I've blogged about this in the past, but thought it might be good to revisit it. We were at a birthday party over the weekend discussing groceries, healthy dinners and how we all need to save more money. Typical conversation when sitting in a room full of Moms and Dads; especially with the state of the economy. Ronnie mentioned I had gotten our routine bi-weekly grocery bill down to about $50 lots of Moms starting asking questions.
First, I must say that we do have grocery bills that are significantly higher, but this is our normal bill. It can be hard to adjust to my way of doing things, simply because it's a completely different routine. For the most part it's very simple. You may find a better way of doing things, you'll need to figure out a routine for yourself, and find something that fits your family.
We begin by making a two week menu. I lay it out by day, although the days can be moved around to fit our needs. When you do this, make sure you build in several left over nights depending on the amount you usually have left over. In order to make the menu, I look over what we have in the freezer and pantry. I try to base meals on what we have. Once the menu is done, I make out the grocery list for what we need. There are always basics that will need to go on there: milk, bread, cat food, toothpaste, basics that every house needs.
By basing a menu on what we have I can lower our larger bi-weekly grocery shopping bills. The between weeks are usually for small things like milk and bread. Now you're probably asking yourself how I can base a menu on what's in the pantry if I'm only spending $50 a week. That's where the larger grocery bills come in. We stock up on meats every couple of months. I watch for our grocery stores (not Wal Mart) to put meats on sale. Winn Dixie will do a lot of buy one get one free deals. Pot roast is buy one get one free? I buy 2 and get 2 free. You can do a lot with a roast, and that's where the next step comes in. Another money saving idea is pork loin. We don't buy pork chops, instead we buy a Hormel pork loin at Sams. We can pick up one for $10 or so. Ronnie cuts it and we freeze it into serving portions. We can get 5 or 6 meals from one of them depending on the size. We do use Sams for other things we can buy in bulk and store: toilet paper, olives, cat food, things that store well.
The final portion of this is freezer cooking. Remember those 4 pot roasts? Take one and put it in the Crock Pot with some carrots, potatoes, onions, and let it cook all day. Cool it down, portion it out, and freeze it. While it's cooking, start some other things cooking. Ronnie will cook 5 or 6 different things in one day. Ideas that freeze well are beans (red and black being a favorite in this house), stews, soups, meatloaf, gumbo, and etouffee. He cooks large batches at a time, then freezes in portion sizes. Freezer cooking makes for very easy healthy meals during the week. Cooking a pot of red beans is very cheap. A bag or two of Camilla beans, onions, sausage, some seasoning. When we plan for red beans, they come out of the freezer the night before and go into the fridge. Get home the next night, warm them up while cooking some rice and grilling sausage on the Foreman grill. Red beans and rice may not be the healthiest meal in the world, but I do think it's better than the fast food a lot of people are eating most nights. And it's only an example. We do lots of other things. Last night was grilled tilapia. We get a large box of individually frozen filets, and fix it with cous cous and a veggie.
Give it a try. It's hard to plan for two weeks at a time, so try for just a week. Don't forget left over night or you'll end up with a fridge full of food at the end of the week. Trust me on this, learn from my mistake.