Cutting grocery costs

Cutting grocery costs

One of the areas that I consistently spent too much money on was food - both groceries and going out to eat. Cutting going out to eat seems like a no brainer - just don’t do it. However, it means that I have to have food to eat at home and I need to remember to bring food to work for breakfast and lunch. That requires meal planning.

My grocery budget was high for just two people even though we spent a lot of money going out. How could that be? We were wasting a lot of food. We’d order in instead of eating leftovers and the leftovers would end up being thrown out. Even worse were what I called the “vegetables of good intentions.” I would spend a lot of money buying healthy vegetables (fruit, too) and I wouldn’t end up eating them, they would go bad and I’d have to throw them out. The solution there: meal planning and actually sticking to it.

I would actually plan meals for the week quite frequently but then I would be tired when I came home and not want to cook and order in. The food I bought would eventually go to waste. This was a double whammy.

I decided to do something different for the month of May. I planned four weeks of meals. I looked at my plans for the month and figured we would need five meals per week. I tried to have one sheet* pan chicken recipe, one sheet pan pork or beef recipe, one pasta recipe, one stir fry/currry recipe, and one taco burrito night each week. The first weekend I did all the meat and pantry shopping for the whole month and produce and dairy shopping for the first week. I also prepped all the meat for each meal - portioned, trimmed, cut up, and marinaded - then stored the meat for each recipe in a freezer bag and popped them in the freezer. I also made chicken taco/burrito filling and black beans in the Instant Pot and then split them into four portions for the taco/burrito nights.

I’m still in the first week but it’s been easy to get home each night and finish making whichever meal is on the menu for that night. I take bags out of the freezer every couple of days so I always have meals for the next two days or so thawing in the fridge. My daughter is a busy teen and doesn’t always make it home for dinner every night and I usually bring leftovers to work for lunch so I figured five meals per week would be a good balance and allow me to use up all the leftovers. I will adjust for June if I have to if I find I need more meals or fewer.

Sheet pan dinners are amazing if you haven’t discovered them yet. Throw the meat and veggies on a sheet pan, throw it in the oven and soon dinner is done. It’s so easy and really tasty. I even have a cookbook called Sheet Pan Suppers that I use all the time:

In addition to meal planning to make sure I don’t waste food, I’ve also started a price book to figure out how to pay the lowest prices possible for the things I buy. So far, I’ve input prices from BJ’s, Trader Joe’s, and Stop & Shop (a local grocery chain). BJ’s prices have consistently been lower than the other two but I need to weigh that against the sizes I have to buy at the warehouse club, especially for perishables. I also compared prices for non-perishables against Amazon Prime Pantry and none of Amazon’s prices were lower than BJ’s.

I am planning to try a couple other local grocery chains to see if their prices are better. In addition, a Market Basket is opening up about 20 minutes from me soon. There is one now that’s about 40 minutes away that I’ve been too. I was really impressed by their selection and their prices but it’s a little too far away for a regular shop.

I will continue to look for ways to reduce our spending on food and household items and avoid food waste.

What's in name?

What's in name?

Family and Holidays

Family and Holidays