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HELP ME!!! I spend nearly $900... - Page 6

post #101 of 117
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
I notice you describe your dh in your signature as "hardworking surfer dude." Sounds like someone who needs a lot of calories. Maybe part of the difference is that your dh eats unusually big quantities.
Lol, he DOES eat a lot, but the only surfing he does these days is on the computer! We used to live at the beach and he grew up surfing so he's a total surfer at heart, but now we live in Idaho and he has a stressful office job. Quite a life change for us. He is always complaining about the amount of food I cook. It's too little for him, but it's also good for him not to eat so much. Maybe groceries are just high where I live. I'll admit I buy Organic Valley butter and milk but most everything else is non-organic except some produce on the dirty dozen list. I guess the best thing for me to do is save all my receipts and figure out where the money is going, but right now I feel like $450 a month is totally reasonable, if not good. I'm gluten-free so no bread or flour tortillas, which before provided us a cheap staple. We eat more meats now and that really adds up. I hear that the price of meat and poultry will be going up later this year or this summer so I am already perusing recipe sites for summer salads using lentils, quinoa, etc. Protein substitutes.

I agree though, that $900 a month is excessive and I have to wonder if there is a lot of packaged foods. I gave up frozen stuff like Amy's a long time. Even on sale at 2/$7 it is way too expensive. I try to break it down into daily amounts. $15 a day to feed us 3 meals and snacks is my max, so 2 Amy's dinners on sale is already half my daily budget, and only for 2 people, and frozen prepared meals are never enough food for dh. He needs a side dish to go with it, so our freezer is very empty except for some frozen fruits/veggies and frozen chicken breasts, that's it.
post #102 of 117
Freespirited, here's a great recipe for GF tortillas, but you need a tortilla press (which will pay for itself in no time if you're GF!)

Basic Tortilla Mix:

¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup potato starch flour
¼ cup white rice flour
¼ cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 generous teaspoon baking powder
1-½ Tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup water or more as needed

Measure all dry ingredients in a sealed container and shake to mix. Add oil and water to mix. Let the dough rest 10 minutes for easier handling. Divide dough and roll into 10 to 12 balls. Flatten a ball slightly and place in the press and follow the press instructions. This recipe says to cook 30 seconds on each side, but you need to check and see if your press cooks on both sides at once.
post #103 of 117
Wow, you have gotten so much great advice here!

I can only add a few things. I meal plan, too, but loosely. I find there are are 3 or 4 meals we eat regularly, so I make sure I have those staples on hand. Those meals are:

pasta with white beans, rosemary, and tomatos
veggie chili (which can turn into veggie tacos or burritos)
soysages with peppers and onions

DH is vegetarian so I don't cook a lot of meat, but I usually buy a rotisserie chicken and keep it in the fridge. I can use it for a few meals usually--fast dinner or lunches for DD and myself.

Usually when I meal plan, I think about those staples and then I try to pick one new recipe I want to try or make again and buy those ingredients too. Definitely spend some time at the bookstore or on Amazon and buy some good cookbooks. I started with Fanny Farmer too!

I do some shopping at a warehouse club every other month or so--I buy things like canned tomatos and sauce and frozen enchiladas and raviolis that are either non-perishable staples or easy to cook things for days and nights I don't feel like cooking.

Another thing we do a lot of is soup, salad, and bread. Depending on how much salad you all like, you can make a big fun salad with lots of toppings and keep it in the fridge to nibble on at lunch. Bring it back out for dinner with some soup. I make some really easy fresh soups (tomato soup out of just canned tomatos, broth, and garlic--broccoli soup out of broccoli, onions, mushrooms and broth) and my DD loves chicken noodle soup from the can. We also really like some of the Amy's soups, and some progresso soups. It's easy and filling! DH makes awesome grilled cheeses, too! My biggest switch has been from big meals to making dinner lighter. Sometimes we have a salad and rice and black beans.

I also suggest making it a game--it doesn't sound like you are in bad shape financially, you just realize that your grocery bill could use some taming. So why not set aside $600 for next month, and when it's gone it's gone! See how you can do on what you have in your pantry when it runs out. Get creative. I find that when I get into the deep recesses of my pantry and freezer I can pull out some...interesting...meals. Some of them are great, some are duds, but you know--we wake up another day and eat again.
post #104 of 117
Do you both cook or are you preparing all 28 meals? Do you plan the meals for the week/month in advance or do you have to go through the effort of deciding what to eat for every.single.meal?

