can you help me spend less on food?? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 46 Old 02-12-2006, 01:33 PM
 
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Bearsmama, I'm so glad I inspired you! I do make my own yogurt! It is incredably easy! I use the cooler method. There are threads & webpages about how to do it but I'll just tell you what I do! I do 2 1-quart canning jars in a small 6 pack igloo cooler. So first heat up your milk stovetop. I measure it right in the canning jars, leave some room for the starter. Then I rinse out the jars. I boil water to sterilize the jars & tops. I just use a teakettle to heat the water & pout it over everything including my stirring spoon. Then I heat my milk up to 180 degrees. This is pretty important. So try to get your hands on a thermometer. I got my digital one from my mom, she always has cool gadgets that she never uses! The reason for heating the milk goes beynd killing germs as it is already pasturized. It has to do with the yogurt thickining properly. Once it hits 180 I pour into my sterilized jars, & loosly cover & refrigerate. I keep the thermometer in to moniter the temp. You have to wait for it get to 110- 115. Then you can add your starter. You can either use starter from the HFS or do what I do, I used store bought plain yogurt with live & active cultures. I add about 1/4 c for each quart jar. I eyeball it & don't measure. This should be either room temp or 100 (as to not bring down the temp of the milk too much. Too warm will kill the live cultures! So I stir in my yogurt starter & tightly put the lid on. I place them in my cooler & heat up my teakettle again. I add the hot water to the cooler & top of with hot tap water, to the necks of the jars. Put the lid on & cover with a towel to help keep the heat in. Don't move or disturb them. I leave the cooler in my sink& let it sit for about 24 hrs. The longer you let it sit the more the cultures will grow & be benificial to you also the sourer it will get. I started out just culturing over night, until I read an awesome article about 24 hours being safe & reccomended. I add things in as I serve it. Favorites here are a drizzle of honey, or fruit. I buy the bags of frozen berries (on sale of course) heat them up stovetop add frozen apple juice concentrate if they arn't sweet enough on their own, & I add cinnamon. I keep that in the fridge for pancakes or yogurt. I then reserve some of the yogurt to start the next batch. You can do this a couple times with store bought. And several times with HF starter. So the cost is of the milk & the starter Or the 1/4 cup of yogurt. I personaly just like the taste better. It is smoother & less sour. And I love that I didn't have to buy 1 thing to make yogurt! I am about to try kefir for the first time once the kefir grains arrive in the mail from another MDC mama. I'm trying to learn all about that! Hope this helps!

You have got to try making pizza on the grill! You'll never order pizza again! I was out there last night grilling whole wheat pesto pizza in the bitter cold & it was so worth it! LEt me know if you need recipes & how too!
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#32 of 46 Old 02-14-2006, 01:32 PM
 
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Just lurking and looking for ideas. I have to ask, where do you find the coupons you use? We just moved to an area that does double coupons so I am more motivated than ever, but I have heck finding any. I tried the Sunday paper and frankly it wasn't worth the cost of the paper. All the coupons were for prepackaged junk foods that I wouldn't buy any way. Lots of stuff for cereals, and such, which I also don't buy. We do more things from scratch, buy natural organic whenever its reasonable, and prefer fresh foods. We don't eat a ton of meat but occaisionally a little. Where do you find good coupons for this sort of diet?

Also, I've heard many talk about making soups to save money. Can you post some recipes or instructions how you do it? I make soup, but its only from recipes I have so its not always frugal.

A few things that have helped us...I shop at farmers markets in the summer and go to Trader Joes for a lot of stuff. They often are lower in price than traditional grocery store. I love stores like Whole foods, but I limit them only to specialty items because they are so pricey. We are also fans of pizza and I've learned to make homemade pizza (put the dough in your breadmaker) very easily. The main cost of this is cheese, but I limit the amount I use and buy it on sale.

If anyone can post frugal recipes in general I'd love to see some.



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Originally Posted by inezyv
My advice is going to sound pretty wild, but consider it for just a moment. We are vegetarian and eat mostly organic foods. Our grocery bill used to be similar to yours and included dog and cat food (four dogs, six cats) and disposable diapers and wipes for one child. The thing I did was to start using coupons in a very serious way. We pay pennies on the dollar for lots of categories of our grocery bill, that frees up money for organic food.

These strategies will work if you buy stuff like Seventh Generation, etc., but in a MUCH more limited way. If you are willing to get Bounty instead of Seventh Generation paper towels, you can really do well with this.

I looked at our grocery receipts and figured that a large portion of every bill was for things that are mainstream, like cat and dog food, bottled water, disposable diapers, paper towels, deoderant. Then I started getting this stuff for free or almost for free using a combination of coupons and sales. That did not make an immediate difference, but after three or four months there were entire categories of food that I no longer pay for, and the bill started going down and down.

