Yesterday I had to go to town, and while I was there, decided to go to a cheap grocery store, the same one where I bought my chicken necks before. This store, actually, is the same store I wrote about before, disparagingly, because of their claiming to be free of gimmicks and tricks, but are actually really full of sly tricks to get you to spend more. That said, it still does have many items being sold at great prices, so as long as you shop carefully you can get your money' worth there, and it is worth the trip there. As long as you're careful.
I noticed that meat prices there, for the most part, are far from what I'd like to be paying, however, they do have chicken necks, which are now one of my new favorite meats, now that I've actually seen how dirt cheap they area and how many different ways they can be cooked, so I headed there with the intention to buy necks, plus a few other things that we needed.
Just an aside- I got comments on my last shopping trip roundup post, about how I "spend a lot of money on nuts for myself, but make my kids eat necks", which, while I addressed in a comment, thought merited a response in a post itself.
When it comes to frugality, I try to save money where I can so that I can have more wiggle room and cash to spend on the things that are important to me. Regarding food, this means making do with cheaper animal proteins (chicken necks, gizzards, wings, etc...) instead of more expensive ones, so that I can have more grocery money available to spend on healthier sweeteners, healthier oils, nuts, etc... It may not be the type of thing everyone would do- maybe some people would rather serve more expensive cuts of meat and cheaper oils/sweeteners, and would skip the nuts, but that's cool- everyone is free to do with their money what they want, but this is the choice we've made for our family.
And as for things for me vs things for my kids, for the most part my family and I eat the same food, other than when they're eating things that I can't, or that I avoid for health reasons. There are the very rare times that I actually buy treats only for myself (like super rare)- most treats that I buy go for the kids. I don't believe that as a parent I should get the good things and my kids not- my kids get what they like and that we can afford, and I get what I like that we can afford. No one feels lacking.
Regarding the specifics- my kids aren't the hugest fans of necks because they don't like the bones, but most meat that I make, whether thighs or drumsticks or wings, my kids ask me to remove the meat from the bones, so I just do the same for them with the necks, and then they'll happily eat it. But for the most part, I am the one eating the necks (together with veggies), while they are eating dairy including cereal and milk, cheese, hot dogs, etc... And nuts end up being mainly for the sweets that I make for the family, usually once a week, so its not lots of money on me vs a little on the kid. We're a family and I buy what each person will like and eat and can tolerate, everyone getting nice things as much as we can allow, no one being forced to eat foods they dislike.
So, back to my shopping trip...
As I said, I went for chicken necks, and I bought 8.75 lbs at 75 cents a pound (urgh, this is why I hate this store- you can't see the register, and though chicken necks were clearly labeled 50 cents a pound, I'm only seeing once I type this up that they charged me 75 cents a pound) for a total of $6.56.
Once I was in the meat department, I saw that they had chicken gizzards- which are even more worth it financially, since they're entirely meat, no bones- which I hadn't seen in a while, for $1.41 per pound, so I bought 10 lbs for $14.11.
18.75 lbs of meat for $20.67- not bad at all!
As I was walking into the store, out of the corner of my eye I saw bags of 3.1 lbs of basmati rice for $2.54, so 82 cents per pound! Usually basmati rice costs between $1.30 and $1.70 per pound locally, and plain old white rice for 65 cents a pound. Because of the drastic difference in price, though my family really prefers basmati rice, I generally buy the regular white rice (Persian, I think it is), with the occasional splurge of basmati rice. But at 82 cents a pound, it wasn't that different in price from regular white, so I bought 15.5 lbs for $12.71.
I am not the biggest fan of hot dogs for health reasons, but there is a local brand that I call the "not so unhealthy hot dogs" because the ingredient list is relatively non problematic, so when I do buy hot dogs for those nights that I'm just too exhausted to actually think of what to make for supper, I try to stick to this brand. The store I usually shop at sells a package of 4 packages for $9.97, so when I saw them being sold here for $8.54 I bought a package.
Another one of those "I can't think of what to serve my family" meals are based on cheese, which is super expensive round these parts. Typically I buy the simplest cheese for $5.19 per pound, but last time I was at this store I saw them selling gouda cheese for $4.53 per pound, which was pretty cool, because it not only was cheaper than the standard cheese I was buying, it was yummier as well, so I bought 4.4 lbs for $19.93. A note about this- the packages actually had a few prices written on it- $6.42 per pound as well as $4.53 per pound, but the sign near the cheese said $4.53 per pound. When I got to the register I had them double check the prices, and the computer rang it up at $5.12 per pound, but because it was labeled as $4.53 per pound, they gave it to me for that price.
