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#1 of 35 Old 08-06-2011, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are lacto-ovo vegetarians, and I'm struggling with keeping everything in budget.  We currently spend about $120/week on groceries, and I know that it's too much for a family the size of ours (me, DH, 18mo who eats about 2-3 cups of food each day, 9mo who mainly breastfeeds but also does some table food as we do baby-led weaning), even in a high cost-of-living area.  I don't know how much is reasonable, but I know that we are spending too much right now.  I blame my addiction to avocados and goat cheese :)

 

So, how much does your family spend on groceries in an average week?

 

What accounts for the bulk of your grocery spending--- fresh herbs/produce?  Dairy products?  That last kind of prepackaged food you simply can't quit?  Desserts/sweets?  Basic staples?

 

What measures have you taken to control your grocery spending?

 

Any and all ideas and input would be helpful--- I don't have much experience in this area and I'm in a pretty staunchly meat-and-potatoes community.

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#2 of 35 Old 08-06-2011, 05:08 PM
 
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we seem to spend less in the summer because we are going to farms etc and avoiding impulse buys - and the hefty cost of organic produce not in  season - at the grocery store.  Id guess our family of 3 spends $200 a week on average !

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#3 of 35 Old 08-06-2011, 07:04 PM
 
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I think we spend at least 200 a week, and DH works for a natural food store where we get 20% off. We have two adults, a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I would guess we spend about $1000 a month on food, if you figure in Costco and Trader Joes, which are once a month for us. We spend a lot on produce. A lot. We juice. My kids drink a lot of goat kefir, at $6 a quart, and eat a lot of yogurt and some cheese. Dairy would be our second biggest expense. Next would be packaged foods. DH and I eat these rarely, but even when I try to make my own, I find the convenience of cheddar bunnies worth the extra cost. Rolling out and cutting the crackers is such a pain. My kids also eat a loaf of bread every 3 days, and we get the sprouted grain kind. We try to get a lot of cheese from Costco, since it is so much cheaper. Here in CA they have the same organic options we find at Whole Foods. Our CSA is $17 a week, but it only lasts about 3 days. We do it more for fun and taking the kids to the farm, so they see where food comes from. 

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#4 of 35 Old 08-06-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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$100 a week was what my mother spent to feed our family of four 30 years ago, so I feel really good about our ~$150 for a family of four today.

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#5 of 35 Old 08-06-2011, 08:13 PM
 
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We spend 150-200 a week most of the time, there's me, dh and dd. The bulk of that is produce, especially since we try to buy organic since dd is eating solid food now. It's amazing how fast she can tank three bucks worth of blueberries or pineapple. We don't do milk at all, and use cheese sparingly. dh's ice cream, packaged cereal (that's really the only packaged food we do consistently), nuts, dried fruit, and bath and kitchen products are what stood out on my last grocery tape. I need to find cheaper household cleaners, shampoo, lotion etc. Oh yeah, and my yogurt habit is a bad one.

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#6 of 35 Old 08-06-2011, 08:31 PM
 
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Well we're not vegetarian, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in and say 120 sounds fine for a family of 3 to be eating healthy. Spending less would involve decreasing the quality of your diet- something dh and I argue about! In 20 years you'll be glad you spend the extra 20-30 dollars a week on good food instead of saving that little bit by filling up on cheap white rice and potatoes, or w/e :) Our budget looks a bit like this:

30-50 dollars a week on produce at the farmer's market- closer to 50 if I am canning/preserving or closer to 30 if not

25 or so on 'dairy'- namely almond milk for ds, kefir, yogurt for dh and ds and eggs

40-50 on staples and household goods like flour, brown rice, dried fruit, spices, cleaning supplies, diapers

plus 40 or so a month on organic meat (we make it stretch :) )

 

We also occasionally buy things like flax oil, chia/flax seeds, protein powder for dh, etc, but we don't generally count them into the actual grocery budget. I also bake a lot, which is why flour is included so often.

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#7 of 35 Old 08-06-2011, 09:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Suddenly my $120/week doesn't look so bad :)

 

DH makes $24k/year...so we can't spend frivolously.  There are no bulk stores here, but I will try to avail myself of the farmer's market and farm stands more often.

