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I am SO OVER grocery prices. Also coupons SUCK. How are YOU saving money?

post #1 of 96
Thread Starter 
I am just so irked today with my food bill. I can't seem to trim it at all any more. Prices rise faster than I can cut.

I'm doing 1/2 my shopping at Walmart now. I hate Walmart. I hate everything they stand for, but spaghetti sauce is $1.50 there, cheaper if I can find a coupon. Almost everything I buy there is $1 to $3 cheaper than the grocery store.

I hate my grocery store too. They have crappy meat, mediocre produce and prices keep going up. Their major competitor went out of business so, aside from Aldis type bargain stores, there's no competition. For groceries we seem to be a high COL area due to this dynamic.

Coupons suck. I had a $5 off on cheese and it only scanned for $2 off at Walmart. Others had the same experience so it's not just me. Tried to notify the company via email and they don't have an email contact for customers.

I'm just so frustrated. We watch portions to reduce cost, I scrounge for coupons (almost $15 worth this week), I shop for 2 weeks at a time to prevent financial attrition, buy cheap cuts of meat, buy manager mark down stuff when I can find it and can't seem to spend less than $150 a week for 3 people--one of whom is a toddler who doesn't eat that much.

Oh I cook from scratch. Make muffins for breakfast, all that good stuff. Cooking is expensive! Honestly, it would be cheaper to buy processed crap.

I do buy organic milk and yogurt (also find coupons for them too) and organic produce if it looks good and this is non-negotiable. I am also on a low carb diet which means protein, protein, protein and I have a medical condition that makes this not optional.

We are about to add another mouth to feed as MIL moves in for a long visit. (Although I hear she'll buy groceries once a month for us, which is the most effective grocery savings plan I've seen all year--too bad MIL is seriously mentally ill or I would let her stay here forever).

Anyway, am I alone here? What is working for you? Please share.

V
post #2 of 96
I look forward to reading what others do as well, because I'm nearing the end of our tether regarding groceries. I don't know what else to cut out anymore either. I'm a vegetarian and DH only gets a small amount (like one package of hot dogs or a pound of cheap burger) to last each week. DD is veg as well. We stopped buying organic months ago. The only things left to compromise on are non-organic but hormone-free milk and free-range (store brand) eggs. I buy all our groceries from Aldi, Walmart, Target and the Dollar Tree. I can't ever find a coupon good enough to make brand names foods affordable. I bake from scratch, use dried goods rather than pre-prepared, pack DH's lunches with leftovers, save the milk for cooking and DD, hardly ever buy treats (like a chocolate bar or something), drink only water, homemade iced tea and coffee and STILL we run out of food before the next check comes in.

We are well above qualifying for help of any kind and yet we still struggle. With grocery prices going up, I can't imagine how people with less than we have are getting by. To make matters worse, DH is losing his job of nine years next week due to company-wide cutbacks. Honestly, lately I don't even have the words....
post #3 of 96
I know it varies depending on your local grocery stores, but I find that shopping the loss leaders at the grocery store (the stuff on sale in the weekly flyer) results in better savings than shopping at Walmart etc. By stocking up when things are on sale, I hardly ever pay full price. I've also found that coupons aren't very helpful for the types of foods I buy (mostly non-processed or generics). I use them if I can, but I don't go out of my way to coupon.
post #4 of 96
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmer'sWife View Post
I know it varies depending on your local grocery stores, but I find that shopping the loss leaders at the grocery store (the stuff on sale in the weekly flyer) results in better savings than shopping at Walmart etc. By stocking up when things are on sale, I hardly ever pay full price. I've also found that coupons aren't very helpful for the types of foods I buy (mostly non-processed or generics). I use them if I can, but I don't go out of my way to coupon.
RE: Coupons I have had good luck googling brands on line. The organic milk brands are pretty good about having coupons on a fairly regular basis.

I do stock up, but I buy primarily produce, meat, and dairy. We have a freezer and I do take advantage of BOGO meats (but they've only been selling roasts the last 3 weeks BOGO and we don't eat roasts much).

