What do you spend on groceries. - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-13-2010, 01:23 PM
 
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I would love to take a stroll through the grocery stores where people are going and pay $400 a month... even $600 a month! I know that where I live, food is really expensive and I have had several other people tell me that. But I still would love to compare prices in a lower COL area. It might even make me want to move! LOL

DH and I paid $600 a month on food before we had kids. That was from 1999-2005. I am sure it actually crept up over time, didn't just happen right when the kids came, but I can remember that was our "budget." Now it's more than twice that. I do know that food prices have gone UP a considerable amount, to near double on some things, and that coupled with the fact that we have two preschoolers who eat their weight in food it seems, means we have a much higher bill.

I also do buy convenience things, like frozen pizza, to have on hand, but it's not like I am buying 20 of them! So I guess it's just a matter of COL, or really COFood. I am just floored that people can get away spending so much less and I am convinced that it's as much to do with location as it is frugal spending.
Maybe you need to take a road trip to WI and go to Woodman's? Seriously, that way you'd find out if its your shopping style and food choices or if it a straightforward food cost issue.

I just looked and there are actually a couple of Woodman's in IL (North Aurora and somewhere else) and one in Kenosha.

People drive a couple hours to get cheap sweaters at the Gap in Gurnee Mills. It could easily be more cost effective to make a monthly Woodman's run.
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Old 01-13-2010, 04:44 PM
 
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We're a family of five (2 adults, one 18 year old boy, 5 year old girl, 21 month old girl) and budget $450/month for groceries. That does include some of our cleaning supplies (vinegar, borax, washing soda, baking soda).

That $450/month will put food on our table, replace the pantry items we've used, and allow us to add more food to our food storage. So it's more than what we consume on a monthly basis.

We also grow a garden in the summer and preserve much of that harvest for later eating.

I cook nearly exclusively from scratch and we no longer eat out at all (DD1 is on the Feingold Program and it's easier to eat at home).
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Old 01-13-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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Some of the things we do to keep our costs down:

1. Grow a garden and preserve (dehydrate and can) the excess
2. Let neighbors and friends know we'll accept excess produce from their gardens and fruit trees - we have an arrangement with one neighbor where we can or dehydrate the fruit and give him some back in "payment" for the free food
3. Buy our meat in bulk from local farmers. This past year we were able to buy pastured beef at $3.25/lb, organic pork at $3.47/lb, free range chicken at 83 cents/lb, free range turkey at $1.09/lb.
4. Buy staples (wheat berries, beans, etc) in bulk
5. Cook meals from scratch using whole foods
6. Limit our consumption of processed foods
7. Eat in season - don't buy expensive out-of-season produce

We'd like to eat more organic foods, but can't really afford supermarket or health food store prices so we've been seeking out local producers and growing as much as we can ourselves.

I've found that prices for local organically produced foods are much lower because the local demand is lower.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:06 PM
 
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We are a family of 4, and I spend between 210 and 280 a month, with another 40 on the pets. We live in northern Nevada, which can get pricey. I don't buy organic, except for the dirty ones, and we do stretch a lot with rice and beans, soups, chilli, stew. Right now, I am working with my dd on the fact that yea, Chefboyardee is ONLY .90 to 1.20 a can, 1 can, that can feed her one meal. For that same money, I can make most of a batch of lentil soup that fees us for 3 nights.

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Old 01-13-2010, 06:49 PM
 
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Just averaged the past 5 mos- $371 average. Family of 4 here (one an infant who eats very few solids), with 2 pets. I include household goods in that.

During the summer months, we eat out of the garden more. We also eat next door at my IL's 1-2 nights a week- . We don't eat out ever as a family- easy to avoid since we're in the country. DH eats out a couple times a week- maybe $10-$15 / week.

I remember spending $70- $80 a week before we had kids, but prices have gone up of course. We bought way more convenience foods back then.

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Old 01-13-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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I live outside Boston, which is pretty high COL and we don't spend all that much. Like I said, about $300 per month for two adults. We do have the local chain Market Basket though, which has extremely competitive prices. That really helps.
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Old 01-13-2010, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok. So many of you keep costs down by shopping the sales, or shoping at the right places etc.

