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Tell me about your grocery budget! - Page 2

post #21 of 35

That reminds me of a piece of advice I hear every so often -- "shop the perimeter."  (There's an MDC mama on here who has it in her siggy; it's fabulous!)  The freshest, least processed stuff in a grocery store is always along the store's perimeter.  It's usually less expensive for the actual food value you get, too.  If you do the perimeter first, then just hit the aisles for the things on your list, you'll find yourself buying far fewer "treats."  I am an awful impulse shopper, so I've had to develop some serious strategies for avoiding it.  I have learned to skip certain aisles altogether because they're too tempting (cereals, snacks, candy, frozen foods).  If I need something in one of those sections, I go straight to where I know they keep it, then avoid looking at anything else!  (Or I send DH in after it as he is mostly resistant to impulse shopping!) 

 

Incidentally, on grocery budgets in general -- I read another piece of advice yesterday -- to buy nonperishables once a month, then buy perishables only as you need them.  I haven't tried this strategy, but it might work.

post #22 of 35
Well, it's late in the summer for this idea, but I would recommend buying produce from the farmer and freezing/preserving. For example, we bought organic blueberries from a farm up north in July. We paid $2.40/lb and bought 40 lbs. This may not be realistic if your monthly budget is too tight. In that case, frozen fruits & veggies are generally cheaper than off-season fresh produce.

I'm going vegan, but my husband & daughter are omni. So, we buy our raw milk from a farmer. In our state (Indiana), selling raw milk is illegal, so we participate in a cow share program. Since we own the cow, we can consume the milk however we want. wink1.gif It's cheaper than the hormone-free milk at the grocery. And we know the cows are happy. smile.gif We don't make cheese, so we just buy it at the farmer's market (cheaper than grocery).

I know that buying organic at a big chain store is pricey, but the VT chapter of NOFA just released a study showing that most items are cheaper at the farmer's market than at the grocery.

Also, if you're politically active at all (or just care about this topic), you can write your congress person and ask them to update the farm bill to include all fruit and veggie subsidies, especially for small farms & to remove subsidies that primarily benefit giant corporations.

Hope that helps!
post #23 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gator-mom View Post






This is totally my ideal for my shopping strategy, however I have a DH who is constantly telling me, "There's nothing to eat and I'm starving!" even though there's ALWAYS food in our house.  It's just not not the food he WANTS.  I also have not been able to get him to give up on his juice habit, and as a necessity of money savings, I've had to start buying drink mixes for him so he doesn't drink all of the little juice we have and/or go to the store on his own and spend more on it!  Anyone have any advice for a picky husband problem preventing their budget from working?!!

 

We should really only be spending about $80 a week on food but always spend at least $100.  So we either end up spending more than we should or we end up eating really boring/bland food at the end of the month since we have already expended our budget!

 

LOL--I'm in the same situation. We can have a fridge full of food but if it's not prepackaged or prepared, my husband will complain that there's nothing to eat. He also has quite the sweet tooth so we spend a lot more on juice, cookies, candy etc. than I normally would (although I do consume my fair share of ice cream.) I've mostly given up trying to convince my hubby that we don't need the sweet treats. Our budget is higher than I would like, but I see it as a compromise. We also don't eat meat and we only go out to eat once or twice a month, so I rationalize that we spend less than most families--although after reading this thread, I realize we could do a lot better!

 

post #24 of 35

My DH is the same way!!!!  I've solved it by making large batches of things he likes from scratch and having them on-hand for him to eat at a moment's notice: things that are moderately "junky" like mac & cheese, cookies, etc.  Cold salads are good too -- like pasta salad, cous cous salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, etc.  They store well and he can pull 'em out for a snack without working too hard at it.  :)  You could also try making salty snacky food from scratch, like potato chips or french fries -- pretty easy if you don't mind deep-frying.  I have a friend who dehydrates cooked black beans and sprinkles them with chili powder, salt and nutritional yeast for a snack food.  I find that he does pretty well with raw nuts and dried fruit for snacking, too, though those can be pretty pricey. 

 

I've learned my lesson about not having *any* of those things around.  If we don't have anything for him to snack on when a 'snack attack' hits, he just walks over to the corner store and comes back with beer, barbeque potato chips and ice cream sandwiches. irked.gif  Better to have some healthier, cheaper options available! 

 

I suppose I shouldn't complain.  Before he married me, the man lived on Taco Bell. 

post #25 of 35
Thread Starter 

I keep a list of meals we've shopped for or have the supplies for on the fridge.  That way, when someone (*cough cough DH cough*) complains that there's nothing to eat, I can say "Huh.  Why don't you go see what's on the list?"

