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

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#1 of 46 Old 08-21-2005, 03:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure if I should post this here or in frugal / finances???

I'm so frustrated right now!
(sorry this is kind of long)

Ok, we use to spend about $1000/mo. on food for me and dh, when we both worked (50+hrs a week). About a year ago I started working part time, and it got a little better. Now I just went on maternity leave & I am hoping to not have to go back to work. We spend way to much! We also charge on our credit cards every month! Last month we spent about $750 on groceries. I just added up what we spent in the last 30 days... $961.51!! WTH! That's not including pet food (adds about another $120 mo.) I am aiming for $400. We live in the Bay Area, California, we are vegetarian and try to eat mainly organic.

Being that I just got maternity leave this past week I have been cooking a lot more. But I still feel like we haven't cut back enough. I now have the time and motivation, so any suggestions are welcome! These are the obvious areas I can cut back on~

We spent $180.89 in a month eating out. Most of it is going with dh on his days off for coffee and bagels or other small breakfast (usually spend $5-$12 each time) Only once was for eating dinner out, which was $32. A few other times it's when I am at work and go to Whole Foods for lunch.
To solve this we bought a big 3lb. bag of coffee beans at Costco & are only making coffee at home, no more coffee out (it's $2 a cup), and along with coffee I will make breakfast.

Produce seems to add up a lot! The market by us is all organic, local grown...great produce, but not cheap. Two days ago I spent $35 on produce alone and all we have left tonight is about a cup of cauliflower and 4 tomatoes. That means tomorrow I'll have to go buy some fruit at least.

We started going to Costco once a month and buying just a few things that they have at really good prices.

I use to go to the farmers markets a lot, but they aren't much cheaper. I don't know, I'm going to try again this week.

I tried meal planning, but I can't stick to it. I am now just trying to meal plan dinners, and usually only a few days at a time.

I try to buy minimal packaged food, I don't like to eat things from cans, sometimes I buy frozen meals on sale. Organic cheese is the only dairy we eat and it is so pricey, but I just haven't been able to give it up!

This is the only area of our budget that we can cut back on, we have got to stop charging!

Can you help me??

Happily married, Waldorf-inspired homeschooler to Kylan (8yo), Everest (6yo), and Bodhi (2yo)
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#2 of 46 Old 08-21-2005, 06:05 AM
 
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There's no such word as can't- as various pesky nanny/ teacher types used to say. It's a choice- you either keep on cooking and eating the way you are doing or you stop running up debts and are therefore able to stay at home.
It's a shift in your way of thinking. Learn to eat seasonal and look for what's cheap at the market (root veggies are on their way in- super-filling and very cheap). Eat beans and pulses and wholegrains, and buy in bulk. Cheese is, really, a luxury- it's not particularly good for you and you shouldn't really be eating it more than once or twice a week- so think of it on a par with your dh's morning snack habit.

Also, try a few batches of baking and leave some muffins in the freezer, ready for your dh to grab in the morning. Better still, get him to do it.
The long-term solution is for you to start growing some of your own stuff- particularly herbs and greens and other expensive items- but, like everything, this takes time.
Good luck

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#3 of 46 Old 08-21-2005, 08:19 AM
 
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Have you looked into local organic CSAs? Most people think it's a good value for produce, unless you're a picky eater and waste a lot. There are organic food buying clubs, too and you may be able to get a lot of staples there.

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#4 of 46 Old 08-21-2005, 08:41 AM
 
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I second the suggestion of a garden. Seeds are so cheap and just-picked food is so incredibly tasty!
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#5 of 46 Old 08-21-2005, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do have a HUGE garden space, last year we grew some. This year we are dealing with a red tag on our back house and had to demo it, so all outside efforts have gone toward that. Our property looks like a mess right now! The good news is, with the back building gone, we have even more space to plant stuff! Next spring dh will set up irrigation, and we will be gardening a lot. We also have some fruit trees, but they are not producing much yet. In a month or two I'll have tons of persimmons...I've never had them before, but I love most fruit & am really excited.

I will look into the csa, I know there is a local one. Thanks!

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#6 of 46 Old 08-29-2005, 10:05 PM
 
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Try reading Miserly Moms - lots of good suggestions!

