Instead of posting a frugal meal plan today, I decided to share my most recent monthly grocery haul. Although I plan out our weekly meals, I do not grocery shop for those weekly plans. Our meal plans are constructed around the products stored in our pantry and freezers or the week's harvest during gardening and butchering season(s). So when I shop, I shop for re-stocking purposes and fresh produce during winter & spring that is on sale for less than $1 lb. Occasionally, I will splurge and purchase produce, like fresh asparagus @ $2 lb. or less, but that only occurs a couple times per year. Re-stocking a deep pantry is the key strategy I use to save so much money on groceries and household products.
I have maintained a $400 per month "grocery" budget for nearly 20 years. I say, "grocery" in quotations because our non-edible household products, annual gardening & canning supplies and butchering expenses are also included in that $400 limit.
When it comes to restocking, I use the sales flyers and purchase only deeply discounted items from the flyers that are needed to replenish our annual supply. One of the grocers in our area offers a case lot sale twice per year. These case lot sales are the only times certain items are discounted by 50%, or more. I've briefly shared additional money saving tips here and through various posts listed under the "Budgeting and Planning It Out" section on my "Mrs.B's Farmhouse Cookbook" blog page. So far this month I've spent $271.34 of my $400.00 budget. Unless butter goes on sale for $2.50 lb., or less, I will not spend any of the remaining $128.66 left in my budget. It will be put back for butchering expenses and gardening & canning supplies this coming autumn.
Here are the items I purchased to re-stock our pantry and freezers today:
50 lb. flour (case lot)
50 lb. sugar (case lot)
20 lb. frozen boneless chicken breasts (case lot)**
16 lb. frozen cod fillets (case lot)**
25 lb. various cheeses (quarterly sale)
6 gallons white vinegar (case lot)
5 lb. dried kidney beans (case lot)
4 lb. various dried pastas (quarterly sale)*
2 cases (24) canned Albacore tuna (case lot)
2 cases (24) canned chicken (case lot)**
4 lg. mayonnaise (quarterly sale)*
4 qt. beef broth (quarterly sale)*
1 lg. box Rice Krispies (reduced for quick sale)**
2 box Lucky Charms (quarterly sale)**
1 canister panko bread crumbs (dollar store)**
1 bottle vanilla syrup (dollar store)*
1 pound cake (dollar store)*
2 boxes instant flavored coffees (dollar store)***
4 cases bottled water (quarterly sale)**
4 lg. pkg. feminine hygiene products (quarterly sale)*
30 roll bath tissue (quarterly sale)
2 parchment paper (dollar store)**
1 plastic cling wrap (dollar store)**
1 foil sheets (dollar store)**
1 pkg. cheese cloth (dollar store)
12 foil to-go containers (dollar store)**
1 pkg. facial cleansing cloths (quarterly sale)***
In the above list you will notice that I purchased a few items from a dollar discount store. Our closest dollar discount store is more than 130 miles, one-way. Because of the distance, I keep a mental list of items I need from the dollar store so that when we are driving through that area I can stop in. Sometimes, it may be an entire year before I have an opportunity to go to a dollar store. So, it is important that I always leave a little extra in my budget so I can take advantage of the opportunity when it arises.
If finances were tight, there are about $80.00 worth of items on the above list I could have omitted; either because I can make it homemade (*), substitute a more economical option (**), or the items were simply a splurge (***). In the event of a financial crisis our pantry and freezers are so deep I could skip the grocer for an entire year if necessary. I'd still have gardening, canning and butchering expenses but could slash my "grocery" expenses by more than 75% if necessary.
It took two years of patience and perseverance to stock our pantry and freezers on a $400.00 per month budget. It was worth all the work and I encourage you to steadily work toward building a deep pantry as well. I think the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can feed your family, and feed them well even in the midst of a crisis, is priceless.