Monday, July 6, 2015

The Cost of Eating

I found this article about grocery spending It is a couple of years old, but it states that a frugal grocery plan would cost about $146 per week for a healthy diet.  I find it mind boggling, even though I shop weekly (or more) and see how much things cost now.  How do people on strict budgets do it?

We are fortunate to have a decent amount of money to spend  on groceries, however, in our current situation, we are trying to pay off our house debt, so we are trying hard to be a bit leaner.   It makes me wonder how people with no choice really do it week after week. In the past week and a half I did use a menu plan, and I  really stuck to it.  I switched our meals around depending on the day, but we pretty much ate what I planned. One thing I did that was not part of the plan was to pick up some pizza dough at the store to get dinner on the table quickly. It was so much quicker than making dough and still cost under $10.00 for grilled pizza for four people.  I know I could make some dough ahead of time and freeze it, but grabbing it one day saved me the cost of takeout.

So last night I whipped up pasta cabonera with bacon, eggs, and cheese. It is a quick dinner that relies on very little meat. I used half a box of whole wheat pasta and it did feed four of us. Next time I will make a larger salad and maybe add another vegetable. Once the bacon is cooked it comes together quickly. I see myself making it in the fall when work is back in session.  It is a dish that goes over well for everyone in my family, which is great after working all day! One thing I noticed about this and some other meals is the lack of protein. I do have to make some changes to our menu. I have been been focusing on some more pasta based meals and find that we are more hungry later than if the meal had more protein. Also, too many carbs are bad for my weight loss goals. I need to up the protein and veggies big time.

As we try to reign our grocery bill in I have to think about our needs as a family. I am impressed with countless blogs that I read, but what works for one family doesn't work for everyone.  I know that minimal meat night after night would be met with raised eyebrows and questionable looks. It would not work for me either. Since the whole family is home for part of the summer, it is important to have enough food in the house to prepare meals and survive with a smile.  Yesterday I went shopping and tried to stay under $100 to get us through until the end of the week (Thursday or Friday).  I tried not to buy things we already had, and I had my list with me that I pretty much stuck with. We needed things like coffee, tea, and toilet paper. Important items to buy. I included fruits that we eat regularly like bananas and apples as well as salad veggies. I eat many vegetables, but right now I am focusing on raw salad vegetables that are eaten by more household members like cucumbers, carrots, and celery.  They are also great with humus when someone needs a snack.  I did buy some deli meat and cheese, and since we are home we will use these items for lunch. I know some frugal bloggers stay awaw from the deli, but PB & J does get old. I reconcile my deli choices with a once a week purchase and when it's gone it's gone.  I bought oatmeal (only eaten by me unless I make granola) and some low priced cereal for the kids. I had a few store coupons, but I was not focused on crazy couponing. I have tried it and am always impressed with people who can stick to it, but it is a lot of work.  Too much work for me.  My only meat purchase was a package of drumsticks. So cheap and great when grilled. Those are dinner for tonight. I hope to take off the left over meat and use it in another dish this week. I also have chicken in the freezer and will be using that this week in something that I have not planned yet. I did buy some snacks. Now I know that many true frugal blogs stay away from snacks, but I really believe it is important to do what works for you. I had a store coupon to buy cookies that were on sale. When I get home someone (over 40) is going to ask me if I bought cookies anyway. It is just easier to get a few snacks. Now I did not show all the snacks to everyone. When purchasing certain things it is good to hide things so that they don't all get eaten immediately.  My trip also included eggs, bread, and a buy 1 get 2 free humus deal. Unfortunately there was no plain humus for the kids, but maybe they can try the flavored kinds. With careful shopping I still spent $95.00, however, I feel like we can eat for the next few days without feeling deprived.  The most amazing part is that it took careful shopping to only spend $95.00. It doesn't seem possible, but the cost of food is sky high.

My point of this very long winded post is to get the most out of your grocery money try to do the following:
  • Shop carefully and focus on what most people in your house will eat
  • You can get great ideas online, but make choices that you and your family can happily live with
  • Find a few meals your family enjoys that are cheap and easy
Now off to plan my menu.

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