Saturday, July 6, 2013

Grocery Shopping on a B.U.D.G.E.T

Recently, my team at work lost our overtime. Now, I am a strong advocate of living within your means, not using credit (beyond the obvious of house/car) if at all possible and not relying on overtime to survive. But I must say that it is really hard to go from having that little bit of extra cash each paycheck to have fun with to having to budget tightly to make sure you have enough food for everyone. And have I mentioned that with the hubs father living with us, we're a house of SIX. Eep!

So instead of freaking out and losing my marbles over how we were going to feed everyone AND keep it healthier than frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, I turned to Pinterest. Ok, I won't lie. I totally lost my cool, freaked out, raged, cried and stared at the wall when we found out about the income loss. But I had to so I could get it out of my system and move on.

Back to Pinterest. I've got my boards organized so that I have a healthy foods and a not so healthy but yummy foods. If you want to see my boards (including the others that are NOT food oriented), you can follow me. I went first to my healthy foods board for inspiration. I have learned in the past that my family doesn't do well when I try to make a per day menu. We all tend to eat what we crave, within reason, and trying to make a menu telling us what we were going to eat each day for the next week was setting us up to fail. I think that's the first thing you need to think about - how does your family typically choose it's meals? How much variety do they usually prefer? If they're comfortable eating the same basic meal plan each week, then half the work is already done for you. Otherwise, you'll want to sit down and make a menu.
This is the menu I made this morning to help me figure out what to buy. I went through last paycheck's menu and wrote down the meals we enjoyed or the ones we definitely want to try. Then I went through my Pinterest food boards and found other meals that we might want to try. Looking at the menu, I know there are foods on there that don't seem very healthy (Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo, anyone?) but these are just ideas to get me thinking. You'll see later how I make them a just as tasty but lighter version. The point of the above menu, posted on our fridge, is so we choose a meal off the menu and know from the start that it's healthy, tasty, and best of all - we have the ingredients already on hand.

Once we get the menu figured out, then it's time to make the grocery list. I shop at Aldi. If you've been there, then it's 'nuff said. And if you don't? Well, this will help you, too, but you don't know the savings you're missing.
My list above is just the basic lay out. I tried to group similar items together, or at least items that are near each other in my Aldi. For the frozen meats, I bought 2 of each, just to make sure I have enough to make a couple of different options. I only bought one of each package of fresh veggies (cucumbers not included), just because I don't want to risk them going bad before I can use them.

Before (am I the only one who gets excited when I see the 10 free diapers on the side of the box?):
After $188 at Aldi - our trunk is really big...and a lot of the stuff is buried in and around the diaper box!
So there you have it. Other than some more veggies, bread, milk and breakfast cereal, that should last us for 2 weeks. I do have to admit that we stopped by Food Lion after dinner tonight so I could get some whipped topping and vanilla wafers. I'll post the recipe for using those later - there are 2 frozen recipes that are AMAZING and won't kill your diet!

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