V
post #5 of 96
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama2Bug View Post
I look forward to reading what others do as well, because I'm nearing the end of our tether regarding groceries. I don't know what else to cut out anymore either. I'm a vegetarian and DH only gets a small amount (like one package of hot dogs or a pound of cheap burger) to last each week. DD is veg as well. We stopped buying organic months ago. The only things left to compromise on are non-organic but hormone-free milk and free-range (store brand) eggs. I buy all our groceries from Aldi, Walmart, Target and the Dollar Tree. I can't ever find a coupon good enough to make brand names foods affordable. I bake from scratch, use dried goods rather than pre-prepared, pack DH's lunches with leftovers, save the milk for cooking and DD, hardly ever buy treats (like a chocolate bar or something), drink only water, homemade iced tea and coffee and STILL we run out of food before the next check comes in.

We are well above qualifying for help of any kind and yet we still struggle. With grocery prices going up, I can't imagine how people with less than we have are getting by. To make matters worse, DH is losing his job of nine years next week due to company-wide cutbacks. Honestly, lately I don't even have the words....
Look into Angel Food Ministries and don't hesitate to go to food banks once your DH is officially unemployed.

V
post #6 of 96
I think it is a myth that Wally World is cheap, because mine isn't!! Everything is comparable to Target.

And my grocery store (Publix) is ridiculous....you might as well be shopping at Whole Paycheck!
post #7 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
RE: Coupons I have had good luck googling brands on line. The organic milk brands are pretty good about having coupons on a fairly regular basis.

I do stock up, but I buy primarily produce, meat, and dairy. We have a freezer and I do take advantage of BOGO meats (but they've only been selling roasts the last 3 weeks BOGO and we don't eat roasts much).

V
If you have a food processor you can chop up roasts to use like hamburger meat to use in chili, spaghetti sauce, etc. You can also make stew beef or kabobs by cutting roasts in cubes and cut into shreds for stir fry.
post #8 of 96
OP, what is your food budget.

I've found that for the summer, shopping the farmers market every weekend for vegetables has made a significant difference in our grocery bill. Of course that means we have to stay away from the fish stand, and specialty foods to actually save.
post #9 of 96
Thread Starter 
I would love to cut our bill by another $100 so $200 for 2 weeks of groceries. I don't think it is possible though.

Our farmer's markets are expensive ime. I do try to support them when I can, but not finding it to save us money.

I do pick lots of my own produce and save it--that seems to be a savings over farmers markets.

I am planning to grow lettuce on my kitchen counter and maybe peppers too.

I should look into how I can process things like roasts on my own as well.

V
post #10 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
(Although I hear she'll buy groceries once a month for us, which is the most effective grocery savings plan I've seen all year--too bad MIL is seriously mentally ill or I would let her stay here forever).

V
I couldn't read this without thanking you for the smile. No brilliant suggestions here, other than I find that shopping at BJs, and combining manuf. coupons with the BJs coupons (which they allow you to do) really does get the prices down.
post #11 of 96
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to add...

Do you know how much butter is????!!!!

$1.88 at the cheapest.

That's Walmart's price and I thought, whoa that's expensive, when I saw it

Well guess how much the off off brand is at the grocery store?

$2.48.

I remember when butter was $1.10 and then 99 cents on sale!!!

V
post #12 of 96
Ha! The walmart brand of butter was $2.68/lb. today! It was $2/lb. a couple months ago. The price of milk AND half-and-half both went down a good bit, as did the price on my favorite cheese, so I was shocked when I saw that.
post #13 of 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
Our farmer's markets are expensive ime. I do try to support them when I can, but not finding it to save us money.


I should look into how I can process things like roasts on my own as well.

V
Yeah, our farmers markets are way more expensive than the grocery store. Nice stuff, but I can't afford it. We do split a CSA share with a friend though, and that is a good deal for fresh, pesticide-free veggies.

Processing the roasts is simple. If you have a processor and want to make ground meat, trim the roast and cut in cubes, and process in small batches with the steel blade.

