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Budgeting in Inflation: Grocery Prices and How I Cut Costs



What a time to be alive in Late Stage Capitalism (tired sarcasm fully intended). We have all noticed the rise in prices due to inflation and it has skyrocketed our grocery bills, to the point where many of us (myself included) are struggling to keep our fridges full on a weekly basis. Where seventy dollars used to get me two weeks worth of food when I started in university, now barely allows me to get the basic necessities. We are talking about it, but there aren’t many solutions to the issues at hand. 

The sad truth that I have come to realize is that eating healthy and exercising, which many people have agreed are basic human needs, have become a luxury rather than necessity. Foods that are healthy, organic, and not filled with artificial fillers are crazy expensive when fast food and cheap alternatives are more affordable. And when we fuel our bodies with lower quality food, we tend to have lower quality output like, being really tired, blood sugar crashes, harsher cravings, mood swings, and other negative effects. 

As someone who obsesses over healthy foods and eating habits, here are some of the ways that I try to stick to a budget for myself and my partner in this economy. 


Brand Comparison

Always read labels - sometimes branded food may actually not be that great for you especially when they contain really high levels of processed sugars. Or when things advertise that they are ‘high protein’ but in reality only contain 6g. Reading the labels can really help break down how nutritious certain foods are.

Brand names are often always going to be more expensive when there are No Name Brands or others that literally contain the same ingredient lists. Sometimes a brand isn’t everything when you can save a few cents or dollars per item.

Sometimes the effort required to cook ingredients may vary too. The cheaper and bulk foods may require more cooking time or more prep, but are often cheaper in price. In order to save a few cents here or there, you may have to put a little more effort into preparing them rather than grabbing the more expensive, pre-made ones.


Buying in Bulk

Costco is my friend. My partner and I invested in a Costco membership to buy a lot of our foods in bulk. Looking to buy products that can either be frozen or have a longer shelf life are the things that we look for. Such as big bags of rice, beans, frozen fruit, frozen veggies and other big bulk items that cut down on our grocery runs. 

We also especially do this with meat. One Costco run normally lasts us a full month for meat products and looks a little like this:

The Meat Run:

2 Chicken Breasts

1 Ground Beef 

1 Sausage

1 Fish

1 Bag of Shrimp

1 Bacon Four Pack

Once we finish our bulk run we either cook all the meat at once and meal prep, or we separate the packages into individual servings. This helps us cut on cost and on waste.

Costco is one of the few places where one can shop for bulk items, but there are other bulk stores that make it more cost effective to buy grains, coffee, etc.. The important thing is having enough storage to properly keep these items so they last longer.


Meal Prepping

Meal prepping is a LIFE SAVER. One day a week, which is normally a Sunday morning for me, I spend a minimum of 3 to 6 hours prepping enough foods for lunches and dinners. My partner and I live pretty busy lives and are gym rats. Meal prepping helps us control servings, makes sure we get everything we need nutrition wise, and we tend to waste a lot less food.

One of our go to meals right now is crockpot chili that costs us under 30 dollars for over ten meals. It’s packed full of protein and veggies that's easy to freeze and reheat for lunches or dinners on the fly.

Ingredients:

4 lbs of Ground Beef (this is the expensive part, but Costco ground beef comes in large packs that can be separated for this)

2 cans of chili style tomatoes

2 Cans of brown beans in tomato sauce

1 large jar of medium or mild salsa

2 cans of 6 bean medley

Chili powder, garlic powder, pepper and other desired spices


All you gotta do is season and cook the ground beef, then throw everything (including more spices) into a crockpot for 4 to 6 hours on low heat. It’s easy and such a great meal prep idea that is really cost effective.

Meal prepping is a lot of work, but trust me, it saves a ton of mental energy during the week when you don’t have to think about what to eat for every meal. It also stops you from ordering out, which can be a big expense for a lot of people.


Growing Your Own Food

Yes, gardening and growing your own food can be a lot of work. It honestly really is and not everyone has the space to do so. My partner and I are fortunate enough that we have enough space to grow our own produce. This cuts our costs during the warmer months of the year when we don’t need to buy lettuce, tomatoes or beans. I have also been learning how to can items, make my own pasta sauce, soap, and other home remedies. Best thing about it is that I know exactly where they come from and it saves us money in the long run. This year I am going to try growing my own potatoes (wish me luck).


Conclusion:

So, yes, it is really hard and expensive to buy good quality groceries right now, but we must make do and these are a few things that we can try to do to be more budget friendly and make sure that we are not throwing out food. It is really important that you plan ahead on what meals you are going to have for the week before you go grocery shopping. Always checking brands, buying in bulk, and finding time to meal prep are just some of the ways we can do this.

Eating healthy should not be a luxury, but a necessity. And I hope that we can see the changes that we need soon so that we can afford the things we need.

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