Today’s mantra: Food is a necessity, but expensive food is not!
Today’s action: Go through your typical grocery routine (where you shop and what you buy) and identify opportunities for frugalization.
Assessing your routines is such a great exercise, I need to do it more!
Our grocery routine is something like this: I keep a running grocery list on my phone (I use the app Out of Milk) to keep track when we run out of things, or we think of something we need. I try to stay familiar with what food is in the house. Once a week we brainstorm ideas of what to eat for the upcoming week. I’ll bring up food we have in the house that needs to be used before going bad and my brilliantly creative husband thinks of yummy things we can make with the ingredients.
I write down the ideas and see if any of the recipes have overlapping ingredients, or can be made with other ingredients we have in the house. Then we decide on 3 of the recipes and I add any missing ingredients to my phone. I make sure there are leftovers or something I can whip up for lunch, that we have food for snacks, and add any more things we need to the list. I try and use my lunches as a way to clean out the freezer or pantry.
The next key is to stick to the list at the store. My problem is that I usually forget to put a couple things in my phone, so I’ll be walking by the baking aisle and remember that I’m out of garlic powder. That’s all fine, as long as it doesn’t expand into me grabbing a frozen dinner that looks good and this and that. It can be like opening a can of worm for me. I think I need a reminder lesson in needs vs. wants.
I do my best to never be fully out of food. There are a few basics that I like to keep on hand that I can use to make simple meals with when we’re running low on food and haven’t made it to the store yet, or it’s a recurring ingredient in lots of meals we eat, or I can use them to make a simple, frugal lunch for myself. These are some of our household basics, it’s a bonus is it can be bought in bulk from Costco:
- Frozen mixed vegetables*
- Frozen Stir Fry vegetables*
- Frozen peas
- Frozen corn (bought in bulk locally)
- Frozen mixed berries*
- Canned tomatoes*
- Canned olives
- Canned green beans*
- Canned black beans*
- Refried beans*
- Peanut butter*
- Medjool dates*
- Ground beef
- Chicken breast
- Ground flax*
- Cacao Powder*
- Hummus cups* (I haven’t found a homemade recipe I like yet)
- Guacamole cups*
*bought at Costco
With these simple ingredients, we can make pasta bowls, rice bowls, stir-fries, burritos, breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Protein + fruit/vegetable + carb, there are so many different possibilities! When I look past the need for a recipe and instead see meals as formulas, I find it easier to mix and match what I have in the house to make something tasty.
I try and keep a few go-to snacks stocked up too. Those change around as I get sick of certain foods and move onto new ones. Right now my go-to’s are apple and peanut butter, nuts, carrots and guacamole or hummus, and dried mango. I’ll also whip up chocolate berry shakes as an inexpensive sweet treat (bonus, it’s healthy too!):
Chocolate Berry Shake
1 c milk (I use soy or almond)
1Tb ground flax
2Tb cacao powder (raw cocoa powder- I think it tastes better than regular cocoa powder)
3 Medjool dates, pitted
½ cup frozen mixed berries
Blend and enjoy!
What have you found that works to keep your grocery shopping frugal? What do you want to do differently? Do you have any good go-to pantry meal or formulas?