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Help me reduce my food budget? (Detailed and messy, sorry) - Page 3

post #41 of 68
I would LOVE to eat all organic. As it is we rarely do. I understand you would like to eat cage free eats but if your not eating organic dairy is there a big difference? The dairy organic at least wouldn't have hormones, ya know. My point is eggs is a big price difference for organic

Regular eggs I can find at safeway on sale usually BOGO so eggs end up being 2.99 for 2 18 count eggs. Organic is 3.00 for 12
reg-$.08 an egg
or-$.25 an egg
big difference
post #42 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ewp11100 View Post
I would LOVE to eat all organic. As it is we rarely do. I understand you would like to eat cage free eats but if your not eating organic dairy is there a big difference? The dairy organic at least wouldn't have hormones, ya know. My point is eggs is a big price difference for organic

Regular eggs I can find at safeway on sale usually BOGO so eggs end up being 2.99 for 2 18 count eggs. Organic is 3.00 for 12
reg-$.08 an egg
or-$.25 an egg
big difference
I'm willing to forgo eggs, but not to eat eggs from caged hens. It's not a health issue but a moral one. I'm also considering getting a couple of chicks of my own to raise egg-laying hens, but still in the "thinking about it" mode.

As for organic dairy, we have a dairy in the next town that sells raw milk. But the cost is almost double. It's fair, but hard to swing, you know?
post #43 of 68
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone, this has been terrific! If I didn't directly quote and respond to you, it doesn't mean your post wasn't a big help.

The biggest (but not the only) things I've taken away from this are:

- Take the next step of making my own stuff, such as making bread, pizza dough and possibly pasta.
- Use dried beans instead of canned, which incidentally has got to be healthier too.
- Explore other breakfast options such as Cream of Wheat.

A couple people asked if we had snacks and beverages in our budget. We are drinking only Poland Spring water. It's $48 a month, and it's included in the $500. DH and I are debating getting rid of that. I know what y'all will say about it

And no, we have no snacks in there. And not nearly as many vegetables as I'd like. I did plan small salads for many meals, but I also had to chop out several meals that included brocolli, asparagus and zucchini because it's just too expensive. I'm not sure if the salads are also really expensive but we gotta eat some greens. It was really disheartening to read some folks saying $500 a month was really high since I just felt like I spent so much effort chopping out so much stuff and getting rid of luxuries like asparagus, and we don't even eat organic.

We're a one-income family and we're pretty tight on the rest of the budget, but I knew the grocery was the big hole in it. Hopefully I can whittle it down some more and manage to save a little money!
post #44 of 68
Quote:
- Use dried beans instead of canned, which incidentally has got to be healthier too.
Actually the nutrients are the same:

Quote:
Canned kidney beans can be found in most markets. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned kidney beans and those you cook yourself. Canning lowers vegetables' nutritional value since they are best lightly cooked for a short period of time, while their canning process requires a long cooking time at high temperatures. On the other hand, beans require a long time to cook whether they are canned or you cook them yourself. Therefore, if enjoying canned beans is more convenient for you, by all means go ahead and enjoy them. We would suggest looking for those that do not contain extra salt or additives.
However, dried beans are much cheaper, that's for sure.
post #45 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by waiflywaif View Post
Actually the nutrients are the same:
I was referring to the salt, food coloring and perservatives they put in the canned version. I assume they don't do the same for the dried beans.
post #46 of 68
Try Goodwill or Salvation Army for your bread machine. I recently got a 2007 model WITH instructions and recipe book for $12 at GW. It's already paid for itself multiple times! Good luck!
post #47 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
I'm willing to forgo eggs, but not to eat eggs from caged hens. It's not a health issue but a moral one. I'm also considering getting a couple of chicks of my own to raise egg-laying hens, but still in the "thinking about it" mode.

As for organic dairy, we have a dairy in the next town that sells raw milk. But the cost is almost double. It's fair, but hard to swing, you know?
I usually lurk, but I saw you were thinking about getting chickens. We have layers (33 of them, actually), and they are very low maintenance and fun for kids. I sell extra eggs at $3/dozen - I just put a sign out when I have extra eggs and they're gone almost instantly. We use the profits to invest in our garden and supplement our food budget. Even if you only have a couple of layers, you would still save money, especially if you have eggs (quiche or frittatas) for dinner or lunch occasionally.

