Grocery Shopping When You Are BROKE!

* DISCLAIMER: This is my own experience. I am not writing this for sympathy or charity. I just need to let the world know what it is truly like for a struggling mom. Be prepared for strong language and irate behavior. You have been warned!

piggy bank

Recently, I went to the grocery store, after about 20 minutes I left with a few things and an upset stomach. YES you read that right….. I got physically ill while going shopping. I know I am a woman and am supposed to LOVE SHOPPING but when you are broke, poor, down on your luck,….. or whatever the Politically Correct term is It BLOWS BIG TIME!

Let me brake it down for you.

You walk into a store with $20 to feed a family of 3 for a week, the first thing you see is the Produce. Yummy fruit and veggies. Your mouth begins to water, your eyes sparkle……. you reach for a package of strawberries, look at the price and GASP! $3.99? WTF! Good Lord! Three dollars and ninety-nine cents for a QUART OF STRAWBERRIES. Not organic just plain Jane strawberries. That is ridiculous!

SO you go to potatoes. $2.50 for 5lbs. That’s about 15-20 for $2.50 which you can use for several meals. SCORE! $20-$2.50= $17.50 left. Lets move over to the Deli. Forget about it!!! The prices will make you sick. $7.99lb for Turkey, $5.99lb for Ham. Moving on.

Dairy section….. $3.99 for a gallon of milk, $3.99 for a bag of shredded cheese or  $0.89 for a dozen of eggs. DING, DING Eggs it is. $17.50 – $.089 = $16.61 left.

Bread isle…….. Hummm $ 2.89 for the Healthy whole wheat bread or $0.99 for plain ole white bread. $16.61 – $0.99 = $15.62.

Next Isle Please! ….. Chips and Pop. $2.99 for a half bag of greasy chips. No thanks my stomach can’t handle it. Pop is $.99 for 2 liter of Pepsi this week. Yes Please! I have a headache and need some caffeine. $15.62 – $0.99 = $14.63.

Crap I have been in the store 10 minutes already,  the hubby is in the car with the toddler flipping out. Gotta hurry!

I run around the store grabbing stuff and praying I have enough. I found some tomato sauce on sale. Damn it I have a coupon for that. Guess where the coupons are? Anyone? Anyone? Yep you guessed it! AT HOME 🙁

Moving on. Noodles, rice and can beans go in the cart. Cereal is way too expensive and I didn’t get any milk so pass. I hit the meat isle. OH MY FREAKIN GOD! $7.99lb for steaks, $4.99lb for chicken and $3.99 for ground meat. SHOOT ME NOW! I stand there with this blank look on my face. Trying to calculate in my head how much meat I can get and if I can spread it out between meals. I probably look insane. At this point I am shaking. My hands are twitching and I am pacing. I close my eyes and reach for a small package of ground beef. Dear God I hope I have enough.

I rush to the check out line. Carefully place my items on the conveyor belt and say a prayer. The cashier asks for my store card and gives me the total. $18.98!

Wahoo! I raise my arms in the air and let out a big “SCORE!!!” I felt like I just won the game with 3 seconds left. I did it! I was able to get food for my family under the budget amount. At this point, everyone and I mean everyone in the store is looking at me. The cashier is laughing and I am dancing in the check out line. Let me repeat Dancing. In. The. Check. Out. Line…….

After a few seconds I calm down and reach for the money in my pocket. There is a woman in line behind me. She looks to be about 32ish, she has her daughter with her and that same look of exhaustion that I had. She says to me “Good job!” She gets me! She understands my struggle. She is in the same boat as me. We are in this together. I smile and say, “Thanks” and give her a high five.

I get my change and grab my bags. My phone is ringing and I am starving! I rush to the truck throw the bags in and off we go. About 10 minutes later we get everything into the house. I put all my finds onto the table and begin to menu plan.

This is what I got:

5lbs potato
dozen eggs
loaf of bread
2 liter of Pepsi
tomato sauce
can of beans
noodles
rice
2lbs of ground meat

The sickness begins to set in again. There are 7 days in a week, 3 meals a day and 3 people. How the hell is this going to work? UGH!

Ok so, my grandmother had 9 kids and lived in the projects. If she was able to feed them all with less money then I have, then I can do it.

Here is the plan. IF I combine breakfast and lunch that cuts out a meal. So instead of 3 meals a day I am down to 2.

21 meals – 7 = 14 meals left

Also, if I cut the ground meat down to 1/2 lb each then I can make 4 meals.

Menu for the week:

spaghetti
meatloaf and mashed potatoes
tacos and rice
hamburgers and fries
eggs and toast
grilled cheese ( I have cheese in the fridge)
potato pancakes
pizza toast (bread, sauce and cheese all toasted up)
cheese and ketchup sandwich
beans and rice
potato pancakes
eggs and toast
grilled cheese
total = 13 meals. Oh and a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese so that covers 1 meal.

Whew! Time for a drink! Pepsi and Rum it is!

So what does this all mean? The next time you see a person with that look on their face staring at the meats in the display. Don’t just walk by, give that person a few words of encouragement. A “things will get better” or “I have been there, I am sorry” will mean the world to that the struggling shopper. Or even just say a prayer for that person. Every little bit helps right?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

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About Carol A. Gerner

Hi there! My name is Carol. Nice to meet you! I am a Pittsburgh born, mom/wife, and die hard Steeler Fan that is happily married with two sons. Life is busy, crazy, exhausting and exciting depending on the day. But everyday is fulfilling. I truly believe I was born to be a mom.

2 Thoughts on “Grocery Shopping When You Are BROKE!

  1. Tim Schwartz on December 19, 2014 at 4:54 PM said:

    Compelling, honest, funny, and written in a way which keeps the reader reading without realizing they are just reading another blog/ article. You’re showing a lot of growth here, and your written voice is becoming more defined with each post. I’m not going to shine your shoes but well written article. When I started reading it, I didn’t think you wrote it.

    In regards to comments on your work; I used to drop 300 beans every two weeks not too long ago, now it’s like what do they have for the 5 for 20 deal? Yeah I can make that work.

  2. Michele Dubel on December 17, 2014 at 3:51 PM said:

    I think it was an excellent article and well planned. It is overwhelming to have to grocery shop on nothing. We have done that and it is very difficult. It is extremely hard to eat healthy when you are on a budget and plan for a family. You have to be very creative and masterful. Well done.

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