 

We make just about everything ourselves: granola, hummus, tzatziki, bread, crackers, baked goods, stock, salsa/jam/pesto/etc.  Our real issues seem to be with produce and cheese...but now that it's August, we have plenty of tomatoes and spices from our garden, and that's helping quite a bit.  For some reason our bell peppers never really took off, though :(

 

One of my favorite tricks is tagine!  It's basically a slow-cooker, but the neolithic version.  It's a terra cotta cooking pot and cone-shaped cover designed for either direct-heat (stovetop, fire) or indirect-heat (oven, earth baking) use.  You layer whatever you have in your kitchen in it: a dry grain (we like barley), root vegetables, other vegetables, a few tomatoes on top, whatever spices you feel like adding, a tiny bit of oil and about a cup of stock.  Then you just leave it to simmer on low heat for about an hour.  The shape of the pot preserves the liquid and makes it go a long way as steam for the vegetables and cooking water for the grains, but since it's handmade and therefore not quite perfect, it can vent pressure through the gap between the pieces..  And, since terra cotta is porous, over time you don't have to use as many spices or as much oil because the pot retains flavors and fats.  I like to have tagine once a week, usually at the end of the week, because it's a great way to make tiny leftover amounts of whatever produce we have really delicious with a minimum of fuss.

 

Our other big saver is stock.  We keep all the trimmings of our vegetables in baggies in the freezer.  Once we have a full baggie of mirepoix-type vegetables (celery, onion, garlic, carrot, pepper) and a full baggie of whatever else, we can make stock with zero additional cost.  I heat a tiny amount of oil in a stockpot, toss in the mirepoix, sweat until translucent, then add the other baggie of veggie trimmings and 5 cups water and simmer for almost 2 hours.  I strain out the vegetables with cheesecloth, and store the liquid stock in the fridge to be used as needed.

post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comtessa View Post

My DH is the same way!!!!  I've solved it by making large batches of things he likes from scratch and having them on-hand for him to eat at a moment's notice: things that are moderately "junky" like mac & cheese, cookies, etc.  Cold salads are good too -- like pasta salad, cous cous salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, etc.  They store well and he can pull 'em out for a snack without working too hard at it.  :)  You could also try making salty snacky food from scratch, like potato chips or french fries -- pretty easy if you don't mind deep-frying.  I have a friend who dehydrates cooked black beans and sprinkles them with chili powder, salt and nutritional yeast for a snack food.  I find that he does pretty well with raw nuts and dried fruit for snacking, too, though those can be pretty pricey. 

 

I've learned my lesson about not having *any* of those things around.  If we don't have anything for him to snack on when a 'snack attack' hits, he just walks over to the corner store and comes back with beer, barbeque potato chips and ice cream sandwiches. irked.gif  Better to have some healthier, cheaper options available! 

 

I suppose I shouldn't complain.  Before he married me, the man lived on Taco Bell. 


I have done this occasionally and it works pretty good, other than if I have home made cookies in the freezer the go QUICK!  I have another added complication in my life which is that I'm a nursing student and I work part time, so when schools in full swing, I have a hard time finding time to do all this prep work.  What I have done in the past is to just to buy the junky food and tell myself  'if he wants to eat crap, it's his body and his choice'.  Sometimes it's easier to buy the junky food on sale and have it around then to have to worry about it and get stressed when he complains there is nothing to eat!  I feel like I'm exactly in the same boat as you, gitanamama in that I usually feel it's a battle I don't want to fight. I just started using my dehydrator though, and he has really like the dehydrated tofu 'jerky' and seitan 'jerky'  so when I have a bit of time and ingredients again, I'll make some big batches and keep them in stock for those munchies!  I think I'll try those black beans too..they sound yummy!

 

I am happy that I just discovered a really nice discount grocery store which sells a lot of the healthier go-to foods for much cheaper than I had been paying previously. 

 

post #27 of 35


Are you able to post recipes of your tofu and seitan jerky? They sound awesome and I'd love to use my food dehydrator. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gator-mom View Post




I have done this occasionally and it works pretty good, other than if I have home made cookies in the freezer the go QUICK!  I have another added complication in my life which is that I'm a nursing student and I work part time, so when schools in full swing, I have a hard time finding time to do all this prep work.  What I have done in the past is to just to buy the junky food and tell myself  'if he wants to eat crap, it's his body and his choice'.  Sometimes it's easier to buy the junky food on sale and have it around then to have to worry about it and get stressed when he complains there is nothing to eat!  I feel like I'm exactly in the same boat as you, gitanamama in that I usually feel it's a battle I don't want to fight. I just started using my dehydrator though, and he has really like the dehydrated tofu 'jerky' and seitan 'jerky'  so when I have a bit of time and ingredients again, I'll make some big batches and keep them in stock for those munchies!  I think I'll try those black beans too..they sound yummy!

 

I am happy that I just discovered a really nice discount grocery store which sells a lot of the healthier go-to foods for much cheaper than I had been paying previously. 

