Budget struggles

The grocery budget. Was there ever a more stretchy concept?

You often hear of or read articles about how to stretch your grocery budget. And it seems like every time you get a handle on the thing, food prices go up and you have to increase your budget or stretch it some more or plain old cut back.

And when feeding kids, you’ve got phases and fanaticisms to deal with. When it was just me and hubby, we ate pretty much the same ingredients all the time. We mixed up how we prepared them and what we served as a side, but we were basically eating chicken breast, ground beef, pork chops and white fish on a regular basis.

Since our two additions arrived, chicken has been the long-time favourite (and I must say, I have run out of ways to prepare it that more mature palates would enjoy). A few times in the last four years ground beef has had a good run, but that seems to have ended. And I won’t even go into the issues with pork or fish (although there have been times when fish has been tolerated).

So, needless to say, rising food prices aside, the grocery budget and I are not fast friends.

In a recent post on canadian mommy time, she talked about the budget subject. I can totally relate. And one of the things that she mentions—and that I have struggled with for so long that I don’t remember when the debate started—is what to do when you find a staple item on sale. Do you stock up and blow this week’s/month’s budget in favour of saving down the road?

In theory, that’s how it should work. Spend some more this month on the sale item so that you don’t have to buy that item for awhile, thus cutting that item out of your regular spending until the item is used up. But in reality, there will always be something on  sale that will take your “saved” budget dollars. So you’ll always be over budget, but your cupboards will be stocked. 😉

One budgeting trick I use is I check the weekly flyers and make a menu plan based on the things that are on sale. This way I am buying stuff on sale and using it right away.

And following this trick, I sometimes also buy a ton of a staple item when it goes on sale and then I use it up right away preparing meals in advance. For example, the last time pasta sauce and pasta were on sale, I bought tons of both and spent the day cooking lasagnas, ghoulash, casseroles and pasta bakes. Then I froze all of that and now I have meals ready to go. This only really works if I have time to do all the cooking right after I buy the sale item(s). But if I do have time, it’s great because as a working mom it saves me money on the groceries and time during the week cooking.

And that’s always fantastic because then I have more time to write/blog/surf the web play with my children. 😉


2 thoughts on “Budget struggles

  1. Kath

    I hear you. I can’t believe some of my grocery bills. A few ways that I cut back: try to have two vegetarian meals a week (not as hard as you’d think), I buy my meat bulk (Costco) and divide it into small portions before freezing, I try to buy my produce in season (only works for some items, but it does help), and one that I really want to try but never get around to: meal planning. Sigh.

    Isn’t it amazing how much two little mouths can eat!


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