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can you help me spend less on food?? - Page 2

post #21 of 46
These are all awesome and comprehensive suggestions The only new thing I can add is that you be REALLY organized about your leftovers. If I even suspect that I might not be able to use up leftover-something before it spoils, I stick it in the freezer to be used later. Even if the thing doesnt' survive freezing very well, it's worth the risk if you think it's not going to get used up anyway. The other thing is that I don't throw ANY food away. Even a tablespoon of leftover refried beans, I stick in the freezer and add it to the pot when next I'm making refried beans (for example). This is a method of increasing volume to stretch your dollars further.
The main philosophy I use on meal planning (and someone may have already said this) is that your meals can tandem off each other. If day one you make a roasted chicken, day two you can make chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, chicken and broccoli soup if you have leftover broccoli too...... It's like a game of tetris, trying to fit all of the leftovers together! It sounds so formulaic and boring, but over time you start to get a kick out of doing it like your grandma did it, just trying to use up the cup that runeth over!
post #22 of 46
Ok i have a similar problem as the original poster. i don't really see how people eat all organic for less than say 600/month. right now that is my grocery budget and sometimes i have to get some non organic stuff to stick to the budget. kind of a bummer. i feel like the more we can buy organic the better, but i would like to buy close to 100% organic if possible. i do like to buy seventh generation stuff but we don't use many disposable products except for toilet paper. we just moved so i have nothing in my pantry at all. no condiments, nothing in the freezer, NOTHING. starting from scratch and we are going to move again in six months.

there are some things we have done to cut back. my goal is to cut back enough so we can afford all organic. i feel like we waste too much food. my husband will not eat leftovers or stuff from the freezer. i feel like making a fresh meal that he likes is better than him eating out. so that means that i can't plan a meal for leftovers unless he is out of town. so what i do is that i don't buy anything for lunch or snacks, and use the leftovers for that. i might use the leftover side items to supplement the next meal though. since i know i have the leftovers i don't need to buy snacks like bread, lunch meat, yogurt (we can get our calcium from other sources). i am trying to do better about buying what is in season. fruit around here is apples and if i can find frozen fruit for smoothies on sale. this time of year isn't it better to eat lots of grains and either only buy in season or buy frozen? potatoes are cheap and my husband loves those. beans and rice are cheap but my husband will not eat them no matter how i prepare them. soup he will go for sometimes. he does eat out lunches/breakfasts some, but we do not. that is $$$ but i'm not sure how to stop that other than have some muffins or sausage balls for him to take in the morning. i got some oatmeal in bulk and that is what we are having for breakfast. i do have to have something to put in my oatmeal like bananas, raisins, nutbutter, jelly, something! i just to look for meat on sale, but like i said i just moved here and it is tough to start all over. sometimes antibiotic free chicken breasts are reasonable and an organic whole chicken is in our budget as well.

typing this makes me realize that we could cut a lot out by not eating out. we could also cut by eating cheaper meals like beans and rice instead of a whole chicken with all the fixings. i don't think my husband would be down with that. so i will have to look for sales i guess.

