UNITED STATES—I know I am not the only person wanting a bit of help when it comes to the grocery store. It feels like no matter what I’m doing, the cost of food is too much, and the wallet is being stretched thin as a result. I think I’m no different than any other American, I visit the market at least once a week. I feel like $100 bucks goes absolutely nowhere because I expect that food to last at least a week and a ½ and it is not. I am cooking several days a week, but it feels like a meal for the family is easily over $30.

You know what that means, if you spend $100 bucks, you might only have meals for 3 days, maybe 4 if you have leftovers the family is willing to consume. I grocery shop with the notion of planning meals, but I’m starting to think maybe, just maybe I should just purchase the essential items and not plan meals. I mean I love to cook lasagna, but that is an expensive meal. You need pasta sheets, crushed tomatoes, herbs, various cheeses, you must have fresh ricotta cheese (nothing else works), you have your sausage and ground beef or turkey, and of course you have your veggies. It is easily a $25 plus dish. Take something like tacos, which includes ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, taco or tortillas and your taco seasoning, you used to be able to do that for about $10 bucks, it is closer to $15 now for a family of four.

I try to treat going to the grocery store as if I was dining out. The cost of a single meal at an eatery is EASILY $10 to $15 and that is a single dish. Are you prone to have leftovers if you dine or do carry out? Doubtful. The cost of chicken varies so much it gives me a headache. Yes, it is cheaper to purchase thighs and legs, but you have people who want a bit of white meat (breast and wings) and a small package of wings is easily $10, 2 chicken breasts could cost you the same amount or more and for a whole chicken they’re not that cheap anymore, get ready to spend about $10 to $12 bucks.

I juice or make a smoothie daily, so having fresh fruit is costly. I remember when limes used to be a quarter. They’re like a dollar now depending on where you go. Same for lemons and apples, with all the various varieties those aren’t cheap either, neither are oranges. The only fruit that is still semi-affordable are bananas, they just don’t have the longest shelf life people. Veggies are the things annoying me price wise the most right now. How so?

I purchased a butternut squash that was easily $3.00. Cucumbers vary from $0.75 to $2.00. What’s the problem with that? Cucumbers don’t last long at all. They spoil so quickly after you slice it, it drives me bonkers. Same with lettuce, kale, tomatoes, carrots and others that don’t last long. It is starting to make me think I should purchase in smaller doses so that I’m not constantly rushing to use or being forced to trash because of mold or spoilage. Sorry, I truly don’t have funds to be wasting America, and I haven’t even chatted about dairy or pantry staples.

Milk you might get 2 weeks at best, eggs (thank God they’re back to being about $2 bucks a carton compared to $6 to $7). Peanut butter is still semi-affordable, but jelly and jams have sky-rocketed in price, and the same goes for cereal, oatmeal and grits. Let’s not even get into the discussion on snacks (chips, cookies, and other processed foods not good for you); they tend to be on sale sometimes, others they are not. However, that is not a pressing issue for me because I don’t purchase them much.

The biggest thing I have learned is that you have to shop when there is a sale. I don’t want to visit a supermarket more than once a week, but sometimes you have to. It is the best approach to save money and get deals on items that you actually consume so there is no waste. I don’t want to throw my hard-earned money into the trash, I want it to stretch and I want to save along the way. With digital coupons, rising costs and people eating more, sometimes you just have to work your best to make things happen, whether you don’t have a budget when it comes to spending or you do. I’m sure everyone wants to save a few bucks anyway they can.

Written By Jason Jones