Smarter(er… ish) Grocery Shopping

I got all those groceries above for $60. I was really pleased with myself.

I spend an outrageous percentage of my income on food. Back when we lived in a shithole, I definitely spent more on food than housing, which is really not how it’s supposed to work, but the tables have turned and I’ve traded organic unsulphured apricots for, you know, a washing machine and cable.

Now that I have normal human expenses and can’t blow all my dollars on obnoxiously overpriced things like, hello, $5 green tea soy lattes, I am tapping in to some rather useful grocery budget tools to help me along.

  1. Evernote for menu planning – Meal planning for the week is, I think, the best way to shop conservatively and utilize everything you buy. If you’re not using Evernote (on your computer and phone), you crazy. I guess it’s kind of like Pinterest but more private and less obnoxious. It’s like a big e-notebook where you can collect and organize anything you find on the web. It’s great for keeping track of recipes from your favorite blogs (cough, cough). They also¬†just released a new magical Moleskine paper notebook that you write in like a real human being, but everything is transferable to your computer. Probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. See their blog post on how to use Evernote for menu planning.
  2. Grocery IQ and Ziplist for shopping lists – Two smart phone apps for creating, organizing and sharing shopping lists. I like these two because they integrate with full websites so you can plan from your laptop or desktop and then pull it up on your phone from anywhere. Everybody knows shopping with a list is the only way to keep you from buying cookie butter and that’s a fact.
  3. Starbucks Gold Card – I know. I know. I’m out of control. But I decided that if I can’t beat ‘em, I might as well join ‘em and get free soy and unlimited free refills and drinks on my birthday and a shiny gold card. The Starbucks gold card is not a deal if you’re not already consuming Starbucks coffee on the regular. If you’re not, maintain this habit. I applaud you. But if you are and you don’t have the gold card, you’re an idiot and you’re throwing money away. On every 15th drink you get a free ANYTHING YOU WANT. I’m talking all the shots, syrups and unicorn dust you can think of. Fo’ FREE. It’s free and all you have to do is sign up and register a gift card, any gift card. It’s actually kind of a good way to manage your expensive coffee habit, too, because you can just load your card with a limit each month and then not reload it as soon as you run out like I do.
As you can see, I have yet to really perfect the art of budget shopping. But I am at least trying. See you at Starbucks. (I am the worst.)

6 thoughts on “Smarter(er… ish) Grocery Shopping

  1. I’d really like to know what you make with the tempeh because I have the exact same thing in my fridge and haven’t figured out what I want to do with it (tempeh noob).

    • Ooh, so many possibilities! It’s awesome sliced into “fingers” and grilled on the foreman/dipped into honey mustard…or battered with a crispy coconut coating…or even mashed up with some mayo and celery into a mock tuna salad. Tempeh has so much potential – I’d just suggest marinating it first so it has a little more flavor (I like it raw, but most people think it has a weird fermented flavor that needs a marinade).

  2. I have a gold card only because my last job had a Starbucks ON THE FIRST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING. I got that sucker in, like, a month because I was going 1-2 times a day (god that’s depressing when you write it out). Of course now my new job only has a Sbucks down the block, but it’s a super busy location and I never go in because I don’t feel like waiting 20 minutes for my gd latte. First world problems, yo.

  3. I definitely have to rein myself in on the grocery shopping too. I get into Whole Foods and want to buy ALL OF THE THINGS and then realize there’s no sense stocking up a fridge if it taps into my electric bill budget, in which case said fridge wouldn’t even be able to keep said food edible. Sad, sad cycle.

    Produce markets are my best friend. I have one within biking distance where – no lie – I can walk along dropping everything that looks good into a cart and still pay less than $20 for enough fruits and vegetables to stock a small restaurant. That, and bulk bins. Between the two I can eat relatively cheaply…and still have enough left over for a few obscenely expensive Field Roast soy sausages and a sample or two of pretentious cheese.

  4. Thanks for these tips… I’m downloading those apps right now. Since I’m now an old married hag, I have succumbed to the world of couponing, and now I’m addicted. I saved $36 the last time I was at Target. And not just on crap – like stuff I actually needed and the brands I wanted. I also mooch off my parents Costco membership as often as possible.

  5. I think meal planning and shopping on a budget are a tough art but very doable. One of my best friends writes a blog called Coupon Kitchen (www.coupon-kitchen.com) and it gives 7 nights of meals for two people with different recipes included for less than $50. She uses store sales and the occasional coupon to plan her recipes and meals. She does menus for Harris Teeter, Lowe’s Foods and BiLo. Not to pull anything away from your great blog here but it might be a good compliment for your readers to check it out. Thanks!

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