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Thursday, February 21, 2008

My $100 grocery budget and tips for saving on your grocery bill

I did a post back in October on how I kept my grocery budget under $120. In that post, I had pictures of the grocery shopping I had done earlier in the day for a total of $29.76. I also listed a number of ways I keep my grocery budget so low. Today I did some grocery shopping for meat and some other misc items. Here is what I bought:

- 2 packages of chicken breasts
- 2 packages of drumsticks
- 2 whole hens
- 2 packages of chicken wings
- 1 bag of roma tomatoes
- 1 bag of onions
- 1 bag of organic baby carrots
- 2 gallons of water (not shown)
- 1 bottle of bbq sauce

Total = $24.90

One big way to save on groceries each month is to package the food you buy into servings sizes. Your serving size depends on how many people are in your family. I separate out my sizes based on how much food my daughter and I consume in one meal. Take for instance drumsticks: My daughter will eat one drumstick while I will eat two. So I package those in threes.

I know some folks are visual so here is what the groceries looked like after I cleaned and packaged them up:

I have 14 servings bags of chicken. If we ate chicken for dinner everyday, this would last us more than 2 weeks (Remember that I also bought 2 whole hens). Since sometimes we eat fish or no meat at all this will last us even longer. It might even last the whole month.

And just in case you don't feel like clicking on the link to that post from October, here is what my veggies looked like after I did my packaging thing:

I do most of my shopping at a farmer's market located across the street from my apartment complex. So the food I buy is fresh and majority are organic. So I buy organic foods and STILL stay under $100 a month. I buy other lil things like soy milk, tofu, eggs, orange juice, rice and little snacks for my daughter from Dollar General Supermarket or Walmart.


Stop buying more food than you use.

If your food is perishable, then don't buy more than you know you will cook. It makes no sense to buy a whole gallon of milk when you know it will expire in a week and you will most likely only use no more than half of it. I purchase what I know I will use. Nothing more. The only time it really makes since to buy more than you use is on items that are on sale at a ridiculously low price and have a long shelf life. If you HAVE to buy more than you use than do the following:

Freeze what you wont use in a week

This only applies to foods that perish pretty quickly. I used to have a problem with spoiled veggies and fruits. I either never got to them fast enough or I totally forgot I had them and they would go bad. Freezing my food has helped me in that area. I just wish my freezer was larger.

Organize your food

How many times has food spoiled in your fridge because you forgot it was there. Or you went shopping and bought something only to find out that you already had it in my fridge or pantry. Organize your food and it will allow you to keep a better track of what you have in your fridge and pantry.

Freeze your leftovers

There is no rule that says that you have to eat your leftovers the very next day. Freeze them and have them next week. What do you think frozen dinners are? Food that was cooked (to a point) and then frozen. Your leftovers can be handled the same way. I made chili in my crockpot 2 weeks ago and I some last night. And it was goood!! Key to make your leftovers taste even better than before......

Leftovers + Microwave = Blah!

Microwaving leftovers removes some flavor out of them and leaves them quite bland. If your leftovers taste good then you will be more likely to eat it instead of throwing it away, therefore WASTING food and throwing out money. Use your stove top, toaster oven, or stove oven to reheat your leftovers.

Invest in a crockpot

I resort to using my crockpot before I think about going shopping. Why? You’ll be amazed by the different dishes you can make using a crockpot. They usually don’t require that many ingredients and most of those are things lying around your pantry or fridge. Just throw in some veggies, meat (or no meat), broth, and your own spices and you got a banging stew. Check out this site for crockpot recipes.

Stop being so conventional when it comes to cooking

Try new things. Use what you already have to create a dish. A meal does not always have to be a meat, veggie, and side. Think outside the box. Don't have the ground beef to make your lasagna? Then make yourself a banging veggie lasagna. Who said you absolutely NEEDED meat? Do this and you will cut back on those unnecessary trips to the grocery store that tend to add up big time.

Exhaust all options before going grocery shopping

You THINK you don't have food in your fridge? Let me come up in there and TRUST I will come up with a meal that would knock your socks off. Before professing to the world that you have no food at your house and you NEED to go shopping, exhaust all options first. Take an inventory of what you have and see if there isn't a meal in there hiding somewhere. You can also check out this
site. It is a recipe search engine that helps you find recipes based on the ingredients you already have in your fridge.

Look, saving on groceries is not rocket science but it does take some dedication. If you are not willing to invest a lil of your time then you might as well keep doing what you are doing and spending what you're spending. You don't have to do ALL the things I listed above. Just make some changes here and there and trust me you will see a difference.


Fabulously Broke said...

That's what I do!!!!!!

Single Ma said...

This is a great post!

It's funny, I'm a meat eater and I have to force myself to eat vegetables. But looking at these pics, that raw meat looks gross. Makes me want to become a vegan. And the veggies made me smile. I'm like mmm, look at all that stuff. LOL

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I've been trying to *clean* out my pantry and only purchase what I need to go with what I have. I have been amazed by how little I've been spending the past couple of weeks.


