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Saturday, February 8, 2014

What would you do with an extra $10 to $15 in your grocery budget?

When looking at my grocery spending, I can see that for the coming months at least, I won't be spending all $170 that's budgeted. I should have as much as an extra $10 to $15 each month to spend on groceries. It's not a large amount of money, but it gives me something to play with. Some possibilities that I've thought of:

  • fresh seasonal produce, such as lettuce and spinach for green salads, currently out of season for my garden
  • honey -- I can buy a large jug of honey at the wholesaler for a fraction of grocery store prices. Honey would be nice, but not a necessity.
  • more meat, specifically beef -- I miss having beef
  • fish -- I don't care much for fish, especially canned fish. If I bought higher quality fresh fish, I may like it more.
  • aged cheese -- cheese aged for a year or more is the lower in lactose than most grocery store cheese, and better for my system. But cheese is not a necessity for me, just something nice to have.
  • fresh fruit -- one of my daughters would love to have more fresh fruit in winter. We do have ample frozen and dried fruit, but she really loves fresh fruit.
  • junky stuff -- the other daughter would be in heaven if I would buy Pop-Tarts, her absolute favorite breakfast (if you can even call it that!).
I suspect that I'll try to balance nutrient-dense additional foods with particular preferences for each member of my family. But I'm open to ideas and suggestions.

What would you do with an extra $10 to $15 per month to spend on food?


Live and Learn said...

I don't know if it's possible for you, but I think you should do an impulse buy. We all need to do something different sometimes and that certainly would be different for you. It would be interesting to see what you came up with.

Judy said...

I think I'd go with some extra beef and then treat things that all could share.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Any one of those things could eat it up all by itself.

I would go for fruit and vegetables. We're really grateful right now for the supply of oranges and apples that I bought in December. I've gone without fresh produce before, and we ate canned, dried, and frozen, and I think that is harder to deal with than not having beef (which we know all so well).

Also fresh greens are VERY important to your health--something I have seen all too well while living from the pantry and being pregnant and having my hemoglobin tested. Beef will give you iron and B12--but so will spinach.

Do you have anything for sprouting? That would also be good to have.

I am so anxious for greens from the garden. My fall crop didn't grow well, but January's plantings came up and I am excited for them to grow big enough to harvest.

I have never started lettuce indoors, but I was reading over on Territorial Seed's Facebook page, and they had a customer in your area who planted lettuce seeds for setting out early. I may need to try that for my fall plantings, and stock up now on seed starting supplies to have ready for late-summer. That would give me the jump I need in fall when it's too hot for seeds to start outside.

I've never done well with indoor starting, but I just tried a few again this year and they came up!

I am anxious for spinach and lettuce to be big enough to harvest. I imagine that you are, too.

Anonymous said...

I think I would hit a happy medium. If I had $15, I'd split it in thirds -- one for a splurge (like pop tarts), one for a specialty meat (sale priced or markdown), and one for fresh fruit. It wouldn't give you a lot for any one item, but it would give you a little variety and leave no one feeling deprived.

Valarie S. said...

I would pass on the junk food, i.e. treats. If you never develop a taste for this kind of food, all the better, I think. I would buy a bit of beef, but especially the fresh produce. It really helps break up the boredom of eating the same foods frequently. Plus, a great source of vitamins, etc.

CTMOM said...

First, I'd inventory my pantry; which we are currently eating down. Do you have enough baking supplies? dried beans/legumes? how is your supply of produce basics: onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, garlic? after addressing any needs, I'd focus on what would give me the highest return, nutritionally speaking, for fresh produce. Agree that greens are a power house along with orange vegetables. I'd toss in one treat, but one that would be stretchable such as choc chips, pecans, dried fruit.
Just my 2 cents. : )
Carol in CT

Lili said...

Hi Live and learn,
That would be interesting. I wonder what would strike me as what to buy on the spur of the moment? My last impulse buy (last spring) was a packet of seaweed -- still sitting in the pantry, unopened! I have no idea what I was thinking that day!

Lili said...

Hi Judy,
The beef would be my idea of a good spend, that and produce. I'm not a huge carnivore, but I do miss beef.

Lili said...

Hi Brandy,
We have been able to pick some kale most of winter. It may be gone again for a bit, with our current freeze. But I miss the fresh greens of salads.

I do have a grow light that I start a flat of seeds with. I'll be starting lettuce, kale, and spinach later this month, to set seedling out under row covers in late March. Because we have such a short growing season, combined with a small-ish garden, I start almost everything indoors. I can get more out of my garden this way.

I should try making sprouts again. Thank you for the suggestion. I'd forgotten all about sprouts, but they are easy to do, and give a fresh crunch to sandwiches.

Cheapchick said...

I would buy honey as if you can get a good price on a large quantity it never goes bad (they found honey in egyptian tombs that was still fit for consumption) and can be used in so many recipes as a sugar substitute, better for you as well. I would also buy fresh fruit, although even then I have a personal limit of .99 cents per pound (food is more expensive in Canada so I have to be extremely careful on how much I spend on fruit and veggies)

Lili said...