Not only is our COL in this area high, there really are not a lot of shopping options.
Safeway
City Market (This is sometimes cheaper than safeway, but not alsways on the idems we use)
Local Health Food Store (pricey!!)

It does seem in the summer time I can travel to the city (1.25 hours away) and find good deals at different farmers markets and such. I do use the health food store more often than I like, and when I am orginised enough I can make it to the city and shop at the HFS there.

Anyways, do any of you buy a lot of groceries by ordering online? I keep thinking this is what I need to look into, to see if it would make a diffeence. Maybe bulk items?
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:12 PM
 
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hi-- I have a family of 8 and I spend 20$/ day. $140/ week , $560/ month.

This is a "comfy" budget not a bare bones one-- I do a LOT of cooking though. I buy nothing packaged except sandwich bread for toast.

If I had to, I could spend half that, but my kids are very picky. We are reasonably comfortable financially so I do take the luxury of $140/ week. We live in a high COL area (NY/NJ metro).
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:48 PM
 
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Ok. So many of you keep costs down by shopping the sales, or shoping at the right places etc.

Not only is our COL in this area high, there really are not a lot of shopping options.
Safeway
City Market (This is sometimes cheaper than safeway, but not alsways on the idems we use)
Local Health Food Store (pricey!!)

It does seem in the summer time I can travel to the city (1.25 hours away) and find good deals at different farmers markets and such. I do use the health food store more often than I like, and when I am orginised enough I can make it to the city and shop at the HFS there.
?

I totally get this. My choices are Hy-vee (I consider it high end. not super high end but lots ofperks that dirve up the cost of the groceries), sunshine (a local store that always smells bad and has very limited selection andoften higher prices than Hy-vee because it can't buy in bulk like the larger stores do) walmart and a super target. and the Local co-op which I am a member of but even if i order stuff in bulk the grocery store still beats the price. and the farmers market is through the roof expensive. tastey but expensive. I cannot even imagine traveling an hour or more to get a few dollars off my groceries. I wonder if people count their gas expense in their grocery budget when they are driving several towns over or hitting several different stores. i don't see what good it does to save $20 a week on groceries if you are burning $30 in gas. I am hard to convince it is worth driving across town to walmart to save money on groceries (I go for my big monthly shopping trip but otherwise I shop at Hy-vee because I work there....no I do not get a discount most of the time, 10 days a year but it is still much cheaper to shop at walmatrt.)

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Old 01-14-2010, 12:24 AM
 
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I wonder if people count their gas expense in their grocery budget when they are driving several towns over or hitting several different stores. i don't see what good it does to save $20 a week on groceries if you are burning $30 in gas. I am hard to convince it is worth driving across town to walmart to save money on groceries

I drive a gas guzzler, and I get 15 miles to the gallon. My 30 minutes away store (about as far as I go) is 15 miles away. So, that's about $5 in gas. I definitely save that much.

But, I'm not just driving there for groceries. There are other things in the area. Our church is near there, our mechanic is near there, and there are a couple of good parks near there that we like.

I live in Atlanta. It's just nothing for me to drive 30-45 minutes to get anywhere. My doctor is an hour away. I went to a playdate this morning that was 30 minutes away. (and since we were down that way, we stopped at a store that has cheap dairy for milk and sour cream). There is some local shopping, but I like the stores that are 30-45 minutes away (we're in a far suburb). This week, we also went to a childrens' museum that is 45 minutes away. It's just normal for us to drive a lot. We're not used to a small town where everything is 5 minutes away.

My boys are little. They do best with 15 minute or less shopping trips (though they don't mind the car!). THey HATE 1-2 hour massive ones. So, if I'm in the area of a store with good deals, then I can pop in wherever I am and get a good deal, plus it keeps the trips short (cause they are all very short lists). This works great for me and my lifestyle. It wouldn't work for everyone, but it works for us.
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:29 AM
 
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Maybe you need to take a road trip to WI and go to Woodman's? Seriously, that way you'd find out if its your shopping style and food choices or if it a straightforward food cost issue.

I just looked and there are actually a couple of Woodman's in IL (North Aurora and somewhere else) and one in Kenosha.

