It's the 11th of the month and once again every kitchen cupboard has been opened and slammed shut, only to conclude exactly as last time: bare. Except for that slayer tin of fish you got two of with a coupon and that jar of stuff you really thought was jam. Not that hungry...yet.
Every month it's the same lineup of starving between paydays, except this month it'll be for four days. Wouldn't be so bad except for the health of the toddler. Just kidding. But seriously, there is a way to grocery shop only once per month and maybe even eat a meal or two out. Breathe easy, contrary to some claims, coupons are a waste of time, provide very little food value and the purchases they offer never actually go very far in the month. Did you catch that?
Anyway, sourcing coupons is therefore not on this agenda. Here today is your revised grocery list, to save you money, while having enough good food, with lots of variety, to last an entire month. This shop will fully stack the cupboards and freezer with soups, gravies, sandwiches, casseroles, sauces - you name it - and can be done for less than $150 for a single person and about $300 for a family of 4-6.
Here's your grocery list:
1. Buy Staples. Staples are foodstuffs that are used to make or help make other stuff. Here is your list, how much you buy will depend on how many mouths:
Flour (all purpose)
Sugar (brown or white)
Butter or Margarine
Dehydrated Skim Milk
*Buy about 4 times the number of eggs you would normally pick up. They're great for filling in with a healthy dose of protein, they satisfy the belly and can be prepared so many different ways.
*Also, the dehydrated milk is to get you through to the end of the month when the fresh milk is gone. You'd be surprised how handy it comes in on so many different occasions. It's expensive enough to draw a gasp, but it's a must have.
2. Buy Real Whole Meat. Buy any cheapest available whole and at least one of each kind:
Pork or Ham Roast
Fryer Chicken (or turkey), depending on current sale pricing, if any.
*Even if the meats are not on sale on shopping day, buy them anyway. Once you have a stockpile (and you will) you can really save and get the sale items. That comes later.
*Also, There may be cut up portions of chicken (like legs or thighs) but as much can't be done with those when you get home, so resist the urge to buy cause they "seem" cheaper - they're usually not. I'll explain why in the next article, so stay tuned.
3. Buy Frozen and Fresh Vegetables. Look for bargain bin or on sale if possible but buy even if nothing is on sale. Remember, it is better to start saving money now. Saving even more by shopping sales can come later. I'll explain in the next article the best way to handle fresh vegetables so they last all month. Here's your list from the produce section:
Green and Red Peppers
Red, Yellow or White Potatoes
Any Fruit on Sale
Mixed Frozen Vegetables
*Frozen mixed vegetables are great because they will stay nutritious and delicious all month. You can even pick out the less favourite bits to use later in the month, when pickings get slim - but at least you'll still have your vegetables!
4. Dry Goods. These are also must-haves:
Breads and Buns
Noodles (any kind on sale or otherwise)
Canned Whole Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
Dried Grains & Split Peas (called a soup mix)
Dried Kidney Beans
5. Spices. These are only some basics but can be built upon in upcoming months:
Salt & Pepper
Beef, Chicken & Vegetable Soup Stock/Base
Finally, coffee lovers, force the purchase of a big tin of coffee and make your own at home. The urge to pick one up on the run is often too much for most of us to resist and most of us don't realize that it's a huge culprit in breaking the monthly budget!
There you have a grocery list that won't leave you starving between paydays, with leftovers of some of the priciest items for the next month. But having this list is only conquering half the battle. What should be done with all this food once it's home? The next article will explain how one meal preparation session will turn your healthy homemade food into at least three square meals - ready-to-eat - anywhere!