Thinking about meal planning and saving money

Tips for your shopping trips to the local grocery store… I was watching Rachel Ray and got inspired by this. I do have a hard time believing Rachel really needs to be mindful of her budget. Really? She is Rachel Ray, for goodness sake!

When I go grocery shopping, I do make a general list of my items for dinners for the week. BUT you always need to be open minded when you go grocery shopping to get the best deal. Sometimes I have a game plan, but I may change my mind as I shop and see what is on sale.

1. Produce: Wow! Asparagus is cheaper than green beans? Get them and add them to your meal instead. Organic or not? Check out this My thing is quality vs. value. If any berry can be bought organic without breaking the bank, do it! Any veggie or fruit with skin you eat, buy organic. If it is not in your budget, just make sure you wash carefully. Organic vs. conventional does not have any greater nutritional value, but I think organic just tastes better.

2. Meat and seafood section: Where you spend the most but can save the most. Look for the deals of the week. If I am going to buy chicken thighs for a recipe, but chicken breasts are 2 for 1, I will get that instead. I always get sustainable fish or I don’t buy it. I look for organic meat. It is better for our environment and the animals, but I can’t break the bank for it. Choose wisely. I love to shop at our local butcher shop instead when I can.

3. Dairy: I believe organic rules supreme. It just taste better! It is more costly, so like meat, just choose wisely. My girls are drinking less and less milk, which may not break the bank too much to buy organic. Not too many coupons are for dairy, but there are some out there. BE CAREFUL! Most are for yogurts with added sugars and high fructose corn syrup. Just gross…once you have some Choboni or other awesome yogurt, you won’t go back. It doesn’t have to be organic, just delicious. I love getting plain or vanilla flavored and add my own fruit and granola. Organic butter is a splurge; It tastes better by a landslide, but Land O’ Lakes is pretty close. I stock up on that when it is on sale.

4. Eggs: Farm fresh eggs are always better. Organic farm fresh eggs can’t be beat. But when eggs are not the star, the cheap ones from Publix will do. For a while, we were able to get farm fresh eggs for $2.00 per dozen from a family friend, but that has fallen through. We were wondering how much we would sacrifice to get those eggs from someone else. I say at most $4 for a dozen for eggs that will be the star of a dish. Otherwise, regular eggs will do. I have found them at Wal-Mart, Fresh Market, and Whole Foods for less than $4.

5. Canned foods: 4 words…Canned meat is GROSS! Stick to tomatoes, beans, olives, and the occasional veggie or fruit. Canned tuna smells and looks like cat food.

6. Frozen Foods: Ice creams, puff pastry, pies(not too bad, right?), and your favorite guilty pleasure is ok. I love Amy’s Frozen Meals. I buy frozen French toast sticks for my girls. Steam fresh veggies are pretty awesome.

My favorite things to have on hand…
Some kind of canned beans
Canned tomatoes
Boxed Chicken and Beef Stock
bread crumbs; Panko and Italian
a couple of grains; rice, quinoa, Farro, couscous
a couple of different kinds of pasta

Dairy thickeners: mascarpone, sour cream, cream cheese, Greek yogurt
Liquid Dairy: Milk, buttermilk, heavy cream, half and half
Cheese: A variety…hard- parm or pecorino , soft- Brie, Feta, Goat, melty- fontina, American, swiss
Fruit: Berry, citrus, tomato
Veggie: Onion, garlic, green, pepper, mushroom, carrot, celery
Spreads: mayo, mustard, ketcup, hot sauce, soy sauce or other Asian sauces
Other- salsa, hummus, olives,

Freezer: Veggies, fruits, meats, French toast, fries, raviolis, leftovers/casseroles, leftover chicken or seafood parts for stock, homemade stock, ice cream

Snacks: Pirate Booty, popcorn, tortilla chips, pita chips, granola/fruit bars, fruit snacks

Spices, etc- sea salt, pepper, all purpose seasoning, Worchesturie sauce, cinnamon, oregano, garlic salt, onion salt

Baking: All purpose flour, cornmeal, cocoa powder, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda,

Hope this list helps! Feel free to add to it!

3 thoughts on “Thinking about meal planning and saving money

  1. Hi Amy, do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? They have a great selection, lots of organics, grass-fed beef, etc. I get most of our groceries from TJ’s, it may not be the most affordable, but as long as we can afford it, I try to get the healthiest food for my family, that being said, we have not had cable for more than 3 years 🙂


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