It would be great to be able to "portion" your income so you can use it at the appropriate time. I know when I tried this, I'd end up nipping into my funds in advance sometimes, though.
What I do now is to buy certain items in bulk when they're on sale (meats, for example). I can take a bulk pack and freeze portions, or I can cook a couple of different recipes from the original bulk pack and freeze those cooked portions. I buy mostly frozen veggies, which you can get for really cheap sometimes. If you're buying *just* the veggies - not sauced-up compilations - that can be very inexpensive. And you don't have to buy a brand name if it's just the veggies. Anybody's brand is fine for those. I also will buy some fruits that way, but if I'm buying them to eat straight, sometimes the texture isn't what it would be from fresh fruit. You're still left with buying some things weekly, such as those fresh veggies, dairy, etc. But you can certainly make the more pricey items on your list budgetable by going to "big box" stores (Sam's, Costco, even WalMart) and buying bulk. Wrap the stuff up well in butcher paper and it stays fresh very nicely!
Dh and I get paid 2x per month and do the same as some of the other posters. We set aside funds for shopping more often than the pay periods. Our big shopping trips are more about pantry items and cleaners. frequent trips are for fresh products.
For some reason, a lot of people feel like they can only shop on payday! It's actually better if you shop on a different day, for two reasons. First, if you shop on the day you get your money, before you pay your bills and think about your budget, you might spend more because you feel "rich." Second, everyone else shops that day! If you shop in the middle of the week, the stores will be less crowded and they aren't as likely to be out of some of the things you want.
SparkPeople can help you a lot with budgeting your grocery money. You can go into your nutrition tracker and plan your meals a week (or even a month) ahead of time. I sometimes do that on the day that the sale flyers come in the newspaper. Then I can see what will be on sale, decide how I want to cook it, and know how much to buy. If I plan my meals before shopping, I'm less likely to get excited about a good price and buy more than I can use.
And as other people already said, there's nothing wrong with frozen fruits and vegetables. Sometimes you can get a whole pound of frozen vegetables for a dollar, and they won't spoil. I don't like most canned vegetables, but canned tomatoes are often a very good buy, and they're actually healthier than fresh ones (the way they are processed changes some of the vitamins so your body can use them better.) Also, if you eat bread, think about learning to make your own. It's very easy, and once you've learned the basics, for a dollar you can make three loaves of whole-grain bread that would cost you at least three dollars each in a bakery. It only takes about half an hour of work, so that's like getting paid $18 an hour!
Fitness Minutes: (132,267)
5,778 1/18/14 6:20 P
One tip I can offer is I usually take only a certain amount of money with me-not a large amount unless I am buying tissue and a few other things in bulk at our food warehouse. At this food warehouse many things are way below the supermarket price-4 pounds of bananas for $1.49 and skim Half and Half $2.19 I believe. Then I shop sales in the supermarket-just this week 2 Liter soda for a dollar a bottle. Normally don't buy. Also canned veggies for 33 cents a can and frozen Green Giant microwave veggies 99 cents each. Last I cook meals that will last 2/3 nights at one time. It really is saving not to mention convenient. Good luck to you.
Fitness Minutes: (5,370)
104 1/18/14 6:09 P
I used to get paid once a month. I did what someone here suggested and took my grocery money, divided it into the weeks of the month and placed the amounts in cash in envelopes that I stashed in a drawer.
I still take my grocery money in cash to the store to avoid overspending. I also check specials and plan a menu for the week that I know I can not only afford but with which I can live. If, for example, I plan an elaborate meal in the middle of the week chances are I'll be much too tired to actually cook this meal and might opt for something more expensive both monetarily and caloric-wise.
Another thing I do is buy my meat in bulk from a local farm. The meat is free range/grass fed but because I buy in bulk comparable to what I'd pay in the super market. Then I spend about half a Saturday slicing, seasoning and baking the meat before portioning it out and freezing it. I re-use my zip lock bags as well which saves money. Then during the week I can pop a portion of frozen pre-cooked meat in a skillet then add spaghetti, frozen veggies, whatever. It ends up being 10 to 20 minutes when time is precious (after work when the kids swear they're staaaaaaaaaarving).
Also, don't be afraid of frozen veggies. Unless you're buying your veggies from local farms and eating them within two days, frozen veggies typically are going to be more nutritious. They're frozen right after being picked which arrests the process that breaks down nutrients.
Low-sodium healthy soups also last a long time, are yummy and will keep on the shelf for ages.
I hope some of this helps. Good luck!
Fitness Minutes: (143,115)
17,953 1/18/14 6:07 P
Frozen and canned foods can be healthy. Planning makes it key to make good food. And freezing does make a difference. If you can save a few dollars for each week, it will also allow you to have the opportunity to purchase a few fresh items. Good luck!
Like previous posters, I prep meals and freeze them. I just started really trying to do this regularly and I've already cut $100 off my budget this month because I have so many meals and snacks ready to go.
Only purchase small amounts that you can eat in 5-7 days and shop when you need to again.
Fitness Minutes: (33,780)
22,234 1/18/14 4:01 P
Take that one month's pay and divide it into 4 (weeks) then grocery shop once a week. Take good advantage of specials with frozen fruit/veges, and have in your freezer for a back-up if needed.. The same applies to meat. I only buy meat on good specials, but there is always a really good variety there. I also bulk cook soups/casseroles. They are loaded with pulses and veges (increase fibre, decrease calories for meal, and the lentils replace some of the protein brought about by a reduction in the meat because I don't use so much meat.) Divide your bulk meal up into single-serve containers. This gives you more variety.
This method saves not only time, but money as well, because you are using less power/gas and less washing up.
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