For example, I used to pay $9.50 for a package of Pampers Easy Ups and 4.50 for a package of Pampers wipes. I now pay $3 to $5 for the same package of diapers and . 25 to .99 for the same package of wipes. I used to pay $2-3 for a toothbrush, now I pay ..5-.10 for the same toothbrushes. When they go on sale and I have a good coupon, I get a bunch of the item. If a toothbrush goes on sale for $1 and I have a $1 off any toothbrush coupon, I take that coupon and get the toothbrush for free. If diapers go on sale for $7 a package and I have a $2 off coupon, I get them for $5. About two weeks ago there were coupons for $5 off for a bag of Iams dog food that is four pounds or larger. I got everyone I know to give me their coupons. This dog food sells for 4.99 - 5.75 a bag, so I got this food for free or .75 a bag. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. If coupons are doubling or tripling or quadrupling then I really go crazy.

After about six months of diligent couponing, I only buy foods that are fresh and organic (like bread, produce, and organic cheese). I continue to out and scoop up free and dirt cheap items when I see a fabulous deal, and that replenishes the stockpile. In fact, the biggest problem I have is learning how much we use and giving it away before it expires. Right now, we have stocked up so we don't pay for bottled water, cat or dog food, baby wipes, butter, mustard, mayonaise, ketchup, Stayfree, bodywash, handsoap, deoderant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, Neat Sheets, razors, shaving cream, hair color, napkins, paper towels, baby foam (for playing with), food coloring, etc., etc. These are mainstream, but when I have a coupon for organic versions and the stuff is on sale, I stock up.

It is very hard to get great deals for organic produce and cheese, but you can find coupons for Organic Valley and Earthbound Farms and many of the processed organic foods. Also, we use Kiss My Face Handsoap and buy it by the gallon at our local food coop. We just started a plot at the community garden and we have big hopes for it next spring.

Good luck, pm me if you need more info.
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#33 of 46 Old 02-14-2006, 02:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gen25gen
Just lurking and looking for ideas. I have to ask, where do you find the coupons you use? We just moved to an area that does double coupons so I am more motivated than ever, but I have heck finding any. I tried the Sunday paper and frankly it wasn't worth the cost of the paper. All the coupons were for prepackaged junk foods that I wouldn't buy any way. Lots of stuff for cereals, and such, which I also don't buy. We do more things from scratch, buy natural organic whenever its reasonable, and prefer fresh foods. We don't eat a ton of meat but occaisionally a little. Where do you find good coupons for this sort of diet?
I agree with you on that. I have not been too sucessful wih coupons either. They are all things I'd never buy. And if the sale item or store brand is cheaper I buy that instead. Frankly I found it to be a waste of time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gen25gen
Also, I've heard many talk about making soups to save money. Can you post some recipes or instructions how you do it? I make soup, but its only from recipes I have so its not always frugal.
The trick to really make soups frugal is to use leftovers to make them. So if you cook a chicken or bone in turkey breast, save the carcass (I really dislike that word) for stock. You can freeze it if you don't want to use it right away. You boil it in water with an onion cut in half (skin & all), a piece of celery & carrot & I like adding a couple garlic cloves halve (skin on). A great thing to do if you get into making soups is to save the ends of veggies, onions, carrot tops, the end of the celery. All things that you would either toss or put into the compost! Stick all of these into a freezerbag, & save them in the freezer until you have enough to make soup. All of those veggies get tossed after the stock is made so it seem very un-frugal to use a perfectly good carrot that you will just throw out. You boil all of the above for about 2 hours. Then you can make it into whatever you like, or freeze it for latter use. I don't buy ham often but when I do I make sure I get one with a bone in it & I make spit pea soup which I enjoy much more than the ham dinner.

Here is a really easy cheap soup! I use water not stock for this soup & it is amazing!!!!! Very Rustic Italian taste!

Zuppa di Scarole e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

This is a simple cheap yummy soup!

1 medium head of escarole (about 1 lb.)
2 garlic cloves ( I use about 5)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 24 oz can pealed tomatoes or fresh ripe tomatos
6 cups broth (chicken, beef veggie or use water)
3 cups cooked cannellini beans (white beans), or 2 cans drained & rinsed
1 cup small soup shells or ditilini (or elbows or whatever you like)
Salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Remove base of escarole head. Wash leaves very well in cold water being sure to clean the central ribs where dirt collects. Stack leaves & cut across into 1 inch strips.

In a large pot, sautee garlic in the olive oil on medium-low heat intil just lightly golden. Add escarole and tomatoes. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until escarole is tender.

Add the broth and beans and cook for 20 minutes more. Stir in the pasta and season to taste with salt & pepper. Cook about 10 more minutes, or until the pasta is just right.

