Sep 15 2008

How to work expensive ingredients into your grocery budget

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying a ton of new recipes this week in an attempt to get more fruits, veggies and whole grains into our diet.

I had two ingredients that I won’t need to buy often, but I needed this week: wheat germ ($5.69) and sesame tahini ($8.??). Those two items added up to over $13 and were a significant portion of my grocery bill.

What do you do when you need some pricey staples but you don’t want to go over your grocery budget?

I try to compensate in other areas.

I didn’t buy any meat this week, for example. I have a bag of frozen chicken breasts from a few weeks ago that I can use this week. We’ll eat chicken twice this week, and go meatless on the other days (we’ll still get plenty of protein, however).

If there’s a good sale on cereal, I typically try to buy a few boxes at a time. There was a pretty good sale (with my coupons) for whole grain Total, but I just bought one box instead of three to keep my bill a little lower.

We kept miscellaneous snacks and impulse purchases to a minimum
. Er, actually, no we didn’t. We should have, but after taking a closer look at my receipt, I noticed we bought more crackers and chips (even though they were ‘healthy’) than we probably needed.

Other ideas:

  • Try to buy only one or two expensive ingredients per week, and budget for this. Perhaps you can plan on putting $10 or $15 per week toward such items. These might include wheat germ, olive oil, pricey cheeses, spices, etc.
  • If you don’t need to make an “expensive ingredient” purchase in a particular week, maybe you can roll that saved money into a future week. For example, the following week, you might have a $20 or $30 budget for pricier goods, if you choose.
  • If you’re planning on having one or two expensive dinners in a given week, make sure the other meals are extra cheap to balance it out. Consider a soup & sandwich night, serve breakfast for dinner, or raid your pantry/freezer for lower costing options.

Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself spending $78 at the grocery (as I did yesterday) when you typically spend $40-50. As long as you stuck to your list and chose healthy items, I think that’s a-ok. Remember, eating healthier foods will mean your body will be healthier. You won’t get sick as often and you can avoid diet-related health problems.

It’s much cheaper to spend more at the grocery, rather than spending a ton of money on prescriptions or doctor’s visits.



9 Responses to “How to work expensive ingredients into your grocery budget”

  1. Good tips! For spices, I get orders from a bunch of friends together and order from here: http://www.herbco.com. Their prices are way lower than the grocery store and they also have all the more obscure spices that I would otherwise just leave out of a recipe.

    laura b’s last blog post..A Little Knitting and Some Cheesemaking

  2. Great Advice Kacie!! I could not agree with you more! Most weeks I find myself spending around $50-60 a week on groceries….but some weeks like this week for example I spent $67.

    We try to eat healthy and I have found that the heathier you eat, the more expensive it costs…..but I am so totally O.K. with that!! The healthier we eat the better I feel about the groceries I buy.

    A budget is definelty not “an all for one” thing…..what works for one in the form numbers may not work for another. You just have to find what works best for your family and your situation!!

  3. Great post! I needed to buy a jar of raw honey last week($15). It will last us for several months but takes a chunk out of the budget! I planned all meals from the pantry so I could get the honey, some organic produce and raw milk($5 gallon)and then the rest was non-organic produce and a few extras to have in the pantry.

    I feel so horrible when I spend more and my husband is always telling me not to worry about it when I’m buying healthy foods. It seems I just spend more than I used to! Thanks for the encouragement!

    Mary Ann’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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