How My Cooking & Grocery Shopping Habits Have Changed (Eat Well, Spend Less)

Two years ago, my friend Jessica from Life as Mom asked me if I’d be interested in joining with a group of bloggers to write about how we eat well and spend less in the kitchen. Jessica brought together a diverse group of bloggers and we’ve been posting once a month (give or take) for two years now!

This month, we’re looking back at what’s changed in our kitchens over the past two years. Here’s the Eat Well, Spend Less posts that I’ve written:

A lot has changed, and some things have stayed the same:

sams club cartI don’t shop at 10+ stores much anymore.  The amount of time I personally have to spend going around getting the best deals has decreased, so I’m now shopping at Sam’s Club, and King Soopers and Sprouts see me frequently.  For over a year now, I’ve been buying my ground beef at Ranch Foods Direct.  I stop in at Safeway every now and then for a good deal, but I don’t shop around as much as I used to.

I have a deep freezer now – albeit, a very small one, but I’m very happy withporcupines what I have since it keeps me from wasting too much food.  I’ve been using it to cook more meals for the freezer, and right now it’s stuffed to the gills with partially-prepared meals.

I still clip coupons, but not very many.  The coupon deals have decreased somewhat, my time to gather them has decreased, and I just haven’t enjoyed it as much as I used to, so I’m mostly concentrating on buying pantry staples and cooking from scratch.  I still very much shop the sales, but I don’t use coupons quite as much.

coupon-box-downsizeSome of the things that I used to buy a lot with coupons are granola bars and cereal.  These days, prepackaged granola bars are usually only purchased when going on a road trip, and cereal is a rare treat.  It’s healthier to cook breakfast from scratch or make my own granola bars, and what I make at home is much more filling that what I was getting for cheap with coupons, so that’s been a change over the past couple of years.

A big change over the past two years has been my focus on reducing food waste.  (I wrote a book about it, even!)  If I may be so dramatic, a focus on reducing food waste has transformed the way I cook, and I would say that it’s a primary source of savings right now.

chick-fil-a-drive-thruLast summer, I concentrated on kicking the fast food habit and we did!  The kids still ask if we can go to such-and-such for lunch sometimes, but we don’t.  Eating out is almost always a planned occurrence now, and frankly, I think back to all of those lunches we ate out and wish I could get that money back. :/

The past few months have been pretty tight as far as the grocery budget.  Since Jeremy‘s income is somewhat seasonal, it’s very normal to have a couple of very lean months during the winter (though we have set a goal to plan better this next year), and we’ve spent approximately $450 per month on food (both grocery and dining out expenditures).  I have to admit that this is incredibly low for us – I’m wondering if somehow I have input something wrong into the accounting software! :) (Ultimately, I’m thanking the Lord for his provision!)

I’m much more comfortable spending around $600 a month for groceries alone, but, as I’ve taught in Grocery University, your budget number should usually be thought of as an average over weeks or even months.  I would guess that I will not be averaging $450 when I do the tally later in the year – I’ll be spending more over the summer to make up for the leaner months!

homemade-whole-wheat-breadRecently, I started making my own bread (yes, I will be sharing the recipe soon) for sandwiches and I think this is definitely a habit that I will be keeping up with.  (Probably will not be keeping up with the sourdough, though!)

So, those are some of the changes my kitchen and grocery shopping habits have seen in the past two years.  Overall, I would definitely say that we are eating even better and perhaps spending a little less from two years ago (though that’s hard to say for sure, since I am feeding more people now).

How have your cooking and grocery shopping habits changed in the past couple of years?  I love “talking shop” about stuff like this – click here to join the discussion in the comments!


  1. Can’t wait for the sandwich bread recipe. How did you slice it so neatly?

  2. You’ve come such a long way!! I want to go through all those posts again – so inspirational. Can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for EWSL.

  3. This is off the subject, but I am having difficulty enjoying reading this post due to the advertisement on the left side of the page which is obscuring the words. Is there anything I can do to remove this?

    • Hi, Melissa – what type of browser are you using? There’s not a way to remove it but if you can let me know what browser you’re using I can look into fixing it.

      • I have the same problem with the ads obscuring 2/3 of the page on the left. I’m only able to read the top paragraph at a time, then have to scroll to move the text up the page into the clear space. I’m using IE 8.

        • What is your resolution/monitor size? I’m testing it in IE 8 and it’s in the way when the browser window is very small – have you tried making the browser window bigger?