Just before serving, sprinkle each bowl of soup with cheese. Serve with good crusty italian bread, salad and/or sandwiches on crusty italian rolls.
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#34 of 46 Old 02-15-2006, 03:41 PM
 
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I forgot to mention that I also visit a little italian meat market a few times a year. I check their sales online they often beat Price Rites prices for meats. I always get my Pecorino Romano cheese there it used to be $3.50/lb; but last weekend when we went, we got it for $3.99/lb, I also get feta $3.50/lb. Like I said, I love to cook & love to eat really yummy food.

Since I have been following this thread & have really been thinking about how if can possiably fit some organics into the budget! After discussing it with friends I am considering adding the organic milk back in & maybe a few other things. I'm looking into a coop & some larger HFS that arn't real close by. I'm hoping that I will be pleasantly surprised by their prices, but who knows? It's so hard when you know you could do better but cost is an issue!
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#35 of 46 Old 02-15-2006, 11:00 PM
 
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Ericaleigh- Thanks SOOOO much for posting your process for making yogurt. I will definitely try it out now that I know your way. It seems less involved than what I thought, which is always nice. Also, thanks for the soup recipe! Once again, you're inspiring me to try to save more on food and make even more from scratch. Thanks.
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#36 of 46 Old 03-02-2006, 09:19 PM
 
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Just wanted to add that you should check www.azurestandard.com for organic cheese (10lbs for $44.30), beans (25lbs for $18), Raw honey (1 Gallon for $18.75), and other awesome bulk buys. With shopping through there, a local co-op and Trader Joe's I'm able to feed my family of 3 all organic or natural for $300 a months .

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#37 of 46 Old 03-02-2006, 09:41 PM
 
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I don't know if this has already been suggested cuz I haven't read the other posts but buying bulk was the first thing I thought of.
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#38 of 46 Old 03-02-2006, 11:26 PM
 
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oops double post

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#39 of 46 Old 03-02-2006, 11:50 PM
 
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I have really cut my grocery bill (drastically!) since trying some of these suggestions! I found the biggest thing for me is to cook everything from scratch. it's a pain at times but we haven't eaten better in months and the freezer is getting fuller week by week and we always have leftovers and meals/snacks frozen.

btw this site was posted on another thread here. i thought it was worth posting again because there are some great money saving ideas!
http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#40 of 46 Old 03-03-2006, 09:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sarah_bella1050
Just wanted to add that you should check www.azurestandard.com for organic cheese (10lbs for $44.30), beans (25lbs for $18), Raw honey (1 Gallon for $18.75), and other awesome bulk buys. With shopping through there, a local co-op and Trader Joe's I'm able to feed my family of 3 all organic or natural for $300 a months .
That's an awesome link, thanks for sharing! I'm wondering if they get you with shipping? I would be ordering a heavy order, flours, a gal of honey, blah, blah. I'm not on the truck route, so I would be getting it through UPS, any idea? I couldn't find any info on the site.

I have been increasing what I purchase organic, however, my pocket book hurts & my DH complains that we're spending too much now). I will be taking a trip to check out whole foods & Trader Joes. MAybe I can get an few friends to order from the above link with me. I'm using you for inspiration sara_bella! Do you eat meat? Do you buy that from TJ's? I have lots of price comparisons to do!
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#41 of 46 Old 03-03-2006, 11:24 AM
 
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I've been able to get our bill down from $800+ a month to $500 a month by making more from scratch, and by putting our grocery budget on a shopping card. I shop at a place that most everyone here hates, because it is WAY less expensive then the Publix and 2 Kroger stores that are in the same area. Plus they do double coupons. Also, putting my monthly food budget on the stores reloadable shopping card vs my debit card has made a huge difference in the way I shop. It's like the "envelope method" without having to carry cash around.
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#42 of 46 Old 03-03-2006, 05:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EricaLeigh
That's an awesome link, thanks for sharing! I'm wondering if they get you with shipping? I would be ordering a heavy order, flours, a gal of honey, blah, blah. I'm not on the truck route, so I would be getting it through UPS, any idea? I couldn't find any info on the site.