I have shaved a LOT off of our food bill by cutting out eating out (lunches & coffees do count), eliminating all processed food (I love the indian curry spice mixes - those are out now), and planning my meals to the sales.

On Sunday, we now get the paper and I take out the grocery fliers for the three nearest food stores to us. I then sit down with my planner and look at the week and plan meals according to sales. I have a list of favorite recipes by main ingredient and then I improvise too. We're not vegetarian but we do have a mess of food restrictions - I'm allergic to dairy & some shellfish, DH is to wheat, DH doesn't eat pork or beef, we buy mainly organic produce, and DS is a finicky toddler. We're living with my dad temporarily and he gets sick of the chicken & turkey, doesn't like tofu, and doesn't like pasta.

I lay out the week by main dish. Some tips I've found to make cheaper meals - lots of beans (dried), grains (bulk), and day-old veggies. I try to shop at farmers markets too for cheaper produce. I've switched from vegetarian fed eggs to regular eggs. And when I go to Wild Oats to pick up DH's spelt bread, some produce and bulk items, I no longer get anything else there.

I've started writing down the items we buy most often and what the cheapest price I've found, so I can see if it's a good deal. For example, locally made tofu at Wild Oats is $1.79 per pound, but at Stop & Shop, the national brand of firm tofu is $2.49. So I make sure to pick up tofu at Wild Oats. But brown rice at Wild Oats is $.50 more than at Stop & Shop, even though it is bulk at WO. You get the general idea.

You have to rethink your menu and your shopping. I spend 30 minutes a week planning meals & cutting coupons, and now an extra 2 hrs a week grocery shopping. But I have cut our groceries down from $150 per week to $110. That means I'm "earning" about $15 an hour for my planning & shopping. And that is with three adults, one toddler, three cats and a dog. And since DH works from home that is pretty much 21 meals a week.

GL! It definately CAN be done.
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#7 of 46 Old 08-31-2005, 09:19 AM
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I second the other ideas. I would also consider doing a grocery delivery service if you have one in your area. Nobody believes me, but despite the delivery charge (5.95 if I order at least $100 worth of stuff) I save money every week! It's because I can plan so much better using the online service. I take my time when the kids are napping and get exactly what I need. No temptations in the store, no distractions, no sales that are "too good to pass up". I save about $20-30 a week using the service. I can use coupons and get the same sales as in the actual brick and mortar store, too.

HTH some!
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#8 of 46 Old 09-04-2005, 07:19 PM
 
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We also use the grocery deliver service, here its called "peapod". It totally removes the impulse buy (well most ), gives you all the sales and if you have any coupons the driver tallies them up and adjusts yoru sale. Also, as you shop you get a running total of your purchases. So if you can or only want to spend 90.00 you can see how it adds up. Delivery charge discounts are also available for certain delivery times.

Now if i can only get them to take returnable bottles and cans
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#9 of 46 Old 09-12-2005, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, so I added up what we spent on the last month and it was....$615! It's a step! That even included being out of town for 5 day and eating out half the time (the other half family paid for). I went to the farmers market last week. The one by us is small & didn't really have that much, but I still think it helped. I'd love to go to the big farmers market, but it's about 30 miles away (so that's like $6 in gas, but it may still be worth it) I've also been freezing stuff that I think may go bad and prepping food for the next day. The best part is we spent $615 and I still see areas that we can cut back on!

I'm going to check out the grocery deliver service, but I'm not sure there is one in my area. Thanks for the suggestion though!

I've also been cooking more dried grain and beans, and once a week making a big batch of soup. This week I made homemade pumpkin soup, but it went really fast!

If we can find a way to store it, we would like to buy grain in bigger bulk amounts. How do you store it so no buggies get in? I mean, we have big glass jars we store stuff in, but they only hold maybe 5lbs. worth. Any suggestions?

Happily married, Waldorf-inspired homeschooler to Kylan (8yo), Everest (6yo), and Bodhi (2yo)
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#10 of 46 Old 10-25-2005, 06:33 PM
 
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Definitely make friends with your freezer. Since squash and pumpkin are in season now, you should be able to get the pretty cheap. Chop them up and freeze them. They freeze really well, and since you cook them till they're soft anyway, any texture issues freezing might cause are not noticeable. They also keep for a really long time in a full freezer (not the top of the fridge ice-box kind). You could probably freeze enough to last you till next year when they're in season again.

