Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Frugal Grocery Store Question, pt 2

A few days back I asked you all for some advice about grocery shopping. I had gotten an offer through the credit card I use for gas purchases for a $10 credit on any $100 spent at any other store. (My guess is I'm not the only one using this card only for gas and they are trying to drum up some other business!) Anyway, it has been my long standing policy not to use credit cards any more - this card is an exception because I only use it for gas that I have calculated in my budget, so I pay it off each month. There is one other line item in my budget that is over $100 that I purchase each month - groceries. So the question was - do I make an exception in this case and buy the groceries and get the $10 credit? Or do I continue swearing off any extra using of credit cards?

Ultimately after reading your advice and thinking it over, I decided to go ahead and make the purchase. As many of you pointed out, I already had the money in my budget. Made a couple of vows: 1) I wouldn't buy anything I wouldn't normally use just to hit $100, 2) I would try to get as close to $100 as possible, 3) I will pay this off in full when the statement comes.

So... how did I do?

Good actually, really good. I first spent a long time working on a grocery list. I have always enjoyed sitting down with all my cookbooks and planning out weekly menus. At the same time I am picking recipes, I am making my grocery list. This time my goal was to maximize the number of dishes while purchasing the fewest ingredients. Part of this was incorporating whatever I already had in the cupboards - rice, dried beans, canned goods, etc. I literally took everything I wanted to use out of the cupboards and spread them out on the dinning room table - as I figured out how I was going to use them, I put them back on the shelf. The end result? I had over 15 healthy recipes and needed to purchase 24 ingredients - less than two per dish! Also, the dishes I chose deliberately used as few perishable items as possible. I didn't want to feel like I had to make 12 dishes in one night because things would spoil if I didn't! I'm just one woman and these recipes all would make 4 (or more) servings, so this will last me a really long time.

When I got to the store I had a calculator in one hand and my list in the other. As I put each item in the cart, I wrote down the price. In addition to the 24 food items I had 5 nonfood items (cleaners, etc.) to pick up. First I got all of those. As I shopped, I jotted down items that were on sale and I wanted and knew I would use, but that weren't on my list. Then I added up everything on my list that I had put in my cart. The total was $80.74. I went back through and picked up those sale items and came in at $95.11. I added a few nonperishables I use a lot and always like to keep in the house (canned chickpeas, dried black beans) which brought me to $98.98. I decided to add fresh parsley which I love to cook with, but I noticed the regular stuff looked terrible. Then I saw that the grocery store actually stocked produce from one of the farmers I usually buy from at the market! And the Italian parsely was gorgeous and the bunch was three times the size of the regular stuff. It was $2.49, a bit pricey, but worth it. Total? $101.47. Perfect.

Already I have baked oatmeal yogurt whole wheat bread, made a lovely barley and mushroom soup and a bean salad. I am eating fantastically and very, very frugally! Now, it will be fun to see how far I can make these dishes stretch. When will I run out? Anyone want to place any bets??

Photo by: itsray's


Mallory said...

I'm gonna guess at least 3 weeks! 15 recipes is a really good amount for such a little price. Sounds like you made a really good decision since you went about it in an organized way. I have the hardest time being patient in the grocery store so it's hard for me to focus on how to save money at the same time. This is why we talked about how to make your trip peaceful in our blog today. Glad your savings went well!
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Lindsay said...

It sounds you've thought it through and are going to be careful. It's not all that hard to spend $100 at the grocery store, so I doubt you'll have to buy extras to hit that mark. Shoot, when I go to Whole Food, I spend $50+ for one bag of groceries. :P Granted that place and "frugal" don't go together.

Good luck!