Thursday, January 27, 2011

Major Surgery on the Grocery Budget

Some of you frugalistas know this stuff already. If you read enough blogs you’ll notice there are quite a few impressive grocery shoppers out there. One mom in Michigan feeds her family of 8 for under $80 a week. And more than half of her crew are adults. She has a garden of course. Still, that comes to a “whopping” $1.43 per person per day out of pocket. Another blogging mom pushes the limits by incorporating ethnic foods most of us never considered, like banana peel chutney, or chicken skin cracklings.

Einstein said insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results. These shoppers accomplish budgetary magic by thinking and acting way outside the box. In other words we need to shop differently, cook differently, and eat differently, to get a different bottom line.

Meat. Substitute cheaper proteins for it like beans or seitan, use a filler to stretch it, serve smaller portions, raise your own, hunt/fish it, or purchase cheaper kinds.

Vegetables and fruits. Grow and can your own, forage, glean, visit a pick your own farm, join a food coop or CSA, purchase at seasonal vegetable stands, buy seconds, bulk. Negotiate with your local groceries to take the slightly older stuff off their hands for less, and make it into soup to freeze. Always follow the seasons. Compare frozen with fresh, stock up during the “can” sales. Even without a garden, you can grow your own sprouts, or keep a window box for fresh herbs.

Starches. Incorporate these into your made from scratch cost cutters. Buy bulk flour and oats, they can be frozen to keep from spoiling. Put bay leaf in the container to ward off bugs. Even try the Possum Living method of getting human grade grains at feed stores. Make your own bread, pizza dough, cookies, muffins, hot cereals, and granola, from scratch, for much less.

Liquids. Drink more water, consider reducing coffee and tea consumption, avoid sweet processed drinks, cut the milk with non fat dried, compare fresh fruit with juices, and pour out a serving, not a glassful.

No matter how you do it, there’s always room for improvement. Try notching down gradually and see how low you can go before the kids notice. Then bring it back up a bit for a comfortable set point.

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