We buy peppers, celery and onions in bulk when they're cheap. Chop them and freeze them. Use them in soups, sauces, etc. Once again, the texture issue is not noticeable since you'll be cooking them. Obviously you wouldn't use them in a salad.
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#11 of 46 Old 10-25-2005, 06:38 PM
 
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: I need help too. I am so used to shopping for 2 that I don't yet know how to shop for one and a half people I say half (as DS doesn't doesn't eat as much as an adult) I usually only shop twice a month latley unless I run out and need perishable stuff like milk/eggs/veggies. I have decided to cut back to once a month though as I tend to buy too much. looking for any other tips too.

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#12 of 46 Old 10-25-2005, 07:25 PM
 
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lurking too-thanks for the tips ladies-i'll be back to read and will post if i think of anything great to add...

Kelly, :Mama to Kevin, 10/1/05 & Seth, 7/7/06. ::
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#13 of 46 Old 10-28-2005, 12:27 AM
 
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Breakfast for dinner once a week is a trick we use. We also stay far away from anything in a box that we can make from scratch, and I mean anything. If you've never tried, you'd be surprised how EASY it is to make cakes, brownies, cookies, etc. from scratch. I often double whatever recipes I can, and freeze them. That way, the days I just DON'T feel like cooking, I can go to the freezer rather than the phone to order carryout. This goes for desserts, too. Cookies, muffins and brownies freeze well. Then, when you have a sweets craving or have company coming, pull it out instead of picking something up! We use potatoes and sweet potatoes a lot, especially in the fall and winter. Hooray, too, for growing your own in a garden. Especially in CA, where you have such a long growing season. It saved us TONS this year in produce. We grow peas and beans (soup and snap) that climb only. That way we can use vertical space on trellises and porch posts, using otherwise wasted space. The tomatoes are STILL going strong (I have put sheets over them twice this week to save them from frost...)but we'll be making fried green tomatoes quite a bit in the next week or two, I'm afraid. With the toms, we're putting up salsa, tomato and spaghetti sauce. We're also putting carrots, potatoes and yams in the basement. I have asparagus ready to come up (finally!) in the spring, as well as berries and fruit trees in the woods' edge and along the lot line. Next year they'll all be ready and we'll save some for fresh eatin' but will put up LOTS of jams and butters to get us through (they can be expensive). And all this on a fairly small lot. I have found a huge difference in our produce bills. Even onions and garlic save us money, we plant them around our rose bushes to keep away the aphids, and harvest them when they're ready. Breakfast foods are homemade... muffins, english muffins, bread for toast, hot cereal. Lots of choices that can be perked up with organic yogurt bought in the great big container, or nut/seed butters. Lunch is often leftover dinners. We actually have come to prefer the hot homemade food over cold cuts! Hubby never eats out anymore unless someone else is buying. Soup IS a big hit in our house and I usually make two pots a week...one just for the kids' lunches (they LOVE it) and one for dinner one day. I buy meat seasonally when posssible, on sale. Easter time we get hams dirt cheap, winter holidays we get turkeys( cut into meal sized portions and freeze them), costco has best everyday prices on pork loin, shop with grocery store loss leader fliers for meat specials on other things. Miserly Moms and Frugal Families(books) are great resources, too, for other places you can save, making your own taco seasoning (not bad, either), etc. We make our own bread (saves like $2/loaf) with our bread machine, which we got as a wedding gift. I DID just buy one, used once, at a garage sale for $5 for my little sister's first apartment. So, if you don't have one, try St. Vincents or Salvation Army, or ask your parents for Christmas. Not as great as "handmade" but with a new baby, tons less time consuming(plus, look at a lable sometime, they put a lot of weird stuff in bread lately commercially)! Pack lunch and snacks when you're going out, in a cooler pack, whether you think you'll be out "that long" or not. The convenience food really adds up! Besides, it's healthier and quicker to be able to reach down and grab something out of the bag. Hope that helps a little. Good Luck.

