Grocery store budget busters are lurking on the shelves of your favorite store!
Coming up with and sticking to a grocery budget can be hard! Trust me, I have struggled with it many times. I love to be able to look in a magazine and plan my menu based on the photos that make my mouth water the most. I didn’t always stop to think what the dish would cost me.
Menu planning that way can really break the bank!
I have been better about planning more frugal meals. I have cut back on the amount of new dishes I try. Now, don’t get me wrong – we still try at least one new dinner recipe a week. I love trying new foods! The rest of the meals are well thought out and are made using things I have at home or can find easily at a lower price.
Here is a list of items that were breaking my grocery budget:
1. Organic Foods
I love cooking with Organic foods but, we all know organic foods can be expensive. So, I stick to buying organic foods that are on the dirty dozen list. These foods are: Apples, Strawberries, Grapes, Celery, Peaches, Spinach, Sweet bell peppers, Nectarines (imported) Cucumbers, Cherry tomatoes, Snap peas (imported) Potatoes
Another list that I pay attention to is the Clean 15 List. These are foods that tend to be chemical and pesticide free whether purchased organic or not. Avocados, Sweet Corn, Pineapples, Cabbage, Sweet peas (frozen), Onions, Asparagus, Mangoes, Papayas, Kiwi, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Cantaloupe (domestic) Cauliflower, Sweet Potatoes
2.) Pre-packaged Baking Mixes
I love making homemade pancakes, waffles, biscuits and more. What I don’t love is the high price of the pre-packaged mixes. Of course, I do love the convenience of having a baking mix. So what do I do? I make my own! It is easy, quick and saves you so much money!
My favorite baking mix recipe uses butter. I know there are many others out there, but I enjoy using butter over any over vegetable shortening. The last time I looked at Bisquick in the store, it was almost $5.00 per box. My homemade version cost me less than $1.00.
Spices were a real budget buster for me. I thought I had to have every spice in the store! I needed (not really) every Spice Blend too! First off, the blends are crazy expensive. Most blends you can create on your own. I buy my spices in bulk – that way I can buy only what I need. If it is a spice that I don’t use often, I don’t buy much. The other way I buy my spices is from the Latin or Oriental section of the store. Many times they are in a plastic bag – all you do is store them properly and they will be fine. If you have leftover baby food jars, they will work well as a storage container.
Big Lots, Dollar Tree and Aldi are great places to find inexpensive spices and are usually less than $1.00! If you are not in a rush, Amazon is a great place to find spices at a good price.
4.) Jarred Sauce
Now, don’t get me wrong – there have been times when I have grabbed a jar of sauce (when it was on sale and I had a coupon!) and kept it on my shelf for emergencies. It is much more cost effective to make your own sauce though. In the summer, I go to the farmers market at the end of the season and buy as many “canning” tomatoes (those that are not pretty or may have a soft spot). When I get home, I spend a day canning and freezing tomato sauce and whole or chopped tomatoes. The extra work is worth the savings and nothing taste better than homemade, frugal spaghetti sauce!
5.) Bottled Water
Bottle water is so expensive! I was out of the house running errands the other day and purchased a bottle of water. I paid almost $2.00 for it! That is crazy! Not only is bottled water expensive, I hate to think of the waste it creates. We are luck to have good tasting water in our home. We always have a jug or two in the refrigerator and we have reusable water bottles to take with us for lunch or on a trip (when I can remember). If your water from the faucet doesn’t taste good, consider going to Walmart and filling up your gallon jugs from the Culligan kiosk. The cost is low, around $.50 per gallon, and the water taste great! We have done this in a few cities we have lived in.
6.) Pre-packaged Snacks and Foods
I can remember being a kid and wanting individual bags of chips in my lunch. I would drool over the Little Debbie cookies and treats. My Mom, would pack my chips in plastic wrap and send me off to school. She was and still is a frugal woman! I guess I got my frugalness from her! We always buy the large size snack foods and package them ourselves. I am not just talking about chips, I am also talking about fruits and veggies. I save over $200 a year buy purchasing the full size. It only takes a few minutes to package the foods. Get your children involved in the packaging. It will seem like fun to them!
7.) Instant rice or potatoes
Instant rice and potatoes can be a budget killer. I realize it may seem that you can save time by using these products, but the money spent is not worth it I can go to Aldi and buy 10 pounds of rice for less than $2.00! When I make rice, I double or even triple the amount I need. I then place 3 cups in a food saver
bag and place them in the freezer. I also free leftover mashed potatoes!
8.) Croutons or Bread Crumbs
Bread crumbs and croutons are simple to make, and a great use for leftover bread that’s starting to get a little dry on its own. To make croutons, just cube or shred the bread before drying it in the oven; if you’re making bread crumbs, pulse the dried croutons in a food processor. If you need Italian Bread Crumbs, jus tads some dried Basil, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme.
9.) Pre-Cut Veggies and fruit
Ever wondered why someone took the time to cut those veggies? I have a friend who worked in the produce section of the grocery store. All those pretty pre-cut veggies and fruit are actually bits and pieces of produce that was going bad. I would steer clear of these not only because of the expense, but the condition of the food.
10.) Pre-cut Chicken
It is not really that hard to cut up a chicken. There are some great videos out there on how to do it. I buy whole chickens when they are on sale. When I get home, I pull out my handy FoodSaver vacuum sealer and get it ready for the freezer. The few minutes it takes me is worth the money I save.
This is the list of foods that I stay away from when I am at the grocery store. What are some of the foods you find to be too expensive for your budget?
If you are looking for some frugal recipes, check out my families favorites on my Frugal Recipe page. You can also find some great recipes on my Feeding Big and Frugal Meals Pinterest Board.