Thursday, March 14, 2013

How We Food Shop

So many people have been asking us how we can do our food shopping for a little over $100 for a family of four. I explain to them that it takes a bit of effort and a little restraint but you can do it. In June of 2012, we decided to challenge ourselves and food shop as if we were following the food stamp budget. Here, in New Jersey, the funds given to one person for one month is $133.26. This comes to $33.32 per person per week. Now we were scared at first because we had no idea how we were going to do this; but again, after some effort, we were able to do it and you can too!

Step 1:
  Take a look at your most recent grocery bill. Ask yourself what are the big money items.
           Some big money on our last food bill before we switched were:
                  Beef, chicken breast, and prepared foods
  Keep in mind the following items are not food stamp eligible:
          Any Alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and tobacco
          Nonfood items such as:
                    Pet food
                    Soaps, paper goods
                    Household supplies
          Vitamins and medicines
 Step 2:
  Fully commit and embrace the change! Without this you will feel like your not getting enough food and you may feel like this at first too and that is okay. Just think about how much money you will be saving.

Step 3: 
  Plan your butt off!
  We have tried clipping coupons but it just gets annoying and sometimes still buying store brand is cheaper.
  We also found a really awesome app for Android and Apple devices called Food on the Table. They have a website too. It takes your commercial grocery store and finds sales then gives you menus based off of what is on sale.

*While eating on the food stamp budget you cannot eat out, otherwise you have to count the money that you spent there.

  To get the best deal you are doing to have to go to multiple stores.
       In Northern NJ, we can go up to 5 different stores to get all of out stuff. (More on that later)
  Menu planning is also key!! Plan one weeks worth of meals, lunch and dinner, that doesn't have a lot of ingredients and you will save money.

Now that you have the basic tools let me explain to you how this has helped us. Reva recently has found out about a large list of food that she cannot have.
Gluten, eggs, milk (lactose and whey), regular oatmeal, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, soy nuts, walnuts, soybean oil, white sugar, MSG (monosodium glutamate), food dyes, milk chocolate, high fructose corn syrup, cinnamon, and sodium benzoate
   When it comes to the sugar, Reva can have organic sugar or sugar in the raw.

 So we thought we had to stop the food stamp idea all together but by going to different stores and reading every single ingredient list we can still do it! With this we also found ourselves eating a lot more healthier. We found our selves eating more organic fruits and vegetables  and even higher quality meats. Yes, we are aware of the higher price tag, but if you eat a little less at each meal you can also stretch your food.

The stores we go to are: 
      Trader Joe's - They have the best prices on higher quality food and have some really yummy food too!
      Whole Foods - They have higher prices and less processed foods and more of what Reva can eat.
      Natures Pavillion - Aside from the staff being really knowledgeable about what they have in store they also have a really extensive gluten-free section and that makes our whole family happy!
      Stop and Shop - They have the most expensive product around and not really the greatest quality. We go there for last minute things in the middle of the week for fish on Fridays.

       We went to Whole Foods this past week and spent $128!! We were so happy to come under budget!!

**Please be aware that there is a lot of things considered when one actually applies for the food stamp budget. Also, we are not on food stamps, we just want to save some money.

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