I wrote about my love of PrepDish.com last month but lamented the cost of the groceries recommended by the meals. It was abut twice as much as I wanted to spend on groceries per week.
I wanted to figure out if I could bring it down to a reasonable amount.
So I went shopping with $100. Cash. And no backup cards.
My goal was to meet the requirements for making the 4 whole-foods dinners, 5 breakfasts and 1 dessert (and the dinners become leftover lunches too) for two people for less than $100 per week.
I selected a cheaper grocery store than normal. I didn't have time for the farmer's markets this week (I live in the country and it takes a bit of driving) but the PrepDish recipes are based around what is fresh and seasonal for the US, which maps decently onto Ontario.
I realize that's still a high monthly food budget for many families. The point is that I managed to take a real slash-and-burn approach to the "wants" vs "needs" of my grocery list and I left the store quite satisfied. There is an approach for most budget levels but I obviously endorse more reasonable livable wages so families can afford high-quality food. I also support reduced subsidies on dairy, corn and other processed food input crops so that we can re-establish agricultural diversity and the planting of a variety of foods. This will improve affordability.
In the meantime, until Utopia comes around, I am left with my cash-in-hand approach to ensuring I stay on task at the grocery store.
It worked beautifully.
Decisions I made to cut costs include:
- reducing the per piece volume of meat. I can make up the rest with veggies.
- No organic and very little local.
- FreshCo grocery store, instead of Loblaws.
- Nothing pre-chopped.
- Avoided purchasing new bottles of spices and sauces because my collection at home will do.
It wasn't painful. The tastier produce is organic and local, but the conventionally grown is still nice when properly prepared.
Tradeoffs like these make sense for me given my current training and salary, and they probably make sense for a lot of people. I believe that your individual behaviour around purchasing economically, environmentally and socially beneficial products can change more easily if systems allow it.
So, we advocate for better systems and take our choices day-by-day.
Are you using PrepDish? Do you like it? What are the other meal planning services out there?