Saving Money on Groceries
Posted by Gail | Filed under Smart Shopper
“Groceries and personal care” is one of the biggest categories on my budget. Initially when I moved to my new home I randomly chose an amount I thought was reasonable. I haven’t come in under budget once so far this year! When I was talking about it with Alex she said, “But Mom, cooking is entertainment for you, so what are you spending your entertainment money on?” Food, it seems.
She’s right. I love to cook. I love to experiment. And I’m determined to keep a well-stocked fridge. Well, I have been until recently. The last time I scraped out half a container of pasta salad and then dumped three uneaten pork chops I realized I was still cooking as if I were feeding the multitudes. With just Alex and me most of the time, I needed to cut way back on portions. And since Malcolm doesn’t eat any of the food we eat – he’s a fruit, veggie and fish man – I needed to revamp my thinking.
First stop: The freezer. I decided not to buy a single thing more until I’d used up what was in my freezer. Freezer stocking was something I developed when I lived in the bush. Now that I’m in town, a nano-second away from the store, I can afford to stock up less. It was hard to walk past the chicken sale. It was hard to walk past the sale on steaks. I did it. Determined as I was to simplify my food management, I let the freezer run right down.(It needed a good wiping anyway.) Then I gave in and bought three packs of ribs, which were very deeply discounted.
Next stop: My recipe box. One of the things I do is pre-cook on the weekends so there’s food in the fridge all week. Being away a couple of days at work means Alex must fend for herself. She’s perfectly capable, but I was feeling some mother-duty-crapola that had me prepping so she’d have three choices for every meal. Lord forbid we should run out of food. OMG! She, of course, only ate as much as she wanted, and I got frustrated with what was left over. My bad. Now I’m cooking in much smaller portions, with the idea of running out! This has me re-evaluating my recipes for the ones that give me smaller portions and more flexibility.
Third stop: My staples. If you think you always have to have cheddar cheese just in case, it’s a staple. I used to have a lot more staples than I’m working with now. I’ve trimmed right back on what I think I need to keep in inventory so it’s always handy. I’m also buying in smaller quantities and it’s making seeing into the fridge much easier.
Final stop: My shopping list. I routinely keep a list on the fridge, adding whatever it is I’ve just opened the last of, and restocking when I go shopping. But this month I’ve decided to keep the restocking to a minimum. With the markets so close by, I don’t need a huge inventory any more. And I’m finding that with the summer I’m eating very differently: lighter food, more salads, stuff you pretty well have to buy fresh. I’m not buying anything that’s not on my list now, and it’s helped me not react when I’m in the store.
They say you should eat before you go shopping because shopping hungry tempts you with everything that makes the saliva drip out of your mouth. Those peaches look so juicy. That bread smells so gooood. I find shopping with a limited amount of time available also helps. I have to dart in, grab what I need and get the hell out because I’m due somewhere else in ten. It has stopped me browsing.
I’m half-way through a month that’s cost me about half as much as it used to. Hmm. This conscious shopping works! Imagine that.