Also, frozen meals aren't cheap, but they are cheaper than going out, so I'd get some of those to be what you make when you think "how about we just go out?" As an added bonus, unlike many restaurant meals, you can get organic versions of the frozen meals.
post #105 of 117
$900 is a lot for groceries? For a month? Wow. I don't know how you could even begin to do better than that... I spend at least that much, even on a GOOD month. We go through at least $300 a week...
post #106 of 117
Originally Posted by mom0810 View Post
$900 is a lot for groceries? For a month? Wow. I don't know how you could even begin to do better than that... I spend at least that much, even on a GOOD month. We go through at least $300 a week...
300 a WEEK?! I've got twice as many boys as you (so I know how much little men can eat) and there are months that I spend just over $300 for the entire month (usually in the summer when our garden is bountifully producing) Even my spendiest months are well under $700 for the 6 of us.

We do virtually all whole foods, very little processed/prepackaged stuff, and I choose local and/organic when I can. I'm curious what sort of things you're buying?
post #107 of 117
Whole foods, some snacky things, not much (if any) meat.

My addiction is Diet Coke, but that's a 12 pack every two weeks.

Things are just really expensive here.
post #108 of 117
I was thinking about it last night, and although I do not have a receipt, just an idea of what we are spending is here...

Diapers $40 a week
Water $25.00
Milk (organic) $8-12 a week
Bread (3 loaves) $12
Cheese (3 pkgs shredded and 2 sliced) $20
eggs $4/dozen
Fruit and veg. $40 a week, probably...

That's just a few of the things I usually buy. There are many others of course, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, etc. And of course some frozen convenience food and cleaning products and contact solution, toothpaste, mouthwash... so it really does add up. I've actually slimmed it down from $1600 a month a few months ago, so I think that's pretty good!

I just live in a really expensive area, I think... we are affording the food fine, but it sure would be great if the food prices went down! The same groceries used to cost me only $150 a year and a half ago...
post #109 of 117
There was a great article in the current issue of Mother Earth News...

Cut Your Food Bills in Half

Lots of basic information, but I thought it was a good read.
post #110 of 117
I just visited this forum for the first time today (or was it last night?). This is a great thread!

I kept running out of my 150 a week budget, so I decided to keep all my grocery/take out receipts for a month, and make a note of how much I'd spent when I didn't get a receipt. For myself, DH, and our mostly-breastfed toddler, I spent close to 600 euro over the course of a month. Maybe we can cut back, but I'm not sure it would be worth it. I like nice food, and organic groceries are quite expensive.

This thread has inspired me to make a list of meals I could make regularly, and there are an awful lot of them, probably too many! I also really like to explore new foods and cook different things, so we have a larger than average (especially for Ireland!) array of spices and sauces. I should simplify. I will really need to when I get an out-of-house job!
post #111 of 117
Great post and wonderful suggestions!!! We're in the same boat. By the way, OP, I can completely relate to buying mostly organic groceries and then going to Dunkin Donuts. I could have written your post. I was absolutely shocked to see that DH and I spent 500 last month dining out (work lunches, coffee, and three dinners out). We're only bringing lunches to work now, drinking coffee provided at work, and not going out for dinner or doing take-out at all. We're doing easy make-ahead meals in large batches so we have lots of leftovers for our lunches.
post #112 of 117
I just wanted to add that if you buy alot of avocados and they are on the verge of going bad, that you can blend them up and freeze them for guacamole later.

Also the Whole Foods coupon books... I have used the coupons in several other non WF stores... never had anyone say no.

Sorry I forgot to multi-quote the OP's on those two subjects.

Oooooh and don't forget the "Trash Bucket" -aka- "Soup Container". Keep a container in the freezer for all the little scraps of food that are too small for a serving and when the bag/bucket/container gets full... make soup from it! :

How has March been going for you?
post #113 of 117
We have three young children who are home with me all day, and due to special diets, I have to cook practically all our meals from scratch. I don't do a lot of "freezer meals" (though I'll freeze leftovers if we happen to have a lot of them), and can't seem to get into the habit of planning a week's meals in advance, but I've figured out an overall plan that seems to work okay. My #1 tip: Since my energy and patience are pretty much spent by late afternoon, I've found that things go MUCH more smoothly when we make breakfast and lunch our main meals. Some people believe that it's healthier to eat this way -- having a heavier lunch, and a lighter dinner -- but in our family's case, it's definitely more convenient as well.

