Sunday, September 12, 2010

In which I feel smart. Or dumb?

I'm a little cheap. I should be cheaper, but I'm definitely getting there.

Lately, my grocery bill has been giving me a heart attack. Seriously, there's a myocardial infarction on check stand 3 every Wednesday night. It goes like this: $160? What the . . . how did this happen? I tried so hard . . . I can't breathe . . . I'm seeing stars . . . Wait, now I can't see anything . . . I'm going to die, aren't I? I'm going to die right here in the check out lane and everyone will know that I partake of too many artificially sweetened foods when they go through my cart. Oh, the shame. THE SHAME!

You guys, I don't even buy formula. And this ridiculous grocery bill DOESN'T EVEN COUNT COSTCO. (I'm sorry, Nancy, but) what the crap?!

It does not help that Albertson's, my highway robber of choice, has me playing a 1950's housewife right now. They've got this deal where you get a sticker for every $10 you spend and then you can earn stickers toward the purchase of a fancy cook pot of your choice. My choice is (of course) the most expensive one, the roasting pan. Won't my turkey look nice flapping its legs in that come Thanksgiving? And I speak metaphorically because I buy my turkeys dead and if it flapped anything, I would pass out and instead of a heart attack in the check out aisle it would be a stroke in the kitchen that did me in.

Wait, did I digress?

Oh, so Albertson's and their stickers. I need 110 stickers so I can buy my roaster for a penny. So after every trip through the check out stand (after my weekly shock from the defibrillator they keep under cash register 3 especially for my visit), I hustle out to the car, throw the groceries in the back of the minivan, and then I sit and stick my little stickers in my little book, delighted as I approach the 45 mark. I need 110. Let's do the math. I need to spend $1100 in groceries to earn my roaster.

(Sorry, Nancy) What the crap?! 

So I decided to take the bull by the horns. And by "bull" I mean salavering pile of beef that becomes my pot roast every Sunday so I guess I mean "cow."

And that's the first casualty. Instead of a pot roast every Sunday, we'll do it every other Sunday and alternate with a baked potato bar (like we did every Sunday when were kids--hey, look at that! My mom was smart.) But then I had another brainstorm. I felt brilliant until I realized I should have figured it out approximately three years ago. Then I realized I was dumb.

Anyway, a large-ish portion of our budget goes to diet-friendly foods. Pre-sweetened Kool-Aid, 100 calorie portions of snacks, etc. And instead of buying the 5 pack (5? Really? Inflation is that bad?) of baked Cheetos, I bought a big ole family size bag of them (ditto Cheez-Its) and a box of snack sized Ziplocs. Then I busted out my food scale and made my own 100 calorie portions. For a dollar more, I got FOUR TIMES as many portions. 

Between changing up Sunday dinners and being smarter about snacks, I just saved us $700 a year. 

Time to go to the mall.


Kristina P. said...

How much would this fancy roasting pan, that apparently not only roasts turkeys, but will do your laundry, cost?

Chaka said...

I have freaked out to at the check out stand in the past. Luckily we have several grocery stores that are all competing with each other right now so food prices have been more competitive.

I've got 9 kids so we have to get creative. This week Captain Crunch was on sale for .97 cents a box. We will be having that all week until the 20 boxes I bought are gone.

Kimberly said...

Ha, you're hilarious! And we totally spend more on food than anything else. I'm lazy and have expensive tastes, apparently. As in, if the grocery bill is ever in the realm of 160 I do a happy dance, yo.

On the bright side, LOADS of room for improvement, and improving is FUN.

Susan said...

You should sign up for Seriously, it saves you like half, on your groceries.

Charlotte said...

I do that with all my chips and snacks for the kids' lunches. It is a great idea. I used to be a food budget nazi. We're talking under $100 to feed a family of 6. But every pay increase went almost directly to the food budget. If it makes you feel better, you are about $100 under what I spend.

Wouldn't it be less money to buy the roaster and shop at (the evil) Walmart?

DeNae said...

Went to Wal Mart to "pick up a few things for the kids", and left $366 poorer. That was Saturday. You don't even want to hear what I give Albertson's regularly.

And I don't even collect the stickers. I think it's the dumbest promotion they've had so far.

Anna said...

I have always like grocery shopping and like to find ways to save money.

I like convenience food, but don't like the price and the deep fried of most things.

So, I was looking at French Toast sticks. Fun and easy to warm up and eat. But they were like $2.50 for 16 of them. I bought some Texas Toast for $1.83 and made 52 of them at home. And they weren't dipped in batter and deep-fried. They are frozen in my freezer ready to get out.

Also made mini-muffins from a mix. Got 36 of them from two mixes totaled about 1.70. Cheaper than the boxed ones. (They are also frozen, ready to eat.)

Melinda said...

My biggest pet peeve about grocery shopping is how much of it gets WASTED! I hate how much food gets thrown away by my kids, or what goes bad or doesn't get used up--bah its frustrating.

NIKOL said...

I don't really need any new cookware, and I don't really shop at Albertson's all that much. It's one of the closest stores to my house, but I usually buy groceries elsewhere. So, I'll just be running in to grab something quick like a head of lettuce or a gallon of milk. But they ask me if I collect the stickers every time, and it's starting to make me think that I should. Even though I don't need the cookware. Even though I know there's no way I'm going to spend enough at Albertson's to earn squat.

Behold, the power of suggestion.

Karen Peterson said...

I only shop for me and sometimes wonder how the heck I managed to spend so much on groceries.

I will never own that roasting pan, though. At least not for a penny. Because It would probably take me an entire year to spend $1100 in groceries. Does that stop me from WANTING said roasting pan? Nope. I pretty much drool on it every time I visit Albertsons.

Carolyn V. said...

I hate paying a ton for food, especially when I just have to go buy it again next week. I mean, what's up with that?

Lara said...

My grocery bills are the cause of much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. But I'm trying to get over it. At least you'll get an amazing roaster pan out of it, right?

Oh, and YES! you are totally smart.

Braden said...

LOL. BTW, who is Nancy and why do keep apologizing to her.

Seriously now, can I just say that I really admire women like you (and my wife) who find creative, innovative ways to feed the bottomless pits that walk around our home and do it on a budget. It's seriously remarkable to me. I wish I could put it into words.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Have you considered growing your own vegetables, ma'am? My garden is like a giant salad.

LisAway said...

Right on.

And I'm going to steal Anna's breakfast idea. I already refrigerate extra french toast and pancakes to toast later in the week but I'll start freezing them (and muffins etc.) and save myself waking up at 3 am to make breakfast any more.

Amber said...

Oh, dear. Groceries are expensive! We had to cut our grocery budget to a very meager amount and it has been difficult! I guess it's good I don't shop too much these days.

Still...the lure of a luxury roasting pan is hard to resist.

Kazzy said...

Too bad you can't go to the mall, buy a $700 pair of shoes and chop them up into 7 pair. That would be real economizing!

Amber Lynae said...

Grocery totals always act as a free I lift for me.

Dividing up a family size bag never works for me. I have no self control. So to me you are amazing if you can actually stop yourself from eating the whole family size bag.

Dedee said...

I love good ideas, and you have some. My grocery bill is giving me fits. But I'm not thinking about that right now.

And Kazzy's comment takes the cake!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

hilarious post.

but yeah, how much is this fancy roasting pan??? $2000?

yeah, I have my freakouts. usually at Sam's club.