Just like plenty of households, retired and otherwise, we have a non traditional makeup. Besides myself there is my sister who works traditional hours and leaves the house before eight, and my almost thirty year old son, who works and goes to school full time. The end result of course, is that we are all our own for breakfasts and lunch and we generally eat together at dinner most days, although adult son may eat earlier or later.
My sister is not a breakfast person, buys the sweet morning snacks that she eats at work, either buys her own frozen Trader Joe's lunches or eats leftovers. My son and I eat traditional breakfast style food, leftovers or sandwiches for lunches.
So how does this all work in the grocery, cooking department? The working gal buys the above stuff and generally cooks the two nights she is off. She generally "cooks" more than I do making things from hangar steak to complicated things like oxtail stew. I cook the other five nights unless my son actually has a night off and wants to cook. We are not obsessive round here about grocery cost equality, because it works out in other ways. For example, my sister buys the plants and does the yard work. My style of cooking tends to be slow cooker and cool casseroles which usually are frugal as well as easy. And usually a meal in themselves (barring a salad or bread). Like the slow cooker chicken pot pie recipe below.
Put briefly, my method of cutting the food budget is this: We have a set amount of food items we buy every week and I buy those no matter what but am happy when they are on sale. This includes milk, bread, eggs, juice, produce, healthy snacks, and a couple other things. Things in our house that are so regular that Clicklist (see below) now recognizes them without fail. For everything else (with a few exceptions here and there like oatmeal) I shop from the sale section of the paper (mainly the front page) and buy more than one of each. I plan my meals from our freezer and pantry, rather than making a list. And it has to be said, we are not picky eaters. I can count on my fingers things that I do not eat, and I am the pickiest. So in our house you will find beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish and seafood, Indian food, Oxtails, shortribs, German food and yes, calves liver on a regular basis (although because of price and cholesterol, the calves liver has it's limits. You will, however, rarely find vegetarian dishes. We are what we are.
Having shared all that, here are the inroads I made in our food budget planning this particular week.
1. I've decided to shop exclusively via Clicklist, and then drop into other stores to grab sale stuff only. Clicklist recognizes my regular purchases and fills them in for me, and while I won't say I don't do ANY spontaneous buying (this week I got valentine cupcakes from the bakery), there is none of that grabbing stuff that looks fun as I go up and down the aisles. Four dollars a week is a small price to pay for pulling up to the store and having bags loaded into your car and leaving again.. And yes, they select good produce and meat.
|You can also get paper bags, which I usually prefer because I use them for recycling!|
2. I've made two very low cost meals this week that gave a second day for each (plus lunches): slow cooker minestrone with hot bread and a double batch of sloppy joes made with 93 percent ground beef at half price.
3. The past couple weeks have not yielded much in the way of those front page loss leaders (lots of steak and chicken wing type stuff). This week, thankfully, is different. Boneless chuck is half price, boneless chicken breasts and pork chops are both less than half price, and butter is $1.99 just at a quick glance. So I may be spending a bit more than my weekly to stock up on things-this always averages out with the weeks that there is not much.
4. Cooking and freezing has never really been my thing other than baked goods. This week I decided that especially when I make casseroles or oven bakes like this one, instead of making one big casserole, I will make two smaller ones and freeze one. For the moment I bought some of those eight inch square casserole pans to help me on my way. If I succeed, I'll start getting glass. While I do freeze soup and such in Ziploc bags, I avoid plastic or metal for freezing because I prefer to reheat in an oven, I think it tastes better.
5. Starting next week I will have one day when I am gone throughout the day including lunch. I purchased a nice little lunch container, so that I can take food with me from my church/bible study group to my knitting group. Admittedly this is not officially grocery savings because fast food and restaurants are charged to my entertainment budget. But still......food. I'm sure at least one week a month I'll be hitting my local A&W which is directly on the way for a diet float and a hot dog, but three weeks out of four ain't bad. I still need a good quality water bottle that is still "cute and colorful".
|When in doubt? Vera Bradely-used or on clearance, of course!!|
As of next week, I'll be sharing the menu stuff in my frugal posts. Should I add the grocery list? Meanwhile, what's been frugal at your Casa? Food related or otherwise.