Combating Rising Food Costs

It never fails.  Each time I go grocery shopping I find that prices have gone up.  Again.  Rising food costs have made it absolutely necessary for me to revamp my Price Book.

As Reed and I prepare for our next son to leave on an LDS mission, and as we work to figure out how to make the monthly contribution to keep Rigel in the field, we realize that we will need to cut back on our grocery budget.

Like many families the most ‘flexible’ section of our budget is groceries.  Like many families we’ve been hit from several directions with our private insurance increasing in cost and the extra money coming out of all of our checks starting this month.

The premise behind my idea of Price Books is simple.   I have a list of what I purchase on a monthly basis, and next to each item I have listed the most that I am willing to pay for that item.

It’s time to update my Price Book and hopefully find some new, cheaper suppliers.

I believe in buying organics.   I  can’t afford to purchase everything organic, so I stick to the dirty dozen.

 

dehydrated squash, tomatoes and apricots

Parker DOES gets all organic.  This is one of the reasons I spend so much time each summer growing, gleaning, freezing, and dehydrating tons of fruit and produce that I know hasn’t been sprayed.  I shop our local Sprouts Market that often has excellent prices on in season organics, and freeze much of what I purchase.   Organically grown, in season fruit (peaches, pears, plums, etc.)  at Sprouts usually runs .99 cents a pound.

Fruits and Veggies

Apples:  Apples went way up in price this year.  Whoa.  Interestingly enough I’ve often been able to find organic apples for close or even LESS than conventional apples.  I’ll pay between .99-1.99 for organic apples.   This may sound like way too high of a price until you’ve seen the local grocery stores asking over $2.50-$2.75 a pound for conventional apples.

Cuties:  I purchase Cuties in season when the price goes down to $3.98 a bag.

Bananas:  My price range is .33-.79 cents a pound.  Many times I’ll see them for .99 cents a pound.  That’s when I pass.  I purchase conventional bananas.

Carrots:  I can grab large, unpeeled bags of organic carrots for anywhere from .45-55 cents.  MUCH cheaper than baby carrots, even though I sometimes cheat and grab those from Costco.

Cauliflower: I buy this organic.  I’ll pay from $1.19-1.29 a pound.  Both cauliflower and cabbage get used in Parker’s daily blend on a regular basis.

Leafy Greens:  I’ll pay up to $1.30 a head if they are organic and full.  I prefer red leaf lettuce.  We grow our own in the Spring/Early Summer.   I purchase the huge tubs of organic spinach at Costco (it’s seriously cheap!) and I grow and freeze/dehydrate my own Kale and Swiss Chard.

Cucumbers:  .50-.69 cents each.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen stores wanting $1.00 per cucumber.

Broccoli:  I purchase the HUGE bag of frozen Broccoli from Costco for everyone but Parker.  I purchase lots of fresh broccoli in the Spring for Parker and I dehydrate/freeze it.  Sometimes I purchase the organically frozen broccoli in the Fall when it goes on sale for $1.99 a pound.

Green Onions.25 a bunch.  When prices are this low…..or lower, I’ll buy a ton, chop them up and freeze them!

Green Beans:   We grow and can our own organic green beans.  I did just pick up several cases of conventionally grown green beans for .17 cents a can. It had to be that low of a price for me to purchase them.  I won’t even purchase canned veggies at their usual sale price of .50-.69 cents a can.

Tomatoes:  I rarely purchase tomatoes out of season.  I mean why?  They have no taste.  We grow our own and use canned during the winter.  I dehydrate tomatoes to use as sauce in the winter.  To reconstitute dehydrated tomatoes the  measurements are:

Paste: 1 c. DH tomato crystals (blend your dehydrated tomatoes in a blender), 1-3/4 c. water, 1/2 tsp. sugar.

Sauce: 1 c. DH tomato crystals, 3 c. water, 1/2 tsp. sugar.

Asparagus:   We eat this in season and mostly from my parent’s garden.  Sometimes I’ll get lucky and find it at .99 a pound.

In the summer we eat a LOT of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe.  I purchase it in season from Costco.  I weighed a large watermelon last year and it came in at just under 10 pounds!  This makes the $5.00  watermelon .50 a pound.  I can cut up a watermelon in the morning, put it in the fridge and it will be gone by evening.

Strawberries:  We are growing our own now!  Woot!

Dairy

Milk.  This is something I need to rethink.  Before I was able to print off internet coupons that doubled to a dollar a gallon at Walmart.  Now the coupons only double to .50.  I have LOTS of powered milk and it may be time to go to a 50-50 mix.

Cheese: $2.50 a pound.

Butter:  I stocked up when it went on sale for $1.99 a pound.  Usually I stick to $2.50 a pound.  Yes, it is pricey, but we choose not to use margarine.

Fresh, free range eggs from chickens in our backyard

Eggs:  Because Parker gets an egg  a week, I need these to be organic.  sigh.  When I first began buying organic eggs at Costco the price was $3.99.  It’s now $6.99.  That’s almost .40 cents an egg.  My parents neighbors often send us a few dozen eggs from their chickens, so that averages the price down some.  This is another area I need to rethink.

Meat

Turkey:  I found fresh, organic turkeys at Costco for .99 cents a pound.  I stocked up. We eat turkey all year long.

Chicken:  Boneless skinless breasts @ $1.99.  I plan on stocking up next time Zaycon offers them @1.79 a pound.

Pork roasts:  I used to buy these for $5.00 a pack of 3 at Costco.  The price has skyrocketed.  I can’t remember the last time  purchased them.

