Looking for food shopping help - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 05-01-2009, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am really bad at planning anything. We have $300 to buy food for the month of May. My husband buys the food and I have to come up with the shopping list.

He put in an order at a meat shop for 20# of lean ground beef because pre ordering in bulk makes the price $1.99/pound.

I have been baking our own bread from 1/2 white, 1/2 wheat flour the past couple weeks. We have some frozen vegetables (carrots, peas, corn) and we have one bag of egg noodles and two bags of spaghetti noodles. I have very few spices and some brown and white sugar and a little bit of honey. We have a little vegetable oil, whole rolled oats, white rice and Krusteaz pancake mix.

So that is what we have, now I need to figure out what we need.

All I have so far on my list is:
Coconut Oil
Active dry yeast packets
100% whole grain Oats (it's getting low)
Frozen blueberries
Apples
Bananas
Romaine Lettuce
Fresh whole tomatoes
Cheese







I need help adding to my list.

Any ideas?

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#2 of 18 Old 05-01-2009, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#3 of 18 Old 05-02-2009, 11:38 PM
 
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Potatoes
Onions
Tortillas (or make them at home)
Eggs
Chicken Breasts
Yogurt


I just did a huge shopping trip yesterday and these are some of our staples.
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#4 of 18 Old 05-03-2009, 02:30 PM
 
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Coffee
milk
frozen veggies
crackers (even saltines)
snack foods--popcorn, the above crackers, whatever you like that's cheap
rice
pasta
potatoes
polenta or grits
dried beans, whatever you like
canned tomatoes (can do lots of stuff with these)
sour cream (we love the stuff)
Dish soap, laundry soap, people soap, toothpaste, toilet paper
Any staples you use--oil, vinegar, salad dressing, a spice you are out of
pancake syrup or frozen fruit to use for pancake toppings


When we are having a tight month, almost every meal includes rice, pasta, potatoes, or polenta. It just stretches whatever I'm serving, you know? Chili over spaghetti becomes "cincinatti style" or chili over baked potatoes. Goes farther than a bowl of chili.

Will you shop weekly or just once this month? If weekly, set aside however much you need for dairy/produce. Say, $20 a week or whatever. Then, that leaves you with $220 for everything else. This works better for me, because I know that at the end of the 7 days, I'll have fresh veggies. I can motivate myself to use frozen veggies or go without for 2-3 days before my weekly shopping day better than I can motivate myself to do without for 8-10 days at the end of the month.

I also have a few meals that I have a certain type. Sunday lunch is always soup. Sunday supper is breakfast for supper. I cook on Sat and Sun mornings only. So, for the rest of the week, as long as we have bread and cheese or cereal or oatmeal, we're set for breakfast. I buy one or two heads of lettuce a week, and we eat those at the beginning of the week. So, if I'm making a meal that "needs" salad (like spaghetti), we eat it the first part of the week. I make a special snack on Saturday afternoons. The rest of the time is fend for yourself. That sort of thing. So, if you start with those type things that you do (do you eat hamburgers once a week? Tuesdays are nuts so you always use the crockpot?), then you can make sure you have enough food for a month of that day of the week, then go from there.
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#5 of 18 Old 05-03-2009, 02:37 PM
 
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Do you need more flour? Beans?

I would definitely sit down and make meal plan for the entire month. Perhaps just make a weekly list and repeat it 4 times, or two weekly lists and repeat them twice. Then make sure that you can have enough for all of that. We have one left over night a week.
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#6 of 18 Old 05-03-2009, 02:42 PM
 
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I am working on a plan for feeding my family of 4 on $269.00 a month and blogging about it. I went shopping yesterday and spent $105.33. Pretty good I thought and I'm trying to make it last most of the month. We eat Traditional/Whole Foods.
I agree with the pp on the add ons. Potatoes, cabbage, carrots, celery, onions, rice are all fairly cheap and will make dishes go a long long way. The ground beef is a good idea. Also I would do whole chickens. A whole roasted chicken will feed us 3 days and then I make bone broths with the carcass. I'd also cut out the veg. oil and move to solely coconut oil or lard, supplementing with butter and olive oil as you desire.

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#7 of 18 Old 05-03-2009, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm good on flour and dried beans. I used the last of our potatoes yesterday making french fries. That was a first for me. I have no vegetable peeler, so peeling with a little knife took a while. My husband actually bought graham crackers even though I didn't have it on my list, but he forgot the blueberries. I forgot that I have kernels of popcorn. We bought a 25 pound bag about two years ago and still haven't used it up! And we have popcorn at least once per week, usually for breakfast (my daughters' request) along with something else like fruit if we have it.