 



 

post #28 of 35

I don't have a lot of time right now to keep the fridge stocked but I did make a big batch of potato salad, pasta salad (thanks for the suggestion Comtessa!) and whole wheat muffins. My hubby was definitely a junk food man before we met so I'm proud that he's come as far as he has but I still wish he'd do a little more of the cooking. That being said, the last time he made soup, he added romaine lettuce to it......

post #29 of 35

Good job to all the mamas who have cut back their bill, and good luck to all those who are trying! I just went through my grocery purchases for the last few months using my online banking and realized I spend about 450/ month. It's 2 adults and dd (4.5yo). We buy some organic foods, but mostly not. I have just decided to go GF and soy-free for a while, so that might encourage the meal planning. I want to cut back a bit, even 50.00 would help. My goal is to make a meal plan, and start making homemade hummus, bread, dips, etc. Wish me luck!

post #30 of 35

I love all your advice.  I'm new to this site, wound up on here by accident and there is just so much great stuff that I joined!  I will be having my first child in May 2012 and I will be a stay at home mother and house wife for the first time.  I would love more of your advice!  I've been doing tons of listening and asking other women and I have a blog: mrskitchentableadvice.weebly.com were I talk about budgeting and so on, but I have no clue how to meal plan and what is this Mothers Maker?  Please, please share all!  Even your house cleaning organizing tips.  Are you a stay at home mom?  Do you get lonely or bored?  I can't wait!

post #31 of 35

Well. My life has changed a lot. I use to be a Vegetarian that ate no milk (Cream Allergy & Milk Intolerance) eating on a budget of 50.00 dollars a week. Ate no meat because it makes me sick. Most of my budget spent on vegetables. I dislike fruit.. too sweet. Except fruit shakes. :) Now I am not on Vegetarian Status because I have found out if I have one or two meals with meat in them I won't feel sick.  Although I really don't mind not having ANY meat whatsoever in my diet... Anyways. My bf eats a meat diet but has not eaten so much since I've lived with him. The occasional chicken meal. Our budget is a whopping $130. But we have three adorable bunnies and a puppy to feed as well each week. 30$ is spend on bfs lunches since he work 14 hours a day 4 times a week. Veggie Noodles, Miso Soup, Rice, and Frozen Veggies are our main staples that I have in the house. Dinners are mainly these: We switch them from time to time so it doesn't get boring. Spagetti night - we make any type of Pasta we want & throw veggies & pasta sauce together. If you have a plan. When you shop its easier to lower your budget.

Our Plan for this weeks groceries:
DINner menu:

Monday - Perogies / Sandwhiches / SOUP

Tuesday - Spagetti Night :) Italian dinner night. & Steamed veggies
Wednesday - Chicken Meal / Tofu night. & Salad

Thursday - Sushi night / Japanese food night.
Friday - Perogies / Sandwhiches / SOUP
 

Johns lunches/ breakfast: 10 peeled boiled eggs, 4 brisk drinks, 4  lasagna/spagetti microwaveable dinners, 8 Yogurts, 4 chew bars.
(EXPENSIVE) - this is throughout 4 days though :)

Angels Lunches: 2 Noodle packs, Puffed Tofu, 2 bagels, 2 tblsp of PB, 6 eggs, Peppermint Tea, veggies, 4 Coke zero's

(Verry cheap) :) - 4 days

 

post #32 of 35

We eat mostly vegetarian at home. We spent $400 for 2 adults and a 2,3 and 4 yr old. Plus we use about $150/mo in WIC benefits, so that would be about $550/month. We can afford hardly anything organic, but we are in expensive Southern California. When I was buying organic we spent that on just DH and I. I also found I spent more on my vegan stint than lacto-ovo vegetarian, as lots of  nuts, etc are more expensive than even organic dairy. Not making an argument for or against, just doing a cost comparison here.

 

I use to think that was a lot, but even food stamps in CA would give a family our size around $700. The USDA "Thriftiest" eating budget is just under $700 for a family our size. And that is averaged across the US, combining high cost of living areas like CA and NY with low cost of living areas like the mid west. I told DH I can't imagine what people eat to eat that much money, since we spent less than that even eating TF.

So all that to say, I guess our food budget is fine. I go back and forth wishing I could afford a lot of organic and esoteric ingredients but the average working family just cannot afford it any more.

post #33 of 35

SundayCrepes, you might want to try the following recipe for Lara bars if you can locate a good source of almonds and dates. We have ethnic stores nearby that carry them much more cheaply than other grocery stores:

 

http://enlightenedcooking.blogspot.com/2008/02/home-made-lara-bars-energy-bars-part-3.html

 

I have made apricot, cherry-chocolate chip and apple pie versions with success.

post #34 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragana View Post

SundayCrepes, you might want to try the following recipe for Lara bars if you can locate a good source of almonds and dates. We have ethnic stores nearby that carry them much more cheaply than other grocery stores:

 

http://enlightenedcooking.blogspot.com/2008/02/home-made-lara-bars-energy-bars-part-3.html

 

I have made apricot, cherry-chocolate chip and apple pie versions with success.



Thanks. How well do they last? I like the packaged Lara Bars because I can carry them in my purse for a quick snack for the kids. However, I could make some for home use to save money.

post #35 of 35

When I have made them, I wrap them in plastic wrap & store in the fridge - pull out for lunches or whatever. If you don't want to use plastic, I bet waxed paper would work.

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