Thursday, March 15, 2012

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

A Paleo diet can be pretty pricey with all the lean meat, fresh produce, and nuts.  I'm a girl on a budget, and would rather spend money on shoes than food, so I have a method to save money on groceries while still eating as healthy as possible.

There are certain things that I keep on hand no matter what.  Some are bought weekly and others are purchased less often.  Most come from Sam's, because the prices per unit are cheapest. 

Must have items, purchased on a regular basis:
organic spring mix (weekly; Sam's at $4 for 1 lb)
organic fresh baby spinach (weekly; Sam's at $4 for 1 lb)
avocados (weekly; Sam's at $4 for a bag of 5)
eggs (weekly; Sam's at $1.77 for 18 count or wherever they are on sale cheaper.)
almond milk and coconut-almond milk (weekly; I try to stock up when it's on sale or when I have coupons, but if I run out, I pay full price. Unfortunately, they don't sell the unsweetened at Sam's.)
bananas (about a bunch every 2 weeks; I freeze them for smoothies. They are cheap everywhere so I buy them whereever.)
mushrooms (every 2 weeks or so; this is not a super necessity, but I usually have some in the fridge and generally buy them at Sam's.)
almonds (every 2-4 weeks; Sam's at $10 for 48 oz.)
salsa (every 3-4 weeks; On the Border is my favorite brand and it comes in jumbo at Sam's for $5)
Community Coffee (about once per month; Sam's at $11 for 32 oz.)
whey protein powder (every 3-4 months; I buy it online wherever is cheapest.)
Lola's dog food (about once per month; Sam's at $26 for 52 lbs of Pedigree.)

Some other items, I hoard stock up when they are on sale or I have coupons. Of course, they can't be fresh or perishable; since I try to eat as fresh as possible, the list is limited.  Some of the products on the above "must have" list could be included in the "stock up" list (almonds, salsa, coffee, dog food), but I have almost never found them on sale for cheaper than the prices above.

Stock up items:
canned tomatoes
tomato sauce
tomato paste
Paleo friendly marinara
unsweetened, flaked coconut
frozen vegetables
coconut oil (I bought a huge jar for $7 at the beginning of February and haven't even used a third of it.  Instead of looking in the health food section where it costs $9 for 8 oz, check out the olive oil section for LouAnna brand.)
olive oil

The rest of my menu is based around the sale papers.  I shop at 3 grocery stores (besides Sam's).  On Wednesday, when the sales paper comes out, I make a list for each store with a list of produce and meat that I think is cheap enough to buy.

This week's list:

KrogerAlbertson'sMarket Basket
white grapes ($0.99/lb)no sale paper this week?!?!strawberries ($1.99 /lb)
cabbage ($0.39/lb)cabbage ($0.27/lb)
18 ct eggs ($1.77 -Same as Sam's)red, orange, yellow bell pepper (2 for $1)
Boneless skinless chicken breast ($6.99 for 3 lb bag + $1 off coupon)broccoli ($0.99/lb)
strawberries & blackberries (2 cartons for $5)tangelos (4 for $1)
store coupon - free bag of baby carrots
store coupon - $1.00 of Maple Groves Farm item (FF balsamic dressing)
store coupon - $0.40 off store brand cooking spray (they have olive oil)
***coupon -free  Mrs. Paul's Frozen Seafood item

I don't buy everything on the weekly list, and rarely ever visit all 3 stores. (Although, almost always go to Kroger.) The list is more of a guide to decide where I will get the best deals.  It's sometimes worth driving across town for one or two items that are mega on sale (Hello, Braeburns AND asparagus for $0.99 a pound. Get in my buggy!).  Sometimes, it's not.

For example, last week I snagged a pork roast for $1/lb and what goes better with pork than cabbage, which is on sale everywhere this week. The $4 roast and less than a $1 head of cabbage will likely feed me at least 6 meals. I also have shrimp in my freezer, so another meal idea is a shrimp, cabbage, and red/orange/yellow bell pepper stir fry.

Of course I buy other things that are full price when necessary, I just use my "must have/stock up/sale" formula as a rough plan for my shopping strategy.

Other ways I save money on groceries:
making my own almond butter
shopping clearance produce and meat (I either use it immediately or freeze it.)
raid my parents' freezer (My dad is an avid hunter and fishermen and gives me free rein over his deep freezer.)
raid my dad's and my grandma's gardens (They both plant fall and summer gardens.  Not only is it free, the veggies are much more flavorful!)
grow my own herbs

How do you save on groceries? Do you buy bulk? Shop sales? Are you a coupon queen?

1 comment:

  1. I do like using coupons and always try to buy things on sale!