making the most of your $ - grocery list/pantry list/DIY list - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-29-2008, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I'm finding that I have less and less to work with in terms of $ when it comes time to grocery shop. Does anyone have a good list of things to get, things to have stocked up in your pantry, to make your money last longer? To make the food last longer? What items should I make on my own instead of buying already made? I basically have anywhere between 300-400 a month, but it seems to buy less and less each time

thanks! :
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:33 PM
 
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I had the same problem so what I did was make up a list of the meals we like to eat. Figure up how much each meal costs, make a menu for the month , then make a list of the items you need just for meals on the menu (include snack foods for the kids, I find popcorn is cheep and they love it). Then when you go shopping get only the items on the list, (eat before you go shopping, less impulse buying).

Also try finding recipies you like that have more dry beans or rice in them as they are less expensive. Watch for sales, and clip cuepons ( i know spelling is not right).

Once you find a menu you like, you can stock up on some of the items as they go on sale. The church I go to recomends having at least 3 months food storage saved up, but I have never made it to that. I usually have an extra months worth of food on hand at any one time, and it has come in handy several times.
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:11 PM
 
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subbing. i spent 110$ yesterday and can't believe how little it bought me! even onions were pricey and they were local!
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The church I go to recomends having at least 3 months food storage saved up, but I have never made it to that. I usually have an extra months worth of food on hand at any one time, and it has come in handy several times.
Three months worth?!? where are you supposed to put it? And what stays 3 months? (we're a family of pigs, if it's here, it gets eaten)
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:08 PM
 
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They recomend stocking up on what ever will keep. Like canned goods, dry goods, salt, flour... Many members I know also home can premade meals like chili, soup, and make apple sause when things are on sale. They try to keep freezer stuff to a minimum since the power tends to go out here. It is also recomended to have canned juice, powder milk, and bottled water (enough for a minimum of 3 days) incase of emergency. But of coarse that also means that you have to use these things on a regular basis to keep them from going bad and rotate the invitory. At any given time in my house we have 20 lbs of dry beans (different verieties), 15 lbs of rice (not the minute rice, it goes bad faster), lots of popcorn for snack time (currently have about 15-20 lbs, I found a stash I had forgoten about).

How we store it is simple, find lots (I mean LOTS) of 5 gallon buckets with lids. Everything goes in a bucket to keep bugs out. Then I store the extra buckets in the back closet, or in the crawl space, basicly any place that stays about the same temperature. In the pantry I keep 3 gallon buckets since they are easier to manage. I have one for flour, white sugar, brown sugar, rice, corn meal, ... what ever I use.

As for what ever is there gets eaten... A lot of what we have has to be cooked a while. It cuts down on impulse eating. We only eat if we are truely hungry unless it is meal time. Snack foods I keep down to a minimum and very little sugar! chips and soda are not essential to survival so we get them rarely and only if we have the money.
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:10 PM
 
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I aim for around a year's worth of shelf-stable food in the pantry, and 4-12mos of stuff in the freezer (frozen fruits to last until the next harvest, but meats that typically don't hang out in there that long). I stock up on things when they're super cheap (like oatmeal - I got boxes of instant oatmeal for $.50/ea this year during the Quaker sale at Albertson's; 25lb bags of sugar for $8 at the local grocery just before canning season hits [yes, I got 2 bags]; or when my local grocery has a meat sale, etc.). I also do a bunch of canning and fruit/veggie hunting and growing during the growing season here. Hard work, sure, but I'm all for feeding my family, you know? Besides, the garden and canning are more fun for me, despite my nights that last until 3-4am this time of year.

Oh, we do have a 13cf upright freezer in our laundry room, and a 10x10ish pantry in the basement with floor-to-ceiling shelves on two of the walls (water heater and door and seed starting shelves take up the rest). Our house isn't huge (2180sf), but it's definitely not as small as most apartments. Now if I could figure out a true root cellar so I could grow/keep onions, potatoes, carrots, etc. until the next growing season, then I'd be on top of the world.

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Old 10-29-2008, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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holy cow! I'm overwhelmed now...
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:41 PM
 
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We don't try to have any particular amount on hand; rather, we buy staples once a month from our buying club and we buy meat at slaughter time and plenty of veggies/fruits to preserve. It's daunting now when I think about it, but you start slow and work your way up. Then all we have to worry about

Things that are good to have on hand and in bulk are grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, coconut and olive oils and dried fruit. From there you can supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, meat and eggs.

