Frugal friday– and ways to save at the store

a typical grocery trip

Whew! It’s frugal Friday again, and somehow I’ve taken a blogging vacation this week. Except, instead of FEELING like a vacation, it felt like driving and more driving. To job interviews and shopping and doctor appointments and more shopping and more appointments. The good news is that both of my soon-to-be-driving sons now have summer jobs– a huge blessing since they both hope to buy cars soon! And I did have at least some success in keeping an eye on the money going out.

  • Early in the week I bought some marked-down chicken thighs that were about 80 cents a pound.  I bought about 10 pounds, and wished there was money in the budget to buy a few more packages.
  • I also found already-cubed ham marked down. I used some in a batch of split pea soup on Tuesday.  I always try to look for marked-down meat at whichever grocery store I visit.
  • I combined a bunch of errands into one day when I needed to bring two kids to two different things.  It meant for a long time out and about, but I really made the most of that gas money.

 

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In other frugality-related notes, while prepping for last night’s e-class   –great fun!–  I went through a few of my notes about food shopping, and thought I’d share some of the most helpful ones here, for those of you who were not able to attend the class.

1. MAJOR IN ONE-INGREDIENT ITEMS

Choose items with the fewest ingredients possible: pinto beans instead of canned chili, raw chicken instead of chicken nuggets, head lettuce instead of salad mix and dressing packets.  Look into your cart before you enter the check stand. The more single-ingredient items you have in that grocery cart, the more likely it is that you’re making frugal choices.

2. FOCUS ON AFFORDABLE PRODUCE

Spend your produce dollars on the most affordable fruits and veggies: apples, oranges, bananas, potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, and whatever’s in season in your area.

3.SCAN THE SHELVES

Check unit prices on each item, and remember to look lower and higher on the shelf.  Sometimes the most affordable package is larger or smaller or a different brand, and it can vary from week to week.  It pays to be non-brand-loyal.

4.  ALLOW ONE SPLURGE

If you try to do everything perfectly, you’ll burn out.  It’s fine to have a meal of fish sticks every couple weeks, or a particular brand of cheese you adore.  But to keep your grocery spending down, limit yourself to ONE such splurge per shopping trip.

5. PREP MEAT AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME

Cook that chicken.  Brown that ground beef.  Then freeze in meal-size portions, and you’re 20 minutes closer to dinner, just like that.  A huge psychological advantage on busy days when cooking feels like a lot of effort.

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How did you do in your frugal efforts this week?  I really enjoy hearing from you!

{ 13 Comments }

  1. My son took an internship with a computer company on Wednesday mornings, and I’ve discovered it’s a GREAT time to grocery shop. This week’s haul:
    ~ Four 60 cent loaves of artisan whole wheat bread on the bakery reduced rack.
    ~15 pounds of ground veal (ewww….but ok for tacos, sloppy joes, etc.) for 99 cents a pound (normally $5.65)
    ~5 one pound “antipasto” packages of cold lunch meats including cappicola, salami, and prosciutto 99 cents. (I’m pretty excited about cheap prosciutto while our garden is stil putting out asparagus like gangbusters)
    ~10 cans of Muir Glen organic crushed tomatoes with basil, 99 cents.
    I’m pretty sure the items I’m picking up are samples, because I never see them again at any price.

  2. I love this new series! It is so refreshing to know that others are focusing on frugality. This week I stretched a few groceries to make it through the week without an extra stop at the store. My husband and I sat down to analyze the budget and make sure we knew exactly how much we wanted to spend on food and entertainment for an upcoming vacation. We also reinforced the decision that our kids would be doing no fee-based activities this summer at all, just enjoying parks, libraries, VBS, and playdates. Since when did summer likely involve expensive camps and lessons?

  3. Just discovered your website and am so excited for Frugal Fridays. This could give me some accountability to really watch my spending through the week. Love reading the posts. I love to save and be frugal, but need to “tighten the purse strings” even when I see a so-called “deal” or something is on “sale”. You know those “trigger” words that seem to justify the expenditure! Happy Friday, All!

