Buying groceries for you is not as cheap as it used to be. Prices for just about everything are going up and up and up. For me, though, it is a lot cheaper than it used to be. I have set myself a budget of $300 per month for groceries. I am a single man. I share my house with my beagle, Isaac. There should be no reason I have to spend the $500 per month for groceries that I used to be spending. This is on top of another $500 per month in eating out. So I’ve given myself a $300 /mth grocery budget (no more Whole Foods for me!). Once I actually quit my job, I will also give myself a $100 / mth eating out budget.
I just came back from my first bout of “price conscious grocery shopping”. Before this I would not even look at the prices of the things I bought. Today I did. Some of it was quite astonishing. For instance, I normally buy Jasmati Rice, which I think tastes better than normal long grain rice. Unfortunately, it seems that the Jasmati Rice, for 36oz is almost $8; compare with about $1.50 for the equivalent mahatma long grain rice.
As I walked through the store I found more and more things like this. I usually buy the 1 liter bottles of Evian water for about $3 each. Today I bought 3 *gallons* of “drinking water” for under $2. I had meant to start doing this anyway, because I didn’t like throwing away all those plastic bottles. I only pray I got the right bottles of “drinking water” and didn’t accidentally pick up “flushing water.”
I still got my groceries in paper bags. That doesn’t cost any more than plastic. I normally bring my own bags to the grocery store to save even that waste… but I forget them today.
Some things were not as big of a difference as I thought they would be. Normal eggs cost about $2.20. Free range eggs cost about $3.15. That’s a difference of only a dollar… and since a dozen eggs last me a month, I’m much happier buying the free range eggs.
Buying meat is pretty easy to save money as well. The way I see it, there is never a reason to ever buy anything but whole chickens. As soon as the butcher brings his knife anywhere near the bird, the price per pound increases by a dollar. And of all the types of meat you might ever need to butcher yourself, breaking down a chicken is really easy (and kind of fun). Since I regularly make soup stock (and then, later on, soup) from scratch, I always save the left over bits of the chicken I am not going to eat – the carcass, the bones. Shove it in the freezer. When I am ready to make stock it is sitting there waiting for a hot water bath.
Buying on a budget was actually a little fun. I don’t think I will have any problems doing this all the time. I came away with enough food for two weeks and spent $100.24.
On the other hand, it is still a little sad that 2 bags of groceries cost me $50 each. I remember as a child it being about half that (on the average). I’m sure I could clip coupons and the like and get the price down even further. But so far I am happy with what I am doing and seem to be able to get it done easily in my budget.