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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Never Another Duplicate! And Other Money-Saving Grocery Ideas

I hope that's not wishful thinking up there in that title! Over on
Cheap Healthy Good this week, in her links of the week, I discovered Bon Appetit's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Grocery Shopping. There was this one little tip that made such total and complete sense to me that I had to come home this weekend and work it into my crazy schedule!

What is it? Know What You Have. Simple huh? How many times have you gone into the store and tried to remember what you have in the freezer, in the cabinets, in the fridge? Or better yet, when you plan meals for the week (you do, don't you?) have you said: Oh I have to put "x" on the list...and then after you buy it realized you already had it (I know whereof I speak, folks, I have THREE - count 'em three! - bottles of Lite Soy Sauce! (Two are open and in the fridge, one is on the cabinet shelf.

I think I'll be making more Asian cuisine for a bit to use those up...

So I got into the cabinets easily enough and listed everything...

And ended up here. Yes, that's actually my "organized" freezer. I more or less remember where I put everything. I had to wear gloves when I went into it, because my fingertips quickly go numb when I work in there (hence the reason I have had no idea what was in there in the past).

Tonight I have leftover (frozen) beef stew and corn muffins thawing. I'm going to clean out the freezer. Use it up, make it do. It's the frugal thing to do, doncha know?

(And I think I'll be having spaghetti-based dishes for a bit, because I also discovered I have 2 full boxes and a partial, opened box of the whole wheat variety in the cabinets. While I was over on Bon Appetit, I noodled - sorry! - around and found this recipe which I have all the ingredients it's on the menu for later in the week, and I think I'll put it in the slow cooker, too.)

So now, I challenge you. Find out what you have and list it. Mine is in a notebook that is now dedicated to planning those meals from my storehouse, and I'll also tick off what I've used up as I do. I need to begin a new grocery store price-book, too, so I think it will fit in here as well. What's that? You use your price-book to track the prices of the foods you use most at the stores you shop in - those prices vary and if you're really trying to keep your grocery expenses down, shopping sales and such, this is well worth the effort to do. The fastest way to get started is to pull out your receipts - of course you save those, right? - and list what you've bought over the past month or so...keep it by food type and then have separate columns for each store. I could see doing this on a spreadsheet, but I like having the spiral notebook to cart along with me.

And for those of you wondering how I'm doing on sticking to my food budget this year? I went over in January by $20.44. In mid-month, I revised my "budget" downward by $25 every two weeks. So it might have been smarter not to do that. January is also a very long month, but frankly? I had no idea what was in my kitchen to eat, so that should all change from now on, right?

In February (and there's still one day left!), I'm maintaining that $25 per bi-weekly paycheck reduction - which turns out to be $50 less in the shorter month. So far? I'm $32.44 under budget!

(I did take goodies to our monthly KnitIn group last weekend, and I did not include the price of that in my grocery budget - it was entertainment - but that was $17, so if you want to include it, I'm no longer decide?)

Trying to keep myself honest here. So will YOU itemize your pantry? If you do, let me know, okay?


twinsetellen said...

Your freezer made me smile. It says so much about a person - fish, veggies, veggie crumbles. This is a person I want to know (and eat dinner with!).

I have been trying the approach of "eat from your cupboards and freezer as much as possible". I am making a serious dent. When it gets low enough, I will then be able to think about an inventory, but right now, it would get way too much in the way of knitting time!

Ruinwen said...

I must admit that I'm bad about this. With 2 families I never know what we have let alone if it is "mine" or not.

We've been thinking about a second freezer for "the meat" we buy from the bison place. Because once an order goes in...the order in our freezer goes out of control.

Congrats for organizing and knowing what is in your cupboards and freezer. And I love the pic of your food...all so healthy and yummy. I bet you can make some amazing meals out of there. :)