May has five weeks this year.
Some of you who are more on the ball than I am may have noticed that a while ago, but I only noticed it when I was wondering why my grocery money was so scarce for this week. Turns out, I needed to make the same amount of cash that normally lasts me four weeks, stretch to five. OH.
(For those of you who worry [hi, mom], we have a healthy savings account, and should I have needed it, I certainly could have dipped into that to get us through five weeks. I decided not to as an experiment.)
If I had noticed this earlier in the month, I might have made different choices, saving a little each week to have more to spend this week. But I wasn’t that smart, so this week I have less than half my normal allotted budget for groceries.
But that’s OK, and I’ll tell you why.
Two of the most important rules you can follow when you’re shopping on a budget—organic or otherwise—are to know a sale when you see one, and then stock up at that rock bottom price.
Now I’m not one of those extreme couponer types who has an entire warehouse of canned goods and toothpaste squirreled away. I have my regular pantry inside the house and one bookshelf-size shelf in the garage for “extras.” So, when I see a great deal on peanut butter, for example, and I have room at home, I’ll buy however many I can afford and stash them away.
Right now I’m pretty well stocked on whole wheat pasta, wheat flour, white flour, sugar, oatmeal, Cheerios, dry pinto beans, rice, peanut butter, and artichoke hearts. (What?? I love them.) I’ve also got plenty of onions and potatoes (sweet and white), which are pretty shelf stable.
I also always buy extra meat when it’s on sale. Because I try very hard to only buy sustainably raised meat, it’s PRICEY, so when there’s a sale, I want to buy enough to last me until the next one. So right now, I’ve got chicken thighs, ground beef, and a pork loin in the freezer.
That means that I won’t have to buy any of that stuff this week, which is great!
Another important rule about budget shopping is to use it all. That means repurposing leftovers whether you eat them now, or later. And it also means that I’ve got a freezer full of stuff that I’ve stashed away for a future meal.
So, this week, we’re going to be eating: meat loaf (freezer), pork roast with sweet potatoes (freezer and pantry), minestrone with focaccia (freezer), veggie burgers (freezer), beans and greens with cornbread (pantry), sausage and peppers (freezer), and carnitas tacos (freezer).
All I have to buy to make this happen are some fresh veggies (greens and peppers, for example, which are on sale this week), buttermilk to make cornbread, and some fresh tortillas for the tacos.
That will leave me plenty of cash to pick up the staples like milk, lunch meat for my husband, and fresh fruits and veggies for breakfasts and lunches. (I’ve got a loaf of bread rising right now.)
Are you using your pantry and freezer to their fullest potential? Do you regularly have “clean out the pantry/fridge/freezer” meals at your house? What’s your strategy for end-of-the-month shopping?
Leave a comment for me below and share your best tips with all of us.
And, if you like these tips, I’ve got 20 more just like it in my free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Eating Organic on a Budget. It’s got 22 tips with specific action steps to make your shopping trips SO much simpler and save you hundreds of dollars a year on your grocery bill.
In fact, I got this comment yesterday letting me know how well the book works:
So this is unrelated to the topic at hand, but I just wanted to offer a quick thanks for empowering me to make better shopping choices… I read your note about Sunflower’s circulars and thought, “Huh! There’s one about two blocks from here.” I hadn’t gone because a friend had told me it was expensive… but you were right, they had such good sales on meat and produce that it balanced out and I was able to get about the same quantity of food. And the quality is so much higher! … I was able to get grass-fed beef on sale for 3.99 a pound, which is less than I pay for the regular stuff at Walmart. I feel like I was able to get real food, and I don’t feel like my soul was destroyed. Now I don’t have to dread grocery shopping! Thank you so much.
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