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#14 of 46 Old 10-28-2005, 12:18 PM
 
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To answer your question about grain storage. I use lard buckets (holds over 25 pounds of flour or sugar). I will put smaller portions in canning jars for easy accesiblity, for example brown sugar for baking. I also order wheat berries in 45 pound increments. I can order a plastic bucket and have. The lid seals much better then anything else I have tried.

Very honestly, the way to cut the grocery budget is to cook everything scratch and start from an unprocessed start. It really helps.
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#15 of 46 Old 11-03-2005, 02:48 PM
 
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If you're marreid to the idea of organic everything and no meat...this wont't work for you.
There is an organization based in North georgia that basically does Coop food purchases for customes all over the country. They fed over 215,000 people in October. As long as they have a truck in your area you can join in. and if they don't already have one, if you're willing to help facilitate collectiong orders/money in your area,they may just send on e your way. Its a Christian Ministry organization called Angelfood Ministries. I think it's baptist or some other denomination to which I don't belong. They don't preach or anyhting...and there's no requirement to join. You just have to be wiling to put up with a "find Jesus and you'll be saved" tract in your box of food when you pick it up.
The way it works is this...
The local affiliates take orders the first week of each month. You have to pay when you place your order. You can buy one unit or multiple units...as many as you want. A unit is a box of food priced at $25 that is enouhg to feed a family of 4 for a week. The value of the box is genrally $50-$75.

Here's the California Menu for the month:

November 2005 Menu (California Only)
(4) 4 oz. Choice Sirloin Steaks
(1) 5 lb. Chicken Leg Quarters
(1) 1 lb. Beef Spare Ribs
(1) 1 lb. Ground Beef
(1) 1 lb. Kielbasa
(1) 1 lb. Ground Turkey
(1) 12 ct. Corn Tortillas
(1) 26 oz. Instant Mashed Potatoes
(1) Bunch, Broccoli
(1) 16 oz. Garden Salad Mix
(1) 15 oz. Yams
(1) 15 oz. Pineapple Chunks
(1) 11 oz. Mandarin Oranges
(1) 28 oz. Pancake Mix
(1) 32 oz. Shelf-Stable Milk
(1) Dozen Eggs
(1) Dessert
...all this for $25.

If you buy a box, you are elligible to but as many of the specials as you'd like as well...

November 2005 Special #1
1 4 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Beef Fillets (16 4-oz.Steaks) - $19
November 2005 Special #2
1 4 lb. Choice Strip Steaks (8 8-oz. Steaks) - $19

This organization is in 32 states and it really is helpful for those of us on a budget. After the orders are placed, the org spends the next two weeks working out the details with wholesalers/manufacturers/producers for that month's boxes. You just show up to your host site on the specified date at the end of the month and bring a box to get your food. anything you don't want will be donated to hungry families...or you can buy boxes directly to be donated.
The website is:
www.angelfoodministries.com

Its a great org because it is so wide reaching they get great deals on food for the perticipants.

Happy shopping!
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#16 of 46 Old 11-15-2005, 07:08 AM
 
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Since you are eating so much produce, then you also might want to consider buying ethyliene disks or ethylene bags. These disks and bags absorb the ethylene given off by fresh produce as it decays. It can significantly add to the usefulness of the vegetables and fruit. My biggest grocery problem prior to these bags was throwing out produce. Sometimes I see something that isn't on my list, is in season, and looks great, but Idon't get a chance to use it before it goes bad. Or I buy a big bag of celery for one recipe, for example, and use half of it and don't get a chance to utilize the rest before it goes bad.

There are also electric devices with a glass top that sit on your counter called Fruit Savers (can be used with lots of produce) that keep things at the correct temperature. The temp in the fridge often ruins some produce and room temp. is often too warm. The fruit saver is supposed to keep it at the appropriate temp.

Just to give you an idea, bananas might last two weeks vs. going bad in a few days.
I have the bags but not the disks or fruit saver. Ny Mom bought me the bags at QVC but I don't see them as available on the website right now. Those bags are reusable up to 8 times and she got a package of 50 assorted sizes for $20.

