I love when food blogs do posts like these so I thought writing one myself would be fun since I haven’t written about food or grocery shopping in a while. Eating healthy is still very important to me but it’s not something I obsess over like a few years ago. I still buy mostly organic and try to keep as much processed junk out of our house as possible, but we do eat out a lot and obviously most restaurant meals aren’t the healthiest. The joke in our house is that I cook 4 nights in a row and then we go out 2 nights in a row and though it’s just something the boys tease me about, it’s usually how our weeks go.
Over the years I’ve tried several different grocery trip techniques. Years ago, we used to make one big monthly shopping trip with small trips for things like produce and dairy here and there. Then as the boys began to eat more, I started doing biweekly trips and now I go once a week. I’m able to get most of our food at Trader Joe’s but usually stop at Target every so often for personal hygiene/cleaning products. I’ve mentioned before that we use Shaklee products for most of our home cleaners which means that we haven’t bought window cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, any sort of cleaning wipe, degreaser, etc. for over two years. If you’re not familiar with Shaklee, I highly recommend checking them out. The concentrate makes nearly every cleaner you could imagine and the cherry pit scrub is THE BOMB. Plus I haven’t bought household cleaner since April 2011. Did you hear that part? I also use a Shark steam cleaner for our floors so I don’t have to ever buy any sort of floor cleaner or mopping agent and I don’t have to use any kind of chemicals on the floor Ruby crawls and plays on. I used to be obsessed with my Swiffer but our house in Texas had marble floors so we weren’t allowed to use chemicals on it. That’s when I switched to the Shark and now I love it. Sometimes, if I want that clean smell, I spray a little tea tree oil on the floors before I steam them. Not only does it smell a little like Pine Sol (if you like that smell) but tea tree oil is also antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal and antiseptic. Buying products like Shaklee and the Shark are an initial investment but you save so much money over the course of the use you get out of them. The same goes for our cloth diapers. Some other products I never buy anymore are facial scrub and diaper rash cream. Instead I use coconut oil. Coconut oil is seriously a miracle product. You can eat it, use it in place of sunscreen, put it on your baby’s bum, use it instead of lotion or add some sugar to it and exfoliate while moisturizing your skin. And it smells so freaking good, I have a hard time resisting the urge to lick my fingers when I’m done (well maybe not so much after rubbing Ruby’s butt).
Our grocery budget changes depending on where we live but has also been steadily increasing due to the kids getting older. I’m seriously terrified of what the bill will be in 10 years. Currently, I budget for $200 a week. $800 a month is our biggest expense by double of anything else (since we live in Coast Guard housing we don’t pay a mortgage or rent). Some weeks I stay under budget but some weeks I go over so $800 a month on average is pretty accurate. To stay within this budget, I make meal plans. Every week before I head to the store I plan out what we’ll be eating for dinner all week and make a list based on the ingredients I’ll need. I’ve been doing this for about four years now and I couldn’t even begin to think of how to grocery shop without it. I also save by freezing leftovers. Josh isn’t a big leftovers eater (I could eat the same meal everyday all week long if it meant only spending 20 bucks) but rather than throw them away, I’ve found that freezing them and eating them two weeks later works. It’s just the repetition of eating the same thing two days in a row that he doesn’t like. Not buying much processed foods also helps stay within our budget. For the most part, we don’t waste money on things like chips, soda, frozen meals or pre made foods. I don’t buy bottled water or juice boxes either. Instead everyone in our house has their own reusable water bottle that we fill from our Brita filter. Reusable products are seriously the way to go. Not only are they less wasteful, but they’re huge money savers over time. We have cloth napkins so I never buy paper napkins or towels, we have lunchskins which are reusable sandwich bags, as well as Parker’s Goodbyn bento lunchbox, so I only buy plastic baggies like once a year and paper bags never, and we also have reusable snack pouches to fill with applesauce or yogurt so I never have to buy the more expensive individual packages. Something else I’ve been doing for the past few years in an attempt to be a little healthier and save money, is making as much as possible myself. I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought chicken or veggie stock, canned beans, or pancake mix. These are examples of things that are just worth making on your own. Josh makes fun of me for a lot of this stuff but he also cringes every time he sneaks a peak at our grocery receipt so I know he appreciates the benefits.
Within the next few weeks, I’m going to have my first product review and giveaway. A company has asked me to try out their reusable, all natural dryer balls which replace the scented, chemical filled sheets that most people use and I can’t wait. Let’s do some laundry!