Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reducing your food allergy family grocery budget

One of the biggest downsides to dealing with food allergies is that families are very limited in the types and brands of foods that they can buy. We become very loyal to our "safe" brands and thus cannot bargain-shop like most other families.

I remember laughing to myself last week when I heard another mom say she limits herself to $50 in groceries a week. Ha! My weekly grocery budget is over twice that amount, mostly because I can't save money by feeding Ainsley peanut butter & jelly and grilled cheese sandwiches and having her drink cow's milk that's on sale for $1.99/gallon. Instead, she eats sunbutter sandwiches (sunbutter is normally $4.99 a jar) and drinks soy milk, which is $2.99 per half gallon. Other things, like her soy ice cream, is about $4 a pint, and the dairy-free margarine we use (Earth Balance) is $3.99 for a small tub. The only brand of bread my grocery store sells that's safe for Ainsley is Nature's Own, which is $3.59 for a small loaf. We also buy things like Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Better Than Sour Cream, which are much more expensive than the real thing.

As we all know, these extra costs add up quickly. To try and limit our expenses, I have decided to reduce my grocery budget as much as I can without sacrificing out staples or eliminating shopping at my favorite store, Whole Foods. I successfully did this last week by going to Whole Foods and planned our family meals around the meat that the store had on sale. I bought four large chicken legs for $3 and that, coupled with a $2 bunch of asparagus I bought at my regular grocery store, was a great meal one night this week - for $5! I also bought $4 of chuck roast there and plan to make a slow-cooker meal out of that and some potatoes and carrots.

In the future, I am going to look online at the weekly circulars for Whole Foods and my local grocery store (Kroger) every week and plan all our meals around the sale items. I just went on both stores' websites and found not only that the circulars are readily available either on the stores' websites (here's Kroger's and here's WF's), but also that the sites provide coupons and other neat features to help families like us save money. Whole Foods has a webpage on saving money at its stores and a newletter called "The Whole Deal" that includes coupons and has meal ideas for cheap, healthy dinners. Kroger had links to several different coupon websites that allow you to download coupons electonically onto your Kroger frequent shopper card. Additionally, Kroger also offers a no-fee credit card that allows you to build up points you can redeem for free groceries - this is enticing to me because it awards double points any time you use it at a Kroger store and it also gives you $25 in free groceries the first time you use it. I also noticed when looking at this week's Kroger circular that the store is offering $25 in free groceries if you transfer a prescription to its pharmacy - so right off the bat you can get yourself $50 in free groceries!

As only other moms can appreciate, I am very excited about these features and interested to see how much money I can save. If anyone else has money-saving tips on grocery shopping, please share!


Jennifer said...

I love Kroger too. They have some great allergy friendly foods like Amy's dairy-free pizzas. Every once in awhile they will put them on clearance. Another great thing about Kroger is the 10 cent a day discount they give on gas. I don't know how you feel about Walmart, but they've been adding organic and "alternative" products lately. It's hard to beat their everyday price on soy milk. I have tried ordering the single-serve boxes of soy drink online. If you can catch a deal on shipping, that can be a good buy. My kids (even my daughter who has no allergies) love those for lunches.

Karen said...

I have a few smaller health food stores in my area. When they have things on sale, I stock up, usually works better than Whole Foods, though not the selection.

Anonymous said...

I agree. We have to avoid tree-nuts and peanuts. I try to stock up when things go on sale. But it's hard, because prices have gone up on everything it seems.


Anonymous said...

I know this would probably mean more running around so it may not be worth it, but about a year ago I read a cost comparison in the newspaper that took staple items (okay, not your staples, it was Elvis' birthday so they did peanut butter, bananas, bread, and some other stuff- weird, I know, anyway...) and Albertson's, Kroger and Tom Thumb (in that order) ranked much more expensive than Wal-Mart. Just FYI! Elena