I have been increasing what I purchase organic, however, my pocket book hurts & my DH complains that we're spending too much now). I will be taking a trip to check out whole foods & Trader Joes. MAybe I can get an few friends to order from the above link with me. I'm using you for inspiration sara_bella! Do you eat meat? Do you buy that from TJ's? I have lots of price comparisons to do!
The ups can be pretty expensive, but if honey as expensive there as it is here, then it's worth it to pay the ups. I remeber in another thread that there was a similar no-related site covering some of the other states, I see if I can find the thread. We do eat meat and we buy most of it at Trader Joe's. We make things like stir fries or casseroles so that there is meat in it, but we rarely ever have it alone. We but the natural frozen chicken tenders from trader Joes and we buy either salmon or shrimp. I go to a local natural foods butcher shop if I want to buy a whole chicken though. The shrimp is like $5 a bag and makes 2-3 stir fries. I make a meat loaf ever once in while, but I do the recipe where you add a cup of milk, an egg, and 3 heals of bread (ripped up) so it makes it bigger, and that makes one dinner and one lunch of meat loaf sandwiches. We eat meat about once a day 5-6 days week, and we don't really eat soy.

Keeping a price book is a good idea to, I'm trying but it's hard. I'm one of those people that just remebers prices, like frugality is just engraved into me

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#43 of 46 Old 03-03-2006, 09:35 PM
 
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Thanks sarahbella, I'd appreciate you checking into another cheap bulk place on the East coast. I'm really trying to make this happen!
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#44 of 46 Old 03-05-2006, 12:06 AM
 
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Still getting a lot out of this thread. Thanks again, ladies.

A few things have been helping me lately:

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I've been finding that going to the store for just a few things here and there is actually *helping* me. Go figure. For instance, I used to just wait to go to the store until I had a big list. But I've found that when something is on sale somewhere it's been working for me to go there and just for that. I don't know if it's that the bigger order/list has me thinking too "big", like not focused on what is really needed. Hmmmmm?

Also, really using up everything before I get something else. And having regular "Mustgo" night. You know, having a leftover mish-mosh dinner.

I cook all our meals--except for the occasional night out (tonight we spent $40 out for Tex Mex),or take-out (maybe 1x/every two weeks). I haven't made the yogurt, yet, Erica, but I'm chomping at the bit to do it!

Oh, and I will NOT buy any spice or baking ingredient any other place then this bulk spice/nuts place. I just went there today for only 3 things, and it's a bit of a hike, but SOOOO worth it. Quick oats-which we use all the time, for breakfast, bread, and cookies-is $.65cents/lb. Which I think is pretty good. All the spices are WAY lower. Chocolate chips, nuts, etc. anything that you would need to really bake a lot and cook a lot.

Also, anyone have a resource for soymilk? We buy ours at our local warehouse club, but it's still pricey (I think it's $13 or thereabouts for 12 containers-which, as I write this, seems okay!). Also, what do you all do about snax? We don't eat a lot of sugary snacks, but the kids love pretzels and crackers. Any good ideas? I'd much rather make my own cookies, scones, muffins, etc., when we really want them then buy the store-bought crud.

I'm sure I have other questions, but just wanted to check in. Thanks again!
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#45 of 46 Old 03-13-2006, 02:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tahini17
We have been dealing with the same issues, and I buy in bulk, cook from scratch, yada yada, but we ultimately realize that what we put in our bodies is much more important than many of the other expenses in our life, and the commitment to organics is important to us also from the perspective of eventually decreasing the price as it becomes more widely available. So we actually cut out digital cable and our land-line phone instead of stressing too much about our expensive food choices! Oh, and only drinking coffee from home has DRASTICALLY improved our situation- we were starbucksaholics.

This was exactly what I was going to say. After you cut out eating out, etc. At some point you are spending more time/energy than what you are saving in money. I would spend hours shopping many different stores trying to save 1% of my bill. I took a look at other parts of our budget and was able to DRASTICALLY cut costs consistantly in one fail swoop! We turned in leased vehicles (payments totalling almost $900) for two used reliable vehicles and monthly payments (on 3yr terms) of little less than $250. We stopped buying DVD's (who has time to watch 'em with the little ones anyway!), curbed our cable bill, piggy-backed off my parents cell-phone plan, etc.

I noticed you mentioned credit cards. You gotta get rid of those things. They are a black hole from which many never return!!!! At the same time that I quit my job to be a SAHM we were determined to not charge anything new. It's hard and we've had some slips ~ but we've paid off 20K in the last 3 years. Just a thought...
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#46 of 46 Old 03-13-2006, 03:00 PM
 
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I've dramatically cut our food bills by:
-not buying processed, 'convenience' foods (like hamburger helper)
-waiting to shop until the grocery fliers come, then planning the week's menu based around whats on sale and what I have in the pantry
-staying out of the stores except for on shopping day (the rule is, I can go to any grocery store on shopping day but when that day is over I can't go into the grocery store until next week, unless its a major emergency). This cuts down on impulse buying.
-Eating a lot of rice (not instant), lots of beans, baking my own baked goods instead of buying the pre-made cookie dough or prebaked muffins


-Miserly Moms is a great resource for good ideas. Miserly Meals is by the same author and is full of great recipes for really cheap.
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