Sunday, February 21, 2010
Our Sunday School class is doing the Crown Financial Study. My husband and I have started to take a close look at our day to day expenses. I was pleased to see that eating healthy hasn't increased our food expenditures by a huge amount. What was shocking was to see that I had made over 21 trips to a grocery store in a one month period. Quite frankly, I've got better things to do with my time!
Here's what's happening. I love Trader Joe's. The prices are very reasonable and their foods meet our healthy eating requirements. However, because of Abigail's peanut allergy, I can't purchase any of their breads, the majority of their boxed products (cereal, snack bars, etc.), a good many of their baking items, a lot of their frozen items or any of their cookies or other sweet treats. So, at Trader Joe's, I stock up on what I can, but that leaves a ton of items that I have to purchased elsewhere. They also have the best price on organic produce, but it's a 30 minute drive to the closest store so I only make the trip once a month. That leaves me looking for everything else we need at the other 6 stores that I shop.
I should explain that the reason we haven't seen a huge increase in our food budget even though we are purchasing organic, natural and peanut free is because I shop at so many different stores. For instance, I stop into Food Lion to purchase our Jone's Colas. They're just $2.99 versus $4.99 at Harris Teeter. Wal-Mart carries a few organic products and have the best prices on those items, but the selection is very limited. I go to BJ's for diapers and paper products. While Harris Teeter tends to be the most expensive on basics, they have the best selection and a few products that I can't find anywhere else. Fresh Market has the best price on certain organic produce items, and Target has rGBH-free dairy items that I purchase when I can't get to Trader Joe's. And, if a store does a special event with triple or double up to $1.99 coupons, I'm probably shopping there too. Don't laugh (my husband does), but I've had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of all of this.
So, what to do? This is going to be a stretch, but I'm going to try to plan a monthly menu. I've started this weekend working on just a 2 week menu and will work my way up to doing a month at a time. Considering that there are many evenings that I don't start figuring out what's for dinner until dinnertime, this is a big deal. Hopefully, the payoff will be big. My goal is to simplify my afternoons and decrease our food budget by purchasing in bulk. Mostly though, I want to gain lots of time by eliminating the 3 to 4 trips I make each week to grocery stores.
There are a lot of resources on the internet. Last night I found someone that put their meal calendars and shopping list templates online for upload. It's a good starting place. I also purchased a 5 ingredient crock pot cookbook. My kind of cooking! Now, I just need to take my menu and translate it into 6 different shopping lists! Wish me luck!