$1,000 a month on groceries! HELP!! - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-08-2008, 03:40 AM
 
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Oh, also...

Can you put a cheap, used fridge in the garage? That way you can have added freezer and fridge space. You could buy some produce by the case/box then and keep it in the fridge. Potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, citrus all last a good, long time in the fridge. You could even remove the ice maker (or find one w/out) and have additional freezer space.

ETA - maybe Freecycle or craigslist would have one free.
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:16 AM
 
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[QUOTE=GinaRae;10216432]A word about avacados. That's what we eat.. and that's what everyone eats here. We eat tons of mexican inspired dishes and avacados are great for SO many things! We eat them in sandwiches, salads, dips/spreads, alone as a snack, when I was pregnant, mashed up for our babies... It's like how some people buy win or beer even when on a budget I guess?? We don't buy wine and beer, we buy avacadoes!!

I hear you on that! We are in Southern California and that's how we eat too. We are really lucky to have two avocado trees in our yard. They are bearing right now, so they are definitely in season. Most people in our neighborhood have avocado trees loaded with fruit right now. The costs are high because of drought, fire and transportation costs.
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Old 01-08-2008, 06:21 AM
 
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Hey! I live in the Bay Area also & we spend a lot. I always feel like I'm crazy when I read about families spending a few hundred a month on food! How? I did a month challenge and made almost everything from scratch and still spent $850 (including coffee and household items) for me, dh and ds (now 2yo). I'm afraid of what we are spending now that ds eat more! We don't eat meat, but do eat mainly organic dairy and produce(and we garden and have fruit trees). Dh husband drinks a couple cups of coffee a day (at least 1 out, I can't really change that) I'm trying to get our grocery bill down and am tracking it again this month, but I'm also pregnant and don't want to cook all the time!

I don't think $1000/mo for a family with four boys in this area is above average, not to say that you can't get it down a little, but its hard!

Buying in bulk is helpful, but we also have limited space. In the winter I make a lot of soup and chillie and eat leftovers for lunch. For some reason frozen veggies tend to be cheaper then fresh ones, so lately I've been buying more frozen.

I don't know, but I'm glad I'm not the only one

Happily married, Waldorf-inspired homeschooler to Kylan (8yo), Everest (6yo), and Bodhi (2yo)
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Old 01-08-2008, 09:57 AM
 
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Another option is getting Irish steel cut oats from Amazon.com

When they have a deal on McCann's Irish steel cut oats, it's cheaper than buying instore. I would probably stop getting the instant oatmeal.
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Old 01-08-2008, 11:05 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ReikiMommy07 View Post
Really?! Got any recipes? I love home-made bread and would enjoy baking some...
Here's my bread recipe for those that asked.
It is from this great website with picture tutorials:
http://www.aresrocket.com/bread/

It really is fool proof... I just realized I have been baking it at 450 not 475 (no difference) and I skip the last rise with the parchment paper and it makes no difference either. I haven't added any whole wheat flour or other ingredients yet, but it makes awesome crusty bistro style Euro bakery bread. My family LOVES it!

Here is the whole recipe and commentary excerpted from the website. It is WAY WAY easier than it sounds. If you read it and are hesitant at all, just follow it through and make ONE loaf. Go read it from the blog with the pictures, it is way better than the cut and paste below.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy (says my 3 y/o. )

>>>>>>>>>>>
In a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, (NOT metal) combine:
3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (depends on your taste)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
Mix well to combine dry ingredients
Add:
1 1/2 cups water

Mix well with a spoon. No need to beat this , just get all the flour absorbed - you might need a little extra water if it's very dry where you are. Make sure you purchase instant yeast such as Rapid Rise from Fleischmann's or Quick Rise from Red Star. You only need 1/4 teaspoon, not the whole package. Fold the foil package that the yeast came in and place it in a zipper bag in the refrigerator for the next loaf.

Cover your dough (it will not be very pretty) with plastic wrap and place in a warm place (at least 70 degrees). I find the microwave oven (off, of course) makes an excellent resting place. I usually make this in the evening so I can bake bread the next evening. In some ways, this is easier than conventional bread baking where everything happens in compressed time - you end up baking until 11 at night. With this method, this first step takes just five minutes.
If your dough has not risen significantly, it could be that your yeast was old and no longer active...you may want to give it some more time to allow naturally occuring yeasts to multiply. In the middle ages, there was no yeast for sale so folks relied on natural wild yeasts that are always flying around in the air. For consistency, using yeast you buy is a better idea.
This part can be a little sticky and tricky, so be patient. Your dough should be well risen after the 19-24 hour rest period. Sprinkle some flour over the top and start scooping the dough together - use more flour if you need to. Place the dough on a well-floured piece of parchment paper. It MUST be WELL floured, or the dough will stick. Now, simply fold the dough from the sides, and then the top and bottom, like you were folding all four sides to the center, and flip it over. Roll up the top of the parchment paper so the dough has a little covering, like a tent. Parchment paper should be available in any grocery store - you can also use waxed paper.


