grocery spending and chicken values

Monday, I took the kids to Kroger armed with a menu plan. When I got into the produce section and found markdowns on all sorts of veggies (including ones I only dream of buying, like orange and yellow bellpeppers), my menu changed a bit. The total bill at checkout was 93.00. ugh. I don't like those high numbers. I began to wonder if it really cost that much to feed our family for a week. 

Some purchases stock the pantry and last more than a week. Others take out a chunk of the budget. Two gallons of organic milk sucked up 11.00. We can't afford many organic things, but we prioritize on organic, whole milk. So that left 82.00.  Coffee and juice and some ground beef for next week reduced the price once more to 66.00 on food. 

This has been in my obssessed pregnant brain all week: how much do our meals cost? I ran the numbers for each meal and because of the produce deals, they were all high fruit, high veggie, ample dairy, low-to-no grain meals.  Over 7 meals this week (including a DiGiorno cop-out) our average cost per meal was 4.84, for a total of 29.57. 

I am ashamed to say we can spend that much on one meal at El Cabrito or Aladdin. There's an intangible benefit to eating out for us (it's our get-away from camp/home), but since Tuan ordered our dining room chairs today, I've felt especially the need to cut back on that and save some money. It's encouraging that we can eat healthy meals for so little. 

Hope this isn't too much information. I love knowing how people save money and what they spend on food. Also, a friend asked us if we really saved money on not eating out. I felt like we did, but wanted some evidence. He felt like shopping for a recipe cost so much money that it was discouraging to shop and why not eat out if a grocery trip costs as much as a meal out?

Keeping a stocked pantry, and having things like spices and oils and vinegars on hand keep individual trips from adding up. Shopping with a menu and entering the store with a flexible attitude seem to help. If I plan a menu full of chicken and carrots, but find beef, broccoli and peppers on sale or markdown, our menu is going to deviate. 

Also, here is a super frugal way to buy chicken--leg quarters. They were .49 a pound and rarely go above .79. They come in five pound-ish bags. A leg quarter is a drum-stick with the thigh attached. You can boil 'em, mash 'em, put 'em in a stew . .  . just kidding about that. However, they cook beautifully in the crockpot, bake wonderfully, stew and make broth and cooked slowly on the grill can't be beat. They're also a great way to feed meat to a crowd. Chicken breasts are expensive and in my opinion they don't taste as good. (Alton Brown wonders why you would even bother with that part of the bird, so I feel a bit validated). So anyway, buy a bag sometime, divide it up and know that when the thigh and leg are attached you can eat two pieces of chicken, but only claim to have eaten one!


Joey and Elizabeth said...

Before I had a job...I obsessed over this stuff all the time! I still would if I had time to think & the thought/smell of food didn't make me feel carsick............
Once this stage passes, I'm hoping to get back into menu planning & saving! I try - I clip coupons & pay attention to in-store savings. My mom is HUGE on stocking up your pantry, and that's a work in progress.
Since I found out I was pregnant, sadly, we've eaten a LOT of processed foods that we usually don't buy. Definitely affecting our budget... grr!!

Amanda said...

WOW, I didn't know Elizabeth was pregnant!

Hey Paula, it's Amanda (Long) Carlson. . I'm delurking too(I read your post on SarahMarie's blog! We read a lot of the same blogs!)

Good job on groceries, I am impressed. When we moved to Vegas, my eyes popped out of my head with sticker shock. I still haven't totally figured it out yet, so your tips are helpful.

Also, we just ordered chairs this week for our new dining table Daniel made. We ordered them off a restaurant supply website, did y'all?

Paula said...

We did, too! We bought ours secondhand from a rental company. What style did you get? We got the black ballroom chairs and I am on pins and needles until I see them!

I'm so glad you read my blog! It makes me feel less silly when someone de-lurks. I want to read yours!