You just need a decent sharp knife and cutting board to cube the roasts or cut into shreds. It's very easy.
post #14 of 96
Coupons-the key with coupons is to use them the right way. You won't save with them if you are only using them to buy one or two of the item, the week you need to use the item. You get the best deals when you have multiple copies of the same coupon (and the best way to get this is by either scouring recycle bins, and also checking with newspaper vendors the day AFTER the inserts go out and asking if you can pick through what's leftover. Also, internet printables and such from places like coupons.com, smartsource.com, etc.) and stock up on the stuff when it's on sale at it's lowest price. By matching the coupons with the sales prices and buying multiples at the lowest possible price, you can have a great stockpile of stuff that you paid very little for.

Loyalty programs at places like CVS and such are great too. With CVS you get Extra Care Bucks, which are basically like cash to spend at that store.

Another key to coupons is to "stack" them. Store coupons can be used along with manufacturer coupons. So, for example, with CVS again, if you have a CVS extra buck for $5, you can use that with a manufacturer coupon for what you are buying to get more off.

Some places to check out-
couponmom.com
grocerygame.com (you have to pay for this one, but the system is easier and less time consuming, from what I understand.)
savingaddiction.com
couponkatrina.com



Some examples of great deals I have gotten this way:

In June, Pampers put out $2 off any pampers wipes. I managed to snag a TON of these coupons by trading for them with other coupons that I had and wasn't using. Walmart had individual tubs of pampers wipes on sale for $1.99 the last week of June. I now have 6 months worth of wipes stockpiled in my changing table, that I only paid sales tax on.

A month or so ago, Barilla had a great coupon for their whole grain pasta, I think it was $1 off 2 orr something like that. It was a coupon to print off from the internet. Meijer ran a sale around the same time on the Barilla pasta and by combining the coupon with the sale, I paid $0.14 a box for whole grain pasta, I bought like 20 boxes. It's better to get 20 boxes at that price than to only get the one or two I would use that particular week, then two weeks later when I need pasta again, paying full price. I do have the room to store them though.

Ortega had a coupon out recently for $1 off ANY 2 Ortega products. Meijer ran a sale on Ortega which included the individual packets of taco seasoning. The sale price was $0.49 each-free taco seasonings. I had 4 coupons, so I got 8 packets, and we only make tacos like once a month.


Deals for organics and fresh produce are harder to find, but they can be had, particularly through store coupons. Places like Kroger, Publix, Albertsons, they often have store coupons that you can load onto your loyalty card (e-coupons) and those are where you are most likely to get coupons that apply towards fresh produce, organics and such. And often those e coupons can be used with regular coupons too.

Deals for toiletries and paper products are where you can really save, because those are easy to find at places like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and such, and that's where it's easiest to get the store coupons/extra bucks/register rewards and such. So for example, if a Venus razor is on sale at CVS for $12.00 and you get $3 ECB back when you buy it...You can use a $3 off a Venus Razor coupon, plus if you have $9 extra bucks already...you pay $0 out of pocket, get another $3 ECB to use another time, and you have a free razor.
post #15 of 96
I shop Costco for most of our bulk items and meats, Publix for loss leaders and produce and Big Lots for pantry items. We budget $500/month for a family of 4 plus 1 dog. Our children take lunch and snacks to school so there are a few convenience items in that budget. Both H and I take lunch to work which might be either leftovers or sandwiches. I am a diabetic so we tend to eat more whole foods like fish, poultry and fresh veggies. I found that by doing one big shop per month and making short runs for milk/veggies saves me more than doing a weekly shop. I rarely use coupons and we meal-plan. We tend to cook simple meals and eat what is in season or buy frozen veggies.
post #16 of 96
Another thing I forgot to mention is, if possible, buy a half or quarter of beef from a farmer or straight from a butcher. Lots of farmers advertise such things on Craigslist. It's more money up front, but generally cheaper in the long run.
post #17 of 96
It's funny, I just did a survey on food brands and I hadn't bought packaged "groceries" in so long that I didn't even have the ability to lie. We spend anywhere between $300 and $350 (a couple of times a year its $400 but then there are always at least two months when it is less than $200) per month for the three of us. This is mostly free range/organic/raw. $350 is probably the monthly average, though when DH is out of work (at least one or two months each year) I spend around $100/month and we eat out of the pantry. If we didn't eat organics and bought flour rather than grinding my own grain I could spend a lot less.