These are great lists, keep them coming!


BetsyS, what is Polenta?

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#8 of 18 Old 05-03-2009, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastkygal View Post
I am working on a plan for feeding my family of 4 on $269.00 a month and blogging about it. I went shopping yesterday and spent $105.33.
Unfortunately, I live in a very high cost of living area. I was in sticker shock when I moved here from the midwest 5 years ago.

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Originally Posted by eastkygal View Post
Also I would do whole chickens. A whole roasted chicken will feed us 3 days and then I make bone broths with the carcass.
I have considered the whole chickens. I can't seem to yet get over the grossness factor (childhood 'trauma' regarding chicken served for a hot school lunch on a rare occassion my mom was able to buy one for me - Blech- tendons, feathers and bones, oh my!!).

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I'd also cut out the veg. oil and move to solely coconut oil or lard, supplementing with butter and olive oil as you desire.
I have had coconut oil on my list for a while because I heard it's better, healthier, than vegetable oil. The last couple times we went shopping, we could NOT find any. I keep a can of crisco and prefer real butter and am still having a hard time teaching my husband the difference between butter and vegetable oil spread (ick).

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#9 of 18 Old 05-03-2009, 10:36 PM
 
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Rice, Pasta, pretty much any whole grain (check a local coop for great deals in bulk- cous cous and tablouieh (wow, talk about misspelling!) are great and go a long long way. We get whole grain pasta and brown rice most of the time- yes, it's 'better for you' but it also tends to be more filling.

We always get chicken breast, and sometimes you can get great deals on chicken legs/thighs - in fact, though I dislike them in general, we usually have some throughout the month because my husband and daughter like them, and if I grill them I can tolerate them.

Produce is the 'weekly fill in' shopping- I usually get fresh spinach, cabbage, cukes, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes peppers. I get bagged (aka the cheap stuff) salad mix and add the rest in to make it taste good and have some nutritional value. I also restock milk/cheese etc as we need it.

I keep frozen veggies, and canned tomatoes on hand- picking them up when they are on sale. A can of tomato, some garlic and assorted herbs, and some pasta can be a pretty good quick meal.

This time of year it's a great idea to look for seeds- even just to make some potted herb gardens around the kitchen or porch. I can't cook without herbs and the dried varieties just aren't the same. However, buying fresh herbs is a little more than I want to shell out sometimes- when seed packets are on sale for 4/$1 I get a bunch.

I would absolutely put together a menu- for us it really helps. We also budget in treats (mmm- ice cream!) and are careful to make treats last for the month. I find that if you learn to stock with some staples, and you really cut back on processed stuff there's more money for extras once in a while. I can handle a ton of 'rice and beans' sort of meals as long as I know there are fresh veggies (salad!) around and an occasional scoop of chocolate fudge brownie. :P
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#10 of 18 Old 05-04-2009, 03:36 PM
 
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How about bone in chicken breast? I think it usually runs around 99 cents per pound.
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#11 of 18 Old 05-04-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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How about bone in chicken breast? I think it usually runs around 99 cents per pound.
I'm coming to shop where you live. Bone in breast here is still over $2/lb. It's insane.

I occasionally buy whole fryers adn cut them up myself, but you need patience and good kitchen shears for that.
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#12 of 18 Old 05-04-2009, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have no kitchen shears, no pots, no potting soil, really not much of anything. 5 years ago I moved across country selling every thing I owned other than what fit in my van (including my pets in there). After I settled here, I haven't been in the money.. in fact, in a high COL area, our family is earning less than half the income that puts as at poverty level. So anything extra, such as pots, soil, shears, .... I just cannot invest in anything like that right now... we are waiting for payday to buy a pie pan. My husband is hoping for cherry pie, but we have nothing to cook a pie in.

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#13 of 18 Old 05-04-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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I have found that sitting down with a list of what I have (or the pantry door open for me) and then I divide a piece of paper up into 15 blocks (I shop every 2 wks) I then literally make a menu for each day. Now I dont necessarily stick to the menu as in we may have whats listed on *tuesday* on friday. but at least this way I know that I have the ingredients for that meal and can add what I need to the list. Plus say if I have a lot of rice I know I can plan several rice meals on my menu or if something is on sale I can plan that into the menu. some of the staples I have on hand are:

1. breakfast cereal ( no fancy ones just plain old flakes in bulk bags)
2. peanut butter
3. rice, noodles,potatoes (can always be added to something to stretch it)
4. beans (again many a rice and bean night here)
5. whole chickens ( I make at least 2 meals out of one I cook in the oven)
6. flour/crisco (for bread,tortillas,muffins and such)
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#14 of 18 Old 05-07-2009, 09:16 AM
 
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Is buying a whole chicken and DIY actually cheaper than getting a roasted one from somewhere like costco? I think it's $5.99 for a whole roasted chicken here in Hawaii and I like it a lot - you can shred it for whatever you need and then boil the carcass for soup. Saves a lot of time and my energy bill, and I think the seasonings are pretty mild, or at least I don't mind them.