Disks

Bags at Gaiam

Fruit saver
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#17 of 46 Old 11-15-2005, 09:04 AM
 
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We also have breakfast for dinner once a week (make whole grain pancakes) and have soup with homemade bread once a week. The soup I make from scratch using a garlic and onion base with a vegetable builion for flavoring and then I add whatever produce is on special.. Sometimes I boil potatoes and mash them and add them to the soup to thicken it.

Best wishes on your saving!

Tonya

Simple Living, Joyful Homemaking, Homeschooling Mom of 6
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#18 of 46 Old 11-16-2005, 12:57 PM
 
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Lately, I've been really sticking to going to the store only 1x/week or less. This has been helping immensely. I used to have a tendency to run out when we were getting really low on something, but now, I just put it on the list and wait 'til I can go. And it's cut down on my trips. Simple, of course, but it's what's working for me lately.
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#19 of 46 Old 11-16-2005, 01:26 PM
 
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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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#20 of 46 Old 11-16-2005, 02:11 PM
 
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Yes, this is something that we do a lot, too. In fact, if there is something you use a lot of that you never see coupons for, contact the company. Often they will send you several coupons for the item. For instance, my children drink rice milk, which is rediculously priced even on sale. We contacted the company and now use coupons plus the sale price (the grocery store by us uses it as a loss leader about every six weeks or so), and it is much more reasonably priced. We stock up on it when it goes on sale, and then save money because we're not spending the extra dollar a box/jug when it's not on sale. Loss leaders plus coupons is a really great way to save. It takes a little bit of time, but in the end is WAY worth it when you consider what you've saved!

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#21 of 46 Old 12-01-2005, 10:44 AM
 
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These are all awesome and comprehensive suggestions The only new thing I can add is that you be REALLY organized about your leftovers. If I even suspect that I might not be able to use up leftover-something before it spoils, I stick it in the freezer to be used later. Even if the thing doesnt' survive freezing very well, it's worth the risk if you think it's not going to get used up anyway. The other thing is that I don't throw ANY food away. Even a tablespoon of leftover refried beans, I stick in the freezer and add it to the pot when next I'm making refried beans (for example). This is a method of increasing volume to stretch your dollars further.
The main philosophy I use on meal planning (and someone may have already said this) is that your meals can tandem off each other. If day one you make a roasted chicken, day two you can make chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, chicken and broccoli soup if you have leftover broccoli too...... It's like a game of tetris, trying to fit all of the leftovers together! It sounds so formulaic and boring, but over time you start to get a kick out of doing it like your grandma did it, just trying to use up the cup that runeth over!
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#22 of 46 Old 12-14-2005, 10:50 PM
 
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Ok i have a similar problem as the original poster. i don't really see how people eat all organic for less than say 600/month. right now that is my grocery budget and sometimes i have to get some non organic stuff to stick to the budget. kind of a bummer. i feel like the more we can buy organic the better, but i would like to buy close to 100% organic if possible. i do like to buy seventh generation stuff but we don't use many disposable products except for toilet paper. we just moved so i have nothing in my pantry at all. no condiments, nothing in the freezer, NOTHING. starting from scratch and we are going to move again in six months.

there are some things we have done to cut back. my goal is to cut back enough so we can afford all organic. i feel like we waste too much food. my husband will not eat leftovers or stuff from the freezer. i feel like making a fresh meal that he likes is better than him eating out. so that means that i can't plan a meal for leftovers unless he is out of town. so what i do is that i don't buy anything for lunch or snacks, and use the leftovers for that. i might use the leftover side items to supplement the next meal though. since i know i have the leftovers i don't need to buy snacks like bread, lunch meat, yogurt (we can get our calcium from other sources). i am trying to do better about buying what is in season. fruit around here is apples and if i can find frozen fruit for smoothies on sale. this time of year isn't it better to eat lots of grains and either only buy in season or buy frozen? potatoes are cheap and my husband loves those. beans and rice are cheap but my husband will not eat them no matter how i prepare them. soup he will go for sometimes. he does eat out lunches/breakfasts some, but we do not. that is $$$ but i'm not sure how to stop that other than have some muffins or sausage balls for him to take in the morning. i got some oatmeal in bulk and that is what we are having for breakfast. i do have to have something to put in my oatmeal like bananas, raisins, nutbutter, jelly, something! i just to look for meat on sale, but like i said i just moved here and it is tough to start all over. sometimes antibiotic free chicken breasts are reasonable and an organic whole chicken is in our budget as well.