I never buy premade except canned tomatoes because I haven't found tomatoes that would be cheaper for me to can. I make kefir, yogurt, bake bread, make pasta, pizza dough, kombucha, salt my own lox, etc. We don't buy deli meats or cheeses.

Once a year I order all our grains, legumes, salt and sugar in bulk. I spend about $400 and that comes out to about $33/month. I do buy our spelt weekly though.

I take advantage of Amazon.com's subsribe and save whenever I can. This month it will be coconut oil. Which, btw, we use only as a supplement, not to cook with. I add it to DH's smoothies and eat a tablespoon two or three times a day before meals. I also use it and Coconut Cream Concentrate to make the only desert/tea snack that we ever have regularly: coconut bark.

We eat offal. Our butcher always saves it for us. When he butchers a pig, he always asks if I want the bones, organ meats, and legs. He'll sell it all to me for like $10 and it lasts us for at least 2 months. We'll eat liver once a week. I get chicken feet for free and I make broth out of that. Beef bones are more expensive, so I don't usually buy those. Meat from soup bones and organ meats are a major source of protein for us.

I try to cook one chicken a week for Sunday dinner. I will make that the dinner with three or four courses and make sure there are plenty of sides. DH gets the biggest portion and Ladybug and I will share a thigh/drumstick. That's it, there are seconds on everything else, but not the chicken. I then save the chicken meat for sandwiches, chicken fried rice and if there's any left for soup. I then put the bones in the stock pot with the chicken legs and make broth. Oh and I get a small chicken, around 3 pounds, always less than 4. This way, I can say that we have a $50 chicken budget for the month and get 1 chicken a week. Sundays are the only day that we have meat with sides. Other meals are always casseroles, soups or stews.

If we're not having chicken, I will make another roast and stretch the meat in the same way. Or I'll process the roast myself for stew meat and freeze portions. A three pound roast lasts us for three meals at least.

We eat beans and rice two or three times a week. One time with meat one time without. This means one night can be chili. Or, I'll make the beans with a hamhock and dice up the meat back into the beans. The next night I'll make a vegetarian beans and rice with a can of coconut milk. I vary the beans and the spices to make the meals different enough that it's not too much of a repeat. Oh and with the chili, I use a ratio of .5 lb ground beef for the equivalent of almost 3 cans of beans. Or I'll make beans and polenta. Or I make pilafs with other grains.

I cook with pastured lard. That means that every meal has some animal protein and we get our Vitamin D. It's cheaper than butter or olive oil and much healthier than other veggie oils.

We have a half share CSA. I get organic dirty dozen or if it's on the dirty dozen and just too expense we do without. This week organic grapes were on sale at WF and I got a package for the first time this year. Ditto strawberries. I do get frozen strawberries to put into DH's smoothies that are non-organic, but that's the only breakfast he'll have when he leaves the house before 7, which is 4 days a week. Other stuff is all conventional unless its cheaper or same price to get organic (which does happen).

We'll have a soup and grilled cheese night at least once a week, usually twice. The soup will usually have lentils or beans and sometimes meat or eggs (egg drop soup with spinach, yum!) in it and will last us for supper and at least one lunch.

Once a week we'll have pasta. It's a lovely way to make a single veggie (like a couple of zucchini) or can of salmon make an entire meal for all three of us. It's also an excellent way to have more gourmet items on the cheap: mushrooms, Italian cheese, cream, etc.

I try to make a stew of some sort once every couple of weeks. I am blessed to be able to get lamb stew meat for only slightly more than beef.

If only we had a garden...