People drive a couple hours to get cheap sweaters at the Gap in Gurnee Mills. It could easily be more cost effective to make a monthly Woodman's run.
(You were posting this to a different mama but I also live in the Chicago burbs so..) Interesting, I have never heard of Woodman's. A big part of our problem is that I generally have to shop at the two stores I can walk to (WF & Dominicks). But my mom works in Aurora so I wonder if we could give it a shot!
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:17 AM
 
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Ok, I went to Fred Meyer last night to pick up a couple things.
bananas $.39/pound
.
Woah! Our Fred Meyer is 79c/lb for organic nanas!! I had no idea geographic differences were so big

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Old 01-14-2010, 04:20 AM
 
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I don't live in a small town but I just couldn't imagine driving that much. but then I bought my car in march and still haven't hit 4000 miles. About the only thing i would drive for is church but fortunately there is a parish in my neighborhood. I agree it is different if you are already there. I guess most poeple dirve a lot more than I do. But then again since I don't drive very much my car is not a huge part of my budget (15 gallons of gas a month and one oil change a year) and I can afford to spend more on groceries and not have to drive all over the place to different stores to get them.

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Old 01-14-2010, 11:07 AM
 
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Yes, there is a Woodman's in Algonquin, too, and I have thought about going there, but it's a HIKE. What would I do if I bought frozen stuff? Cold stuff?

I dunno. I wish Trader Joe's was closer, too... that could make a difference. I know WI does not have sales tax on food... that could help, too. I know of one family that lived in Zion or Antioch and went to WI Woodman's for food. I know they saved a ton.

Jewel is 15 minutes away and it's where I usually shop. I know that is a big reason why I spend so much... but convenience is a huge factor here.

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Old 01-14-2010, 11:54 AM
 
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Yes, there is a Woodman's in Algonquin, too, and I have thought about going there, but it's a HIKE. What would I do if I bought frozen stuff? Cold stuff?

I dunno. I wish Trader Joe's was closer, too... that could make a difference. I know WI does not have sales tax on food... that could help, too. I know of one family that lived in Zion or Antioch and went to WI Woodman's for food. I know they saved a ton.

Jewel is 15 minutes away and it's where I usually shop. I know that is a big reason why I spend so much... but convenience is a huge factor here.

I didn't know that IL had sales tax on food. Ugg.
I think just putting frozen and fridge items in a cooler when you got to the car woud be adequate about 6 months of the year.
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:07 PM
 
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Yep. Sales tax on food and it just went up. So it adds up.

We used to do Costco years ago, but that is also quite a hike. There is a Sam's in town but I won't do Sam's. So, that leaves Jewel and Dominick's nearby, with Woodman's, Trader Joe's, Costco, Caputo's, etc. all really far away, so not an option for cold stuff or frozen stuff. I "could" do that cooler but I just worry about that... it's kind of far and buying stuff only to have it ruined when I get home is worse than paying too much in the first place, you know?

I also did Market Day once upon a time, but when dh got food poisoning because they leave the frozen stuff in the gym and apparently something had thawed a little too much, and well, I won't be doing that again.

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Old 01-14-2010, 02:08 PM
 
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Ok. So many of you keep costs down by shopping the sales, or shoping at the right places etc.

Not only is our COL in this area high, there really are not a lot of shopping options.
Safeway
City Market (This is sometimes cheaper than safeway, but not alsways on the idems we use)
Local Health Food Store (pricey!!)

It does seem in the summer time I can travel to the city (1.25 hours away) and find good deals at different farmers markets and such. I do use the health food store more often than I like, and when I am orginised enough I can make it to the city and shop at the HFS there.

Anyways, do any of you buy a lot of groceries by ordering online? I keep thinking this is what I need to look into, to see if it would make a diffeence. Maybe bulk items?
I forgot to mention this! I do belong to a Frontier co-op for things like, tea, coffee, herbs & spices, Dr. Bronners, Ecover, Seventh' generation, coconut, oil, & some name brand personal care items. I also look at Amazon. Several months ago someone on this board posted a link to organic maple syrup on Amazon, it was dirt cheap I bought 3 jugs & wish I had bought more! It was on sale & I subscribe & save! Always do that, then then just cancel it after. Keep track of what price that you pay for things & do the math to see if it is worth it.