you can definately save money by not buying convenience items like prepared /processed foods, disposable products, store bought cleaning products, meat, dairy, out of season veggies, etc. organic is going to be more if you buy the exact same things not organic. unfortunately a choice we have to make.
post #23 of 46
We have been dealing with the same issues, and I buy in bulk, cook from scratch, yada yada, but we ultimately realize that what we put in our bodies is much more important than many of the other expenses in our life, and the commitment to organics is important to us also from the perspective of eventually decreasing the price as it becomes more widely available. So we actually cut out digital cable and our land-line phone instead of stressing too much about our expensive food choices! Oh, and only drinking coffee from home has DRASTICALLY improved our situation- we were starbucksaholics.
post #24 of 46
Ask around. We just found out about an organic co-op in our area that, paid in full in advance (we're gonna do it with our tax return...), gives us plenty of veggies every week, at less than half of what we were spending on conventionally grown produce week to week. I assume we'll have to buy fruit and some veggies to fill in the gaps, but we did the math, and it's still a great cost savings, as we buy a TON of fresh produce, and organic is just so darned expensive!!!!
post #25 of 46
Quote:
my husband will not eat leftovers or stuff from the freezer. i feel like making a fresh meal that he likes is better than him eating out.
I feel for you! My husband used to be the same way, but it has just meant that I had to get more creative about hiding the fact that we are having leftovers! For example, sometimes I will use leftover chicken to make a chicken lasagna or home-made chicken pizza. DH has no idea that the chicken I used isn't "fresh" unless I tell him. That goes over a whole lot better than just serving the warmed up chicken again the next night. You could also get away with adding leftover chicken or steak to a stir fry without anyone really noticing. Tonight we are having spaghetti, and I will chop the leftover burgers from last night up into meat balls and add them to the sauce. Now DH is fine with eating leftovers, so he knows all of my little tricks, but I didn't start letting him in on the secret until he started complimenting me on leftover meals.

Another way I have found to stretch the budget a little further is to do what probably most of our grandmothers did and start each dinner with a bowl of soup or a salad. It is healthy, inexpensive and filling, so everyone is better able to control their portions when it comes to the expensive stuff.
post #26 of 46
The trick to affording organic food is to stop eating like an American and start eating like, well, an Indian or African or Mexican or whatever world cuisine you heppen to like (In the winter I trend Indian, and in the summer kind of Mediterranian).

Don't make expensive vegetables or protein sources the core of your diet. Most of the world fills up on grain and uses other ingrediants for flavor. Also, most of the world eats the same thing every single day. Food varies with the season, not with elaborate menu planning. When peaches are ripe (and cheap) eat zillions of them, then forget about peaches until next year.

The basis of your diet should be some kind of grain staple --rice, corn meal, barley, oatmeal, whatever you like. Make a big potful.

If you have extra money, top the grain with some flavorful protein sauce --lentils, beans, peas, tofu, milk, cheese..

If you still have extra money, add some salad or tasty veggies on the side or buy some seasonal fruit.

If you still have some extra money, enjoy some luxuries like coffee, tea, sugar, maple syrup, pistachios, chocolate...

If you still have some extra money, go out to eat at an ethnic restaurant in order to borrow ideas for new recipes.

Anyhow, that's the meal plan my family follows. In the summer we get a CSA box ($160/growing season) so I just use whatever is in the box to make sauce or stir-fry for the rice. We eat a diet that is at least half organic. locally grown food and it doesn't break the bank.

--AmyB
post #27 of 46
My budget is approx $300/month. We are not able to get many organics on a budget like that! We will be planting an organic garden this spring, which is exciting! But we do eat very well (although not organic) on such a limited budget. I love to cook & bake, & make my family happy by doing so! I don't buy anything with trans-fat, try to eat mostly whole grain.

I study all of the flyers when they come in the mail. I check what we have already for food & figure out what we really NEED. Try to start making distinctions between NEEDS & WANTS. If you are only willing to go to one store than you won't save much $. I have one main store that I shop at Price Rite, it is kinda like a warehouse with produce (no fees) I buy all of our produce there. I also buy pasta, chicken, condiments, BS & vinegar, cereal, cheese, eggs, milk, bread, juice. I know their prices by heart, but many people would reccomend making a price book.

Have you read The Tightwad Gazette? This book talks about price books. It also talks about loss leader sales (LLS). The stores usually advertise their LLS on the first page of the flyer. They actually lose $ on these sales, but they are banking that you will buy all of your groceries there. If you only but the LLS of things that you use, & nothing else, you will SAVE. Then go to the store & buy their LLS. Get the idea?

