Grocery Budget Update

by HEAB on September 17, 2010

As you know, ever since returning from Michigan, Chris and I have really been watching our grocery budget. It’s going well thus far. I don’t have any specific numbers for you yet, but I’m really interested to see how much we will have saved come the end of the month. I thought I’d share a few tips that have helped us thus far.

1) If you don’t want to reduce the quality of your food, simply look for foods that are just as nutritious, but significantly cheaper. Apparently, this is a whole new concept for me…price tag/label reading. Yeah, never been very good at that. 😉 For instance, instead of grabbing the big tub of organic spinach for $3.99 at Costco, we’ve been buying huge bunches of kale for about $.75 per bag. I was never a huge fan of raw kale, but I do love it cooked. So, instead of making a salad with a tons of raw spinach, I’ll make roasted or sautéed kale the base of my salads, etc. Another example is my HEABified Coconut Milk. 64 ounces cost less than $2.00 to make, which is about as much as I was paying for only 32 ounces of store bought almond milk.

2) Identify the really expensive foods. CD and I love our mushrooms, but neither of us are fans of a lot of veggie chopping. So, over the past year, we have been buying the 10 ounce containers of sliced mushrooms from Trader Joe’s. I would dump a whole container in the skillet for just one meal. Seriously, I think the TJ’s cashiers thought I had a problem as my cart was always filled to the brim with mushrooms. Well, the cost of our beloved shrooms really started to add up…even the whole ones aren’t the cheapest option when it comes to veggies. So now, instead of filling our meals with mushrooms, we’ll simply use a few, chop them ourselves, and fill the skillet with cheaper veggies. Also, I was buying a lot of bagged slaw mix, but it’s so much cheaper to buy one big head of cabbage and cut it yourself. Yes, it means a little more prep work in the kitchen, but all those little ways to save really do add up.

3) Buy in bulk when appropriate. We do a lot of our shopping at Costco. Items we save money on there include cheese (goat for me, Parm for CD), wild salmon, butter, rolled oats, brown rice, almond butter, bacon, and certain fruits and veggies when in season. However, often times, people leave the store thinking they got a great deal on a certain item, only to walk out with a lifetime supply of some food they will never eat. Go with a list. Do not buy the 5 pound bag of trail mix just because it seems like a bargain.

4) Meat is not cheap, especially the good quality stuff. So, this another item we buy in bulk. Chris and I like to eat grass-fed finished beef, and if we buy more than 30 pounds at a time from our favorite local farm, we get a discount. If you know you’ll eat the meat eventually, then buy in large quantities at a discounted rate if available and freeze. I’ve also found that grass-fed finished meat is much cheaper at our local farmer’s market than it is at the grocery store.

5) CD’s advice: Do not think about the cost of food according to the label, but more in terms of price per calorie. For instance, brown rice from Costco is a heck of lot cheaper per calorie than a small package of gluten free hot cereal from the health food store. Eggs are super cheap per calorie and a great source of fat and protein. A bar of dark chocolate may seem expensive, but when you calculate price per calorie, it’s not too bad. Same goes for almond butter (if you buy it at Costco…not Whole Foods). Jay Robb rice protein powder??? Yeah, not so much. :(

6) Last, but not least, give the husband the grocery list and let him do the shopping. Hehe…this one has helped us tremendously, and I was more than happy to let CD go to the grocery store in my place. I NEVER stuck to the list…I swear those pints of coconut milk ice-cream just kept calling my name, not to mention the super expensive gluten free cookies…oh, and I needed some coconut flour. Well, you get the idea. 😉

So, these are all the tips I have for you thus far, and I’ll continue to keep you updated with our progress.

An example of a money saving meal for ya…


Last night’s dinner

Normally, I would have cooked up an entire container of sliced mushrooms, tons of spinach, 1/2 a bag of slaw mix, etc. Instead, I chopped a 1/4 of a head of cabbage and sauteed it in butter, along with 1/2 an onion, carrots, celery, kale, and a few Brussels sprouts. I seasoned the veggies with salt, pepper, and mustard, and topped them off with some cooked bacon and 1/2 of a grilled grass fed finished steak from the farmer’s market. Yay, I’m learning to save money and not sacrificing my taste buds while doing it!

Question of the day: Guess what CD does for a living? All correct answers will be entered to win a jar of…

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Good luck and happy Friday! :)