 

I've been phasing out just about all of our prepared foods and finding ways to use EVERY bit of what we do buy...hopefully when I'm done I'll have brought it down a bit more.

 

Thanks for the help!

 

 

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#8 of 35 Old 08-08-2011, 04:10 PM
 
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We seem to spend about $550 a month for a family of 5 (kids are 7 1/2, 5, and 1), which works out to be about $126 a week. I was feeling bad that I spend too much, but I guess it isn't so bad anymore. Gosh the cost of food has gone up! It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. 

 

ETA: That doesn't count what we get from WIC so I guess it would really be about $600-$625 a month. 


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#9 of 35 Old 08-08-2011, 10:03 PM
 
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I'm supposed to spend $150 a week for 2 adults, a 5 year old and a 3 year old. I never make it anywhere near budget. I easily spend an extra $50 to $100 a week over that (I fear to say even more.) I even stopped buying organic and it didn't help. We do spend a lot on fruit. Then we had to put our daughter gluten free. Now I'm buying tinkyada pasta, which is amazing, but it's almost $4 a pound. And almond flour is about $7 a pound and I use it to make bread and other baked goods. Tonight I made gluten free brownies for our daughter's (3rd) birthday party at homeschool park day tomorrow. $5 for the almond butter, $6 for the chocolate sweetened with beet sugar (we think cane sugar gives her diarrhea.) 

 

I need to get our spending under control, but I don't know how. We can't use anything with cane sugar, gluten, tomatoes, or dairy for our daughter. I love how healthy the diet is, but I spend way too much.


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#10 of 35 Old 08-09-2011, 05:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post

I'm supposed to spend $150 a week for 2 adults, a 5 year old and a 3 year old. I never make it anywhere near budget. I easily spend an extra $50 to $100 a week over that (I fear to say even more.) I even stopped buying organic and it didn't help. We do spend a lot on fruit. Then we had to put our daughter gluten free. Now I'm buying tinkyada pasta, which is amazing, but it's almost $4 a pound. And almond flour is about $7 a pound and I use it to make bread and other baked goods. Tonight I made gluten free brownies for our daughter's (3rd) birthday party at homeschool park day tomorrow. $5 for the almond butter, $6 for the chocolate sweetened with beet sugar (we think cane sugar gives her diarrhea.) 

 

I need to get our spending under control, but I don't know how. We can't use anything with cane sugar, gluten, tomatoes, or dairy for our daughter. I love how healthy the diet is, but I spend way too much.


I am sure you have tried everything, but I just thought I'd throw it out there. Have you tried Amazon.com's grocery for some of this stuff? They tend to have good prices on the subscribe and save but you generally have to buy in bulk. Also I know that Trader Joe's have Almond meal for about $4 a pound.  

 


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#11 of 35 Old 08-09-2011, 10:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by maciascl View Post

I am sure you have tried everything, but I just thought I'd throw it out there. Have you tried Amazon.com's grocery for some of this stuff? They tend to have good prices on the subscribe and save but you generally have to buy in bulk. Also I know that Trader Joe's have Almond meal for about $4 a pound.  

 


 

Thanks for the tip. I do get stuff from amazon--just ordered 12 boxes of gluten free cereal that is not sweetened with cane sugar (I have only found two basic cereals that meet those guidelines.) I buy TONS of lara bars there. Tapioca flour was really cheap. I also buy baby wipes and such.

 

I bought some Trader Joe's almond meal, but need to be careful which recipes to use it in. It was fine in cookies, but I'm not sure how it would be in bread. I also learned that Whole Foods sells bulk coconut flour for $4 a pound. That's cheaper than amazon.

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#12 of 35 Old 08-10-2011, 02:58 PM
 
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I spend about $225-250 a week. There are 4 of us that eat like adults (we have a 17 and 13 year old), a 7 year old and a 2 year old. This includes dog and cat food, cleaning stuff, etc.