Akie, single mom to M (02/18/06), E (08/04/07) and Z (06/22/09)
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#15 of 18 Old 05-07-2009, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is buying a whole chicken and DIY actually cheaper than getting a roasted one from somewhere like costco? I think it's $5.99 for a whole roasted chicken here in Hawaii and I like it a lot - you can shred it for whatever you need and then boil the carcass for soup. Saves a lot of time and my energy bill, and I think the seasonings are pretty mild, or at least I don't mind them.

Oh yeah, I think they're $6.99 here in Alaska, but we haven't had a costco membership for well over a year now, even though one is right across the street from us. We just never have an extra $55 lying around to buy a year membership with.

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#16 of 18 Old 05-07-2009, 04:14 PM
 
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Fred Meyer carries coconut oil in the health foods section.
Its a bit spendy though, $12 for a pint.
However.....www.wolflakewellness.com is our local Azure ordering club.
We order once per month (except for June, and May is already done), and the savings are well worth it. The oil for example is several dollars less.

Shipping charges are 30 cents per pound, and Ludie charges 10% for her time.
Plus, anytime you can volunteer to help sort the order when it comes in, you get $10 taken off.
I think our best deal is the 5 gallon bucket of RAW HONEY that we got for $108!!!
We can afford very little in groceries, but ordering this way, is allowing us to slowly stock up.

You can also split orders with people that live around you.

Paula, wife to Steve, mother hen to 38 , busy doing : TTC after 6
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#17 of 18 Old 05-08-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by akichan View Post
Is buying a whole chicken and DIY actually cheaper than getting a roasted one from somewhere like costco? I think it's $5.99 for a whole roasted chicken here in Hawaii and I like it a lot - you can shred it for whatever you need and then boil the carcass for soup. Saves a lot of time and my energy bill, and I think the seasonings are pretty mild, or at least I don't mind them.
Well, around here, whole chicken goes on sale for $0.79/lb. That's Around $3 for a chicken. So, for doing the work yourself, you save half the price. But, as always different areas have different prices. Like, for us, the $0.79 is a once every 8-12 week price. I buy enough for that cycle. If it went on sale for $0.39/lb, that's an unheard of price, and I'd buy as many as my freezer could hold, you know?
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#18 of 18 Old 05-14-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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OP, you live in Anc, right?

I live in Homer and budget $200 a month for groceries for our family of three.

I shop almost exclusively at the natural food store here, and prices are higher there than at Safeway, for instance. I supplement from other stores for things that the natural food store might not have on any given day, but we eat largely organic. My point is, one can eat quite well on a small budget!

I shop very carefully though. I buy things that are mostly on sale and often figure out meals while I am at the store and I see what is cheaper this week. Does that make sense? I buy lots of produce when it is on sale or priced lower than usual.

We very rarely eat meat. And mostly when we do, it is moose or fish which at this point is free. (after gas prices, license cost, fishing poles, etc...) I think not eating much meat saves us quite a bit of money!

I don't buy much prepared food. Sometimes I'll buy granola in bulk, or tortillas, but not much other than that.

I pick berries in the fall and make our jam for the year and freeze some berries to use throughout the winter.

You bake your own bread, which is great, but yeast can be expensive! It is much cheaper if you can buy it in larger quantities.

Can you make your own yogurt? That saves me alot of money each month.

I do most of our shopping. If my dp were in charge of it, we would be spending way more than $200 a month. He caves way more than I do when he sees crazy cereal or crackers or random unnecessary expensive things!

Pizza is a fun, easy, cheap, wholesome meal. I make whole wheat crust, make sauce and use lots of onions, garlic, spinach, other veggies on top.

I buy nice cheese which is initially more expensive than Kraft, for instance, but it is better and I use less because it has more flavor.

Good luck...I know I am mostly rambling, but I have put alot of effort into lowering our grocery budget and not decreasing the quality of our meals...it can be done!

Katie
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