Also Whole Foods discounts when you get a case of something 10% I think, great deal for items on sale!

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Old 01-14-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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I was thinking more about this thread today...

And, I know that Leta saves money by not shopping often at all. She makes a lot of stuff from scratch so that she never needs to shop frequently.

And, some mamas on here have cows and chickens. (Not me!! )

So, I think it's just a matter of finding the groove on what works with your lifestyle and local circumstances.

Shoot, if you can only shop at one store, then you should know their sales in and out!! You are the best one to know that they put butter on sale only in December, so you buy a years' worth then and freeze it. Or that your favorite crackers go on sale every 6 weeks, so when they are on sale, you buy six weeks' worth. I think even shopping one store, savings are definitely do-able.
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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Crashing a bit b/c we're at 1.5 kids right now. But I wanted to point out that food choices have a big impact on the budget.


I was keeping our budget at $50 a week (for everything but eating out). But we have decided to move completely to whole foods/raw foods. My bills the last few trips have been closer to $70-80 and I end up hitting the store a second time in the week for more veggies.

So if someone is spending $300...is that on name brand stuff? Is it barely enough to feed everyone? Does it include snacks? Organics?

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Old 01-14-2010, 08:24 PM
 
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So if someone is spending $300...is that on name brand stuff? Is it barely enough to feed everyone? Does it include snacks? Organics?
Name brand: depends. There are very few things that I will only buy name brand, usually I go with the best deal.
Snacks: most of our snacks are fruits, crackers or cookies. Crackers I buy alot of when they're on sale and cookies I make from scratch.
Organics: some.

Everyone's fed here extremely well. I hate the assumption that those of who spend less are buying lower quality or less food. That isn't always the case at all.

We raise our own meat and most fruits and vegetables. We trade produce with friends who also grow their own. Not all of our food comes from a grocery store and we eat healthier and spend much less this way.
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Old 01-14-2010, 09:58 PM
 
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It varies month to month depending on if I need to hit up Costco but we average around $300/month (two adults, one toddler). I shop almost exclusively at Winco and take advantage of their bulk bins. I do some name brand and some generic depending on what it is. I cook from scratch a lot, no organics, lots of chicken, fair amount of ground beef, a little bit of tri tip and every once and a while I spring for rib eye.

I live in California's central valley which is moderate COL. I'm surrounded by farms which could account for the low cost of produce and meat.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:50 AM
 
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We spend around $500 for 2 adults and one child. With pet food it's a bit more (4 cats and 2 dogs, some of which eat special diets). We are about as cheap as we can go, as we eat paleo/primal...so no grains or beans and very minimal processed food. Meat/produce/cheese (for DS) are our staples. I do have free venison and bison from family in the freezer right now, which is awesome. We have had months where we spent $1000, so we are in a great place right now.
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Old 01-15-2010, 11:35 PM
 
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One thing I am doing is tracking all food purchases for the month(and every month). After a few months I can see how things are exactly. Then I will start with small goals, like cut food spending by 10% this month, or spend $40 less a month, etc. Maybe it will help....

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Old 01-16-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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Name brand: depends. There are very few things that I will only buy name brand, usually I go with the best deal.
Snacks: most of our snacks are fruits, crackers or cookies. Crackers I buy alot of when they're on sale and cookies I make from scratch.
Organics: some.

Everyone's fed here extremely well. I hate the assumption that those of who spend less are buying lower quality or less food. That isn't always the case at all.

We raise our own meat and most fruits and vegetables. We trade produce with friends who also grow their own. Not all of our food comes from a grocery store and we eat healthier and spend much less this way.

I didn't mean to imply anything negative. I just thought it would be helpful to add more details to the budget.

I've found that 'organic' labels are more expensive at grocery stores, but not really needed. I can get fresh fruits and veggies at my local farmer's stand for up to 50% less than the grocery store...and we finally got a good source of beef and lamb through FIL's friend. Grass fed, small-farm...and the ILs are storing it too. lol

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Old 01-16-2010, 08:28 AM
 
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That's so interesting because our local farmer's markets are MORE expensive than the grocery store. We do still go at least weekly when they are around, but it's the same or more than Jewel.

