In a quest to save money I have been trying to spend much less when shopping for groceries. This is no small task in today's economic climate. I reluctantly stopped paying double for organic apples, yet stuck to my guns on cheaper organics like carrots, celery, raisins, applesauce, and other veggies. Cutting back on items we typically keep in stock did help us save money. Sometimes, quite a bit of money.
The problem with all of this saving money showed up yesterday. While standing in the kitchen, going back and forth between the refrigerator and the pantry, I finally threw my hands into the air and asked aloud, "What's all of this crap?!!" My once healthy and colorfully festive fridge shelves and drawers were now much more bare and only held things like hot dogs and cheese. The pantry that was once full of dried fruits and whole wheat snacks was now housing off-brand potato chips and cheap, sugar-filled, bagged cereals. "What happened here?!"
So, deciding I would no longer settle for such poor quality foods for my family, I carefully wrote out a shopping list for this morning. Time to get back on track! I planned out the meals I would make, complete with healthy proteins, veggies, and whole grains. Then, off to Walmart I went, afraid of what the cost would be at the end.
I walked the aisles, looking for my once regular healthy words on labels. I opted for Whole Wheat Ritz crackers over the regular. (same price, just healthier!) I paid a bit extra for some organics, like those mentioned above, but not enough to break the bank. I swapped regular hotdogs for turkey franks (much fewer calories, no fat, and great taste!) and white bread hogdog buns for whole wheat buns. Cereals were carefully examined for sugar and fiber content and picked according to what tasted the best, for the best health value. Amazingly, the ones I selected were the same price, or cheaper, than the sugary alternatives.
Now comes the budget breaker. THE PRODUCE SECTION. It is astonishing how much certain fruits and veggies can cost. I scanned each row carefully and decided to save some money by picking Romain lettuce that was simply tied up and unbagged (the less packaging on any product, the cheaper it will be) that I can wash and chop myself. I spent a bit extra for the organic raisins and such, so I figure it all balances out.
I had some larger purchases to make as well, like a huge bag of dog food. (about $18 for Maximum Nutrition.. which is probably the best brand Walmart carries and very comparable to high dollar Feed Store brands.)
I walked to the checkout line, with my stomach feeling a bit knotted with fear I would have spent way more than usual. As I put my healthy purchases on the conveyor belt, and watched them all being scanned, I held my breath. Checkbook in hand, I almost wanted to close my eyes when I knew the total was about to flash. $140 later I had stayed close to our budget (dog food included!) and had a basket full of healthy food. This will feed our family for the week - breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. Hooray!
I could have gotten more food for the same amount of money if I would've gone with the choices I was making over the past few weeks. However, this amount of food is plenty for our family... we'll just have to re-learn how to balance meals and snacks and not allow constant eating "just because."
Has anyone else realized they are settling for less quality for better prices when it comes to food shopping?