Ham:  I used to get hams at Costco.  Due to the price, we just skip the ham now.  I also no longer buy roasts for the same reason.

Bacon:  Sometimes my Mom will give me a pack of bacon.  Other than that I really don’t buy it except perhaps for a special occasion. Bacon is something else that has skyrocketed.

There are two places where I splurge on meat.  Beef and Salmon.  I add both of these to Parker’s blenderized diet.  Because of that I buy our hamburger locally and organic at $5.00 a pound, and I purchase one night’s worth of salmon from Costco a month.

My Mom and I place our beef orders together.  Her order is all roasts and steaks with NO hamburger.  My order is all hamburger with NO roasts or steaks.  heh.

Another reason we garden and can and freeze and dehydrate and COUPON and go without in other areas is so we can splurge a bit in our food budget with organic hamburger and salmon.

Bulk Stuff

 

bulk legume storage

I have a bit of long term stored grains and legumes.  So I don’t need to buy those on a regular basis right now.  I do purchase  organic brown rice and quiona from Costco.

Sugar: $12-13.00 for a 25 pound bag when it goes on sale during the caselot sales.

Honey:  Free from my parents bees.

Flour:  25 pound bags at Costco.

Oil:  For everyday I use a light olive oil from Costco.  I use the green, first press organic olive oil for Parker’s daily blend.  Both I purchase from Costco.  Sometimes Bountiful Baskets will have a fantastic deal on organic olive oil in a can, I get that when it’s available.  I’m in the process of trying to discover a new source for extra virgin organic olive oil.

Spices, Baking Soda, Yeast, Vanilla, Baking Powder, :  Again, I’ve found the lowest prices at Costco.

Powered and Brown Sugar:  I stock up when there are .50 C&H coupons that I then double at Walmart and get the 2 pound bags for somewhere around .89 a bag.

Obviously this isn’t everything I purchase.  It does give a good overview of the basics and how I compare my ‘pricebook’ to the sale prices when the weekly circulars come out.  When there is a stellar sale I’ll stock up on as much as I can, because prices are only going to go

homemade hamburger bun dough rising up.

I cook mostly from scratch.  This year is my year to start making all of our bread and treats and more of our pasta.  I won’t pay more than .50-.79 cents a pound for pasta, and I recently stocked up on pasta sauce for .79 cents each.  I’m excited to learn how to make flours from my grains and use these flours in both pasta and breads.

I use several strategies to get cleaning supplies and toiletries as cheaply as possible.  These strategies include making my own cleaners, price matching and double coupons at WalMart, and getting my toilet paper through Amazon subscriptions.

Just typing all of this out shows me where I can tighten our belts even more.  I need to find  new sources for some of the things we use now.  I’ll be comparing prices with a new co-op type store.  I’ll be purchasing more raspberry and blackberry bushes in hopes of growing more of our own.

I’ve shown you the good as well as the holes in my Price Book and my fight against rising food costs.  What are yours?

 

 

 

About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.

Comments

  1. FunMumx3 says:

    i am in awe of how you handle your food and budget! for cleaning i use enjo products, which is totally not a plug for that company, but i have not bought a cleaning supply for a couple of years. occasionally i might use a bit of baking soda on the stove, and we do use dish detergent but that’s it. enjo is pricey in the outlay but i love it. you may need to be more stringent with disinfecting for your brave hero but it might be work a look-ee in to?

  2. you are amazing! the way i combat growing prices at the grocery store is by sending my husband. he is so good at remembering how much things cost.

  3. Maria Cordner says:

    Great list – thanks, I’ll benefit from it, Tammy!

  4. Stacy says:

    Great list!
    Olive oil is a line item in our food budget and we’ve gone through several sources. For a long time we ordered it from Amazon, but the price kept going up. Right now we buy it at Trader Joe’s. The prices are good for EVOO although I don’t know if it is organic or not. Good prices on olive oil would be one of our reasons for getting a Sam’s club/Costco membership.

    I’m curious about your prices for dry beans and legumes- that seems to have gone up considerably. For grains, beans, etc, we do Win-Co. If you ask they will order you an entire “case” of something and you get a reduced price. We just got 25# of dry garbanzo beans for just around $1/lb, which is much lower than the price anywhere else.

  5. I think we’re right in line with you on a lot of this. I do 50 lb bags of flour and have been making our own bread for 2 years now. For apples we do a $50 truckload sale in October with a bunch of friends. We get about 800 pounds of apples- split them up and then I spend a ton of time canning applesauce, apple chutney, apple slices, apple pie filling, and apple butter. What we don’t can, I freeze and we make apple cider vinegar from the peels (for cooking use- not acidic enough for canning). Your egg prices seem high but I’m in Vermont where half the folks here have chickens so I think it keeps the price down. One trick I’ve found for paper goods is to subscribe to the Staples mailing list. They send out Breakroom supply catalogs with $25-30 off coupons. I was able to get 2 cases of toilet paper and 2 giant cases of paper towels along with 2 3 packs of Clorox wipes with free shipping for $30 after coupons and I used a coupon they had for orders over $25 to also get a free pound of Starbucks coffee. It’s how we order all paper goods/cleaning supplies that I don’t make. Good luck!

  6. Great tips!! I found myself jotting down notes for my next grocery trip!

  7. Nice! I haven’t necessarily tried to combat the costs beyond going to Sam’s / Costco. We don’t have any food restrictions any longer in our home. I guess I try to put less on their plates at a time. I truly dislike throwing food away!

  8. Love the idea of a price book! I jot down prices sometimes to compare between the grocery stores and Costco and (to my surprise) Costco isn’t always the cheapest. It definitely pays (ha) to keep track.