Monday, August 04, 2014

Grocery shopping 101: August is off to a good start!

Despite not having a car for a whole month, I think we can call July a success in the grocery department. I ended up spending $174.27 for the month, and that included 6 bottles of wine. I shopped at the regular grocery store more than I would have if I could have driven to Aldi, so that also contributed to higher spending. Meh...still not bad. 

August is off to a good start. Loaded up for the next week and splurged a little on dinners for me and my main squeeze to have this weekend. Total bill was $79.39. Here's the breakdown.
I I went a bit over board, but I wanted to have a few extra nice meals. I spent $14 on steaks alone. Not something I would usually do for myself, that's for sure! I also got frozen salmon fillets which will last for quite some time. Looks like I spent a lot for one week if my goal is only $160 a month. Having my main squeeze here for the weekend, and it being the first shopping trip of the month both make for the higher total. It will all even out.

 Here's a little insight into my general strategy for grocery shopping.
  • You are what you eat! I am by no means a perfect eater. I keep in mind what is necessary for health when I shop for food. With the occasional exception, try to steer clear of foods that don't contribute nourishment for health. The cuts down on about 80% of the grocery store.
  • What can I do with what I already have?  I really try to assess my fridge, freezer and pantry before I head to the store. That way I can use up what I have instead of buying more than I need. Waste not, want not! I make a note of what meals would be possible if I just had 1 or 2 other things. Planing around what I already have helps keep the list to a minimum. I don't worry so much about planning the gaps. I tend to keep a mental tally of some favorite recipes so that I can fill in the menu gaps depending on what’s available when I get to the store.
  • The mental listMy shopping list is pretty stable from week to week. The way my store is arranged, I skip right through the first isle of chips and cookies and snacks to the back for eggs, milk, butter (when I need it), yogurt, and shredded cheese. Then I hit up the produce section. I go a bit crazy in this section! Whatever looks good goes in the cart until I have what I think is enough to get at least 5 generous servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  Then I go look at the meat. If something is on a crazy sale, I might buy it to put in the freezer. Then I grab anything else I might need to complete my mental meal plan. Example: If Italian sausage is on sale, I might go back for an onion and a bell pepper to make this pasta dish I like. Then I grab any staples I might be out of like rice, might grab a couple bags of frozen veggies if I’m out. That’s it. Easy when you skip most of the middle.
  • Meal planning: I know a lot of people are big on menu planning, and I am too. If you can check out the flier before going to the store, then plan a few meals around what’s going to be on sale. At Aldi, I feel like not everything ends up in the flier. Sometimes I check my Pinterest boards to get ideas of meals I might like to cook during the week. I also only really plan on cooking 2-3 meals a week. The left-overs are great for nights when I'm too busy or tired to cook and they make for great lunches too. 
  • Lunch planning: I generally try to use up leftovers for lunches and then take salads or bento-style lunches made up of little bits of this and that. I don't really buy anything particularly special for lunches. I don't make sandwiches or buy Lean Cuisine type of stuff. Using up whatever is around keeps the waste and cost down!
·     I don’t ALWAYS or NEVER anything, but I do try to keep a good routine for the grocery store. My grocery tips and tricks are what I try to stick by. Of course there is the occasional splurge! Eh hem...steaks.


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