Now, let the dough rest in the paper from 1-2 hours, or until about doubled in size. I usually do this out on the counter.
Perhaps the second most crucial part of this recipe (after the long rise period) is the selection of a baking dish. You need to essentially create "an oven within an oven" which will produce the steam you need to achieve the wonderful crust. Commercial bakeries have steam injection ovens which keep the humidity high while baking to aid in crust formation. Other bread baking methods call for pans of water in the oven, spraying the bread with water while baking, or even placing ice cubes in the oven! I DO NOT recommend any of these methods - one person reported on a blog that placing ice cubes in a hot oven warped the floor of her oven, which could not be repaired.
Selecting a proper baking pan means finding a round baking dish that can handle lots of heat and has a lid. In the original recipe, a Le Creuset dutch oven was recommended, in the 4 to 5 quart size. If you have such an implement, by all means use it. This cast iron enameled pot is perfect. However if you do not already own one they are not cheap, costing well over $150. A tip - place foil over the knob on the lid to protect it from the extreme heat. There are other less expensive alternatives. Some on internet sites have recommended a clay baking pot like a Romertopf, the inside of a crock pot (the crock part), Corningware or Pyrex.
I bought new Pyrex and it seems to work quite well. Many though have warned that Pyrex could be dangerous and possibly shatter, so use at your own risk! I bought a 5 quart bowl and use a Pyrex pie plate as a lid - a $10.00 solution. As Pyrex ages, it becomes more likely to shatter due to the continuous heating and cooling, so if you go the Pyrex route, buy new. Some have also used their Cephalon dutch ovens, but have reported sticking and cleaning problems. Also, do not be tempted with a knock-off Le Creuset...I saw one in a big box store for $39.00, but the knob at the top would not have taken the high temperature needed for this bread.
About 1/2 hour before baking, place your baking dish as selected above in a cold oven to pre-heat. You should not need to grease the pan, but you can if you choose to. I have found it unecessary with the Pyrex. Set the oven to 475 degrees - a very hot oven, so be careful! When the oven has reached that temperature, open the oven door and pull out the rack (wearing oven mitts) with your preheated pan. Take the dough in the parchment paper and "plop" it into the pan - PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL AS THE OVEN AND THE PAN ARE VERY HOT!!! It does not need to be all nice and perfect - this is a rustic loaf. Carefully place the lid on the pot and slide slowly back into the oven. Close the oven door and set the timer for 30 minutes.
DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR TO PEEK! If you oven has a window and light, you can watch the bread do its final rise or "oven spring" (if you are using Pyrex). Otherwise, you will have to curb your curiosity. Don't worry if a lot of the flour from the parchment ended up on the bread - it will actually add to the look of the bread when it's finished. Also, remember that when the yeast was "brewing," it was producing alcohol - the very small amount produced will burn off during the baking process. The yeast used in baking is actually the same type used in brewing beer, latin name Saccharomyces cerevisia.
After 30 minutes, open the oven and CAREFULLY remove the pot lid, wearing your oven mitts. Set the lid in a safe place, away from any children or pets, to cool. Close the oven door and set your timer for 20 minutes - oven temperature stays the same at 475 degrees. After 20 minutes, check the loaf to see if it has sufficiently browned. If not, let it bake an additional 5-7 minutes.
Now, the moment! Carefully remove the baking bowl from the oven, wearing your oven mitts. Flip the bread out of the baking dish and carefully place the bread on a cooling rack. Turn off the oven and return the baking dish to the oven to gradually cool down.
If all went right, you should have a beautiful rustic loaf that will SING to you - as the bread cools, you will hear crackling noises which indicate your crust is perfect! See what a nice finish the dusting flour gives?

RESIST the temptation to cut open your cooling bread. It must sit at least one hour before slicing.
The fruits of your labor are evident! After a few successes with this basic recipe, allow your imagination to take over - use different types of flour such whole wheat, rye or spelt; add things such as chopped olives or dried tomatoes. I cut my loaves with an electric knife, but any good bread knife will also do the trick.

Storage: Keep this bread out of the refrigerator! It will ruin the crust. Keep it cut side down covered with a piece of paper or a towel. That keeps the moisture in but does not ruin the crust. Keeping in a zipper bag will also cause the crust to become less crunchy.
This bread makes a wonderful gift - give with a little bottle of flavored olive oil. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:44 PM
 
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I am all for eating in season but wondering how you all get balanced diets if you only eat fruit in the summer and greens in the winter (or whatever). Right now there are oranges on all the neighbor's trees but I still pay $0.71 an orange in season!

Plus, we do eat a lot of mandarins right now too, but get sick of citrus citrus citrus this time of the year. How do you get good nutrition and variety if you only eat in season?
I would look at the farmer's markets. When I visit SF, we are always amazed at the good prices on produce at the farmer's markets. Also, Asian grocery stores and markets are famous for low cost produce that is riper than the typical supermarket in the US.

Also, while I need variety I think I have come to see that I need less than I used to think. Winter fruits and veggies in the winter, summer in the summer. Supplement with frozen or canned where doable. Out of season produce is not as healthy for you body or the planet.

Also, where can you trim household costs? The soaps, sponges, cleaning supplies etc add up and trimming there gives you more $$ for food.

