Budget grocery shopping need not be a punishment, No, wait, it should not be a punishment. Everything in life is a form of Challenge . You are capable of meeting that Challenge. The solution is not a sentence of 22 days of unadulterated ramen noodles for $4.80 so that you can put gas into your vehicle. The slow economy ( made slower, I believe by the media touting the slow economy ) need not sentence you to a life of peanut butter sandwiches on white bread. Before you reach for your credit card and spend $20 that you could put to better use, make a list. What do you like to eat? Now , beside that , make a second list. What have you been buying because its on sale, marked down , or you have a coupon? Are the lists the same ? Because they should be pretty close to identical. If they aren't , then there is something wrong.
Think back to when you were a child and Mother put something that , maybe you did not like so much on your plate. (If this never happened to you , rent Mommy Dearest, and pay special attention to the steak scene.) There was a feeling of frustration because you could not do or get to something that you liked better without consuming the thing on the plate. Guess what , you are doing the same thing to yourself everytime you deny yourself what you like for what is okay and on sale.
This week I had baked chicken , Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwiches(modified) , strawberry shortcake , sausage biscuits, steak with baked potato and green salad, grilled cheese sandwiches,bacon cheese burgers and hamburger bean and green bean casserole. And I only spent $25 for 2 weeks. I shopped specials at local markets.
The bread for my sandwiches all came from Pepperidge Farm. I had their Ancient Grains and their Soft Oatmeal , both marked down to 99 sents each. The cheese was real not product and I had Swiss and Mild Cheddar. I paid $4.99 for 6 lbs of chicken. If you don't have fistsful of money to throw into the grocery store, you are going to have to invest time.
Flyers tell part of the story but if you are a good food detective, there are sometimes unadvertised specials in the store. Poke around. I found a head of butter lettuce for a dime at my local market. It wasn't advertised and was in good shape. If you don't tell and are selective in your purchases, neither will the food.
I do recommend a list but be flexible with it. Its a road map to keep you on track . Ask yourself what elements you want to eat.I am not talking high school chemistry but flavor elements. I mentioned the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich. What foods does the original recipe have ? Chicken ,ham, cheese-usually Swiss, Dijon mustard with a breaded coating. My sandwich is 2 pieces whole grained bread, toasted, on one piece , spread some commercial ham salad( was 99 cents at Reese Market in Madison),
top this with some leftover baked chicken strips from the breast, top with Swiss cheese and the other piece of toasted bread. ( I pretoasted my bread because I packed it for lunch where I nuked it for 30 seconds in the microwave- it was very nice. If you are eating this at home, you could fry it like a grilled cheese.) . What other things can be made by combining the same flavors if not the cost of your favorite foods. Remember if it rots in the refrigerator , its not a bargain.
Luxury is in mouth feel. If its creamy and delicious , it is. Your brain doesn't care that it wasn't five dollars but $1.50. The strawberries for my shortcake were an unadvertised special . My shortcake cost me $1.50 per serving and was many fresh strawberries, biscuits( from a can ), and whipped cream (from a can.) It was big, it was beautiful and it felt so good in my mouth. Learn to trick your pallet. Its not what you can't have but how you can have your favorites at lower cost. It doesn't feel like depravation if it looks and tastes indulgent.