I check to see if any of the sale flyers beats any of the prices at Price Rite, only for things I need of course! Then I start my list. When a certain price is very low I stock up. So I may go to 3 different stores one week, but I save so much, & I really don't have a choice, if I want to continue to ba a sah. But the next week I may only go to Price Rite.

I also get free venison meat from my father. He is an amazing at archery & very respectable about hunting. He makes ground meat, sausage, & steaks.

We don't eat out unless we get a gift certificate. I could buy over a hlf month of groceries with your eating out$! Gradually cut back, if you can.

I cook from scratch. That helps not only to save on the foodbill but also makes for a healthier diet. I make whole wheat pizza once a week (so cheap). I ususlly cook it outside on the grill, but we ran out last week so tonight it will be cooked in the oven. Usually roast a chicken or turkey breast, & make several meals out of that. Your freezer is your friend. Do you throw food out often? If you roast a chicken on Sunday, & you know you don't want chicken for the next 3 days, then freeze it. I personally would slice some to refridgerate for sandwiches or salads. Then slice or cube the rest depending on what you plan to use it for. Then you also freeze the carcass to make chicken stock. My $6 chicken feeds us for days! There a tons of threads on how to do this stuff.

I'm pretty passionate about saving money on groceries! It may sound like a hastle to go to 3 stores in 1 week, but for me it 's worth it. We bought our first house in July & therefore had to cut out our organic milk & tighten our budget even tighter. Organic milk was costing us over $30/week! Now milk costs us about $8/week. SO although I dream about the day we will have organic everything, I know that the discipline that I have in my spending habbits will one day get us there!
post #28 of 46
Great posts!

I am all about cleverly disguising leftovers-- it's almost like a game for me now, and if I can't think of a way to reinvent it I freeze it an incorporate it the next time I make whatever it was and no one is the wiser...

I also take stock daily of my produce-- we are vegan so we go through a ton and I make sure I'm not letting anything spoil. When something is getting iffy I make soup and portion it and freeze it for my hubby to take in his thermos to work.

PS-- Costco is so worth the membership fee!!!!!!!!!
post #29 of 46
Ericaleigh-
I just had to post and tell you that YOUR post was/is a great inspiration to me to do more to save on groceries. I've been a subsriber to this thread for a while, b/c the food bill is a constant issue in our house. My DH would be THRILLED if I could come up with a better plan to save money on food. Your post gave me the kick I need to step it up a bit.

We are a veg house, so we eat lots of veggies. We belong to a wholesale club, and I go to Trader Joe's about 1x/month, and our local grocery store sometimes weekly. I cook from scratch, too. Maybe 1x/month we'll order a pizza, or get TexMex takeout. We don't eat pre-packaged stuff, and although we love to snack ( ), we stick to pretzels, crackers, cheese-not many sweets. I think I have a bad habit of thinking I need something at the grocery store, when I *could* wait. Like, the kids don't *need* yogurt immediately. It could wait. Also, I think I could use a little more creativity when it gets low in the fridge or pantry.