Also is there a CSA in your area?

www.localharvest.org might be able to hook you up with a good veggie and fruit source.

Katie, mama to one big boy (6/03) and one little boy (12/08).
It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by *green*faery* View Post
Hey! I live in the Bay Area also & we spend a lot. I always feel like I'm crazy when I read about families spending a few hundred a month on food! How?
I'd like to know how too. I think some budgets simply do not include much in the way of produce items. When we were feeding 3 on $300ish a month there was lower veggie and fruit consumption and more plain meals. There is nothing wrong with that, but I frankly think that spending more money has generated a significantly higher quality of diet since the added expense in fresh fruit, veggies, nuts etc. $200 a month would buy me very little produce in this area. We are fish eaters too, no way I could afford that on $200 a month.

Katie, mama to one big boy (6/03) and one little boy (12/08).
It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:00 PM
 
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Honestly, I don't think that you are ready to make any changes. Until you are ready, and WANT to, then nothing that we are going to suggest is going to help. You are free to buy whatever you want, whenever you want, for whatever reason. You asked for help, but you don't really seem open to any suggestions of change.
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Old 01-08-2008, 02:00 PM
 
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Honestly, I don't think that you are ready to make any changes. Until you are ready, and WANT to, then nothing that we are going to suggest is going to help. You are free to buy whatever you want, whenever you want, for whatever reason. You asked for help, but you don't really seem open to any suggestions of change.
I think perhaps the OP is looking for ideas that might work for her, and maybe so far these ideas don't work for her. Doesn't mean she should give up asking. I don't think it's fair to say "since you're not going to follow my advice, don't ask for it anymore".

4 kids under 10
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Old 01-08-2008, 02:13 PM
 
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PS. I was thinking about you last night. I wanted to add a few things to what I said earlier.

I think the biggest test of your grocery budget is this: can you afford it? Are you satisfied with what you are eating? In which case - you can certainly make changes, but just because you spend more than some people does not make it "wrong" and does not mean it needs changing *especially* with such a new baby thrown into the mix.

For comparison, I spend $400-500 per month on groceries for just two of us, 3 meals a day, 7 meals a week plus occasional entertaining. We do buy wine and beer which increase the costs. But by implementing some of the things I have suggested to you on this thread I have lowered my grocery spending by about $100 each month over the last few months. It's been a gradual change but it is manageable. I just tackle one thing each trip. One week I started buying in bulk and splitting into baggies/gladware/tupperware for things like fruit cups, snack bags, cream cheese, etc. I find if I do this in one sitting on a Sunday evening it does not take much time and ends up saving a lot of money. Another week I started planning the meat for our meals based on sales/sell-by clearances. Another few weeks I did some serious price comparisons to start pinpointing a "good price" for our staples.

Some weeks are better than others. When I plan my meals with the grocery sale flyer in hand, and stick to my list, I can keep it under $70/week. If I just go with a vague idea of what I'd like and buy everything I see on sale to "stock up", I can spend $200 - like I did on Sunday .

I try to do one big shop each month. I aim to spend under $150 on this trip. Then, I plan to do weekly re-stock trips where I spend about $70, and in between I will re-stock dairy & produce as needed. Some weeks I don't get to the store and I'll cook from the pantry so I do try to keep a good supply of canned and frozen food available so I don't *have* to rush out and buy something that might not be a good value, or might be a convenience food item.

It is definitely more expensive in the Seattle area than it is where my mother lives in NH and I can certainly believe that it is more expensive in the Bay Area than it is here. In your list and description of what you buy, I definitely see room for improvement - but you will never be as low as the $200/month menus that some here are able to achieve without considerable sacrifices and changes, and you may decide that those sacrifices are just not feasible at this time, or not "worth it" for your family.

We have chosen to tackle our food budget just to get a better control on our spending in general. It has been so variable it is hard to plan. We're picking and choosing ways to save that are worth it to us and it does work. We just have to commit to it.

Good luck, and best wishes to you.

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Old 01-08-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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We buy as much at Costco as we can. While the initial cash outlay seems great, in the end, we actually save because we aren't in the store every week being tempted by sale items and things we don't need.

We always buy the following at Costco:
TP

Paper Towels

no-hormone/no antibiotic chicken breasts and thights

apples (the whole case is pretty cheap)

bread (15 grain)

salad (I got double the amount of salad for the same price as what you paid for 16oz and it was Organic field greens) They also have another salad blend that now comes two packages together for 6.99 that is also at least 1.5 times the amount of salad that you got for 3.99.). We don't buy iceberg lettuce.

We also buy as many veggies as possible. I can buy two pounds of mini sweet peppers for the same price I pay for the small package at TJs or Whole Foods.

I think it would be worth your while to make a list of what you regularly buy at the grocery store with their prices and compare with Costco. Granted, you often get a lot of whatever it is and that can be a challenge if you think you might not use all of it before it goes bad, but it couldn't hurt to compare. Besides, you have already invested money in the membership. That is what keeps us going.

