Grocery shopping, the frugal way, is not an errand, it is a process. Note that I stopped short of calling it an art but it does come close. In order to live frugally, you need to develop a habit of food shopping that saves you money mindfully. This means you don’t go into it blindly or on the spur of the moment. The process goes like this:
- Frugal food shopping begins at home. Check your fridge and pantry first and always. You will be surprised at what grows in there and what you forgot you need to use up. Everything that needs using up or that you are inspired by, pull out. Don’t put it away or you will forget to use it.
- Make a list. I am not a huge believer in sticking to a list religiously, but a general outline of what you need to replace, a list that will keep you on track, is a good idea.
- Armed with a list, head to your go-to grocery store. Mine is The Grocery Outlet where the selection may be limited but the prices cannot be beat.
- Go down every single aisle. Every single one. This way you won’t miss a great bargain. Take your time and should go without saying to not shop hungry, mad, sad or with kids in tow.
- Be prepared to pivot. You may not have been looking for strawberries this week but if you find them on sale, snap them up. Dessert just became strawberry shortcake or my three ingredient strawberry ice cream (recipe at the end of this blog). I often go to the grocery story with a list of a dozen or more items and yet, I come home with only three or four of them because there were better deals to be had. Be flexible.
- Pull at least one from your top ten meals list (blog to follow). A frugal cook has a list of ten top meals he or she can make at the drop of a whisk. You should also have a list of ten top freezer meals too but let’s save that for another blog.
- Take your finds home. You are half way there now. Prep and store all produce. This includes chopping, slicing and mincing. Now is a good time to pull out that onion/veggie chopper to make short work of the task.
- Prepare at least one of your top ten meals. That’s for tomorrow night. While you are at it, shape ground beef into burgers, grate cheese, marinate that tough side of beef, any task that requires food prep, try and do it before you put the food away.
- Prepare any snacks. Slicing up veggies should help with this task. This also helps with impulse purchases.
- Make another meal for tonight, something that hopefully you can toss in the slow cooker.
- Relax, you just completed your first frugal food run. You are now developing serious frugal mojo.
Three Ingredient Strawberry Ice Cream (no churn, no fuss)
1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced and then partially pureed in a food processor, there should still be small chunks
1 small can sweetened, condensed milk
1 carton heavy cream, 8 oz.
Method: Whip the heavy cream with the contents of the sweetened condensed milk until stiff peaks form. Fold in the strawberries and freeze for four hours. No churning necessary.