 

We eat a lot of organic. We get a CSA box weekly and 3 dozen local eggs delivered weekly, I buy through a bulk natural foods club every other month, we hit Costco and Trader Joe's once a month, as well as a grocery outlet. I have food storage in the garage.

 

I cook from scratch most of the time. I can our own jam, pickles, etc. I make our almond milk (I have a nifty soymilk maker that has paid for itself many times over) or soymilk (from organic soybeans). I use the crockpot many times a week, making beans in it is a snap ( for burritos, taco salad, whatever) or soup or... menu planning breakfast and dinner saves us a lot. I recycle leftovers that don't get used for lunches.


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#13 of 35 Old 08-13-2011, 04:46 PM
 
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I just picked up this book yesterday and started reading it because my DH and I need to get our food budget under control.  We are ovo-lacto vegetarians that tend toward vegan with not too much dairy in our diet.  We spend about $75 for the two of us.

 

Wildly affordable organic : eat fabulous food, get healthy, and save the planet--all on $5 a day or less by Linda Watson.  She actually was using the amount of money that a person on food stamps would be given.  So far it is really cool and it has seasonal recipes to use the organic food when it is in season.  The more I read it the more excited I become to cut our food budget to something that would overdraw our bank account.


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#14 of 35 Old 08-15-2011, 12:02 PM
 
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Wow, I guess we're doing better than I realized!  We spend about $350/month, or about $85-90/week, for groceries for 3 of us: me, DH, and our 2 yo.  (The baby is EBF.)  That bill also includes household items like toothpaste, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, cat food/litter, etc.  It jumps a bit higher on the rare occasion we buy disposable diapers (those things are just stupid expensive), since we don't normally budget for those. 

 

We've had to work REALLY hard to get the bill this low.  We also live in a fairly low COL region; in another area this might not be possible.  Also, a couple of caveats.  One, we do not count beer and wine in our grocery budget; I keep that as a separate line item so that I can use the cost to convince DH to consume a bit less.  It's not excessive, IMO -- I usually have one beer or glass of wine a night, and DH usually has 2 -- but it still adds up.  We still need to work on this.  If we tallied this in with our grocery budget it would probably add another $50-75 a month.  Two, we have a restaurant budget (this includes take-out, like pizza) of about $100/month, so that's usually a few meals for which we would otherwise need to buy groceries.   

 

Here's what we do to keep it low (and it's been a LOT of work to figure all this out):

- We split a CSA share with our next-door neighbors.  This costs us $15/week and provides enough produce for about 3-4 meals.  We still have to supplement with store-bought produce, though. 

- We stopped buying organic (besides the CSA share).  The organic produce in our stores is usually too old and goes bad too quickly to justify spending the extra money on it. 

- We don't buy or eat any meat. 

- We mooch off our parents!  At least two nights a month, we eat dinner at my parents' or my MIL's house. 

- We mostly stay away from packaged foods, though we spring for a few things: graham crackers, generic bran flakes and cheerios, tortillas, bread, Goldfish crackers, frozen veggie burgers, etc.  I make my own tortilla chips, tomato sauce (from canned tomato purees), salsa, etc.  We often get excellent bread for free from friends who pick up and distribute out-of-date stuff from fancy bakeries. 

- Besides grains, beans, spices and flour, we don't buy in bulk.  I don't find that it saves us money (on most things) and we end up overconsuming some items because we have so much of them that the supply seems endless.  Having smaller amounts of things seems to keep us from 'pigging out' on them. 

- We treat expensive items (olives, nice cheeses, avocados, fancy crackers, frozen fake-meat items, etc) as occasional treats and luxuries.  Cheap food is for everyday consumption.  I use very little of the expensive stuff, adding cheaper things when possible to make it 'stretch.' 

- I buy the cheapest versions of things if it doesn't make much difference in the end product, i.e., dried TVP rather than the frozen 'designer' variety, dry beans rather than canned, frozen spinach rather than fresh, etc. 

- I nearly always buy generics. 

- Besides the aforementioned beer and wine expenditures, we generally only drink water.  Juice, milk, soy/rice milks, and soda (ick) are way too expensive.  DH gets store-brand carbonated water and splashes lemon juice into it as a "soda" treat. 

