Friday, December 4, 2009

Grocery woes

Yesterday I spent a great deal of time at the grocery store, and let me tell you, I am really getting fed up with how expensive it is to eat healthy. The things like fresh fruit and veggies, whole wheat bread, and yogurt get to be so expensive when you have a very small grocery budget! I'm estimating around $25 of my weekly budget this week were to those things alone, which some of you might think is reasonable, but with a tiny budget that doesn't leave much for regular food, vitamins, toilet paper, laundry detergent, cleaning and beauty supplies, ect. We honestly rarely buy junk food these days (or even things like cheese, for goodness sakes) so you'd think my bill would be lower than back in those days, but it's actually higher (yet my budget is lower) and I'm looking for ways to cut back.

One thing I've come up with is to buy the generic coffee instead of my beloved Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut or Seattle's Best blend. It will save me around four dollars every two to three weeks (which, to be honest, isn't really worth it) but I've got to trim costs somehow! I'm even brewing one cup less everyday to try and squeeze a few more days out of each bag!

I'm also (probably) giving up my 100 calorie packs of cookies. They are my one sweet that I
regularly allow myself but it is about three bucks a week for those. Maybe just buy them one week a month? You can guess which week...

What else?? Microwave meals. Yep, those add up quickly. I usually get them on sale for around two bucks each, but buying two or three for me and a couple for the kiddo gets expensive. I hate to give them up though, they honestly save me from fast food at lunchtime more times than I can count. Maybe I'll just go to one a week and see how it goes. If I turn to fast food, the money is better spent on those Lean Cuisines! :)

Let me ask this: What does everyone eat for lunch, besides turkey sandwiches or diet microwave meals? Those are my go-to lunches, and I really don't want to start eating lunchmeat six days a week! I don't really care for most soups (especially the low-fat, low-sodium type) so that is out...and I need things that would actually be cheaper than $2-$2.50 a meal, yet calorie friendly.

Any ideas?

Lastly, I know that it is way past time to give up the bottled water. I HATE this expense but we all drink so much more water when I buy it bottled and frankly, Hubby has been insisting on me buying it for a long while now. We've tried plain tap water and even a sink filter attachment before and we all hated it and everyone stopped drinking water altogether .

(Side note: Our water here is from Lake Erie and there are constantly these muscle things and algae blooms that get into the water supply and make it taste disgusting. Few people here drink tap water for this reason. Even my coffee gets funk-y.)

I think what I'll do to start is buy a big jug of generic water for two bucks (instead of the four to five bucks I spend for the Ice Mountain bottles) and see if everyone will still drink it and if Hubby will go along with it.

And now I'm out of ideas. Those changes won't add up to much...I need to think bigger! But what??

Wow. Long, rambling, boring post. Sorry, the grocery budget is totally on my mind today! :) Any cost cutting ideas out there for me? Please, share!!


  1. Hmmm, let's see...
    Our lunches are always weird. Actually, all my meals are weird. I usually start out by picking a protein, then a veggie or fruit, then a grain, etc. We eat an awful lot of canned beans (esp. black beans), and apples which we buy at a local farm for dirt cheap. Lunch for me is often a piece of peanut butter toast and an apple. The kiddo will have something like black beans, half an apple, and a "tortilla pizza" broiled in the oven. (Um, that's some shredded mozz. on a tortilla, no sauce b/c she hates tomato sauce.) Baked potatoes in the microwave are cheap, quick, healthy and filling. Homemade humus is cheap (once you invest in the jar of tahini); dip some fresh veggies in it to lighten it up a bit. Supper tonight was half a can of tuna, a buttload of broccoli, and some quinoa. Bananas are cheap, healthy, and filling. We'll get canned varieties of some fruits: pears and mandarin oranges mainly. If you buy whatever produce is in season, it tends to be a lot cheaper.

    Don't resort to lunch meat! It's chock full of nasty chemicals:0P

    Nate just discovered Greek yogurt (which apparently you can get fat-free), and he says it's super creamy and absolutely fantastic with a bit of honey.

    You could make your own whole wheat bread for way cheaper than buying it (HAHAHA, JUST KIDDING;0)... what mom has time to do that!)