There are two areas where I've seen our best improvements when it comes to cost: baking our own breads and making our own stock. For example, I could buy a loaf of whole-grain sourdough bread but it would cost $6 or I could make it from organic whole grains for $0.64. A quart of boxed stock would cost me about $4.55 from our HFS or I could make it from vegetable scraps and bones for free.

Start slow and work your way up.

I blog traditional foods and Weston A Price at Nourished Kitchen. See my healthy recipes.
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:37 PM
 
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Start slow and work your way up.
I totally agree. My recomendation is just start with your menu first. Go one month at a time for now. And actually I plan my menu for 2 weeks at a time because that is how my DH gets paid. Start by first deciding how much money you are going to spend on groceries, figure out your menu and shopping list, then for now put the rest of the money aside (like an envelope in your sock drawer) don't spend it unless you need it for additional things till you get used to being on a tighter budget. If you can save the money the next time you go grocery shopping buy something for your food stores. That is what I started a few months ago. It is helping, but it takes time to establish your food stores and we are still recovering from last winter (had major cash flo problems, as well as additional expenses).

If you need help with your menu ideas, let me know.

Renae

PS. sorry if this is a little fuzzy minded, I just sprang my ankle and have perscription strength motrin in my system at the moment. I hate taking it, but I am a wimp when it comes to pain.
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:54 PM
 
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This is my mantra now...from learning here on MDC.

I already liked to have a fairly stocked household, but when I worked it was easier for me to pop in the store. Now since I'm a SAHM I need to save money because of not working and it's just smarter anyway.

Many on here do price books, I myself don't, but I have learned the pattern of my local stores sales and know when to buy certain items we always eat. First you need to figure out what your family eats and then start watching sales for those items at their optimum lowest price, and even better then use a coupon for them. I used to think couponing was a silly thing that 70's mom's did, well now I see why they did it....IT will save you money, especially combined with a sale.

Having a stocked pantry is a simple thing to start, you love spaghetti, buy 2 packs of noodles that you like on sale next time you shop. It takes a little bit, but once you have your "must have" items figured out you can start watching sales and buying when the price is low.

I really can't list all the items I have because it is so big. What I have noticed though is one week will now be snack week, so I buy snacks mostly that week, meat etc...Having a freezer is very helpful too, I freeze tons of stuff, milk(when it's on sale), homemade chicken and veggie stock, my meats(chickens, burger, steaks)

I will only buy on sale now, and if I can slip in a coupon or 2 I am all over it. I buy stuff for pennies on the dollar.

Lots of women in the frugality forum say to go to afullcup.com orcouponmom.com-this one has a lot of info, they both do. I buy stuff for pennies on the dollar.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by arismama! View Post
subbing. i spent 110$ yesterday and can't believe how little it bought me! even onions were pricey and they were local!


Onions freeze beautifully, so if you find a good deal, stock up and freeze them either chopped or sliced. Same with green peppers (or color variations of).

Make a list of meals. List ingredients needed for each meal. Then 'shop' your pantry. Look for each item and if you already have it, either don't buy it or just buy one more to replace it. Try to limit the extravagence of meals... Like, instead of a four-course gourmet meal, have a meat and potato meal.

Speaking of which, potatoes are versatile and wonderful. Cheap most of the time, too. I get 10lb bags at a time and do a bunch of pounds of mashed potatoes to freeze.

Make your own stock, any dry mixes (dry onion soup mix, spice mixtures, bisquick mix, brownie mix, etc.), dry or can your own fruits and veggies when they're in season. Like, right now, apples are cheap.. buy a bunch, can them, and then you'll have apples until next season. Same with pears, peaches, potatoes, carrots, etc. Best place to find cheap fruits is you-pick sites or straight from the orchard.

Don't buy convenience foods. DH and I used to get a bunch of cakes and cookies and also boxed foods like hamburger helper, boxed mac & cheese, stuff like that. We cut most of that our and I've definately noticed a difference. Example, a box of mac and cheese at Aldi costs about $1.20... Macaroni noodles were $1.69 and cheese was about $3. I can make four-five servings of mac & cheese out of that.

Instead of boxed snacks, now we do homemade muffins, cookies, etc.

Make your own bread... we don't do this. I'd like to, but I'm just no good at it yet.

Stay away from the middle aisles of the grocery store. Buy staples (flour, sugar, etc.) as much as possible. If it's something you're not sure if you can make, look it up! Example, I want to start making homemade pop-tarts, but I wasn't sure how, so I just looked it up online and found a great tutorial.

Good luck!
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Old 10-30-2008, 02:35 AM
 
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Start slow and work your way up.
Exactly. Took me a few years to get where I am now, especially canning and such. Start with one thing at a time.

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Old 10-30-2008, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm making bread and stock now...

nak
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