I don't know how much land you have, but our milk cow is also economical. We make our own dairy products, and if you're making your own, they can be as gourmet as you're inclined. If you don't want a cow, how about a goat?
post #48 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Will post dinner plans next, those are the messiest since there are so many.

Fruit and piece of cheese is pretty lean for me, yeah.

Maybe I totally went down the wrong path (especially since everyone says cheese is so expensive - I figured $0.60 a day wasn't so bad, but maybe I'm wrong) but here's what I was thinking. Cold cereal is expensive and not healthy. So I think about other breakfasts. Eggs come to mind, though as I mentioned the grease factor makes me sick (will try poached though, never had it). Pancakes, I assume expensive especially with syrup - plus I don't care to eat that much sugar. Toast - ok except our lunches are PB&J and I know I'll be sick of bread at that rate. I thought, well, Europeans eat fruit and cheese for breakfast, so let's try that. I plan to try Cream of Wheat as another poster suggested (never had it before).
Maybe someone has said this already but I like pancakes with peanut butter and/or applesauce as toppings. You can make your own applesauce or buy it on sale for not that much, and pancakes are inexpensive to make as well. I also like English muffins for breakfast with honey, and oatmeal with frozen blueberries (I buy huge containers from Costco in the summer and freeze them for the winter) but your DH may not like that. You can also use coupons and store sales to get cereal cheaply sometimes too. Right now Cheerios website is running a special to get a free cereal coupon I think.
post #49 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
I'm totally on board with the bread making, yeah! The hot cereal and yoghurt sounds interesting. Would you say it would taste yummy with the plain yoghurt? Do they add sugar to the plain yoghurt or is it sweet with lactose?

Thanks for the suggestions!
I mix fruit yogurt in with my oatmeal. Sometimes I use greek yogurt which I don't think has a ton of added sugar. You can usually find unsweetened plain yogurt if you look for it but I do like a little sweetness in my oatmeal yogurt.

PS. now that I have finished the whole thread I have some more ideas

if you can buy those bags of carrots and potatoes at the store they are usually pretty cheap (bulk bags of carrots, not the pre-sliced/baby kind). And a jar of thai curry paste and cans of coconut milk on sale.

I like do to a thai curry - make some rice (white is my fave but brown works too and is healthier). Put coconut milk and a tbsp of curry paste in a pot. then add diced carrots and potatoes. Boil until cooked. You can add chickpeas or lentils too for protein I think (i usually add chicken - not positive what other complete proteins would be). This is really yummy, and easy to make and if you can get the coconut milk and even carrots/potatoes on sale it is great.

I spend $500 on feeding two, so I don't think it's a lot. It can definitely be less but it's not a lot.

Try exploring other grains. pasta can be expensive, boring too. if you can get couscous on sale i like to do couscous and black beans and feta, mixed with olive oil, garlic, herbs. I add diced bell pepper if I can get it on sale.

Broccoli is our go-to veg, it's usually the least expensive in our area. I also buy frozen veggies on sale and use those. like frozen mixed veg or peas or corn. If I can get it on sale it is less than $1 per 1lb bag which is enough for 2-3 meals.

stir fry - use day old/leftover rice, cook in a tiny bit of oil and add thawed frozen veggies. you can also add tofu or beans or whatever you want but often I just skip the protein altogether for this meal, esp. if I've had protein w/lunch and breakfast. Then add soy sauce (low sodium) and if you have it some rice wine vinegar or mirin or sake - whatever you want, you can play with it. This is pretty inexpensive if you can get soy sauce on sale.

morroccan stew - diced carrots, zucchini, potatoes (whatever is on sale - root veg work best), chickpeans, tinned diced tomatoes, and some spices like cumin, cayenne, coriander, cinnamon. Cook it all up and serve w/rice or couscous or whatever you want.

Sweet potatoes - can be inexpensive and have lots of nutrients. I like to make oven chips so I wash and cut into wedges then bake in the oven on high heat until cooked, i like to sprinkle w/curry seasonings or herb&salt.

I hope some of those ideas help.
post #50 of 68
No food coloring or preservatives in my canned beans---there is salt, but I just rinse it off. I don't want to argue though, this is a thread about frugality and dried beans are definitely cheaper. They are just not worth it to me in terms of convenience (we eat a lot of beans).
post #51 of 68
Here is my favorite pizza crust recipe for you, it's very easy to make:

Combine in large bowl: 1C warm water, 1 pkg. yeast (1T). When dissolved, add: 1 T.sugar, 1.5 t. salt, 2 T. veg. oil, 1 1/4 c. flour

Beat until smooth, add: 2 c. additional flour, or enough to make a stiff dough.

