Thursday, January 31, 2013

The basics

Good morning. If you are just looking at this blog for the first time, this blog is about eating on the cheap.
Almost everyone has times in their lives when they need to economize. People loose their jobs, decide to save for a vacation or the down payment on a home, or just don't want to waste money. This blog is designed to save 1/2 on your grocery bill.

1/2 price groceries takes a three pronged approach :

Plan and organize
Shop wisely
Cook from scratch

1) plan and organize
Any endeavor starts better with a plan. Start with comimg up with at least 7 main dish recipes that use inexpensive protein sources that your family will eat. Try to eventually get tp 14 so that you have variety.

Plan your meals after you get home from the shopping trip. Use what you have in the refer that you need to use up and the new things that you bought. It doesn't have to be fancy, just jot down om a piece of paper the main dishes. One of the best way to derail your budget is to not have a plan. Having to answer the question " what's for dinner" after a long hard day makes it too easy to say. "take out".

Make a list of the staples that you use often. In our house it would be cheese, beans, refried beans, diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, some tuna and canned corn and green beans. Make a spread sheet or a small spiral notebook that has the name of the food, the size of the container, the date you bought it, the store, and the price. Pretty soon you will get a consensus of what the cheapest price for that food. This is harder with rising costs right now, but it still helps. When something is the rock bottom price, buy

A) as much as your money will allow
B) as many as the store will allow you yo buy
Or C) as many as you need to replenish your stock.
If I use the item once a week, I want to have 24. If I use it once a month I keep 6.
This isn't about hording.
Havimg a stock gives you a sense of security, you have enough to make a meal no matter what happens and makes you prepared for a natural disaster.

2) shop wisely
When the grocery ads come out. Take a piece of computer paper, divide it into fourths. Put the name of the store on the top of each quarter. Now go over the ads and write down everything you are out of, the meat and veggie ads Ttat are cheapest, and anything that you stock. Now cross off anything that is higher priced than somewhere else, cross off anything you don't need. Skip the snack and ready made foods. For the most part, they are a lot more expensive than scratch. There are a few things that are cheaper than scratch or are just too labor intensive to make scratch. Tortillas, mashed potatoes, refried beans pasta sauce are all cheaper at least some times of the year.

Now, pick the two stores that have the cheapest prices. Go there with your list and the grocery ads, get in and get out. The more time you spend in the store, the more money you will spend. The grocers have researched our spending habits and know what to do to get us to spemd more. The bigger the grocery cart the more you will spend. The fancier the store, the higher the prices. Someone has to pay for that fish tank. LOL And they have many more tricks too.

If you can, invest in storage solutions that keep your veggies fresh longer.
I keep a cooler bag in my car to store frozen and perishable foods between stores. I try to keep my shopping trip at a minimal time, and a route that takes the least gas.

3)cook from scratch

his isn't as daunting a task as it sounds. There are ways to make the task as fast or nearly as fast as the ready made.

If you spend more time on the front end of the "get the dinner on the table" train and less time on the back end, you will be better off. You gent"paid" for shopping-- not for cooking. If you save 75.00 a week on shopping and spend an additional 1/2 hour shopping, you are making 150.00 an hour. And if you work for a living, you would have to earn an additional 15 percent at least to spend that 150.00.

Back to strategies. Buying meat in bulk and batch cooking and storing with portion control saves time, dishwashing and money. your slow cooker and pressure cooker can be your best friends in the kitchen. Anything that you can prep quickly and put in the oven to cook while you make more things or do other chores is also a time saver.

Making a double batch of things like rice and pasta to use the other half another dayy is a great help. I call that stair stepping. I try to post ideas on the blog frequently.

next time-- what your grocer doesn't want you to know!

Thanks for stopping by

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