Monday, July 1, 2013

The Food Budget and Making Your Master List

I've talked about why it is wise to watch mark downs. I've also discussed the reasons cooking from home is more economical than buying premade meals or eating out.

Now let's get down to the ultimate science of your weekly food budget... the master list.

I know this will seem like a huge undertaking but it's really not. Today in the 109 degree heat, it was a perfect time for me to go into a grocery store, cool off and work on my master list.

I took my cell phone and composed an email to myself on it.

I started at the first aisle. Just as if I was shopping and texting, I typed in each item I normally buy and it's price. Milk - 1.89, Juice - $1, and so on.

It looked like I was shopping for groceries while texting on the cell phone. You can text and shop ;)
Each aisle took me approx 5 min. I didn't put in the prices of items I don't buy but I did put those I might want to buy. I chose the brand I would usually buy and that was it.

At some point this week, start your master list.
At some point next week, finish it. You can take on an aisle a shopping trip or do it all at once. You can do multiple stores for fun or just one. It's up to you. I would recommend it for each store you normally shop at. You will learn very quickly which things you have been buying at the wrong store. Also, if you look at the price per ounce on the displays, you will discover quickly that you have been paying too much for many items. Always go buy the price per ounce but don't necessarily get more than you need or you will have waste in a different respect. I like to update mine at the change of each season. In the summer produce lowers but other things go up. Each season things go up and things go down. For things that last in the cupboard, plan based on this. Stock up on the items in the season that costs you the least ;)

Once your master list is made, the Sunday paper will be so much fun.
You can look at the ads for the stores you usually shop at and check to see if the prices on special are a big savings from the usual price on your master list.

You can browse coupons and compare against your master list. If it's not a huge savings from normal, don't bother clipping it at all. If it is, capitalize on it. If you have both a coupon and see an item marked down in a weekly ad...cha ching ;) huge savings for you.
You will save a tremendous amount of time with both coupons and weekly ads.
You will also save a large amount on your grocery bill.

Next, plan your menu.

Decide how much you'd technically like to spend a week for groceries.
Decide how much that amounts to per day.
Make sure that you are getting your veggies and fruits etc in
Looking at recipes are there some ingredients that are unecessaries... those you could skip or replace for something less expensive for the sake of the budget. ( I usually eliminate a few items in each recipe I make) ex....if it calls for coleslaw and broccoli slaw is on special for less.... you guessed it, I use the broccoli.
I've been known to shred carrots or radishes etc for the same. Carrots are incredibly cheap. A couple of carrots runs me about $.40 and I can grate them to replace many things in recipes. They are great as a replacement for lettuce on sandwiches, they are great as a slaw with mayo, pinnapple raisins and sugar... etc. They are a favorite budget food.

Find your favorite "budget foods" and learn how to use them as replacements. ;)

Green peppers - same thing about $.50 and they are great in everything, spaghetti sauces, eggs, pasta salads, tuna salads etc. You can replace more expensive items in recipes and still jazz up your dish.

Now write down the days menu, next to it, the ingredients you'd need to buy.
Is it in your daily budget? If not, what can you eliminate.
It will take you a few minutes to plan it out.
It will save you tremendously at the grocery store.

Learn NOT to impulse shop.
There is nothing worse than getting to the end of the month and not having food for your family.
Yes, I suppose it's fun to have a crust already made for a pie.
But at 2.39, considering I could make one with a little shortening and flour.... really? Is it worth it?
Do you have any idea how simple it is to whip up biscuit batter?
There is no reason to buy the premade. It's just too simple to make them yourself.

Be wise.
Be frugal.
Then pat yourself on the back. You have money for luxuries now and great food at home as well.
Keep up the great work.You're getting there. Things are changing for the better. Hang in there and enjoy the journey.

Much love always,

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