I know that I do not have to go to the grocery for much of anything this week. All my purchases might total $30. This will carry me for two weeks . I also have to make a Costco trip. I expect to spent roughly $200 there. All told my grocery shopping for food, health/beauty, and non-food items will be under or close to $500 for the month. Also, Coscto currently mailed coupons so there are savings on things like paper towels, dishwasher soap, TP and other items that we will need. We might also take advantage of using coupons for things that we aren't out of, but because of the coupon, will save money in the long run. If we take advantage of the coupons, then we will definitely spend more than $200, but we won't need to spend money on those items next month, so we will have more money in February because we won't need to shop for much.

We feed two adults (one omnivore and one vegetarian), one finicky eater and three cats (we get all our cat products at Costco too.)
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:52 PM
 
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Here's the deal with big grocery bills. You do have some convenience foods, and you could save with buying in bulk, freezing and the like.

But it does cost more to eat "right" I don't care what the experts say about fruits and veggies being cheaper, and buying non processed keeps the costs down.

My family of five will go through 900 to 1200 bucks worth of groceries in one month. We sometimes joke that we are going to put the whole family on ADD meds to keep the grocery bill down. (our oldest boy is on them, and when he takes vacations.... he will eat us out of house and home) We are in Eugene Oregon.

What a typical week looks like.

produce
Bananas... .79 c a lb. (organic.. non O is .59 c) 5-10 lbs
Fuji apples 1.19 a lb (organic, non O is 1.09-1.99) 10. lbs
Valencia oranges... 6.99 for 10 lbs. (organic) 2 bags
Spinach... 1.99 a bunch (organic, one of the "dirty dozen') 3-5 bunches
Broc. 1.00 a lb... not organic.. organic is to much $$$$ 5lbs
Snap peas 4.99 a lb .. 1 lb
green pepper.... 1.00
bean sprouts 3.99 a lb
Carrots 5lb "baby carrots" organic... 5.00
Mangos, Avo, potatoes, onion, garlic and herbs... their prices vary so much it is hard to guess...so I am going to give them a basic 5 bucks a week on all.

60.00 a week give or take on produce

dairy
5 gallons of hormone free milk. 15.00 a week
2- 4 lbs of butter (depending on baking) 6-12.00 a week
Tilamook Sharp cheese (buy local products) 11.99-14.00 a 2lb brick.
Tilamook shredded cheese. 14.99 for 4 lbs at costco (this lasts all month)
Cream cheese 2.00 for 8 oz ... used to buy the whipped, cutting back on that.
1.2 gallon of half and half. 4.99 (husband really likes cream in his coffee)

50.00 a week on dairy.. could go up with Ice cream cravings

grains
Oats 1.79lb bulk, organic, extra thick rolled 2 lbs
WW bread flour... .79 c 5 lbs (lasts a month)
White flour .59 C 5lbs (lasts a month)
Ground flax meal 3.00 for 8 oz ................(lasts a month)
Cal Rose rice 8.99 for 10 lbs (lasts a month.. sometimes two)
pasta plus pasta.. 4.50 a lb.
Cereals... I never pay more than 2.00 a box 3boxes a week.
Flour torts................4.99 for 2 dozen "fresh made at taqueria" SO WORTH THE TRIP
Sour dough bread for husband lunches 3.99 a loaf

About 20.00 a week in grains

Proteins
1/2 a cow once a year.... 600.00 in freezer and I generally have to buy some cuts during the year again.
1 lamb a year.....................150.00 buy from same not organic, but non vaxing, pasture feeding (grass) family that I buy the steer from.
Chicken 6 local butchered chickens a month. 70.00
eggs..store bought... 4.00 for 18....WHEN DID EGGS GET SO EXPENSIVE??

Bayfront canned tuna, halibut, and salmon.... 200 a year.
Fresh fish usually 20.00 a week...
Adams pn butter 9.00 a month

So... I think it averages 90 bucks a month in proteins or 25.00 a week


At this basic run down of our food budget... we are at 150 a week in food, not including extras like coffee.. diet pepsi (my habit) juice boxes for kid lunches, specialty items and sweets stuffs... all stuff I could cut out if needed.
I bake our breads, cookies, treats. I buy the steaks right off the hoof so to speak, and I try to buy local. In the summer, I grow much of my own veggies, and freeze most of the crop for winter. I make my own jam from wild black berries, I u pick raspberries at 1. a lb for jams, freezing and the like. We pick cherries, peaches, blue berries and process them ourselves.... either freezing or canning. I can my "extra" tomatoes in the summer for sauces. I can my own salsa in season from my garden. We have our own blueberry bushes (4 of them) Raspberry (3) My cousins in NorCal have Amond trees in their yard, they send me 20 lbs around solstice every year, I send them lots of canned jam. (a great gift exchange) (amonds are Almonds that have been shucked)

So tell me... Where do I cut back? On quality? Feed my children and my husband High fructose corn syrup? Processed snacks instead of fresh fruit?

Where do you draw the line in nutrition???
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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I wanted to add,

My mother's side of the family has eaten this way my entire life. They are from Napa (ironically). My grandma had a saying that the better you eat, the better you live. I think it all pays for itself in the end... with lower health care costs, dental costs...(all three just got a clean bill from the DDS)
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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Our grocery bill runs about $1000/mo for a family of 4, and that is with me shopping at three different stores to try to get the best deals on organic, natural foods. We were running at almost $1500/mo when I shopped exclusively at Whole Foods.