  4. Frugal:
    My daughter had holes in the knees of all of her pants. I cut them off into shorts. Super cute “new” shorts for summer.

    Not Frugal:
    I had to buy new shorts for my rapidly growing teenager.
    Becky

    • Becky, I feel your pain. I also have a rapidly growing preteen, who has gotten taller than her siblings, and updating her wardrobe with zero hand-me-downs available has taken me to the thrift store quite often.

  5. Umm Muhammad says:

    Frugal:
    - Used three different leftovers (spinach, pasta, and chicken broth) to make a “new” meal for today
    - Resisted the cereal urge
    - Made another batch of homemade applesauce
    - Cooked some dried beans to make a bulk batch of refried beans to freeze, instead of buying the canned ones
    - Didn’t buy any meat this week at all! :O

    Not so frugal:
    - Bought some expensive dark chocolate
    - Bought more of the expensive butter (that tastes really good) even though it was not on sale this week. I could have got more of the less expensive kind instead, really.
    - Threw away some labneh that I accidentally left out all day yesterday, it had gone bad. :(
    - Got a coffee drink at an expensive coffee store that was SO not worth the price I paid for it.

    Writing this out really helps me focus on improvement areas! :)

    • So interesting to read. I had to go google labneh. Thanks for sharing!

      • Wow! I grew up eating labneh at my grandparents’ house (and loved it!), but I never knew how it was spelled.

        I actually just bought some Armenian cucumber plants for our garden so I can make the dish my grandma used to make in summer (not sure what it’s called??) with cucumber, labneh (I use plain yogurt), and mint. SO good!! :)

  6. Christine says:

    Not frugal-stopping for coffee many days after work. At that point in the day I am hungry, tired, and feel like I deserve it. I need a solution to all my coffee stops! Also not frugal is getting take out Thursday because we were wiped out.

    Frugal-I used almost all the food I had over the past two weeks. You can see in the fridge and pantry that we were making the most of what we had. I had almost all the meals I planned out. I used the bread ends for my work sandwich one day. Bread ends seem like such a waste of food, so I usually eat them. My overall shopping this month has been less than usual, but it is more work!

  7. Was sick most of last 2 weeks so avoided store. And pulled out stuff from freezer to eat when didnt feel like cooking. Also:
    -Sold baby stuff on craigslist
    -Gave away stuff on freecycle and to to mission
    -My son volunteered at foodnet with our church (give away food that would otherwise be thrown out in stores) and brought home a box of food
    We are using up stockpile to get ready for our move. Since kids on break I dont see this being a problem!

  8. *Took 3 boxes of books to second hand bookstore- left with 2, 1 box of books they sell but don’t need right now and 1 box they aren’t interested in. Got $38 credit that we used for 3 books I’ve been wanting and a stack of books on CD for DH to listen to in his car. Donated some of the rejected books and put some in my yard sale pile.
    *Made 3 qts of cold brewed coffee concentrate but iced coffee. I keep it in my fridge all summer for an afternoon treat. Gave a mason jar of it to my neighbor.
    *Signed up for a online class through work, that costs $500 +$50 for book & registration fee. The insurance carrier we write for is covering the entire cost, as long as I pass the 50 question test at the conclusion. This will help me gain an additional certification and since its during work hours I’m getting paid.
    *Running errands Friday discovered the Salvation Army store that closed 15 months ago has reopened. When I was checking out discovered Friday’s are 1/2 price day. Best buys were Talbot’s shorts for 3.50, Chicos tee shirt with tags for $2 and a pair of Keds for $1.50. All looked brand new!
    *While at the doctor on Friday asked her to give me prescriptions for my mission trip in July. She wrote one as a refill to med I was getting that day and I saved not having to go to another office visit and copay. The good thing about the refill is I’ll get a $25 gift card from the pharmacy when I fill it.

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