Anyway, thanks for the tips everyone-and especially EricaLeigh!
post #30 of 46
Oh, and this could be for another thread, but does anyone here make their own yogurt? We go through a lot b/c my kids love it (and so do I). I'm wondering if the cost benefits/time involved is worth it. What do you think?
post #31 of 46
Bearsmama, I'm so glad I inspired you! I do make my own yogurt! It is incredably easy! I use the cooler method. There are threads & webpages about how to do it but I'll just tell you what I do! I do 2 1-quart canning jars in a small 6 pack igloo cooler. So first heat up your milk stovetop. I measure it right in the canning jars, leave some room for the starter. Then I rinse out the jars. I boil water to sterilize the jars & tops. I just use a teakettle to heat the water & pout it over everything including my stirring spoon. Then I heat my milk up to 180 degrees. This is pretty important. So try to get your hands on a thermometer. I got my digital one from my mom, she always has cool gadgets that she never uses! The reason for heating the milk goes beynd killing germs as it is already pasturized. It has to do with the yogurt thickining properly. Once it hits 180 I pour into my sterilized jars, & loosly cover & refrigerate. I keep the thermometer in to moniter the temp. You have to wait for it get to 110- 115. Then you can add your starter. You can either use starter from the HFS or do what I do, I used store bought plain yogurt with live & active cultures. I add about 1/4 c for each quart jar. I eyeball it & don't measure. This should be either room temp or 100 (as to not bring down the temp of the milk too much. Too warm will kill the live cultures! So I stir in my yogurt starter & tightly put the lid on. I place them in my cooler & heat up my teakettle again. I add the hot water to the cooler & top of with hot tap water, to the necks of the jars. Put the lid on & cover with a towel to help keep the heat in. Don't move or disturb them. I leave the cooler in my sink& let it sit for about 24 hrs. The longer you let it sit the more the cultures will grow & be benificial to you also the sourer it will get. I started out just culturing over night, until I read an awesome article about 24 hours being safe & reccomended. I add things in as I serve it. Favorites here are a drizzle of honey, or fruit. I buy the bags of frozen berries (on sale of course) heat them up stovetop add frozen apple juice concentrate if they arn't sweet enough on their own, & I add cinnamon. I keep that in the fridge for pancakes or yogurt. I then reserve some of the yogurt to start the next batch. You can do this a couple times with store bought. And several times with HF starter. So the cost is of the milk & the starter Or the 1/4 cup of yogurt. I personaly just like the taste better. It is smoother & less sour. And I love that I didn't have to buy 1 thing to make yogurt! I am about to try kefir for the first time once the kefir grains arrive in the mail from another MDC mama. I'm trying to learn all about that! Hope this helps!

You have got to try making pizza on the grill! You'll never order pizza again! I was out there last night grilling whole wheat pesto pizza in the bitter cold & it was so worth it! LEt me know if you need recipes & how too!
post #32 of 46
Just lurking and looking for ideas. I have to ask, where do you find the coupons you use? We just moved to an area that does double coupons so I am more motivated than ever, but I have heck finding any. I tried the Sunday paper and frankly it wasn't worth the cost of the paper. All the coupons were for prepackaged junk foods that I wouldn't buy any way. Lots of stuff for cereals, and such, which I also don't buy. We do more things from scratch, buy natural organic whenever its reasonable, and prefer fresh foods. We don't eat a ton of meat but occaisionally a little. Where do you find good coupons for this sort of diet?

Also, I've heard many talk about making soups to save money. Can you post some recipes or instructions how you do it? I make soup, but its only from recipes I have so its not always frugal.

A few things that have helped us...I shop at farmers markets in the summer and go to Trader Joes for a lot of stuff. They often are lower in price than traditional grocery store. I love stores like Whole foods, but I limit them only to specialty items because they are so pricey. We are also fans of pizza and I've learned to make homemade pizza (put the dough in your breadmaker) very easily. The main cost of this is cheese, but I limit the amount I use and buy it on sale.

If anyone can post frugal recipes in general I'd love to see some.



Quote:
Originally Posted by inezyv
My advice is going to sound pretty wild, but consider it for just a moment. We are vegetarian and eat mostly organic foods. Our grocery bill used to be similar to yours and included dog and cat food (four dogs, six cats) and disposable diapers and wipes for one child. The thing I did was to start using coupons in a very serious way. We pay pennies on the dollar for lots of categories of our grocery bill, that frees up money for organic food.

These strategies will work if you buy stuff like Seventh Generation, etc., but in a MUCH more limited way. If you are willing to get Bounty instead of Seventh Generation paper towels, you can really do well with this.

I looked at our grocery receipts and figured that a large portion of every bill was for things that are mainstream, like cat and dog food, bottled water, disposable diapers, paper towels, deoderant. Then I started getting this stuff for free or almost for free using a combination of coupons and sales. That did not make an immediate difference, but after three or four months there were entire categories of food that I no longer pay for, and the bill started going down and down.