I could save a bit more by being more organized - buying in bulk, freezing leftovers, making things like stock and cooked beans, etc. We're working on it, but even with all this it just plain costs more to get healthy food. When we're particularly broke I'll skip organic for some things, like maple syrup, walnuts and avocados, for example. But I will only buy organic raw milk and cheese, and organic hormone free poultry. I will go without a particular produce rather than get the non organic version. We make sacrifices to eat like this, but I feel it is worth it.
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by boobybunny View Post

So tell me... Where do I cut back? On quality? Feed my children and my husband High fructose corn syrup? Processed snacks instead of fresh fruit?

Where do you draw the line in nutrition???
This is a different issue than the OP. Perhaps this is your lowest possible grocery bill for the style of eating you wish to enjoy. Making your own bread and jelly (as suggested previously) is not nutritionally inferior! If you are baking, buying in bulk, shopping sales, buying local, buying in season, buying off the hoof, etc... than you are doing all of the things you can to lower your bill. This is not the position that the OP is in.
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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I would look at the farmer's markets. When I visit SF, we are always amazed at the good prices on produce at the farmer's markets.
Really? I'm in SF, and I think the farmer's market is really expensive! For organic, of course - the regular stuff is a decent price. But we stopped making the trip because the cost was no different than at the local health food store down the street.
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by boobybunny View Post
Here's the deal with big grocery bills. You do have some convenience foods, and you could save with buying in bulk, freezing and the like.

But it does cost more to eat "right" I don't care what the experts say about fruits and veggies being cheaper, and buying non processed keeps the costs down.
Tilamook Sharp cheese (buy local products) 11.99-14.00 a 2lb brick.
Tilamook shredded cheese. 14.99 for 4 lbs at costco (this lasts all month)
Cream cheese 2.00 for 8 oz ... used to buy the whipped, cutting back on that.
1.2 gallon of half and half. 4.99 (husband really likes cream in his coffee)

So tell me... Where do I cut back? On quality? Feed my children and my husband High fructose corn syrup? Processed snacks instead of fresh fruit?

Where do you draw the line in nutrition???

I agree that it does cost more to eat fresh food. But that doesn't mean you have to resort to processed. Canned or frozen is nearly as or just as good, nutritionally, for many items.

But I did want to comment - where on earth are you shopping at a 2lb brick of Tillamook cheddar is $12-14??? Even at it's most expensive we pay $8.99/lb for 2lb of Tillamook, and I would have thought it would be less for you since it's more local. Try getting it at Costco for some serious savings if you are really paying $14/2lb. Also I find that the medium cheddar is quite frequently on sale for $4.99/2lb brick, so we sacrifice and get medium instead of sharp quite often.

Also, someone on here told me how to make whipped cream cheese from the bricks. It's dead easy and I am so grateful for the tip. I prefer whipped for health reasons (I use less/consume fewer calories and fat grams with the whipped) but it is hard to find inexpensively, since I have yet to find a store brand or coupons and it rarely goes on sale. Just put a brick in the mixer with a little milk to thin it slightly. I whip a whole brick at once and it lasts all week. Great moneysaving tip!

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Old 01-08-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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I buy the tillamook white sharp reserve chedder (black wrapper) for my self and hubby. The cheapest I have EVER found it was 7.99 a 2 lb brink about 5 years ago AT the tillamook factory. http://tillamookcheese.com/OurProduc...p_Cheddar.aspx

I will admit that is a luxury item. (sort of) If cheese has lots of flavor, you use less of it, and save on fat and calories. I can make a meal out of 2 oz and a sliced apple and be good. :
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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We sometimes joke that we are going to put the whole family on ADD meds to keep the grocery bill down.
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laughup and so true.

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So tell me... Where do I cut back? On quality? Feed my children and my husband High fructose corn syrup? Processed snacks instead of fresh fruit?

Where do you draw the line in nutrition???
I tend to agree strongly that good food is important. Of course, we all must make choices about how to spend on food. And sadly, many, many, MANY do not have the choice to eat well. I just finished a social work degree and am considering pursuing a graduate degree in food security...it's a topic dear to me.:

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Old 01-08-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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Also, someone on here told me how to make whipped cream cheese from the bricks. It's dead easy and I am so grateful for the tip. I prefer whipped for health reasons (I use less/consume fewer calories and fat grams with the whipped) but it is hard to find inexpensively, since I have yet to find a store brand or coupons and it rarely goes on sale. Just put a brick in the mixer with a little milk to thin it slightly. I whip a whole brick at once and it lasts all week. Great moneysaving tip!
Thanks for this. I am going to give it a try with our organic cream cheese. It doesn't go as far as I'd like it to. It also makes me think about the new Philadelphia whipped cream cheese I saw at the grocery store for the same price as the regular.