Jessi said...

Couple of questions.

Which, if any, of those veggies did you freeze? Can you do that? I think that's my problem. I don't know what I can and cannot freeze. It's just me and I love veggies, but buying them is very wasteful because I'm the only one eating them.

It looks like you washed and seasoned your meat before freezing. Is that so? What a great idea.

What did this trip to the grocery store end up costing you? I don't think you did say. I'm just curious how much all of that meat cost.

Seems like I had another question, but, off the top of my head, can't remember. LOL


Dimples said...

@ fabulously broke

Get it girl!

@ Single Ma

I thought the same thing about the meat when I was laying it out for the picture. It looked nasty. But it sho taste good when it is prepared.

@ Terri

Thanks! I am telling you. Just making lil changes can result in big differences.

@ Jessi

Actually I froze all of them. Only freeze carrots if you are going to cook with them at another time. Obviously thawing frozen carrots and then eating them is not a good idea. Eggplants is a tricky one. They retain water if you freeze them and then thaw them. You have to actually squeeze the moisture out of them before using them. After that they are good to go. White potatoes are tricky also. Once thawed they are not as crisp as they are fresh. But if you are just using them in a stew or something then they are fine. Everything else is up for grabs.

Yes I washed and seasoned my chicken. So all I do when it is time to cook is take them out the bag and put them in my baking dish.

I updated the post with the total for the trip: $24.90

Hit me up when you remember that other question. LOL

JW said...

Thanks for the great tips

High Class said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CT Mom said...

Hi DD - I am amazed that you were able to buy all that food for <$25. Here in CT it would cost double that amount. Would love to know how your daughter likes her chicken prepared - I've got a picky 7 year old and always looking for new ideas. Enjoy your feast!

Dimples said...

@ JW

Your welcome!

@ CT Mom

I shop at a local farmers market. They are really inexpensive. Check and see if you have one around your way. I bake or grill my chicken. I don't fry it or anything for that matter. My daughter doesn't really care about how it is prepared as long as she can eat it with ketchup. Only exclusion is stews.

Do you involve your daughter in cooking the meals? My daughter was picky too until I allowed her to help me make dinner. Now she eats all her veggies and stuff because she has a hand in making them.

Lilo said...

What a great post! Thanks for all the tips! Say, do you reuse your zip lock bags? Coz those sure are a lot of bags. I wonder if you can freeze in tupperwares? I read in another of your post that you wanted to learn oracle. You can download and install a personal version for free just so you know. And there site has great tutorials.
All the best!

Dimples said...

@ lilo

I reuse the ones I had the veggies in. I buy my baggies from a dollar store. I buy 1 box of each size (gallon, quart, and sandwich) @ $1.70 each. They last about 1.5 to 2 months. Not that many if you think about. Yes you can freeze the tupperwares. That is what I freeze my leftovers in. What is the site for oracle? Email it to me (dimplesdivine at gmail dot com)

fandd said...

Great post. Groceries is one area of my budget that I'm always struggling with. I took your advice from your last grocery shopping post and started freezing my chicken with the marinade. Yummy! Chicken frozen with Italian salad dressing and parmesan cheese is the bomb!

Dimples said...

@ fandd

Thanks. Italian dressing and parmesan cheese huh? I may need to try that out.

Crockpot Lady said...

I just wanted to shout out about the crockpot---although this year is crazy due to my experiment, my family usually saves quite a bit crockpot cooking.
any hunk of frozen meat and a bottle of pasta sauce over rice or pasta can be eaten for days with only spending about $1 a day on food.
it saves on energy, too!

Canadian Saver said...

CT mom said all that food would have cost double in CT. Well in Canada it would have easily been triple, if not quadruple. No lie. I can't ever find chicken for under $3.50 a pound... unless I want to only eat drumsticks.

This is a great post!!!

Tired of being broke said...

Looks like I might need to invest in a crockpot.
Any advice there?

Dimples said...

@ crockpot lady

Welcome hon. Love love your site!

@ canadian silver

Thanks. I definitely understand that price vary throughout the world. The idea is to spend less than you have been. Even if that means bringing down the budget from $400 to $275. It is still something. Get me?

@ tired

None really. Just make sure you get one the right size for you. If it is just you then get a 3.5 quart one. If you have a family then try a 5 quart crockpot.

Kaiser Villaviciencio said...

Whoa! All those grocery items for just $24.90?? Seriously, you have a really good budgeting skill there. Packaging the food, huh? Hmm, sounds helpful and wise. It's like those meals being prepared in diners.

Anonymous said...

That's not healthy eating, you dumbass. You got a ton of meat and no vegetables or grains. You're gonna eat bbq chicken for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week? If that really was your food budget, you'd have nothing left and no real food. Rich asshole.