I have a grocery question for all your truly frugal shoppers out there. I see the coupons, I look at your pictures and shopping hauls, and I know what's in my pantry/fridge/freezer. Most of it (i.e. cereal, bread, oatmeal, granola bars, cake mixes, pasta, instant potatoes, etc.) was cheap, but it's also not allowed on our current diet. Although we can slowly mix some of those items back in during Stages 2 and 3, we'll never be able to eat like we did before. I realize that I'll be able to find coupons and in-store sales for things like Jell-O (a good substitute for a sweet dessert), cheese, and chicken breasts, but here's my question:
How do you keep the grocery budget under control when you need to be buying a lot of protein (lean ground beef, steaks, Canadian bacon, eggs, etc.) and fresh vegetables?
Last summer we had our first garden, and it was great. We had all sorts of fresh produce - tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, leeks, lettuce, etc. We also found that it wasn't cheap to start a garden. We had to buy dirt, seeds, fertilizer, weed-control fabric, seed trays, and rent a garden tiller. I will say that during the process, we learned ways that we can (and will) do things differently this summer and save money, but we also realized that having a garden doesn't give you free food.
My point for all of that, is that in the summer, I'll be able to save some money on groceries by collecting the vegetables from my own backyard, but I don't plan on getting a cow or keeping chickens or making my own cheese. And when all (or most) of my garden produce is gone (like it is now), how do I save money on veggies in the winter months?
I'm open to hearing your ideas.
And just so we don't end on a low note, I did get two good deals this week. Our local grocery (Ingle's) had a special this week on Tyson family packs of All Natural, Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: $1.78 lb. I purchased three packs to use and put in the freezer for later.
My biggest beef is with the state - they charge sales tax on the price it was BEFORE coupons - so I paid tax on the $5.24 amount, rather than the $0.24 amount. Total rip off by my own government, but I won't even get started on the political front! :-)
Week-end Reminder: The 2010 Winter Olympics start on Friday night at 7:30 ET/PT (NBC) - I LOVE the winter olympics and will spend more time watching TV in the next two weeks than I will the rest of the year. Seriously.
Also, Sunday is Valentine's Day - do something special with your honey or your family or for a friend who doesn't have anyone to celebrate with this year. Look around you for new widows or single people at church or work who could perhaps use a smile and some flowers or chocolates.
Head over to visit Jessica (and linking pals) over at today's Life as Mom post. All sorts of frugal ideas from people who probably aren't as confused about groceries! ;-) Have a great week-end and remember, send me those frugal grocery ideas! :-)