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Old 01-08-2008, 06:11 PM
 
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Also, Savithny, I think the difference for the two of us is region. you can see those prices if you go to www.safeway.com and plus in my zip code 94558 for the deliver at home - browse the store option. I really am not buying gourmet cottage cheese here! Just regular Lucerne and regular margarine.
See, I just don't get this -- its not that I don't believe you! But you live so much closer to where the food is grown! Why is it that the food can be shipped all the way across the country (or even, in the case of my grocery, flown from Holland or South America) and be cheaper here?

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I miss NY apples! I have never tasted such awful apples as moving to Cali.
Oh yeah - we live right near a university orchard where they train apple growers... the varieties are just astounding.

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Eggs I must stay away from as the baby is sensitive to them. But they're a great price! It's about the only cheap thing I can get. I will work more eggs into the meals as I can. I have a HUGE ick factor with eating eggs, but *sigh* guess I will have to deal with that.
Any good recipes for an egg based meal for the kids?
Think about egg-rich dishes, not just straight eggs. We also spend extra for the Omega-3 eggs, to get more in our diets when fish is so expensive.

For example, Dutch Pancakes (Oven pancake) works out to an egg or more per person and is very tasty. It is just eggs beaten with milk and a little flour, and poured into a hot skillet and baked in the oven. We top it with fruit on breakfast-for-dinner nights.

Although we do love eggs as a main dish too. A favorite of ours (fits in with your area) is: Spread a tortilla with mashed beans (black or pinto). Top with scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, sauteed onions/peppers/garlic, and salsa. So yummy.

We do quiches, frittattas (good way to use up leftovers), omelets. Moosewood has a great recipe for cottage cheese and apple pancakes which works out to an egg per serving, too.

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Cheese in our house is HUGE and I am cracking down on that. We can eat almost a whole bag of $6.99 cheese a day! It's a big bag!
Yeah, cheese is my weakness. It has helped me cut back that my son loathes it with fiery passion even as my daughter loves it.
Buying blocks and making people grate as needed cuts down on consumption.


The point about quality of diet is a good one, but I don't think it has to be all or nothing. I don't find it particularly limiting to not eat fresh blueberries in December or oranges in September. I shop the local farmers market as much as possible and find a huge variety of food all summer. We eat loads of greens from late summer into fall, then switch to cabbages and squash through fall and into winter. Storage vegetables tend to be cheaper. I also have nothing against frozen veggies - plain ones. Nutritionists agree that since they're frozen straight from teh field, frozen veggies can often retain more nutrients than fresh. Frozen spinach, carrots, broccoli, corn, and cauliflower all fill out our winter meals.

Winter fruits are apples as long as the good ones last, then citrus usually gets much cheaper in January/February, and by the time that is over, there's a short period of time when fruit is expensive and we cut back or eat frozen, before the early spring fruits start showing up. I don't feel deprived, we eat veggies with every meal, and until recently I was feeding our family on $75--$85 a week.

We're not filling ourselves with wonder bread and cold cereal; we eat whole grains, lots of veggies, plenty of protein. Our protein is a good mix of eggs, dairy, meat, legumes, chicken and fish. I buy organic/local when I can. My billss are up over the last year as the kids have both grown and prices have gone up - and I know I can't compare my bills directly to yours, with fewer, smaller children.... but I think you can eat healthily for reasonable amounts.

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Old 01-08-2008, 06:14 PM
 
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I've got to wait on the oatmeal until I can cook it myself. The kids microwave their own pouches... If I let them at the canister oatmeal and all the things they want to put in it, I would have a HUGE mess on my hands even if you can microwave it.
Couldn't your oldest help you with it? I'd think a 12 year old could make oatmeal.

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Old 01-08-2008, 06:20 PM
 
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See, I just don't get this -- its not that I don't believe you! But you live so much closer to where the food is grown! Why is it that the food can be shipped all the way across the country (or even, in the case of my grocery, flown from Holland or South America) and be cheaper here?
I learned this in my economics class in college. Here is how it was explained to me:

Let's discuss an orange. I can pick two oranges in California. One is really good. The other is okay. If I ship the really good orange to New York, by the time it gets there it will be okay. If I ship the okay orange to new York, by the time it gets there it will be bad.

So if I keep the really good oranges in California and send the okay ones to New York, Californians get great oranges and New Yorkers get lousy ones.
But, I can ship the really good ones to New York and keep the okay ones in California, and in the end everyone gets an okay orange. This is more beneficial to the producers (they make more $) and the New Yorkers (they get better fruit) but stinks for the Californians (they get lower quality fruit than they might get).

Another piece of the puzzle is this: a New Yorker can't grow oranges in the winter and so they will be willing to pay more for an orange; a Californian thinks oranges should be abundant and so they are not willing to pay as much. The producer can get more for an okay orange in NY than they can get for a good orange in California.


It's a very simplistic view and there are other factors into play but basically it helps explain why sometimes it is hard to find local stuff locally.

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Old 01-08-2008, 07:11 PM
 
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Seriously, I would try to do a lot more grocery shopping at Costco.

You say that you don't eat a lot of things they have at Costco, but as far as I can tell, you do!

At least around here (Washington DC area, not a low cost of living area), all of these items on your list are available at Costco for substantially less.

