Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday madness, time for the basics

It's that time of the year, time for New Years resolutions.  Why not make yours to lower your food bill.  Maybe free some money for a real vacation this year, or start that college fund you need to start for your children or grandchildren.  The average family can save about four thousand dollars a year.  To some that might not be a lot, to me it is huge.  We are living on a fixed income and I don't want to tap into our reserves yet.

This is the time of the month that I usually cover the basics of groceries on the cheap.  No one thing makes 1/2 price groceries happen.  It's a collaboration of things-- a little planning, a little savvy shopping, and a lot of scratch cooking.  It's changing some habits for the good.   Looking for a select few coupons helps too.  If there is a dollar coupon on something that you buy and you don't use it, you are getting screwed.  You are wasting money.  Meat has taken an increase of thirty percent on average.  Social security went up 1.5 percent.  Our medical went up more than the increase in social security.  Snap took a five percent cut.  Between the increase on meat costs and the decrease in snap funds, it is even more important to watch your food dollars.  A little efficiency in the kitchen and shopping can make great strides in lowering your food bill and putting good food on the table for your family.

First: planning and organizing.
If this isn't your bag, make it your bag or see if you can delegate it.  I remember taking in the bill filing for my mother because she didn't like to do it.  I wound up being an accountant for 45 years.  LOL. Even young grade school children can clip coupons,. Print coupons from the computer, and circle things you buy on the ads.  older children can scan the coupon matchups.  It's a good learning tool.

1) identify your needs
A) list the cheap sources of protein that your family will eat.  I am up to a between two and three dollar a pound limit for meat.  In our house that means some roast beef, hamburger, whole chicken or grill packs, pork loin, sausage, eggs, beans and cheese and rice.  I am attempting to add pork shoulder.

B) gather your recipes that use these sources of protein and list them on a piece of paper.

C) make a list of the shelf ready ingredients that you will use to make these dishes.  There should be around ten to fifteen, give or take.

D) now devise a spread sheet or notebook to track the prices of these items.  You want to find the rock bottom price for each ingredient.  ( RBP) .

The object is to never pay full price for your staple items.  You want to stock enough to cover your needs until they are on sale again.  Supermarkets run sales on a product every 8-12 weeks on average.
If I use an ingredient once a week, I keep a supply of 24.  Once a month will net me six.  Things like mayo and mustard, I will keep one ahead.  When I open my backup, I start looking for a sale to replace it.  You could very well start with a three months supply.

Meat sales rotate usually by the month.  If you buy enough of the meat that is RBP to last you for meals of that meat for a month and batch cook it, you will spend less time on the kitchen and save a bundle.  When chickens are .79 to a dollar, I buy two and roast two.  It is NEVER a good idea to buy deli chicken.  See previous posts, the explanation is timely.  The cheapest price I have found for bulk sausage is Costco.  Chicken sausage when I find it is cheaper at  grocery outlet . ( watch pull dates) .
Pork loin is under two dollars often at several stores.  You can cut off pork chops and roast the rest
for sliced roast or BBQ sandwiches.  Both hamburger and chicken recipes are very prolific on the Internet and on cookbooks.  Batch cooking hamburger is a little more work, but very rewarding in time savings.  Meatballs are very versatile as are hamburger crumbles, taco meat,and  meatloaf.
When a roast happens to be cheaper than good hamburger, I grind my own.

When the ads come out, go through them.  Section off a piece of computer paper ( I usually forge it from the recycle bin) top a section with the chain store.  Write down the RBP. Meat for the week.  Also anything on your staple list that appears to be the best price.  Now add the perishables ( dairy and produce) that are on season and cheap that will fit in  with your meal list.

Clean out the fridge and note what needs to be eaten soon and what you need to buy in the produce and dairy line.

When you are done with all the stores, cross off anything that is more expensive and anything that you have enough stock of.  Pick the best TWO stores.  This roves you the best selection and the best pick of produce.  ...more on shopping next section.

Find the coupon matching site for your section of the country.  Hook up with the stores you have picked and check for coupons. Many are printable.  I buy one paper from the dollar store.  I used to get the inserts from a friend.

Make your meal plans after you get home from the store.  I use a matrix to assure us variety.
Ours is

2 beef
2 chicken or pork
2 vegetarian
1 fish or shellfish

This works for us, your matrix may be different.

Next: shopping wisely.

Thanks for stopping by

Please share


No comments:

Post a Comment