Knead until elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Form 2 balls. PAt and stretch to fill 2 greased pizza pans, let rise 10 minutes.

Top and bake @ 450 for 20-25 minutes.

~More With Less Cookbook

I use whole wheat flour.

Good luck!
post #52 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
And no, we have no snacks in there. And not nearly as many vegetables as I'd like. I did plan small salads for many meals, but I also had to chop out several meals that included brocolli, asparagus and zucchini because it's just too expensive.
Depending on where you live, zucchini is probably pretty cheap right now. My local farm markets have huge zucchinis (easily enough to feed my family of four for a meal, and probably then some) for $1.00 each. I wonder if it would freeze well too -- or you could make it into zucchini bread for snacks/breakfasts, and that would freeze nicely. Bananas freeze very well too and can be used in banana bread or smoothies (a couple of cups of whatever milk product you like, a couple of bananas, and either some frozen fruit or some peanut butter) -- pretty inexpensive, and filling and nutritious.

Broccoli and other veggies (peas, carrots, corn, spinach, green beans) are pretty cheap when they're frozen; even organic ones go on sale around here for $2 a bag, and a bag is generally two meals' worth for us. Non-organics go on sale for about $1 or slightly more a bag, again for about two meals' worth. I don't always watch the sales, but for staples like frozen veggies, I definitely do. Broccoli can be used to top baked potatoes one night, maybe with a little cheese. Cheese is expensive, but it's good! I'd watch for sales on it as well; some kinds, at least, can be frozen in small portions.

I also like the frozen bags of stir-fry or soup veggies to make stir-fries and soup; again, watch the sales. Are tomatoes plentiful right now where you live? They can be frozen or canned for soups.

I am thinking you live in a pretty high cost of living area. I have no doubt that you work hard to keep your costs as low as possible. It's sometimes just hard to eat well.
post #53 of 68
can I just say that I hate all of you who can get 2 meals from a bag of frozen veggies, LOL?! In my house, I generally need 2 bags for one meal with my crew
post #54 of 68
frozen veggies are not that expensive as freash and still have alt of netrients. i love brocolli we eat it 3= times a week. we eat very frugally, little to no organics, get WIC and have a food budget of $500. we have 2 kids that eat 1 adult size portion and 2 adults

sorry for typos nak a acrobatic toddler

Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Thanks everyone, this has been terrific! If I didn't directly quote and respond to you, it doesn't mean your post wasn't a big help.

The biggest (but not the only) things I've taken away from this are:

- Take the next step of making my own stuff, such as making bread, pizza dough and possibly pasta.
- Use dried beans instead of canned, which incidentally has got to be healthier too.
- Explore other breakfast options such as Cream of Wheat.

A couple people asked if we had snacks and beverages in our budget. We are drinking only Poland Spring water. It's $48 a month, and it's included in the $500. DH and I are debating getting rid of that. I know what y'all will say about it

And no, we have no snacks in there. And not nearly as many vegetables as I'd like. I did plan small salads for many meals, but I also had to chop out several meals that included brocolli, asparagus and zucchini because it's just too expensive. I'm not sure if the salads are also really expensive but we gotta eat some greens. It was really disheartening to read some folks saying $500 a month was really high since I just felt like I spent so much effort chopping out so much stuff and getting rid of luxuries like asparagus, and we don't even eat organic.

We're a one-income family and we're pretty tight on the rest of the budget, but I knew the grocery was the big hole in it. Hopefully I can whittle it down some more and manage to save a little money!
post #55 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knittin' in the Shade View Post
can I just say that I hate all of you who can get 2 meals from a bag of frozen veggies, LOL?! In my house, I generally need 2 bags for one meal with my crew
Well, I get the big bags - 16 oz i think? - and its just the two of us So I do about 1/2-3/4 cup of veg per person and can get two meals' worth

If I had your boys, I think I'd need two bags for one meal too!
post #56 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Rice and beans. Looks like I have that down for a whopping one meal a month. Looks like that's one thing I should increase but would welcome input on which of the above dinners I should replace it with - and also input on how to spice/flavor the rice and beans.
I put 1 lb bag of black beans in the crockpot, cook with one choped onion and water. When it's done I put half of that in freezer. The other half I mix with 3 cups cooked rice, 1/2 lb ground beef( skipping the meat for you) and one packet taco mix (simply organic has one without any yuck in it). I toss in about a cup of salsa (free from the garden in the summer we have soooo many tomatoes) and 1 can corn. I let that sit and make the dough for tortillas:
2 cup ww flour
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 T butter (I actually perfer earth's balence)
3/4-1/2 cup water

Let rest for 10-30 min then cut into 10 peices. roll peices into a ball then roll them out and toss in a lightly greased skillet for about a min on each side. roll bean mix in a tortilla with sour cream and cheese.