For example, I used to pay $9.50 for a package of Pampers Easy Ups and 4.50 for a package of Pampers wipes. I now pay $3 to $5 for the same package of diapers and . 25 to .99 for the same package of wipes. I used to pay $2-3 for a toothbrush, now I pay ..5-.10 for the same toothbrushes. When they go on sale and I have a good coupon, I get a bunch of the item. If a toothbrush goes on sale for $1 and I have a $1 off any toothbrush coupon, I take that coupon and get the toothbrush for free. If diapers go on sale for $7 a package and I have a $2 off coupon, I get them for $5. About two weeks ago there were coupons for $5 off for a bag of Iams dog food that is four pounds or larger. I got everyone I know to give me their coupons. This dog food sells for 4.99 - 5.75 a bag, so I got this food for free or .75 a bag. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. If coupons are doubling or tripling or quadrupling then I really go crazy.

After about six months of diligent couponing, I only buy foods that are fresh and organic (like bread, produce, and organic cheese). I continue to out and scoop up free and dirt cheap items when I see a fabulous deal, and that replenishes the stockpile. In fact, the biggest problem I have is learning how much we use and giving it away before it expires. Right now, we have stocked up so we don't pay for bottled water, cat or dog food, baby wipes, butter, mustard, mayonaise, ketchup, Stayfree, bodywash, handsoap, deoderant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, Neat Sheets, razors, shaving cream, hair color, napkins, paper towels, baby foam (for playing with), food coloring, etc., etc. These are mainstream, but when I have a coupon for organic versions and the stuff is on sale, I stock up.

It is very hard to get great deals for organic produce and cheese, but you can find coupons for Organic Valley and Earthbound Farms and many of the processed organic foods. Also, we use Kiss My Face Handsoap and buy it by the gallon at our local food coop. We just started a plot at the community garden and we have big hopes for it next spring.

Good luck, pm me if you need more info.
post #33 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by gen25gen
Just lurking and looking for ideas. I have to ask, where do you find the coupons you use? We just moved to an area that does double coupons so I am more motivated than ever, but I have heck finding any. I tried the Sunday paper and frankly it wasn't worth the cost of the paper. All the coupons were for prepackaged junk foods that I wouldn't buy any way. Lots of stuff for cereals, and such, which I also don't buy. We do more things from scratch, buy natural organic whenever its reasonable, and prefer fresh foods. We don't eat a ton of meat but occaisionally a little. Where do you find good coupons for this sort of diet?
I agree with you on that. I have not been too sucessful wih coupons either. They are all things I'd never buy. And if the sale item or store brand is cheaper I buy that instead. Frankly I found it to be a waste of time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gen25gen
Also, I've heard many talk about making soups to save money. Can you post some recipes or instructions how you do it? I make soup, but its only from recipes I have so its not always frugal.
The trick to really make soups frugal is to use leftovers to make them. So if you cook a chicken or bone in turkey breast, save the carcass (I really dislike that word) for stock. You can freeze it if you don't want to use it right away. You boil it in water with an onion cut in half (skin & all), a piece of celery & carrot & I like adding a couple garlic cloves halve (skin on). A great thing to do if you get into making soups is to save the ends of veggies, onions, carrot tops, the end of the celery. All things that you would either toss or put into the compost! Stick all of these into a freezerbag, & save them in the freezer until you have enough to make soup. All of those veggies get tossed after the stock is made so it seem very un-frugal to use a perfectly good carrot that you will just throw out. You boil all of the above for about 2 hours. Then you can make it into whatever you like, or freeze it for latter use. I don't buy ham often but when I do I make sure I get one with a bone in it & I make spit pea soup which I enjoy much more than the ham dinner.

