Clever Humans


Clever Humans do the darnedest things!


29 March 2008

Price Conscious Grocery Shopping

by Patrick

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.

Book Cover

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.

tags: food - oldposts