A Foodie’s Grocery Adventures

$700. That was the plan. In July, we spent $758.23. I wanted to trim the budget although the goal was a bit unrealistic; grocery stores we frequent still do not have the type of sales prices consistently available pre-pandemic. An additional challenge this month was unexpectedly developing carpal tunnel and needing some easier meal solutions. More on those options in a minute.

Writing is still quite painful. This medical issue cropped up last week and I have an arm brace to wear for a bit longer, limiting both my ability and desire to write by hand or by typing. Due to my situation, today’s post will be more about sharing visuals from this month than writing about my shopping and cooking experiences. Writing all this takes a lot of energy…

Some of the most expensive regular food purchases this month:

  1. 7-piece sushi $14.49
  2. 1lb. shredded chicken $10.06
  3. 6 brioche rolls that spoiled the next day $5.99
  4. 1 pint Horizon whipping cream $5.49
  5. 14.5 oz. Quaker Oatmeal Squares $5.49
  6. 3.58lbs. yellow peaches (8 total) $8.91
  7. 1.5lbs. fresh mushrooms $6.49
  8. 12-piece chicken tenders $21.48

The most affordable items:

  1. Nature’s Own bread, 22oz. loaf $2.99 currently, but it has been $4.20 each
  2. Bumblee Chunk Light tuna, 5 oz. $0.89, normally $1.59 each
  3. Simple Truth Organic tofu, 14 oz. $1.79
  4. Strawberries, 16oz. $2.50
  5. Cilantro, still 2 for $1.00
  6. Heritage Farm Bone-in, skin on chicken thighs $1.99/lb.
  7. Water gallon, self fill-up $0.25/gallon versus buying sparkling or pre-bottled waters (prices vary)
  8. Beyond Beef, 16 oz. $5.99, normally $9.99 each

An important part of today’s conversation is admitting that I don’t grocery shop at discount grocery stores, dollar stores, or Walmart. By doing so, I could save more money on my food bill. Part of me recognizes it is better not to shop these places to allow less privileged shoppers more access to food within their reduced food budgets. Another part of me struggles because I need to find specific foods to help me deal with lactose intolerance. The hard core foodie side of me enjoys the exploration process available through specialty grocery stores like HMart, Patel Brothers, AJ’s Fine Foods, Trader Joe’s, Natural Grocers, Sprouts, and Whole Foods. Driving out of my way to buy specialty items is a privilege and I always find something new and interesting, and those are normally worth the extra money. When it comes to Walmart and dollar stores though, these businesses bother me. Dollar stores take up space that could be used by grocery stores capable of providing better nutritional offerings to their respective communities and Walmart in more recent times has dried up its population of workers with disabilities. I think we’ve only picked up water once at Walmart during the pandemic, but we more generally avoid it and I do not blame people who have a greater need to rely on these establishments.

Some of our meals this month:

Braised chicken with lemon from Modern Proper (ours was made dairy free).

Dominican tofu from Familia Kitchen (using store bought sofrito)

Mushroom sauce from Delicious that was paired with a dairy free polenta.

The dairy free components plus tofu for our Dominican recipe entree.

Huel was not on our radar this month per se, but having easy breakfasts and lunches to prep are worth the $200 approximately spent for meals to be enjoyed this one and the next. Our efforts to build convenience in our food budget, including Huel and other stuff, put us over the goal created at the beginning of this month, but our fridge, freezer, and pantry are stocked with more than what we needed for August.

The current state of our food supplies can reduce grocery spending next month although these decisions busted this month’s budget and that issue is something I could work to remember. Food represents a variable expense, not a fixed expense like housing. I never start the month knowing which groceries will be cheaper, but those that are and can be stored in the pantry or freezer are worth deviating from the original goal when the budget allows.

In the next month or so, I look forward to talking about the student loan forgiveness decision passed this month since student loans are often a significant monthly expense like groceries, notwithstanding the current loan pause situation resulting from pandemic policies. My family stands to benefit from this recent decision and I’d love to share later how that change looks when coupled with my use of VA education benefits. Until then, stay well and thanks for reading.

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