Setting Priorities for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

If you’re struggling to prioritize your groceries to save more money every week, here is how I decide how to spend my budget. Hopefully it gives you some ideas you can use.

I spend the most amount of money on:

  • Organic Milk I simply have a strong conviction about not having meat/dairy products in my house that aren’t healthy for my growing girl. All the antibiotics, hormones, etc. are not something I want my family ingesting.
  • Organic Eggs This one used to drive TJ nuts because organic eggs can cost up to three times more than store-bought eggs. But once he tasted fresh organic eggs from the Farmers Market, he insisted on only getting them because they taste so much better and are so much bigger. To us, it’s worth the hike in price.
  • Organic, grass fed meat (occasionally) When we do buy meat, this is the kind we buy. We stretch it out over multiple meals by supplementing with beans to add more protein and bulk up the main course dish or we simply eat a smaller portion and make the vegetables or grains the bigger portions on the plate.

I go back and forth spending money on:

  • Organic produce. I try and buy as much organic as possible, but if our budget doesn’t allow for everything I want, then I make sure to stick to the dirty dozen in organic produce and go conventional on other items that have a low pesiticide count.
  • Beans. My friend, Deanna discussed this topic well on her blog and I feel the same way. There’s a lack if research about organic vs. conventional beans and it’s sometimes hard to justify the cost of organic when I have no way of knowing the pros and cons of the beans I’m buying. I try to go organic, but I also give my fair share of money to buying the conventional. Sometimes it’s hard to swallow buying organic beans when you can buy so much more in bulk for much cheaper.

What I skip spending money on:

  • Frozen meals. Although it may seem convenient at your time of purchase, you could make at least 4 times the amount of food for the price you will pay to buy a frozen dinner. You love lasagna? Make it for dinner and freeze half for your quick lunches. Breakfast burritos? Grab some tortillas on sale and some eggs and make your own to freeze for a quick breakfast on the go.
  • Drinks. We’ve been an all-water family for a long time now. We spend pennies to fill up our 3 gallon water jugs at a trusted water source store once a week and don’t spend money on sodas, juices, etc. It’s cheap and it’s all you need to stay hydrated. I like to dress up my water with lemon, lime, cucumber, etc. for flavor, but TJ is a straight up water kind of man. Every once and a while we go hog-wild and get some tea bags to make iced tea. Crazy, I know.
  • Ice Cream. We only buy this sort of thing very rarely. I would rather make my own dessert from scratch instead of the gallon of ice scream screaming my name every time I open the freezer door. It’s too expensive on your wallet, and too expensive for your waistline.
  • Salad Dressing. There are so many great recipes that are simple to make on your own. The bottled stuff just doesn’t taste the same after the real, fresh thing and once you read the list of ingredients on the back, you won’t be very impressed.
  • Bread. I was good with this for a while and fell off the wagon. But making your bread is really simple to do and will save you money at the grocery store. We’ve even made homemade pita and always end up thinking it tastes superior to what you can buy.
  • Processed snacks. This is also one that used to be very easy to avoid for TJ and I before kids entered the picture. Although Sadie is at the age where grabbing some fishies for a quick snack to throw in the diaper bag on our way out the door is convenient, I am constantly looking for more ways to make my own snacks for her from scratch to once again avoid that aisle. These homemade cheese-its look like fun.  Luckily, she loves a piece of fruit equally as much as a cracker.
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