pretty much done I am pretty darn happy.
  • Freeze it. My mom, the queen of freezing, taught me the art of what to freeze. I freeze the broth from the chicken I make, tomatoes that are a day form going bad, I even make extra soup and freeze it for a last minute dinner option. More on freezing. 

Be realistic:

  • I’d like to say I have cut out my chai lattes but this is how I ‘treat’ my self so I have made some compromises. I make my tea at work a few times a week and buy a concentrated chai mix from my favorite coffee shop and make about 2/3 a week from home.
  • Do eat out. Every one needs a break and what is the point of saving if you can treat yourself a bit, really is that one of the reasons to save?

Sites for easy recipe ideas:

  • Dinner A Love Story Jenny makes meals based on kid friendly ingredients. 
  • Brit + Co : Always a nice round up of recipes like a 15 minutes and under round up of meals.
  • Martha Stewart Dinner Tonight breaks down meals such as 30-minute dishes, vegetarian, comfort food and so on.

Get serious:

  • Write your list down, you can do this during the week as you figure or see recipes you want to try or have your shopping strategy down.

    Free templates via ask.anna 

    Grocery Checklist

    Printable List With Categories 



Photo: Vogue

Posted by Donna 




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