Cheddar Cheese
Breakfast Cereal
Margarine
Milk
Chicken
Packaged deli meats
Cottage Cheese
Bread
Packaged salad (organic at my Costco)

Costco also has good frozen veggies, hebrew national hot dogs, yogurt, tortillas, etc. from your secondary list.

I don't usually get a lot of produce at Costco.

I really think you could save a lot of money shopping at Costco. It's true that they might not have the exact brand you normally buy of some items, but they probably have another brand that you could manage to get used to. They generally try to have good quality stuff, so I'm talking about the difference between buying one major brand and another, not the difference between buying a major brand vs. a store brand.

You do need adequate storage space to make shopping at Costco work. I find having a separate freezer very useful.

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Old 01-08-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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with so many people, one a baby and living in CA, I think you're doing good.

You could try buying bulk rice and beans, maybe vegetarian sushi etc. Indian cuisine has a lot of ways to make lentils, so it doesn't get boring.

Els wise, I think we'd spend the same with that many people if not more.
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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I
Another piece of the puzzle is this: a New Yorker can't grow oranges in the winter and so they will be willing to pay more for an orange; a Californian thinks oranges should be abundant and so they are not willing to pay as much. The producer can get more for an okay orange in NY than they can get for a good orange in California.
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See, this part seems to contradict why its cheaper here? We feel like they're treats, so we're willing to pay more -- so why am I paying less for produce grown in CA - -here in upstate NY, an hour from any major interstate?

Economics sometimes seems a bit like Dark Magic to me, to be honest. I worked closely with an economist for several years, assisting in economic research, but I still don't always get it...

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Old 01-08-2008, 07:35 PM
 
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See, this part seems to contradict why its cheaper here? We feel like they're treats, so we're willing to pay more -- so why am I paying less for produce grown in CA - -here in upstate NY, an hour from any major interstate?

Economics sometimes seems a bit like Dark Magic to me, to be honest. I worked closely with an economist for several years, assisting in economic research, but I still don't always get it...
Yeah, that doesn't really make huge sense, but if you kind of think in a convoluted way it makes sense why so much gets sent elsewhere and not much is left behind.

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Old 01-08-2008, 07:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by boobybunny;10222591[B
But it does cost more to eat "right"[/B] I don't care what the experts say about fruits and veggies being cheaper, and buying non processed keeps the costs down... So tell me... Where do I cut back? On quality? Feed my children and my husband High fructose corn syrup? Processed snacks instead of fresh fruit?

Where do you draw the line in nutrition???
this is what I struggle with -when we decided to quit eating added fats and sweeteners and stick to wholesome, unprocessed foods our grocery bill almost doubled! We don't eat out, we only drink water, we don't buy snack foods, the only prepackaged or canned foods we ever buy are single ingredient items (like tomato paste) and we don't eat any animal products. I always buy everything on sale in bulk and try to stick with in season locally grown produce. I don't know what more I can do... I do all the things I always hear about to save money, but honestly I could eat so much less expensively if we ate boxed foods and soda (the cost/calorie with soda is cheaper than greens... my kids can eat pounds of produce to get the same energy boost as they could from one can of frozen juice concentrate) and even the name brands (like heinz) can make ketchup more cheaply than I can from fresh ingredients. We buy premade soymilk (it's just organic soybeans and water) so I suppose we could make that at home... but I can buy a year's supply for what it would cost me to buy a soymilk maker and then there's still the cost of water and beans not to mention the potential waste from spoilage and time cleaning and making it. I also buy bread (at Costco), but we went a year without any bread and it didn't seem to make any difference in our grocery expense (we just ate more of other stuff... that same calorie/$ trade off I guess).

In my area the farmer's markets are just as expensive if not more than the stores... sometimes u-pick-its are a good deal, but it's a lot of time and effort and I always have the kids with me and all that fresh air and hard work seems to build up their appetites so I haven't yet managed to make it home (usually it's a long drive to the places also) with any leftover... same thing with the CSAs, my kids manage to eat everything in the box before we make it home and what's left, if anything, is usually something they won't eat anyway.

Our biggest monthly expense is our grocery bill... I'm truly amazed how others manage on so little?? I know in my college days I could live on less than $2/day (which I've seen some people here are spending $300 or less for their *entire* grocery budget for a family of five) but that was skipping meals and eating taco bell or top ramen... I just can't see growing kids on that.

I would really love to see an item by item every ingredient that goes into every meal and amounts everyone eats that does it on such a low budget... it seems whenever I talk to people that claim they spend way less than I do they are getting meals from elsewhere that aren't included (like school lunches or class snacks or a spouse that is getting lunch at work) or aren't including the cost of items from the pantry (even spices and dressings) or are actually buying a lot more processed foods or just aren't aware of what they are really spending. But it seems like people on this forum are really keeping track of everything so that makes me wonder if there really is some way I can get my bill down without sacrificing homemade, wholesome ingredients.

Oh, and none of my kids are over the 50% in weight so it's not like we are overeating (both dh and I have 'normal' bmi's)...???... and we shop at Costco...
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Old 01-08-2008, 08:04 PM
 
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I'm also in the Bay Area and I spend about $120/week feeding the 2 of us for 3 meals/day, on a sugar-free, grain-free, mostly organic diet.

