Frugalize Your Groceries
We all gotta eat, so I thought I’d share how we do it the healthy, frugal way. This is predicated upon cooking most meals from scratch; however, you don’t have to make complicated, gourmet dishes–there are plenty of simple, quick, and healthy recipes, which the resident chef, Mr. Frugalwoods, will post here one day…we promise! After taking our Uber Frugal Month challenge, we realized we needed to spend less on groceries. In addition to not eating out, this is one of our most significant savings.
Frugalwoods weekly grocery bill for 2 adults*: $35**
*Frugal Hound’s kibble not included in this calculation **This is approximate and varies based on our periodic Costco trips to stock-up on bulk items
Frugalwoods typical daily meal plan:
- whole grain oats (raw, not pre-packaged) with cinnamon and occasionally fruit
- salad greens and homemade soup (bean, lentil, or vegetable), quinoa with veggies, or rice-and-beans with mushrooms.
- Mr. FW cooks a huge batch of lunch every Sunday and we take it to work with us all week. SO frugal, so tasty.
- bananas, apples, oranges (depending on the season)
- salad greens with a protein (garbanzo beans/homemade hummus, lentils, quinoa, avocados, or inexpensive frozen fish–usually salmon from Costco)
- dried fruit (bought in bulk at Costco)
- Coffee (made at home), seltzer (made at home with our SodaStream), boxed wine, and the occasional craft beer
The Ultimate Frugalwoods Grocery Tips List:
1. Avoid packaged and pre-made foods.
- Sometimes these are unavoidable, but, for the most part, you can find cheaper raw or bulk versions.
2. Buy staples in bulk.
- If you have a Costco or other warehouse/wholesale store, this is a fabulous resource for bulk and raw items.
- Sidenote: they have $20 dog beds that are amazing! Frugal Hound loves hers.
3. Limit meat consumption.
- Meat is a shockingly expense form of protein. And that’s all it is: one form of protein among many. It’s not a requirement or a necessary part of one’s diet. It’s an option, and an expensive one at that.
- Sure, we buy meat when it’s on sale or for special occasions, but it’s not a weekly (or even monthly) purchase for us.
- A good sale option we enjoy is frozen salmon from Costco–comes in bulk and is pretty cheap.
- Cheaper sources of protein include: tofu, black beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, avocados (depending on the season), and quinoa.
4. Dairy in moderation.
- Dairy is another pricey protein source. We certainly buy more dairy than meat, but, it’ll really rack up your bill.
- We have cheese only as a treat and are able to get by on a pint of creamer every few weeks for our coffee.
5. Plan ahead and eat everything you buy.
- Don’t impulse buy and don’t waste food. We meal plan in advance and then purchase only what we need for the week. Planning=tons of savings.
- We’ve become exact fruit & vegetable purchasers. We were so sick of wasting produce that we now buy the precise amount we need. I do look a bit ridiculous in the produce aisle because I’m the lady with a calculator figuring out the cheapest options and then dividing up bunches of bananas to achieve the 14 that I buy every week.
- And if we binge on fruit and run out before the end of the week, we just make another quick trip to the store–easy enough since we can bike or walk there. We had to toss an apple that went prematurely bad the other day, but other than that, I don’t think we’ve thrown out any produce in months.
- Sometimes we do eat odd food combos in order to use up aging food or dying produce, but that just keeps life interesting!
- Tweak your grocery list each week–notice which items you only need to buy every other week or so.
- Don’t automatically throw stuff into your cart. Think carefully about what you want to put into your body (and yes, I’ll admit, sometimes it IS a bag of corn chips).
6. Plan a “date night” or “treat meal” each week.
- Since we almost never eat at restaurants, it’s a great substitute to have treat meals on the weekends. We plan these meals in advance and shop for them just like every other meal in the week.
- Recent fave treat meals: nachos!, pasta puttanesca, guacamole with chips, and pasta with pesto.
7. Think about your drinks.
- Sodas, juices, smoothies, and alcohol can cost a fortune. Be mindful of these expenses as you’re meal planning.
- Here’s what we drink:
- Coffee: we grind our own beans, but we want to start roasting our own to save dough–unroasted beans are vastly less expensive.
- Seltzer: this is a luxury, but, it’s in lieu of more expensive soda. I am a certified carbonation addict. We have a SodaStream and Mr. Frugalwoods rigged up a hack to make it super cheap.
- Wine: from a box! Boxed is the frugal substitute for bottled and it tastes divine. We like the Big House and Bota Box brands.
- Beer: Mr. FW is a beer connoisseur and so he treats this as a luxury good. Every now and then he’ll buy a few very nice bottles as a special treat. Bonus for me: his fave craft beer store is right next door to my fave thrift store…it’s really meant to be.
8. Buy what’s on sale and comparison shop.
- Be flexible and vary your purchases based on what’s in season and on sale.
- If something seems really expensive at one store, comparison shop at other venues. My method is to take receipts from past grocery trips so I can easily check the prices (I also can’t remember numbers to save my life…or anyone else’s for that matter).
- Not gonna lie, I’ve also taken photos of food in order to comparison shop.
- We were shocked–SHOCKED I tell you–to discover that some items are actually cheaper at Whole Foods than at Costco! WHAT?! I know, right! This is why I carry receipts around. I need the living proof.
9. Shop with a calculator.
- Yes, we’re those people! We whip our calculator out all the time. Thankfully, it’s more incognito now that it’s in my phone. I just look like I’m intently texting in the produce section.
- But seriously, calculate the price of items per pound, ounce, etc.
10. Keep emergency frozen pizzas on hand.
- There will be those nights when you cannot face cooking, or a recipe goes disastrously awry, or you just need a treat. Don’t fall victim to take-out! Don’t blow your budget at a restaurant!
- Stock a few easy-cook options in your freezer for just such emergencies. Our go to is frozen pizza–totally unhealthy, but, Costco sells them for $3 each and they’re soooo goooood.
11. Have fun!
- Mr. FW and I have definitely turned grocery shopping into a sport. We get a kick out of finding deals and we love roaming around Costco (hey, free samples too!).
- As disclosed elsewhere, we once biked to Whole Foods just to eat their free cheese samples. We really have no shame.
- And, we were once mistaken for through-hikers at the grocery store…
What are your frugal grocery tips and hacks?
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