(FYI: I am not a medical professional and am not giving you advice, health-wise, money-wise, or anything else wise. Just telling you how I do things in my own situation.)
One fine fact about me is that I'm a notoriously frugal gluten free diabetic. Not cheap, don't call me cheap. I'm not cheap (on any level, for that matter). I'm a proud frugal gal, a fruGAL if you will. I grocery shop largely at Aldi's discount grocery store. What I cannot buy there I purchase at Sam's Club in bulk discounted price (I do verify that their prices are indeed lower than other retailers prior to my purchase). It does not need to cost a lot to eat healthy. I don't make a million bucks and cannot afford to buy organic meats, but I eat as clean as possible and do buy as many produce products organic to the extent I can afford. You've probably noticed your food bills going up too. Food's not cheap, yo. And with the escalating gas prices (my dad was a truck driver so I'm real familiar with how that affects his costs and everyone else's) and the earlier droughts our country experienced, don't expect your food bill to go lower (quite the opposite will be happening).
I went to a different grocery store last weekend, only because I am not able to drive yet and so I have to go wherever the person giving me a ride wants to go to do their grocery shopping. Beggars can't be choosy! But when the check out person told me that the grand total for my groceries was $97...NINETY SEVEN DOLLARS... I about flipped OUT. I didn't buy that much food, and, thinking that things must have wrung up incorrectly, I reviewed the receipt. But sure enough, it was correct. Many of my usual food items had increased in price, other items I don't think I ever looked at the price before throwing it in the cart, and other mistakes were stocking up on sale items that I really didn't need and were not on my list. That's just too much money to spend for a party of one. So I've decided to do a food budget. I budget for everything else, but I seem to always blow my food budget when I get to the grocery store; buying things off my list or buying a larger quantity (what? It's ON SALE!!) than what's needed.
So I drafted a new food budget. $55/week. I go shopping weekly because I purchase fresh salad ingredients, veggies for side dishes and fruits for dessert on a weekly basis. What's left in the budget will be used to purchase items on my grocery list. But I will need to prioritize my list better, because $55 doesn't go a long way. That means sticking with Aldi's as often as possible. Another way that will help to keep me within my budget is to avoid purchasing any processed foods. No desserts, snacks chips, tortilla shells or even salad dressing. I make a few killer homemade dressings for pennies a serving; there's no need to buy expensive dressing that is full of questionable ingredients. And if I want some garbanzo beans, I won't be buying the more expensive canned versions. I'll be buying a bag of dried beans (which costs half as much and makes 2 or 3 times the amount in a can of beans) and cooking them myself in the crock pot. And no more bottled water, especially when I have a PUR water filter attached to my kitchen faucet.
I should clarify that the goal is not solely based on a monetary budget; it has parameters. The food must be healthy, whole, clean foods. My goal isn't just to spend less; it's to be healthy in the end. I have to eat for both a diabetic diet and a celiac (gluten free) diet, which requires a lot more time and a little more creativity.
I will confess that I might have further blown my food budget by going out to eat tonight. With tip, my portion of the bill was $19.09 at Outback Steakhouse. It was a much-needed outing when you remember I have had a cervical collar on for 4 weeks, haven't driven in almost 5 1/2 weeks, and have been house-bound so far for a total of 6 weeks. It was time well spent with a very good friend (like a sis for sho).
Anyway, I'll be posting here and there to let you know how my food budgeting is going, show you my grocery hauls so you see what I'm buying and what it's costing me, and I'll even tell you what kind of meals I'm making so you can see whether I'm staying on track with the clean eating goal. It's a challenging goal when you have diseases like T1D and celiac that you have to take into consideration when making food purchases.
If you are on a food budget and have any advice to make this project a little easier, I'm all ears.