typing this makes me realize that we could cut a lot out by not eating out. we could also cut by eating cheaper meals like beans and rice instead of a whole chicken with all the fixings. i don't think my husband would be down with that. so i will have to look for sales i guess.

you can definately save money by not buying convenience items like prepared /processed foods, disposable products, store bought cleaning products, meat, dairy, out of season veggies, etc. organic is going to be more if you buy the exact same things not organic. unfortunately a choice we have to make.
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#23 of 46 Old 01-14-2006, 11:05 PM
 
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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.
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#24 of 46 Old 01-30-2006, 03:02 PM
 
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Ask around. We just found out about an organic co-op in our area that, paid in full in advance (we're gonna do it with our tax return...), gives us plenty of veggies every week, at less than half of what we were spending on conventionally grown produce week to week. I assume we'll have to buy fruit and some veggies to fill in the gaps, but we did the math, and it's still a great cost savings, as we buy a TON of fresh produce, and organic is just so darned expensive!!!!

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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#25 of 46 Old 01-30-2006, 04:16 PM
 
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my husband will not eat leftovers or stuff from the freezer. i feel like making a fresh meal that he likes is better than him eating out.
I feel for you! My husband used to be the same way, but it has just meant that I had to get more creative about hiding the fact that we are having leftovers! For example, sometimes I will use leftover chicken to make a chicken lasagna or home-made chicken pizza. DH has no idea that the chicken I used isn't "fresh" unless I tell him. That goes over a whole lot better than just serving the warmed up chicken again the next night. You could also get away with adding leftover chicken or steak to a stir fry without anyone really noticing. Tonight we are having spaghetti, and I will chop the leftover burgers from last night up into meat balls and add them to the sauce. Now DH is fine with eating leftovers, so he knows all of my little tricks, but I didn't start letting him in on the secret until he started complimenting me on leftover meals.

Another way I have found to stretch the budget a little further is to do what probably most of our grandmothers did and start each dinner with a bowl of soup or a salad. It is healthy, inexpensive and filling, so everyone is better able to control their portions when it comes to the expensive stuff.
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#26 of 46 Old 01-30-2006, 05:37 PM
 
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The trick to affording organic food is to stop eating like an American and start eating like, well, an Indian or African or Mexican or whatever world cuisine you heppen to like (In the winter I trend Indian, and in the summer kind of Mediterranian).

Don't make expensive vegetables or protein sources the core of your diet. Most of the world fills up on grain and uses other ingrediants for flavor. Also, most of the world eats the same thing every single day. Food varies with the season, not with elaborate menu planning. When peaches are ripe (and cheap) eat zillions of them, then forget about peaches until next year.

The basis of your diet should be some kind of grain staple --rice, corn meal, barley, oatmeal, whatever you like. Make a big potful.

If you have extra money, top the grain with some flavorful protein sauce --lentils, beans, peas, tofu, milk, cheese..

If you still have extra money, add some salad or tasty veggies on the side or buy some seasonal fruit.

If you still have some extra money, enjoy some luxuries like coffee, tea, sugar, maple syrup, pistachios, chocolate...

If you still have some extra money, go out to eat at an ethnic restaurant in order to borrow ideas for new recipes.

Anyhow, that's the meal plan my family follows. In the summer we get a CSA box ($160/growing season) so I just use whatever is in the box to make sauce or stir-fry for the rice. We eat a diet that is at least half organic. locally grown food and it doesn't break the bank.

--AmyB
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#27 of 46 Old 02-03-2006, 07:23 PM
 
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My budget is approx $300/month. We are not able to get many organics on a budget like that! We will be planting an organic garden this spring, which is exciting! But we do eat very well (although not organic) on such a limited budget. I love to cook & bake, & make my family happy by doing so! I don't buy anything with trans-fat, try to eat mostly whole grain.