One of the cheapest dinners we make and soooo good! We get WIC so cheese is free and we have a ton cause we get double cheese instead of milk. Pizza for use ends up being $1 a XL pizza
post #57 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
I was referring to the salt, food coloring and perservatives they put in the canned version. I assume they don't do the same for the dried beans.
Canned beans have BPA (bisphenol-a in them while dried beans do not - Eden Organic canned beans are the only brand that is bpa-free.
post #58 of 68
Thread Starter 
Aha, so frozen veggies. OK, if I have to (I guess I'm a fresh veggie snob, but the point of this is to let go of certain things!!!)

This thread did make me wonder if we live in a high COL area. I always assumed we didn't, because housing costs are very low here. But I wonder if only housing costs are low and everything else is high? I know our oil/gas prices are high, since visitors always comment. We're in western mass, which is out in the middle of nowhere as far as the Boston folks are concerned. Houses are CHEAP. We bought our lovely 3 bedroom for $85k in 2004, with 1/3 acre of land. But food, maybe we're paying through the nose for it, I don't know. Avocados are $3.00 each - double what we paid a couple years ago. I love them, but they went bye-bye from my salads now. Teddy's peanut butter, $2.99, don't know how that ranks against others. Milk is $4.09 a gallon for whole milk. Cheapest pasta (not bulk) is $1.33 for a pound. Grapes are $1.99/pound, so no more grapes. I can tell you it's all more expensive than it USED to be, but don't know if it's expensive for everyone.
post #59 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Aha, so frozen veggies. OK, if I have to (I guess I'm a fresh veggie snob, but the point of this is to let go of certain things!!!)

This thread did make me wonder if we live in a high COL area. I always assumed we didn't, because housing costs are very low here. But I wonder if only housing costs are low and everything else is high? I know our oil/gas prices are high, since visitors always comment. We're in western mass, which is out in the middle of nowhere as far as the Boston folks are concerned. Houses are CHEAP. We bought our lovely 3 bedroom for $85k in 2004, with 1/3 acre of land. But food, maybe we're paying through the nose for it, I don't know. Avocados are $3.00 each - double what we paid a couple years ago. I love them, but they went bye-bye from my salads now. Teddy's peanut butter, $2.99, don't know how that ranks against others. Milk is $4.09 a gallon for whole milk. Cheapest pasta (not bulk) is $1.33 for a pound. Grapes are $1.99/pound, so no more grapes. I can tell you it's all more expensive than it USED to be, but don't know if it's expensive for everyone.

I think it's fairly expensive there My mom is in seacoast NH and her food prices are sometimes higher than us out here near Seattle!

I was the same as you re: frozen veg for a long time, but then I started only going to the grocery store every 2 weeks instead of every week (to save time and money) and found I couldn't store enough veg in the fridge/keep it fresh enough to last the 2 weeks so I started doing frozen. It's not so bad, for most things.

ps. Do you have a costco? Some things are cheaper there. I can get good whole wheat pasta for $1/lb, and fruit/veg are often a good price. Although I have heard that the selection (esp. organic) is not so good in other parts of the country.
post #60 of 68
Thread Starter 
OK, I have a dumb question, and I may as well ask it since I have this thread going anyway.

My parents were vistiing from FL last week. I bought some frozen, pre-cooked shrimp for them, just because I couldn't seem to feed them anything they liked. That was the day before they left, and that night they totally declined dinner, and left the next morning.

I'm stuck with 2 bags of shrimp that cost me $12. I've considered eating it myself, but it seems that it would be a waste since I don't really want to.

Um, do you think I could return it to the grocery store? I don't know if I have the receipt, but let's just say I did. My first that was that they probably wouldn't take it back, right? Cause they don't know if I let the shrimp thaw or anything. They have no control over whether I treated it properly for consumption, so I would think they would say no?

I can try to give it away but obviously it would be nice to get our $12 back.

(Grumble grumble about my parents being so weird about food when they visit)
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