Breakfast is usually eggs, fruit, and plain yogurt or cottage cheese. For a change, sometimes I'll make oatmeal, or savory waffles or muffins (reduce the sweetener to practically nothing, and add diced fresh or dried onion, grated cheese, etc. to the batter). On the weekend, we'll have the same type of thing, with extra treats such as sausage or bacon.

Lunch is the sort of thing most people have for dinner. Depending on how far in advance I'm preparing it, it could be any of the following:

Crock pot: Pot roast, chicken soup, Irish stew
Oven: Meatballs, baked fish & oven fries, baked chicken thighs, meatloaf, salmon loaf, tuna casserole, homemade mac & cheese
Stove top: hamburgers, salmon burgers, pork chops, lamb shoulder chops, beef stew, clam chowder, stir-fry, split pea soup with sausage

If the meat or fish is frozen, I don't thaw it before cooking (unless the packaging is sticking, or I need to make meatballs or something). I just add some extra time, and keep checking until it's done; it always seems to come out tasting fine. To repeat what others have said, our "side dishes," if any, are just plain vegetables and grains, and they're cooked in an electric steamer or a rice cooker. The timer and auto-off features are wonderful features for those of us who tend to get distracted.

Dinner is served early, around 5:00, and it's pretty much an afterthought. I just serve up any odds and ends that are left over from lunch and breakfast, along with some sort of quick and easy child-friendly food, e.g.:

- Oatmeal, if we didn't have it for breakfast
- Baked potato (or sweet potato) topped with ham/tuna/etc.
- Cheese on toast; tuna or salmon melts; quesadillas
- PB & J
- English muffin pizzas: ketchup, sliced veg & meat, cheese
- Bread with homemade liver pate
- Baked beans & sliced nitrate-free hot dogs
- Homemade cream of vegetable soup: carrot, squash, potato, etc.
- Black bean soup: homemade stock, canned beans, sour cream
- Pasta with frozen peas, cheese, & a little cream
- Trader Joe's refrigerated pre-cooked lentils, frozen rice, & plain yogurt

Before the children went gluten-free, they sometimes had Amy's frozen burritos, which are pretty cheap at Costco -- even cheaper if they split one.

If that doesn't look like enough food, I'll add some of the following: milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, fresh fruit, dried fruit, canned fruit, vegetable sticks, guacamole, whole grain crackers. Basically, I just keep shoving food at the little munchkins until they're full. This can take a surprisingly long time, especially if they're extra hungry from playing outside (or from having turned up their noses at lunch ). My 3 yo DS, in particular, is like a gannet. "I'm stiw hung-a-wee!!!"

After the children are in bed, DH and I will often have a grown-up treat such as some special cheese and sliced fruit, and possibly a relaxing beverage, LOL.
post #114 of 117
Originally Posted by lovebeingamomma View Post
on food alone just in February! I've never kept track of it but this year I decided to and it's just insane...so a quick breakdown...

To the OP... it's been two months since you started the thread... how is it going?
post #115 of 117
Great thread :
post #116 of 117
I have enjoyed reading all the suggestions in this thread. I wanted to make a comment about the price of eating out. It may not seem like a lot now, when you kids are little because they eat off your plate. Once you have to buy 4 meals plus drinks it all adds up. I hate eating at places like Cracker Barrel because the food isn't that great (IMO) and by the time we are out the door, the check is more than I am willing to pay for that food.

If you can stick to these ideas for making healthy & delicious food at home, you will make it a habit instead of paying more to eat out as the kids get older.

It is hard to post a budget and take the advice. Kudos to you for being open minded to other people's ideas.
post #117 of 117
Good thread.
We spend way more than the OP on food a month, of course, we have 6 kids who eat at home every day and a 7th who comes by for dinner fairly often. And we have friends, and their kids, over for dinner, and the kids have friends over for dinner etc.
And, we eat completely organic, and fair trade when it's available.
We even get organic vegetables, fruit, eggs and a few things like that delivered on our door every week. Organic food subscription is brilliant.
When we eat out (not often, but a few times a month) we eat at places with high quality, healthy, good, and sometimes organic, food.
So that adds to the budget, but hey, we wanna keep it like that.
But we can improve some things.
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