Oh yeah, I ration everything. When I was growing up, my best friend's father was a highly paid professional. One time after dinner at her house she told me that her mother counted the number (not weight!) of green beans and knew exactly how many to give to each family member. I thought that was ridiculous because my parents were a lot less well off and they never did that. Now I do the same thing: I give exactly one slice of cheese on a piece of bread with a generous pat of butter for a snack. If she's still hungry, I'll give her a cup of broth or kefir. I'll make enough of one meal and plan to have leftovers, etc. We love good cheese around here and I will put out a small bowl to sprinkle on pasta, but once its gone I don't grate anymore. We get one gallon of raw milk a week and one gallon non-organic, non-homogenized, hormone-free but pasturized. I use the raw for making kefir and the latter for yogurt and DH's coffee.

We don't have a lot of green salads or things like avocados. We seldom have fresh fruit or desert. I wish we could afford more meat.

Oh and I just started the GAPS diet which is grain free and high protein. I eat a lot of eggs. I've found that drinking full fat meat broth really helps. I also don't use substitutes like gluten free flour, except for treats, I just do without.

It's definitely a lot of work and fairly difficult. If I were working full time I wouldn't be able to do it. As it is, even working part time makes me wish that I could afford easier meals or a housekeeper because I find myself constantly in the kitchen either cooking or cleaning up as the rest of our home deteriorates (esp when I'm sick). But, the effort is worth it, to me. It took me a long time to get here, too. There was a steep learning curve and lots of take out for the first year and a half of our marriage. Then things started getting better.
post #18 of 96
Here is what I have been doing that seems to be working pretty well.

I usually shop 3 grocery stores + 2 drugstores. I don't hit all of them every week and just shop for loss leaders.

This week I was able to get Hunts Spaghetti Sauce for .79 per can and bought the limit (10 cans). You could also go twice and really stock up.

Today at Safeway I was able to get the following using Q's, a raincheck, & ecoupons:

1 Welch's Healthy Start Juice
2 snack pack cookies (raincheck)
1 bag Mission tortilla chips
6 yoplait yogurt
6 pack 7-up bottles
6 pack bakery cheddar rolls

OOP =$8.xx

Safeway has ecoupons on there website and you can visit cellfire as well for Q's that automatically come off.

thekrazycouponlady does a great job of lining up sales/Q's/deals to make it super easy. Plus she has a coding system to let you know when it is a stock up price.

There are some things I stock up at rock bottom prices and load the freezer:

butter
shredded cheese
meat
seasonal fruits (berries, peaches, etc....) I was able to get organic peaches this week for .98 per #. Bought 10#'s and cut up and froze. thinking about going back for more These work great for smoothies, fruit crips, or just snacking.
post #19 of 96
If you are eating low carb and organic, I can see why the bill is so much.

What cuts our bill down is to only buy sale meat under a certain $ per lb. For chicken quarters, anything 77cents/lb or less is buy a ton price point. Pork is 1.49/lb, beef is 1.99/lb.
As such, we eat a lot more chicken and pork than we do beef.

Eggs. Cheapest I've found is the 5 dozen box at Costco. Eggs can last a whole month, and if you make things like fritattas and quiches, you can use up a whole lot of eggs fast.

For produce, I shop the weekly loss leaders. There are also ethnic stores nearby--their prices for produce are a LOT less than at the 'regular' stores. If you don't have any near you, check out the frozen veggies section. A lot of times, it's cheaper there. At costco, for example, their normandy blend (cauliflower, broccoli and carrot) is 99c/lb. Lower carb, healthy veggies.

Roasts aren't only meant to be roasted. They can be stewed or even grilled, if sliced thinner.

What are you usual meals?

Ami
post #20 of 96
I am not awesome at watching the grocery budget. I find that anything I do beyond the basics - meal planning, at-home cooking, less meat, cheap cuts, sales, flyer-watching etc. does not make a difference, or costs a lot in time.

When I do stay on track, it's because I'm doing the math in my head as I shop, weighing all my produce so I can estimate. Then I can really figure out whether I can afford X or Y.
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