Image by AlishaV
Okay, it’s time to ‘fess up! What do I spend my money on at the grocery store? What do I use it for? And how do I keep costs down (or how could I do a better job)?
Remember that our family is almost entirely grain-free. I will occasionally eat a slice of traditional sourdough bread at this point, no more than one slice per day. But no one else eats any. So, I’m not able to rely on buying cheap rice, oats, etc. to keep costs down. So, here is what I bought last Friday:
- 3 16-oz. bottles of kombucha — $10
- 32-oz. bottle organic grape juice — $3 (kombucha flavoring)
- 25 bananas — $5 (some I’ll use with coconut flour to make banana pancakes)
- 3 lbs. frozen pineapple tidbits — $4.50 (smoothies and snacks)
- 2 lbs. uncured hot dogs — $8 (quick lunches)
- 4 lbs. organic pink lady apples — $5 ( snacks)
- 2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach — $2.60 (soups and smoothies)
- 3 bags (12 oz.) organic frozen strawberries — $6 (smoothies, yogurt popsicles)
- 2.5 lbs. frozen chicken breast tenderloins — $7 (various meals)
- 12 oz. wild organic blueberries — $4 (smoothies)
- 1 lb. frozen peas — $1.30 (various dinners/soups)
- 24 oz. frozen mango chunks — $2.50 (smoothies)
- 2 heads fresh broccoli — $3.50 (soups, side dishes)
- 0.65 lbs. raw Romano cheese — $4 ( snacks, meal toppings)
- 5 lbs. organic Russet potatoes — $4 (various meals, soups)
- 1.5 lbs. raw cheddar cheese — $8 (snacks, meal toppings)
- 1 small jar garlic powder — $2
- 1 small jar organic oregano — $2
- 1/2 gallon orange juice — $2 (smoothies)
- 0.65 lb. mild raw cheddar — $2.50 (soups)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes — $1
- 2 cans sliced stewed tomatoes — $1
- 4 cans tuna — $2.50 (quick lunch)
All of this cost about $100. There are some compromise items in there. Let me explain:
- All veggies/fruits not on the dirty dozen list were purchased non-organic.
- Tomatoes are on the “low pesticide” list, and even organic tomatoes are canned with BPA. Decided not to pay 3x the price for basically the same thing. (I prefer to buy in glass, but….)
- Tuna is a fast lunch that the kids like, if I don’t have leftovers, hot dogs, etc. We eat it about once/week for right now, and I buy it packed in water.
- I rely heavily on cheap frozen fruits/veggies from Trader Joe’s (which is where most of this was purchased)
- Cheap fresh produce usually comes from a local health food store (Raisin Rack)
- Yes, I bought kombucha. We’re in a position to need it, and mine wasn’t *quite* ready. In the future I won’t need to do that because I’m keeping up with brewing now.
Additionally, I will be buying about 8 dozen eggs ($24) and 3 gallons of raw milk ($15). I already set aside this money. We eat eggs for breakfast every morning, they go in smoothies, in ice cream, into yogurt popsicles, and I’ll use them for banana pancakes. Milk is simply drunk straight, made into yogurt, and mixed into smoothies. Yogurt popsicles are a favorite and frugal snack.
I also have quite the pantry and freezer stash I’ll be relying on. I’ll try to add these up as I use them to get a good idea of what I’m *really* spending. (Even if adding those on makes me go over, which I’m pretty sure it will, I know that I will still be significantly reducing my grocery bill! I’m not spending nearly as much at the store and I always pull from the pantry/freezer.)
Right now I have:
- 1 lb. garbanzo beans (dry)
- 1 lb. pinto beans (dry)
- 2 lbs. white beans (dry)
- 1 lb. red beans (dry)
- 1 lb. black beans (dry)
- 12 jars strained tomatoes
- 1 54-oz. jar coconut oil
- 1 lb. coconut flour
- 3 – 4 jars applesauce (canned from last year)
- 3 lbs. white sugar (for kombucha)
- Large black tea bags (for kombucha)
- 1 lb. bacon
- Tons (like, 350 lbs.) of beef, from our cow purchase in Jan. All cuts.
- 4 – 6 chickens and stewing hens (I stocked up when Whole Foods had a sale a couple weeks ago!)
- 1 – 2 bags frozen green pepper halves (from last summer)
- 1 qt. olive oil (it’s not full though)
Yes, I’ll be pulling from these a lot. Many of these items are quite cheap if you buy them on sale and/or in bulk. Beans are $1 – $2/lb, and there are so many different things you can do with them. I’ll be making large pots of white chicken chili and Italian chili for us to eat for meals and snacks. If I have enough honey, I’ll make the kids some white bean vanilla cupcakes. And of course, you can find many excellent ideas and recipes (plus tips on how to buy and prepare dried beans) in Katie’s The Everything Beans Book! (Get ready for my full review and a giveaway this weekend!)
Most of these pantry items are purchased from my regular weekly budget. I just buy more than I will need. This is very simple with cheap items like dried beans. It’s not a big deal to buy 3 lbs. instead of 1 when you’re only talking paying $3 instead of $1. I try to rotate when I replace them so that it’s not a strain on me all at once. I can afford to pay $6 for a new bottle of olive oil one week, $20 for several chickens another week (knowing I’ll use at least one that week and stretch it), $20 for coconut oil another week, and so on. I try not to have to spend more than $20 per 2 weeks on “pantry” items unless I find a really awesome deal. But, that’s how I keep the smaller staples around.
Now, the cow…most people don’t buy a whole one. Most buy a quarter, or a side. Then you’re talking maybe 150 – 200 lbs. at once, not over 500. We paid $2.50/lb. plus the processing fee, which worked out to about $3/lb. It’s a nice way to get roasts and steaks, which you could not otherwise afford. (Or, we couldn’t….) If you can set aside $10 – $20 from each week then you can pull this off. $10 is very doable for most.
Cheap produce is really key. Bananas are a favorite and so cheap. Apples are not bad, though of course much cheaper in the fall. Frozen produce is a huge help! Spinach is very cheap and currently a favorite to add to various soups and smoothies, plus it’s an excellent Superfood!
Did I stick to my list? Yes, for the most part. I’d forgotten we needed some spices, and I hadn’t written down potatoes. But I decided not to buy yogurt (I can make it) and made a couple other swaps to keep it all on track.
Right now, I can’t wait until the farmers’ markets open and I can start saving by buying locally and seasonally!
How’s your grocery spending going?
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