Thursday, July 28, 2011

Eating on a budget

Grocery shopping these days can be a trial, for sure. When you have a budget and you try to stick to it, the prices today can make that hard. It is very stress inducing, because though you can control your grocery bill somewhat by the choices you make, you can't do without food. It is a necessity.

I'vs shared a few blog entries about eating on a budget, essays containing my ideas on ways to save. One is here, another is here.

Prices are even higher than the last time I posted on this issue. One way to save is to delay shopping for a few days or so. We tend to open the fridge, see that our one favorite item is gone, and say "Goodness, I need to go shopping!" You would be surprised at how long you can delay grocery shopping by just eating what you have on hand. I tried it myself, and I ended up putting off shopping for a week. Now, I'm single and I don't have children, so things will undoubtedly be different at your house. But even then, if the Sugar Pops are out, and you feel you need to go buy more, how often do we emerge from the store with just that one replacement item? Rarely. Try putting it off a day or two or three.

My budget is maximum $30 for fresh food at the grocery store, and maximum $20 for hard goods at the Dollar Store. I was disappointed this week that I'd spent $24 at the Dollar Store and $36 at the grocery store. I was very careful, but still, it was $10 over budget. I hadn't bought any extras, but only the bare minimum.

At the grocery store, I purchased 26 items. Seventeen of those were sale items. Fifteen of the sale items were from the sale flyer, which I peruse before-hand and make studious choices. Studious means I don't buy them just because they are on sale. I buy them if they are something I normally eat, and can make a frugal recipe from. The other two sale items were 'on the spot sale items.' One was tomatoes marked down and the other was bread that was a day past date.

As for the bread, I was pretty excited. It was an artisan bread, a Ciabatta. It was pretty hard, lol. But it was large and only $1.99, the regular price was twice that and so was something I'd never buy in the normal course of things. The other item that was on spot sale was a bag of good, plump Roma tomatoes, a huge bag, for .99. I have no idea why they were priced so low, but I snatched them up before you could say Jack Robinson. At home, lunch became a ciabatta bread bruschetta and tofu I'd grilled. I diced up the tomatoes with their juice and added a touch of olive oil and salt-pepper. Let it soak for a while, then slice up the hard bread and top it with the tomato and juices. It softens up, except for the crust- but I like hard crust. Another way to have hard bread is for breakfast, to add butter and grill or toast, and then top with soft-boiled egg.

Another way to monitor spending is to refrain from eating lunch out. School starts up on Monday, yes indeed. My summer is coming to a rapid end. I pack a lunch every day and I avoid the vending machine. You'd be surprised how 50 cents or 75 cents adds up every day. Not to mention 7 or 8 dollars for lunch. Invariably I'm disappointed with lunch out or brought in. If it is brought in it is always cold, soggy and often not my order, lol. I can have collegiality with my friends but eat my own brought lunch.

From what I read of the farm forecasts and economic forecasts, prices are only going to go up. I pray for families. It is really hard these days to eat healthy on a budget. I hope some of these ideas help you. Please feel free to share your tips.

1 comment:

Christie said...

Have you ever tried Bittman's no-knead bread recipe? You can make a really good loaf for around $0.50. When my friend told me that I had to seriously question why I was willing to spend nearly $4 to get a loaf at the bakery up the street. Also, even with the kid, we often try to put together meals with whatever we have on hand. Although now that we have been doing that for a while we have less on hand to make meals with.