UPDATED: Whatever money I save on grocery shopping in June as compared to May, I’m donating it to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.
We decided to splurge on the new appliances for the kitchen before the recent news. There will be an opportunity to explain why we’re sticking with this decision soon, but right now I’m thinking about how to make the absolute most of my future shiny new fridge to make sure we squeeze every single drop of value out of it like a juicy Meyer lemon.
I’m starting with a pretty big challenge for myself and my snack hungry family. I’m going to attempt to stick to a $500 grocery budget in the month of June. Typically, we are budgeting $750 and spending closer to $1000. That number, not surprisingly, doubled in March as we stocked up and panic-bought ahead of stay-at-home orders. But, I argue that increase had a lot to do with a case or two of wine.*
I’ll take the advice of several other bloggers and budgeting experts on how to make this work for my family. But, if I stop buying the specific brand/flavor of yogurt pouches for the kids, chips and salsa for the husband, and Yasso bars for me, there might be mutiny. Here’s what I’m thinking. I’ll post an update at the end of the month with how I did.
1) I’m going to food prep and meal plan like a mother you-know-what-er to make sure food waste doesn’t happen.
We’re going to get creative with leftovers, and if we run out of one snack we’re going to be okay with another one until the next shop. No more mid-week stops to replenish. We shouldn’t be doing that anyway as we battle this pandemic.
And if I really kick it into overdrive, maybe I’ll try to recreate these beautifully organized fridges written about in the Wall Street Journal.
2) I’m going to change up my shopping routines.
Those in the grocery industry can now call me a cross-channel shopper. I’m not going to price hunt and coupon clip so much, but when I can stock up on must-haves staples at Aldi and supplement with have-to-have brands at Publix I will. It’s extremely helpful that my Aldi and Publix are across the street from each other.
Whole Foods used to be in the semi-regular rotation, but no more. The one thing I HAD to buy at Whole Foods was My Three Sons Pimento Cheese. It’s seriously the best. But now, it’s at Publix. I audibly gasped the first time I saw it. A guy next to me thought I was so weird.
Lastly, weekly farmer’s markets are coming back in action. It only makes sense to buy the freshest local produce and support local farms in the process. Especially now.
3) For other benefits beyond my budget, I’m going to cut back on the processed kid snacks.
I’ll pick up one bag of pretzels or goldfish a week instead of both pretzels AND goldfish AND graham crackers too just for fun. I’m hoping to break the habit of their asking for snacks and grazing all day. They need to eat a better variety of actual food, period. Really, this is breaking an older habit of mine that has been on auto-pilot since the days of packing lunches. We haven’t packed a lunch since March!
I’ve got a couple advantages and disadvantages for and against me.
Advantage: There are four weekends in the month of June. For one week, we’ll be in my hometown for a visit. I’ll still be buying groceries there, yes, but not stocking up and replenishing. We might have to validate this experiment in July.
Advantage: We are still benefiting from the great panic stock-up of March 2020. I have lots and lots of shelf-stable goods and frozen things I can cook with.
Disadvantage: I tested this Aldi/Publix shopping strategy the last weekend in May. I spent $100 at Aldi and then another $100 at Publix. My mistake was falling for the BOGO on spices.
Disadvantage: Even though I don’t shop there too often, I love a special trip to Trader Joe’s. It’s been a minute, so I foresee that one shop in June is going to have to be a Trader Joe’s/Publix whammy. When it comes to kid snacks, I make an exception for these PB&J Bars.
Wish me luck.
*You consider wine as part of the grocery bill, right? A sommelier once explained his perspective to us that wine should be considered a condiment to your meal. Therefore, bottles of wine are groceries even when you purchase from the fancy wine store in my book. Fortunately for my budget, Piggly Wiggly’s in Birmingham are well known to have some of the best selections in town. Just add another store to the mix, Mary, it will be fine….