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Old 08-18-2010, 03:23 PM   #49
mandalinn82
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Woodland, CA
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I've recently cut back our grocery budget further to bulk up our savings account (we had to replace our roof so it took a big hit), and have been unable to get the farmer's market due to scheduling concerns. So we've been re-testing our money saving strategies.

A big one is never going into shopping with a pre-conceived notion of what we're eating. We go through circulars, find the ones with the best deals on produce (since that's where we spend a lot of our money), look for the cheapest produce items, and base our meals around that. That means if there's a really good price on, for example, squash, we have a LOT of squash that week (grilled in planks one night, chopped and roasted and tossed in a pasta another, stuffed with couscous a third, etc). We never go in saying "we need broccoli", then look for the best price on broccoli, since even the lowest price might still be relatively high. Instead, we go in, find the produce that'll be the cheapest, and form as many meals around it as we can. One week, Romaine lettuce was ridiculously cheap, so we pretty much ate salads all week, with a variety of other stuff that was either cheap in cans (beans, tuna, etc) or other sale produce.

Once we've got the produce part down, we look at the rest of the meal - what is on sale in the meat department, in canned goods, etc that we can combine with the cheaper produce? We've made red beans and rice costing less than 50 cents a serving using on-sale chicken sausage, dried beans, and dried brown rice, plus spices. Inexpensive and tasty! Throw in some of that cheap squash, some cheap carrots, and an onion, and you've got it made.

There are definitely ways to keep it inexpensive (OK, not as inexpensive as Top Ramen and Kraft Mac and cheese, but close) and still healthy. Usually it takes a lot of prep work and circular skimming, though.
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