Partway through February we knew we had to do something different so we started looking at healthier ways to eat while still maintaining our budget. It's a tough juggling act because healthier feels so much more expensive.
We started our shopping trip at the Co-op. I don't shop much at the co-op because it just feels too expensive but I had earned a free loaf of bread. My son's birthday was this past weekend and he wanted stroganoff for dinner. My husband thought a nice loaf of french bread would be nice. The co-op offers a punch card for bread and we had been saving our cards for years. While there we looked in their bulk bins. I bought organic popcorn on sale for $1.09, the normal price $1.29 (a pound). Walmart's price - $1.48 a pound and it's not organic.
We picked up some organic couscous which was still cheaper than buying it in the box anywhere else and some hulled barley. The hulled barley is something we haven't been able to find. Pearled barley is everywhere and cheap. The difference is as if pearled barley was white flour and hulled barley was whole wheat. Hulled barley is less processed and has more nutrients.
The last thing I found was whole white wheat flour for $5.09 for a 5 pound bag. That's still significantly more expensive than white flour but it was $.30 lower than the best price we had found (and it wasn't even on sale).
Then on to our favorite discount grocery store. The prices weren't as great as I had hoped. We started in the bulk bins and I have to say that really is where everyone should start. Ironically, we found popcorn there for $.80 a pound but I was still happy with my $1.09 for organic. Next time we'll buy the non-organic if we don't see a difference. We picked up legumes and brown rice. I even found instant potatoes which was perfect because we only needed 1 cup for a particular recipe. That saved me not only the discounted price of buying in bulk but I only had to buy about a cup. I was even able to get a small amount of green split peas so I could make some fun St Pat's cupcakes. I sometimes forget how wonderful bulk bins are.
The only meat we bought was chicken thighs at $1.18 a pound, bacon for $2.49 a pound and one steak for X's special dinner. We bought tofu and lots of beans and legumes. This will be a month of vegetarian dishes or limited meat dishes. We broke the package of chicken into freezer bags of 3 thighs (with one bag having 4). For just over $5 we will have 4 meals of chicken. The bacon was thick cut peppered bacon which was broken into packages of about 4 strips each giving us 7 meals.
Cabbage is on a good sale right now - we picked it up for $.48 a pound and bought 10 pounds. That is a minimum of 4 meals depending on how we prepare it. We could stretch it to 8 meals if necessary. We love bacon, onion and cabbage on rice.
We set aside some "money" to see if corned beef goes on sale this week. The best price we found was $1.99 a pound which just wasn't quite low enough for us to feel it was a deal. We love corned beef and the idea of buying a tiny little one just seems so sad. I might pick up a little one anyway and use it in a hash like dish so we can feel like we got some.
I was just thinking, Sunday we went over to my mom's who gave us some odds and ends meats to clean out her freezer. This helps her reduce waste and gives us some extra meat for the month. Included was a whole chicken and a roast. Both of those will feed us for more than one meal so it helps stretch the budget some.
Our son took his birthday money to the store and bought peanut butter because I had forgotten to pick some up and we try to do a once a month shopping to keep a tight hold on the budget.
Ordering a bountiful basket today so we'll have fresh fruits and veggies this weekend. We'll get another basket in 2 weeks, after payday.