Recently someone emailed me wondering how much I spend on food per month and what frugal meals I prepare. What ensued was a lengthy email conversation about food and frugality and how a person can reduce their grocery spending. I told the enquirer that I generally spend less than $200 a month for three or four people full time and two teens on weekends. She wanted to know how I managed that and here's my response:
"Besides the fact that I live in an area of the country that has a lower cost of living in some things, there are quite a few things I do to spend less and feed my family. Here are a couple of major concepts I put to use. One is buying items when they're on sale for what I call "Denise's price" and the other is buying a lot of those items at Denise's price.
We all have different food likes and dislikes, dietary needs and quirks but here are some of the things that are staples for our household:
white flour, whole wheat flour, and soy flour
corn meal, grits and oats
white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and splenda
yeast, baking powder, and baking soda
salt, pepper, and other basic spices like garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon pepper, cinnamon, ginger and way too many to list here
extracts like vanilla, almond, and orange
white and apple cider vinegars
dried beans, peas, and legumes
white rice, brown rice, and wild rice
a variety of canned tomato products such as stewed, sauce, paste, sundried, and whole
several kinds of pasta, mostly whole wheat or soy
broths, barbecue sauce, steak sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, nut butters, soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard, mayo, salad dressings, and Teriyaki sauce
extra virgin olive oil and canola oil
canned milk, regular milk, sweetened condensed milk, and powdered milk
canned fruits and vegetables
canned meats and fishes
coffee, tea, and other beverages
fresh fruits and vegetables
frozen meats, vegetables, and fruits
There are many things I haven't listed but that should give a good idea of what we keep in our pantry."
The reader responded to the list with an admission of not keeping a good pantry and wanting to learn more about that so I thought I'd post about this and ask...what's in YOUR pantry and what are the two most important things you do to save money on food? Or do you not try to save money on food?
As a side note, tonight's dinner was beef roast with vegetables and Buttery Bread Sticks. The bread sticks were made with ingredients that were all on sale and cost less than $.75 for a very large pan of them.
The beef roast was purchased on sale at $1.29 a lb and while the carrots and potatoes were also purchased on sale at the local grocery, the onions, zucchini, and green beans were picked from the garden this evening. I cut the roast into good sized chunks before cooking it and seasoned it pretty heavily with this Gourmet Steak Seasoning.
The meal was delicious, very frugal at less than $1.25 per serving, and fed three adults and two teens.