Health
9:00 am
Wed January 8, 2014

How 'The Grocery Game' Might Help You Save Money This New Year

Updated Wednesday 1/8/14: So, earlier this week, I told you about a little game I play with my husband every January. It involves our grocery money.

We give ourselves a budget, and tell ourselves that, no matter what, we will not go over that amount of money for groceries.

On Sunday (our shopping day) gave ourselves $150 that should last all week for our 3-person family. (Usually we just "try our best" with our shopping, but don't give ourselves a monetary limit.) We spent $60 for our first shop and had $90 left for the rest of the week.

Well, it's mid-week and the trouble set in on Tuesday. I got a cold. The kind of cold you want to run to the store and get high end Kleenex with lotion, and popsicles and chicken soup and cold medicine and Saltines and ... lots of other stuff.

But...I knew we needed other things as well, and I knew we only had $90 left till Sunday. So, I pouted a bit, but made do with my low-end tissues. I did get soup and saltines, but did not get the popsicles. I made do with orange slices.

The pot roast I told you about in my first post (made it on Sunday in order to have lunch meat) is holding up. Even though my twelve year old boy suddenly wants two sandwiches every day.

This morning (Wednesday) we had $35 left till we go shopping on Sunday. Tonight's dinner is potato pancakes. (Potato left over from pot roast night), along with fried tofu. Now before you say yuck, you need to know that both pancakes and tofu will be topped with pot roast gravy. Warm and comfort-foody.

We need to spend about $10 at the store today, so will have about $25 left till Sunday. I think we will make it. But you never know.

We want to hear from you. Will you try the game? Do you have money-saving grocery tips, or games you play? Drop me a line. cjackson-at-wunc-dot-org.

Here are the details of the game, some tips and a recipe that I originally set out:

  1. Choose a day to start the game
  2. Think about how much money you spend each week on groceries
  3. Choose a dollar amount to spend that is less than you usually spend.
  4. Buy Groceries
  5. Keep a running tally on each purchase, and do not exceed your limit or seven calendar days.

Here are some tips:

  • Fire up the slow cooker. This week we made pot roast. (Leftovers make for filling sandwiches.)
  • Cook chicken. Use the bones to make broth. Use the broth to make soup.
  • Don't forget rice and beans 
  • Look at what you already have in your pantry. (I already had miso and udon noodles, so miso udon soup will cost me "nothing" for a meal)

Here's a good inexpensive recipe to get you going:

SOUTH AMERICAN BLACK BEAN SOUP

(Adapted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson)

4 slices of bacon, chopped

2 onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. thyme

2 T. cumin seeds

1 T. oregano

1/2 t. salt

1 t. black peppercorns

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

2 T. tomato paste

6 cups chicken stock

4 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup lime or lemon juice

Chopped cilantro

Sour cream (optional) or Salsa (optional)

Directions:

Cook bacon in a skillet till crisp. Drain and set aside.

Drain fat from pan. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, 4-5 minutes.

Add everything through cayenne pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute

Add tomato paste and stir to combine.

Transfer to slow cooker. Add bacon, stock and beans and stir.

Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours, or High for 4-6 hours.

Before serving, stir in lime juice. Puree soup in blender.

Put in bowl, garnish with cilantro and/or sour cream and salsa.

(This is good the first day, and great the second day.)

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