- I shop at our local discount supermarket for everything I can get there, and then go to the expensive supermarket for only the things I can't get at the first place.

- I try to be careful with coupons, and only clip coupons for things I already buy.  Otherwise I find it's just a ploy to get me to buy more-expensive varieties of things. 

- For ethnic-food items, I seek out the local food import stores and buy in bulk there.  I would never ever ever buy spices, rice, cornmeal, tamari, hot sauce, etc. at the supermarket.  These are often also good places to buy things like vegetable/olive oil, flour, tofu, fresh herbs, and canned/jarred items like olives, pickles, etc.  I've figured out what items are cheaper at our local Indian, Lebanese, and Vietnamese markets.  We're lucky that we live in a big city with easy access to so many small ethnic markets. 

 

Probably the single most important cost-saving thing I do is plan our menus about 2 weeks at a time.  I plan around what we already have and what we're getting in our CSA share for the week, and then I make the shopping list to reflect ONLY what I need for those meals.  That way I'm not overbuying (especially produce, which will go bad).  More importantly, I have what I need for those meals, necessitating fewer "last-minute" or "only a couple of items" trips to the store (which tend to be the kind of trips where I buy expensive treats we don't really need).  I was finding that when I was planning meals on the fly every day, I often needed to run to the convenient store at the corner to pick up some item I needed, and paying an enormous premium for the privilege of grocery-shopping within sight of my front door. 

 

We've also identified the things that really matter to us in terms of getting a 'premium' product, and we've made compromises to make sure they fit in the budget.  For example: it is important to us to support fair-trade coffee production, so we will not buy any coffee that is not fair trade.  In order to accommodate this in our budget, we compromise by drawing a hard line about "off-limits" expenditures: no fancy coffee creamers, no coffee at coffee shops, etc.  I've also had to reduce the amount of coffee I drink in a day in order to keep this budget line item within reason.  We have made similar compromises to allow for organic yogurt and organic, cage-free eggs.  (We buy the better product, but we agree that we will use less of it.  This seems to work for us.) 

 

 


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#15 of 35 Old 08-16-2011, 04:29 AM
 
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this is an inspiring thread. we are a family of 2 adults, and a 19 month old.. I've always felt like we spent too much money on groceries, but I have also never worked out the dollar amount we spend. uh oh.. : )  For those of you who meal plan.. did it take a while to get motivated to do this? I talk about meal planning a lot, but never seem to get around to doing it.. I would love to be more aware of our spending & do it in a responsible way.

 

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#16 of 35 Old 08-16-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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Yikes! I knew we spent a lot on groceries but am almost embarrassed to say we spend around $800/month on groceries for a family of 4 (DD is 3, DS is 1). BUT, we are probably 90% organic and not willing to compromise on that. We are slowly making the switch to vegan and mostly eat vegetarian. DH still likes his deli meats and bacon (again, organic/no hormone so pretty expensive!). DD likes to have cheese and we have allowed it but we have pretty much replaced that expense with Daiya (also pretty expensive and a luxury for DH who has been lactose intolerant for nearly 3 years after a 35 year love affair with cheese). I would say that the majority of our grocery bill is produce...oh and hummus (I keep saying we need to learn how to make our own but the stuff we buy @ Whole Foods is amazing!) and avocados.

Some cost saving ideas we are working on now to try and bring this cost down are utilizing a local organic produce delivery service that we would be able to pick a basket with a set price and we get the freshest, local, organic produce and we know how much we are spending each week, and can fill in the gaps at Natural Grocers ( A LOT cheaper than Whole foods). Also, we have been using more natural cleaners (vinegar, baking soda, lemon, etc.) instead of popping for the 'green' low-toxins cleaners. Next on my list is our own laundry detergent and deoderant. It is constantly evolving since we are a 1 income family, I hope we will be able to take some of our cost saving ways with us when DH starts working again!