I study all of the flyers when they come in the mail. I check what we have already for food & figure out what we really NEED. Try to start making distinctions between NEEDS & WANTS. If you are only willing to go to one store than you won't save much $. I have one main store that I shop at Price Rite, it is kinda like a warehouse with produce (no fees) I buy all of our produce there. I also buy pasta, chicken, condiments, BS & vinegar, cereal, cheese, eggs, milk, bread, juice. I know their prices by heart, but many people would reccomend making a price book.

Have you read The Tightwad Gazette? This book talks about price books. It also talks about loss leader sales (LLS). The stores usually advertise their LLS on the first page of the flyer. They actually lose $ on these sales, but they are banking that you will buy all of your groceries there. If you only but the LLS of things that you use, & nothing else, you will SAVE. Then go to the store & buy their LLS. Get the idea?

I check to see if any of the sale flyers beats any of the prices at Price Rite, only for things I need of course! Then I start my list. When a certain price is very low I stock up. So I may go to 3 different stores one week, but I save so much, & I really don't have a choice, if I want to continue to ba a sah. But the next week I may only go to Price Rite.

I also get free venison meat from my father. He is an amazing at archery & very respectable about hunting. He makes ground meat, sausage, & steaks.

We don't eat out unless we get a gift certificate. I could buy over a hlf month of groceries with your eating out$! Gradually cut back, if you can.

I cook from scratch. That helps not only to save on the foodbill but also makes for a healthier diet. I make whole wheat pizza once a week (so cheap). I ususlly cook it outside on the grill, but we ran out last week so tonight it will be cooked in the oven. Usually roast a chicken or turkey breast, & make several meals out of that. Your freezer is your friend. Do you throw food out often? If you roast a chicken on Sunday, & you know you don't want chicken for the next 3 days, then freeze it. I personally would slice some to refridgerate for sandwiches or salads. Then slice or cube the rest depending on what you plan to use it for. Then you also freeze the carcass to make chicken stock. My $6 chicken feeds us for days! There a tons of threads on how to do this stuff.

I'm pretty passionate about saving money on groceries! It may sound like a hastle to go to 3 stores in 1 week, but for me it 's worth it. We bought our first house in July & therefore had to cut out our organic milk & tighten our budget even tighter. Organic milk was costing us over $30/week! Now milk costs us about $8/week. SO although I dream about the day we will have organic everything, I know that the discipline that I have in my spending habbits will one day get us there!
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#28 of 46 Old 02-04-2006, 01:22 AM
 
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Great posts!

I am all about cleverly disguising leftovers-- it's almost like a game for me now, and if I can't think of a way to reinvent it I freeze it an incorporate it the next time I make whatever it was and no one is the wiser...

I also take stock daily of my produce-- we are vegan so we go through a ton and I make sure I'm not letting anything spoil. When something is getting iffy I make soup and portion it and freeze it for my hubby to take in his thermos to work.

PS-- Costco is so worth the membership fee!!!!!!!!!
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#29 of 46 Old 02-07-2006, 01:32 PM
 
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Ericaleigh-
I just had to post and tell you that YOUR post was/is a great inspiration to me to do more to save on groceries. I've been a subsriber to this thread for a while, b/c the food bill is a constant issue in our house. My DH would be THRILLED if I could come up with a better plan to save money on food. Your post gave me the kick I need to step it up a bit.

We are a veg house, so we eat lots of veggies. We belong to a wholesale club, and I go to Trader Joe's about 1x/month, and our local grocery store sometimes weekly. I cook from scratch, too. Maybe 1x/month we'll order a pizza, or get TexMex takeout. We don't eat pre-packaged stuff, and although we love to snack ( ), we stick to pretzels, crackers, cheese-not many sweets. I think I have a bad habit of thinking I need something at the grocery store, when I *could* wait. Like, the kids don't *need* yogurt immediately. It could wait. Also, I think I could use a little more creativity when it gets low in the fridge or pantry.

Anyway, thanks for the tips everyone-and especially EricaLeigh!
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#30 of 46 Old 02-07-2006, 01:34 PM
 
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Oh, and this could be for another thread, but does anyone here make their own yogurt? We go through a lot b/c my kids love it (and so do I). I'm wondering if the cost benefits/time involved is worth it. What do you think?
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