I completely agree that you need to think about buying what's in season. Most weeks I go to the farmer's market first and only pick up at TJs what I couldn't find at the market. What's at the market is in season for the most part... the only thing I generally buy off-season is bananas. Shopping at TJs alone (I skipped the farmer's market this week because of the storms) this week's fruit was:

5# clementines $5.99 (this is about 3-4 dozen mandarins)
4# organic navel oranges $4.49
6 organic bananas $1.45
Organic bosc pears 4/$2.49

I still have several organic apples from the farmer's market (taste better than the storebought ones), as well as lemons, kiwis, asian pears, persimmons and grapefruit. In the winter, that's all the fruit we eat, unless I have something frozen like blueberries.

For veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts (anything in the cabbage family) is in season right now, as are celery, salad greens, mushrooms (have no season really), potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, and peas. The only "greens" we eat is broccoli rabe, since we don't like kale or chard.

Oh, and only certain breeds of avocados are in season right now. Pinkertons ripen when it gets cold, but for the most part no one sells pinkertons because they don't keep well. If you lived in a warmer area, like the LA basin, it would be a different matter, but up here right now, most of the ones I'm seeing are imported from Chile, so they've been shipped thousands of miles... by the time they get here most of them are pretty gross.

As for how we deal with no tomatoes... I buy canned tomatoes for use in winter, and go without the cardboard ones that are super expensive anyway. I learned a long time ago that the cardboard ones aren't worth my money taste-wise.

I agree that you're probably paying too much for cheese... I can get 2# blocks of Tillamook (the only brand I"ll buy) on sale at Safeway fairly regularly. When it's on sale I'll by 2 or 3 blocks a week for the length of the sale (med cheddar, sharp cheddar, jack, pepper jack)... so long as you don't break the seal on it, it will keep in the fridge for months. I rarely pay more than $6.99/each (I think the sharp cheddar is $7.99 on sale). Costco also usually carries Tillamook, and it's about the same as Safeway's sale price, IIRC. You might even want to look at the Sonoma Cheese factory, as it's fairly close by, it might be worth it to buy at the factory once every few months.

I would also skip the deli meats. You can buy a whole raw turkey breast for easily half that price. Roast it or even toss it in the crock pot, chill it, slice it, you just saved yourself several dollars/pound.

I'm paying $3.39/pound for boneless skinless chicken thighs at TJs (breasts cost way more), and $4.99/pound for grass-fed ground beef at TJs. And I pay $2.49/lb for butter at TJs, so that margarine looks expensive to me.

As for the oatmeal... I don't buy any instant, nor do I use the crockpot or the microwave. I use old fashioned rolled oats, pour hot water over them, give them a stir, and after about 2 minutes I eat them. They don't require any more cooking than that, IMO (I've never been one for mushy foods). Your oldest should be old enough that he can handle a tea kettle. A 1/2 c scoop in the oats container, fill it once per bowl, pour in hot water, stir, then let the kids add whatever they want. No need to get fancy. If you're microwaving them now, then the same 1/2 c scoop into the bowl, some cold water, into the microwave just like instant. If you order oats in bulk (try bob's red mill.com), you'll save a good deal of money over the packets.

At 12, your oldest should be able to help out a bit in the kitchen. Tearing up lettuce for salad (do this when you bring it home from the store so it's all done), grating cheese, he can even help make bread... I was kneading bread with my mother by the time I was 8, and no-knead bread is even easier. If you don't want to give him a knife, you can have him grate carrots, and even radishes, he can break up broccoli and cauliflower with his hands into florets. Butter and cream cheese can both be whipped to make them go further, and he could do that, too.

What I didn't see anywhere in your food was beans. I'll grant that they're not everyone's favorite, but they can really help stretch the food budget. Turning chickpeas into hummus gives the whole family a healthy protein dip, mixing beans into your ground meat makes the meat go further, even just adding them to your green salad gives those a kick of protein. A pot of soup with some beans, some sweet potatoes and maybe a little sausage tossed in with a chicken carcass makes a great soup. Toss some spinach in there and you have a complete meal.

Deviled eggs is a great snack to keep on hand... protein and fat in one little bundle. A pair of them sandwiched back together and wrapped in plastic tucked into your H's lunch make a great mid-day snack. They'll keep in the fridge about a week, and the kids can grab them when they're hungry. Crustless quiche, custards, egg muffins are all great cold, can be kept in the fridge for a week, and are great sources of protein.

As for making your own grape jelly, if you buy a half-gallon of grape juice and a box of Pomona's Pectin, it's just a matter of some boiling and sealing... not a whole lot of mess involved. And it's usually a LOT cheaper.

That's all I'm thinking of at the moment... HTH.

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Old 01-08-2008, 08:08 PM
 
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I'm also in the Bay Area and I spend about $120/week feeding the 2 of us for 3 meals/day, on a sugar-free, grain-free, mostly organic diet.
.
So that works out to be $8.57/person/day... for a family of five eaters, like the OP (a family of six, but one is bf), that would work out to be $1258/mo.
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