Then there's gluten free bread, which is yet another thing I serve my family when I simply have no energy to cook (are you noticing a similar theme?) but since it is my "crutch" it means that I'm not making it from scratch, but am buying it store bought. Locally, however, packages of gluten free bread cost $5.71 per package, but this store sells each package for $1.40, so I bought 2 packages of sliced bread and 3 packages of buns for $7, which is honestly cheaper than it is for me to make these myself at home with my home ground flour, so I don't feel bad about serving my family this from a financial perspective. From a health perspective... well, there are worse things for them to eat than gluten free bread. And I do try not to rely on this crutch too frequently.
To be honest, I went to the store mainly for those things, and planned on going to another store for cheap veggies yesterday afternoon, and I was limited in the amount of room I had to bring things home (I brought no giant backpack or the baby carrier I'd need if I wanted to bring home massive amounts of groceries in my stroller), so I didn't want to buy any heavy produce. Though I needed some produce since I was nearly out at home, so I stuck to some lighter produce to last me until I managed to go to the produce store (good thing I did since I still haven't managed to get to the closer produce store):
3 heads of romaine lettuce for $3.71 altogether, 2 packages of bean sprouts for $2.82 altogether, $6.80 for 3 packs of mushrooms (one of which were portobello mushrooms), and since I saw mango for such a great price- 63 cents a pound- and my family loves them so much, I bought 3 giant ones for $3.27 total despite them being heavy.
Also bought 2 packages of roasted and peeled chestnuts for $1.40 per package, so $2.80 total.
Got my kids some puffed corn and peanut snacks for 45 cents each package, so $1.80 total for that.
A bottle of pure lemon juice (not adulterated with all sorts of additives) for $1.97.
And since I'm being brutally honest here about how lazy I'm feeling, I got 3 packages of disposable bowls 95 cents each for a total of $2.85.
My entire shop at this store was $94.92.
So later on that afternoon, I was in a nearby neighborhood, after taking my kids to their soccer classes, and I realized I would not be able to get to the produce store that day, and I desperately needed diapers- I was down to my last two- so walked into the corner grocery store for a package of diapers- got one for $9.97... and then spotted cans of tuna on sale.
Tuna is an insane fortune locally, and if you ever spot it on sale, it usually is tuna in oil, which I don't buy for health reasons (its nearly always packed in soy or canola oil, which I don't use). The standard price for cans of tuna is $1.57 per can, and rarely I can find it on sale for $1.33 per can. In the corner grocery store I saw cans of tuna, 3 packs being sold for $3.11 so $1.03 per can! This is the best price I've seen for tuna in water in years and years... and since I am actually unable to eat any of the "quick foods" that I mentioned above that I bought for my kids (gluten free bread, cheese and dairy, hot dogs, etc...), nor can I eat eggs, I end up relying on cans of tuna when I don't have the energy to cook, which gets expensive... so since these were such an amazing price I stocked up and bought 27 cans for $28.03.
Total for the shop at the corner grocery- $38.
Then it hit me- I had no cereal left, and had planned on buying at the grocery store. But I was in the neighborhood where they have an outlet health food store only opened a few hours a day, and I was there during their opening hours, so I trekked over there and bought 6 packages of pure corn flakes (100% corn) for $2.26 a package- the same price as junky cereals locally and much cheaper than any other gluten free or remotely healthy cereals locally- for a total of $13.54.
I am nearly out of coconut oil, which I buy in bulk. I'd placed another bulk order for coconut oil, but the delivery place messed up the order, so I'm not sure when it will arrive, and in the meantime I need my coconut oil. The health food store sells coconut oil for $5.42 for a 2 lb package- roughly 2 times what I pay when I buy bulk, but 1/3 the price that they sell it in other stores, so I bought a package to last until my bulk order arrives.
Last but not least, I bought some poppy seeds for $2.14.
Total at the health food store- $21.11.
So, yesterday's shop total- $154.03. Not the cheapest shop in the whole wide world, but given how much "lazy" food I bought, and how much I stocked up (this food will be lasting us much much more than just a week or two) and how many bargains, I am quite happy with the amount spent.
Have you bought anything recently with amazing bargains? What was it?
When you just don't have the energy to cook or think up what to make for your family, what do you end up serving? Do you try to find bargains even for these convenience/lazy foods, or do you just buy as needed, not particularly frugally?