Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Weeks Worth of Grocery Basics

I think a lot about food, grocery shopping, and budgeting.  I'm always trying to get more for less out of my grocery shopping trips, trying to make the food we have go further and always trying to save more in our budget for other things.  Over the past few years of having a small grocery budget there have been many times where I had to come up with a weeks worth of meals with seemingly nothing to make them from.  Because of that I have compiled a list of must have items, if your grocery budget is tiny or you're trying to make it smaller this week to put money towards something else here are the things you should buy during your grocery trip.

Prices will vary depending on where you live and these are the prices if none of the items are on sale that week, at my grocery stores.
  1. Potatoes $2.50
  2. Pasta $1.00
  3. Canned tomatoes $1.00 for 28oz can at Aldi
  4. celery $1.19
  5. onions $1.99 for 2lb
  6. carrots $0.99 for 1lb
  7. rice about $2.00
  8. meat (chicken, beef, or pork, whatever is on sale that week)
  9. eggs $1.68/dozen
  10. bread $0.79 at Aldi
       Total before the cost of meat is $13.14.  You can usually find frozen chicken breast in a bag for about $7 if nothing is on sale.  Usually in my area you can get fresh boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.99/lb or less depending on the store.  This makes family packs of about 7 chicken breasts about $7.  I cut them in half at their width making myself 14 chicken breasts, more than enough for us.

When we lived in Tennessee, my husband's job depended a lot on the weather, if it rained he didn't work so we never knew how much money we were actually going to have at the end of the week.  Obviously we couldn't not pay our electric or rent so we cut costs where we could, groceries.  During those weeks I had this go to list in my mind. If it was on sale I would always buy boneless skinless chicken breast because I can use it in more ways than any other meat, but that's just me.

Potatoes of any kind, mashed, roasted, fried, wedges, homemade French fries, or baked.  I'd change it up each night but we ate a lot of potatoes.  If you have canned tomatoes you can add them to almost anything, pasta, over rice, or pour a can of diced tomatoes over a few chicken breast and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes and you have a yummy main dish.  I try to stock up on them every time they are on sale or I have a coupon, and keep various kinds, crushed, diced, whole, and tomato sauce.  Celery, onions, and carrots are the 3 items you can add to about anything to add flavor,  rice to make fried rice, meatloaf, chicken pot pie or chicken-less pot pie, throw them in the crockpot with a beef or pork roast and some potatoes, sauté them with chicken chunks and add to rice. 
Eggs were always a must because in the worst case scenario we could always have scrambled eggs and toast, French toast, or omelets with just cheese (if we had any) or whatever veggies we had in the fridge or freezer.  These basic items will get you through at least a weeks worth of simple meals.  Remember we aren't looking for a knock your socks off dinner for your in-laws, just some simple meals to get you through a tough week spending as little as possible.

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