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Posts tagged with: weekly budget

Surprise Grocery Budget-Buster

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I have always, always tracked my spending. Even before I had imposed a budget or started trying to tackle our debt in a serious way (heck, even before we had any debt at all!), I have always tracked my spending.

So I have known – for years – that one of the biggest black holes of where our money disappears is….food. Whether its groceries or eating out with the family, food is one of our reliably largest monthly expenses. Wouldn’t we all save so much money if we could just stop eating? I joke, but seriously!

Part of my Money-Envelope May challenge has been to really examine where our grocery budget is going so I can try to reduce it further, particularly in light of all the things I have switched to making home-made for much cheaper than store-bought (e.g., tortillas, bagels, bread, pizza dough….lots of bread products!)

And you may be surprised what I discovered.

Many people suggest that meat is the biggest cost in most people’s food budgets. I will admit that meat can be costly. However, I am really good about shopping sales. I always look at the sale fliers that are circulated each week for our neighborhood grocers and stock up on sale meats. Here are some of the sales I buy on the regular:

  • Whole chicken, .88 cents/pound
  • Split chicken breasts, .99 cents/pound
  • Bone-in pork chops, 1.29/pound
  • Boneless pork loin roast, 1.77/lb
  • Pork spare ribs, 1.99/lb.

We buy a lot of chicken and pork because I can find it for cheaper than beef or fish and the cuts I buy often last several meals (e.g., I make a whole chicken as a rotisserie, then use leftover chicken to make chicken salads, chicken enchiladas, chicken tortilla soup, etc etc etc.).

In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at spending $2/lb or less. The exception is ground beef (which I can find for as little as 2.88/lb for 93% lean). In case you’re wondering how I can spout off these prices – I track prices (and highly recommend it! Then you always know whether the “sales” being advertised are actually good prices or not and you can track patterns of sales).

So meat wasn’t a huge issue for our family. Guess what is……..CHEESE!

OMG, Cheeeeeeese, how I love you!!! If cheese were a man I would run away with him in a heart beat (sorry, husband!)

The problem is, I’m a little sketchy about my cheese selections. First, I don’t like to buy anything labeled with “cheese product” (aka: not real cheese). Second, I prefer to buy rBST-free cheese. I generally buy our cheeses in big blocks from Sprouts Farmers’ Market (they have a different cheese on sale each week). But, even bought in big blocks (often cheaper than pre-shredded), the cheapest I can find is 2.99/lb (that’s for “regular” cheese). Whenever their rBST-free cheeses go on sale I always STOCK UP (the sale price is 3.99/lb, regular 4.99/lb). I can buy 3-4 lbs in a single trip and freeze the extras. BUT, that means I’ve used $16 of my $95 weekly grocery budget on just CHEESE (that’s 17% of the budget!). And sometimes – gasp – I splurge on a special cheese, like brie (6.99/lb)! Talk about eating the budget up QUICK!!!!

Have I mentioned I love cheese (pssst….it’s even in my author bio)???? Just about every meal I make includes cheese in some form or fashion.

So I guess I’ve discovered one of our grocery budget-busters! Looks like we’ll be cutting back a little on cheese around here (not eliminating it…just cutting back a little. I don’t want to go through withdrawal and end up binging, you know?)

Have you ever had a surprise budget-buster??


Grocery Success

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I’ve managed to shave about $25 a week so far off of the weekly total. I’m happy to report we did last week with just one gallon of milk…that’s right….ONE. Granted we only had the 3 younger kids but they were home all week for Spring Break! So, yes…this is a major! I made a big pot of pinto beans and we did all sorts of cost cutting meals with beans (chalupas, soup, quesadillas…)

I just returned from this week’s grocery store trip and found some HUGE deals! I’ve determined that the best time to shop our local grocery store is Saturday night. Around 8 pm they shut down the butcher department and often you can find the fresh meats from there packaged and marked down in the regular meat section. If I am lucky, I might find a package or 2 at a good price. Well, tonight I hit the butcher closing time AND a “reduced for quick sale” jackpot and got lean ground sirloin (93/7) for 99 cents a pound!!!! I bought 13 lbs and will cook some tomorrow, then freeze for later use. There were also some great deals on chicken tenders and ground turkey that can be used for all sorts of options! Tonight’s grocery bill was $74 so that’s coming down slow but sure. We only have one major, family owned grocer in San Antonio (HEB? perhaps some of you have heard of it…) and while they are certainly a monster in the market that not even Walmart can begin to touch…and that has its drawbacks for sure, they do have these great meal deals offered on a weekly basis. They usually require the purchase of the main dish and then you get a TON of sides for free. Last week it was a package of beef or chicken fajitas for about $8-$10 and then you get the tortillas, lettuce in a bag, shredded cheese, refried or whole pinto beans in a can, sour cream for free. Tonight was a bag of fish fillets ($4.32) and I got a can of corn, a good size box of Uncle Ben’s brown rice and a large, family size box of mac and cheese for free. I stretch these items out to at least two, usually 3 meals.

Anyway, just wanted to share my grocery store success! Thank you for helping me “stop and think” in the grocery store. Honestly, when I found all of that meat on such great sale…my immediate thought was to take a picture of the price tag to share with all of you! I DO want to make you proud! LOL!  In the past I would not have thought about the best time to go to the store as I just went when I absolutely had to and without a great plan. I also wouldn’t have taken the time to figure out the timing to increase my odds of getting these great deals. That’s changed thinking and that’s a very good thing!

Oh!  And that $74 included my $11 John Frieda hair color.  I’m going for the foam on the first try since I had a nightmare last night that I got streaks of hair color down my face that I could not get off.  It was pretty funny as I sat in a work meeting trying to play off the black streaks all OVER my face.   So I guess that means the grocery bill was actually only $63!!!


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