Hi Shara,
I think I will check out the meat markdown bin a little closer. I also may go to the Asian market near us. They do have good produce prices, compared to the supermarket. And maybe I'll make the pop-tarts.

Lili said...

Hi Valarie,
You're right about some fresh produce breaking up the monotony of canned, frozen and dried. It does make a difference. And I also believe you're right on the junky stuff. I was thinking maybe I'd make a large batch of pop-tarts, only do them healthier, such as part whole wheat flour, homemade jam for a filling, lower sugar etc.

Lili said...

Hi Carol,
I'm good on the baking supplies, but low on oats, and possibly pinto beans (there may be more tucked behind a large bin, but not sure). Cabbage we could use, and would be one of the fresh veggies I would buy, as it's one of the lower cost veggies. Stretchable treats -- that's a really good idea. one bag of chocolate chips can make a very large batch of cookies.

Lili said...

Hi Cheapchick,
I've read that about honey. We have a little bit of honey left from the last purchase, and I've been rationing it out. I will be pricing out honey from local sources. I have a bulk place where I can buy it by the ounce, or the wholesaler where I can buy it by the large jug. Later in spring, when the produce stand opens, they sell local honey. I'll have to take notice of their pricing, too.

CTMOM said...

Then my list would be oats, pintos, cabbage -great vitamin C souce, Swiss chard/kale/spinach, choc chips. Sweet potato, butternut squash

CTMOM said...

BTW-local honey helps with allergies-an added bonus.

Lili said...

I've heard this about local honey and hay fever-type allergies. I've wanted to try this out. My husband has terrible alder allergies each spring, and I have grass and ragweed in summer.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

I was given some buckets of honey that were put in large buckets 11 months before I was born.

And it is still quite good. We have been using it and I am so thankful for it.

Kris said...

Normally I would say no to the beef, but I got a good sale ground beef last week so I broiled hamburgers--I couldn't believe how happy my family was about that for supper. Hamburgers, for us, are a summertime-on-the-grill treat but I think we are tired of soups/stews and it really hit the spot. That being said ... I would be likely to buy a little fresh fruit or spinach at this time of the year. In fact, our ads have strawberries and pineapple on sale this week ... hmmm ...

Don't overthink this. Just have some fun. :)

EcoCatLady said...

Do you ever watch "The Chew"? I catch it sometimes after the mid-day news. Anyhow, one time they were making home-made pop-tarts. Maybe you could satisfy your daughter's junk food cravings by making some.

I'm not sure what I'd buy for a special treat... all of your suggestions have merit. I suppose you could give each family member $3 to spend on whatever special food they would like to have - but that's probably not the most efficient way to spend it.

Belinda said...

Hmmmmm...I might be tempted to buy some beef and make tacos with an extra $10 to $15. We have plenty of dried beans, tomatoes, and pasta, so a nice splurge would be good. I am making a vegetable chili for dinner tonight. Hopefully no one will miss any meat. :)

Lili said...

That's pretty amazing, Brandy! I can imagine just how thankful you are for the honey -- what a treat!

Lili said...

Hi Kris,
Mmmm, I can almost taste your hamburgers! See, that's what I'm thinking, a bit of beef would break up the monotony of turkey, beans, ham and eggs. But we'll have to see what I find. Pineapples are on sale for $1.79 here, this week. I've been tempted!!

Lili said...

Hi Cat,
Here's the conclusion that I've come to on pre-made junk food -- I can make Pop-Tarts, but I can't make fresh oranges. So, I'm planning on making some Pop-Tarts this week for the one daughter, and buying some fresh fruit to satisfy other members of the family. And maybe there will be some money in there for some beef and fresh greens. The guys would appreciate the beef, and I'd love the salad as well as beef.

Lili said...

Hi Belinda,
Yum! Vegetable chili sounds delicious! We're having bean burritos tonight, here. We had turkey sandwiches for lunch, so a meatless dinner will be fine for us.

I haven't made tacos in a while. That sounds yummy, and would be a good way to stretch a little beef into a full meal, especially if I added some beans and rice to the shells.

Liz @ Economies of Kale said...

If I had an extra $10-15 a month, I would probably buy more organic food, since it's more expensive, or maybe some different cuts of meat, since I buy the same ones a lot of the time.

In your case I would go for fresh fruit and greens, and beef if there's enough money left over :)

Lili said...

Hi Liz,
The organic produce is more expensive, but I've been happy to see the price gap getting smaller. We have a chain here, Trader Joe's that carries a lot of organics at good prices. I've heard that Aldi's is also carrying more and more organics. And their reputation is for favorable pricing, as well.

I was pricing beef yesterday at a regular grocery store. I'm going to have to check the restaurant supply next. Beef has become so expensive!

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