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Old 01-16-2010, 11:43 AM
 
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I was keeping our budget at $50 a week (for everything but eating out). But we have decided to move completely to whole foods/raw foods. My bills the last few trips have been closer to $70-80 and I end up hitting the store a second time in the week for more veggies.

So if someone is spending $300...is that on name brand stuff? Is it barely enough to feed everyone? Does it include snacks? Organics?
My budget for this month is $200, or $50 a week. So far, I am $12 under budget for the month.

We do almost everything from scratch so I'm not sure how to answer the brand name question. Half of my shopping list is usually loose fruits or veggies. When you aren't buying canned or boxed food, does brand actually matter? And my flour, sugar, salt, etc? It can be any brand, in my opinion.

This does include snacks. My daughter is diabetic so we actually have 3 meals and 2 large-ish snacks a day to help keep her numbers more consistent. All 4 of us are big eaters. We just eat homemade (muffins, tarts, bread, etc) or nature-made (fruits) snacks instead of storebought.

We don't do much in the way of organic. Most of the organic available in my area is processed stuff - the fruit and veggie options are limited. When it isn't winter, we buy most of our fruits and vegetables from a local farm as local is important to me. In the winter, we are limited however and buy them at the regular store.

Not spending a lot on food doesn't mean we are starving our children and feeding them unhealthy-but-cheap foods. We simply prefer to be as cheap as possible in this area so that we have more money to use on other things.

Here is my list for this week:
Chicken breast, potatoes, eggs, mozzarella cheese, turkey, bananas, apples, oranges, tortilla chips, corn tortillas, lettuce, carrots, vegetable oil and trash bags.
Everything else is already in the house. I buy staples (flour, oats, cornmeal, sugar, yeast, etc) only as we run out.

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Old 01-17-2010, 04:33 PM
 
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Usually around 320/mo but this month I'm only spending on the VERY basics. Our grocery bill was $33.

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Old 01-17-2010, 08:45 PM
 
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After reading everyone's responses I'm a little embarrassed to admit to ours.
But we spend about $300/wk on groceries, so about $1300/month. We do live in a VERY high COL area, but I think in general Australian groceries seem to cost a lot more than those in the US.

For example, a dozen free-range eggs costs me $7. A loaf of wholegrain bread is $4. Milk at it's cheapest is about $1.20/liter (which I think is about a quarter of a gallon). Does that seem like more than the US, or am I just waaaay overspending on groceries?

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Old 01-20-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mom0810 View Post
That's so interesting because our local farmer's markets are MORE expensive than the grocery store. We do still go at least weekly when they are around, but it's the same or more than Jewel.
Our Farmer's Market is also more expensive! I love the community feel when I shop there & the beautiful fresh produce but the prices tend to keep me away. The organic prices are even worse. I'd love to support them, I really would but when the price is so drastically different from the stores & we are on a tight budget it doesn't make sense for us.

We actually even have an indoor market a town over from us all winter that I checked out a while ago. We got roped into buying a loaf of bread, because we were talking with the lady there & she gave us a sample & dh said lets get a loaf to bring to our friends house for dinner. We grabbed a loaf & asked how much, $6 was the reply. And it was white bread, that we don't even buy or eat. I almost choked! They had veggies, meat, eggs, micro-greens, jams, infused oils, all sorts of stuff, but all were super expensive, way more expensive than our summer market even. We left with our $6 loaf of bread that I could have made with whole wheat flour for pennies! But again I do love that sense of community & feel good knowing who grew my families food. I always leave feeling torn.

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Old 01-20-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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Our local farmers' market is more expensive, too, and it's not even as bad as some I've heard of. They like to charge $3 as the magic number. $3 for lettuce, for a bunch of beets, for a container of berries. Whatever they have, it's $3. LOL

But, we have fake "farmers' markets" that are really international markets that are cheap. Lettuce is 2/$1 or $1 a head, beets are $0.99/lb, berries are $0.99/lb (in season). Much better prices. Although not local, of course.

It is hard to decide where to shop sometimes, though. When I want to do the farmers' market, I just take a set amount, spend until it's gone, and I try not to think about the prices.
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