    Our Wal-Mart has a "water refill station", where you can refill gallon jugs for (I assume) cheaper than buying new. Our water's fine, so we just drink tap.

    That's it, Miss... That's all I've got for ya. Are you sorry you asked?

  2. I am still glad I asked! ;)

    I don't 'do' beans though, and greek yogurt makes me gag. :) However, I hadn't thought of baked potatoes for lunch. That is a great idea!

    I'm going to look into the refill stations. If they just refill with Toledo water though, it wouldn't make sense.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. My lunches alternate among eggs, cheese, and peanut butter. Occasionally dinner leftovers, too, which are a great microwave meal. It's easy enough to plan dinners big enough to provide leftovers.

    Eggs would be harder to bring to work, unless you like egg salad, deviled eggs, or hardboiled eggs.

    Cheese I eat as a sandwich, or on crackers, or on apple slices. Sometimes grilled cheese, but again that wouldn't travel to work well.

    Peanut butter is for sandwiches or crackers (thin sliced apples go great with either). I don't like jelly on my peanut butter.

    There's also tuna, but I generally don't buy it.

    We also used to roast a chicken, ham, or pork or beef roast and slice it thin for sandwich meat. We kept it in portions in the freezer.

    For sides we almost always have carrots (the peel your own kind, not the baby ones) and some kind of fruit, usually apples, oranges, or bananas. Occasionally we add pretzels or crackers.

    I like yogurt, but generally buy a carton of plain yogurt to avoid the corn syrup and other yucky stuff. I add fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, and if needed, some maple syrup. We don't have it often -- I keep forgetting to get it.

    We used to get the refillable water jugs when we lived in a place with nasty water. A little lime or lemon juice or mint leaves can make water a little more palatable. I'm asking for stainless steel water bottles for Christmas this year -- having a bottle right on your desk does make it easier to drink more.

    A bread machine could make whole wheat bread for you. I don't like the texture of the bread baked in the machine, but using the dough cycle still saves some time.

    I make tortillas occasionally -- it is time-consuming, but the dough can be frozen, and so can the finished tortillas, so sometimes it's worth the effort. Very cheap, too -- just flour, a little olive oil, water, and salt.

    Quesadillas are quick and easy for home meals -- shred some cheddar (shredding it yourself saves money, and it doesn't mold as quickly as pre-shredded cheese) or your favorite cheese on a tortilla, top with another, and heat under the broiler or in a pan on the stove. Instead of sour cream, use strained yogurt for dipping -- line a strainer with a clean cloth, dump some plain yogurt in, and let it sit in the fridge for several hours. It's a lot like cream cheese.

    Do you not like any beans at all? I don't like big beans, but have learned to like lentils, black beans, and navy beans when properly cooked and nicely seasoned.

    Make your own pasta sauce and chicken broth -- easy to do on a stay-home Saturday, because mostly it's just occasional stirring. Both can be frozen in portions and thawed for meals. We get about twelve dinners-for-three out of a pot of pasta sauce, so we don't have to make it that often. Maybe three meals from a pot of stock.

  4. You should listen to her, Miss, it sounds like she knows her stuff;0) I'm just fumbling along...

    Oooo, I forgot all about eggs. We do a lot of scrambled eggs for protein (it's just about the only kind I like). Also french toast that I make with just some eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. I make the egg to bread ratio about one-to-one, so they're very protein-rich. And we cut them into slices for dunking in a little bit of syrup, less than a quarter cup. So it's not a lot of calories but it's filling, fairly healthy, and satisfies a sweet tooth:0)

  5. n8swife, ha! I'm a fumbler, too.

    Your mention of french toast reminds me of puff oven pancakes! 3 eggs, 1/2 c milk, mix well, gradually whisk in 1/2 c flour, then 2 T melted butter. Bake in an iron skillet or greased 9x9 pan at 450 for 15 minutes. Great with blueberries or other fruit, sliced on top after baking, or dropped in the batter before.

    Also? I don't like blueberry skins. So when we bought plain yogurt this weekend, I heated some blueberries in a pot, smushed them when soft, then put them through a fine strainer. The resulting sauce is wonderful stirred into the yogurt, and I don't have to add much maple syrup.

  6. My kiddo has the same problem with blueberries... but they're so good for you! Maybe I'll try your technique;0)