I have been watching a lot of grocery hauls. Mainly, I watch to see what people are buying and how much things cost in other parts of he country. It is dramatically true that we in the PNW have high prices compared to the Midwest and South. I surmise that our wages are higher too, however, that's doesn't hold true if you are retired. Still, it's more telling of what's in their cart, not necessarily what price they are paying. The term 1/2 price is relative.
Basically, half of the average cart 🛒 is drinks and snack foods. Growing up, we had water, tea, An
and occasional milk. I always had a allergy problem, and it was thought milk creates mucus. It has been reported lately that three glasses of milk a day is not recommended for girls because it increases your chance of breast cancer. Calcium can come from all kinds of dairy, milk doesn't have to be the only source.
Too much of many carts are pop, sports drinks and kool aid types. If you stick to water, coffee and tea, your bottom line will be better off. If you are concerned about tea with children, use herbal. Some of the fruit based ones are really good. Fruit juice has more sugar than pop. A nutritionist years ago told me I was better off giving my daughter the apple instead of the apple juice. Apple juice in tippy cups is really bad for a child's teeth.
Snack foods! Stop and figure out how much per pound you are paying for things like potato chips or veggie sticks. Holly ;);)()! Air popped popcorn is really cheap. A 12 dollar carton at Costco will last a long time. Air popping doesn't ad any oil. The flavoring that they add to microwave popcorn is nasty. It has made the factory workers that make that stuff sick. You are much better off health wise and money wise to use an air popper. We do buy tortilla chips. I watch formthe kind with the least amount of oil. Some of them just shout oil in the package. They are cheapest at Costco. Salsa is a good alternative to other dips.
Cutting the drink and snack budget down to a minimum is the first step on lowering your grocery bill-- one step, a lot of gain both for you waistline and your budget. Sugar free drinks are not the best for you, I have read that the body doesn't recognize the fake sugar and attaches itself to your fat cells making them fatter! Ironic.
Next step: finding your protein at the lowest price! Find your RBP on the cuts of meat that you buy, minimize the cuts you buy. It just makes life easier. Less prices to remember, easier storage. I have a side by side fridge. I marked the drawers with a meat category: beef, chicken, Pork, and fish and veggies. It makes life simple. Start with one at a time. Find the lowest price, buy bulk and butcher it if necessary. I put each chicken breast in a quart bag and then out the batch in a gallon bag and label with the meat and the date. I can get quart bags cheap at the dollar tree and use better quality gallon bags . You can place a chicken breast in the insta pot without ever touching the raw meat.
Now, the biggie. Scratch cooking. There are appliances these days that cut the work dramatically. There are also recipes all over the Internet that make cooking from scratch efficient. You can basically make a dish from scratch just about as fast as buying the mix or meal bag. Get yourself a binder from the dollar store or goodwill, plastic sleeves for the most used recipes and start a binder.
One of the ways you can make a big difference is to make a list of mixes you can make yourself and stop buying the pouches. A taco seasoning pouch can cost a dollar. There was a coupon on our eggs for a dollar off of four gravy packets. The packets were 1.25. How can you spell rip off. Gravy is flour or cornstarch, meat or other fat, and water! The mix calls for you to add the liquid. A roux is a basic cooking skill. It's easy! If you don't have drippings, get better than bouillon or dried boullion. Baking mix, muffin mix, pancake mix, white sauce mix are all better than the store bought and not very time consuming. Teach a older child. It's a learning experience and frees up your time. My mother didn't like to bake. She taught is from about nine years old to bake. My 5 yo can make a pizza totally from scratch with supervision, of I make the dough. She loves it. What a confidence builder. Wash their hands , don't let them deal with raw meat until they are old enough to disinfect. No sharp, no hot until they are older.
Mixes make life easier because you are making them in bulk when life isn't as hectic and using them when it is more hectic. It saves money and you aren't eating things you can't pronounce.
I can tel, you how to cut your food costs to a minimum and still eat well. I can't tell you that it will be effortless and that food will magically appear on the table. Hey, if I could do that on a meager budget, I'd sell the idea and be rich! LOL.