Here is a really easy cheap soup! I use water not stock for this soup & it is amazing!!!!! Very Rustic Italian taste!

Zuppa di Scarole e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

This is a simple cheap yummy soup!

1 medium head of escarole (about 1 lb.)
2 garlic cloves ( I use about 5)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 24 oz can pealed tomatoes or fresh ripe tomatos
6 cups broth (chicken, beef veggie or use water)
3 cups cooked cannellini beans (white beans), or 2 cans drained & rinsed
1 cup small soup shells or ditilini (or elbows or whatever you like)
Salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Remove base of escarole head. Wash leaves very well in cold water being sure to clean the central ribs where dirt collects. Stack leaves & cut across into 1 inch strips.

In a large pot, sautee garlic in the olive oil on medium-low heat intil just lightly golden. Add escarole and tomatoes. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until escarole is tender.

Add the broth and beans and cook for 20 minutes more. Stir in the pasta and season to taste with salt & pepper. Cook about 10 more minutes, or until the pasta is just right.

Just before serving, sprinkle each bowl of soup with cheese. Serve with good crusty italian bread, salad and/or sandwiches on crusty italian rolls.
post #34 of 46
I forgot to mention that I also visit a little italian meat market a few times a year. I check their sales online they often beat Price Rites prices for meats. I always get my Pecorino Romano cheese there it used to be $3.50/lb; but last weekend when we went, we got it for $3.99/lb, I also get feta $3.50/lb. Like I said, I love to cook & love to eat really yummy food.

Since I have been following this thread & have really been thinking about how if can possiably fit some organics into the budget! After discussing it with friends I am considering adding the organic milk back in & maybe a few other things. I'm looking into a coop & some larger HFS that arn't real close by. I'm hoping that I will be pleasantly surprised by their prices, but who knows? It's so hard when you know you could do better but cost is an issue!
post #35 of 46
Ericaleigh- Thanks SOOOO much for posting your process for making yogurt. I will definitely try it out now that I know your way. It seems less involved than what I thought, which is always nice. Also, thanks for the soup recipe! Once again, you're inspiring me to try to save more on food and make even more from scratch. Thanks.
post #36 of 46
Just wanted to add that you should check www.azurestandard.com for organic cheese (10lbs for $44.30), beans (25lbs for $18), Raw honey (1 Gallon for $18.75), and other awesome bulk buys. With shopping through there, a local co-op and Trader Joe's I'm able to feed my family of 3 all organic or natural for $300 a months .
post #37 of 46
I don't know if this has already been suggested cuz I haven't read the other posts but buying bulk was the first thing I thought of.
post #38 of 46
oops double post
post #39 of 46
I have really cut my grocery bill (drastically!) since trying some of these suggestions! I found the biggest thing for me is to cook everything from scratch. it's a pain at times but we haven't eaten better in months and the freezer is getting fuller week by week and we always have leftovers and meals/snacks frozen.

btw this site was posted on another thread here. i thought it was worth posting again because there are some great money saving ideas!
http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/
post #40 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarah_bella1050
Just wanted to add that you should check www.azurestandard.com for organic cheese (10lbs for $44.30), beans (25lbs for $18), Raw honey (1 Gallon for $18.75), and other awesome bulk buys. With shopping through there, a local co-op and Trader Joe's I'm able to feed my family of 3 all organic or natural for $300 a months .
That's an awesome link, thanks for sharing! I'm wondering if they get you with shipping? I would be ordering a heavy order, flours, a gal of honey, blah, blah. I'm not on the truck route, so I would be getting it through UPS, any idea? I couldn't find any info on the site.

I have been increasing what I purchase organic, however, my pocket book hurts & my DH complains that we're spending too much now). I will be taking a trip to check out whole foods & Trader Joes. MAybe I can get an few friends to order from the above link with me. I'm using you for inspiration sara_bella! Do you eat meat? Do you buy that from TJ's? I have lots of price comparisons to do!
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