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#17 of 35 Old 08-16-2011, 08:29 AM
 
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We make our own hummus all the time -- DH practically lives on the stuff.  It's ridiculously easy, and very cheap to make.  Hummus manufacturers make a truly enormous profit on their stuff!!!  I'd figure it costs us less than a dollar's worth of ingredients to make a mixing bowl full -- maybe 32 oz. or so.  PM me if you'd like our recipe. 

 

As far as meal planning goes, yes, it took us a long time to get motivated to make a plan and stick with it.  When I started doing the Motivated Moms lists to help keep my house clean, I found that meal planning fit in well that, so they tend to go together for me.  "Plan meals" is one of the task items on the MM list.  It helps to have that reminder. 

 

I would have said, a year ago, that having meals planned in advance for the entire week would be too limiting on my creativity.  Or I might have said that it would restrict us too much in terms of making last-minute plans (restaurants, etc.).  But now that I'm doing it regularly, I would recommend it for everyone.  It truly saves us a ton of money, as I said in my PP, and it also saves a ton of time/energy/stress for me, which is valuable with two very small children at home. 

 

I still get to be creative -- and I get to be more creative, in fact, because I can plan the meals ahead of time and shop to the menu, so I can come up with all sorts of interesting ideas.  If I find myself planning too much of the same stuff, I'll flip through a cookbook and come up with something new.  I never used to be able to use my cookbooks that way, because I was always cooking at the last minute (and you never have all the ingredients on hand for a new recipe, after all). 

 

Having a plan in place for the week can also help me plan good ways to use leftovers -- I'll make a double batch of rice to go with a curry, then the next day I'll use the leftover rice as the base for fried rice and stir fry.  Or if I'm making baked potatoes, I'll make extra, then slice and fry them the next day to go with omelettes.  You get the idea.  If I have a plan ahead of time, I know how much of each thing to make to reduce energy use, time, and food waste.  We almost never throw any food away at our house anymore.  (We also plan one meal a week as "leftovers" to be sure we've used everything up.)

 

Here's my advice about how to get started with meal planninhg.  First, use up as much of the food in your house as you possibly can.  Be creative.  Be unusual.  But start with a fairly empty pantry/refrigerator.  Then, look at the handful of things you have left, and come up with 5 or 6 creative meal ideas to use them up.  Write down all the ingredients you will need to purchase for those meals.  Go buy them all at once.  Then (and this is important) DO NOT GO TO THE STORE AGAIN until you have prepared all of the meals on your plan.  In the meantime, if you find yourself running low on something you didn't count on, be creative with substitutes, or just do without it.  I find that about half of our grocery purchases are "extras" -- items we don't really need for our meals, but things we just like to have around the house.  Getting them off the list really trims our grocery bill, esp. because many of them are more expensive packaged things.  If I buy only what I need for planned meals, then I have to eat leftovers for lunch instead of heating up a can of soup, or eating cheese and crackers, for example. 

 

Good luck!  This has made a big difference in our food expenditures, and I highly recommend it!

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#18 of 35 Old 08-22-2011, 05:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Comtessa View Post

Wow, I guess we're doing better than I realized!  We spend about $350/month, or about $85-90/week, for groceries for 3 of us: me, DH, and our 2 yo.  (The baby is EBF.)  That bill also includes household items like toothpaste, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, cat food/litter, etc.  It jumps a bit higher on the rare occasion we buy disposable diapers (those things are just stupid expensive), since we don't normally budget for those. 

 

We've had to work REALLY hard to get the bill this low.  We also live in a fairly low COL region; in another area this might not be possible.  Also, a couple of caveats.  One, we do not count beer and wine in our grocery budget; I keep that as a separate line item so that I can use the cost to convince DH to consume a bit less.  It's not excessive, IMO -- I usually have one beer or glass of wine a night, and DH usually has 2 -- but it still adds up.  We still need to work on this.  If we tallied this in with our grocery budget it would probably add another $50-75 a month.  Two, we have a restaurant budget (this includes take-out, like pizza) of about $100/month, so that's usually a few meals for which we would otherwise need to buy groceries.   

 

Here's what we do to keep it low (and it's been a LOT of work to figure all this out):

- We split a CSA share with our next-door neighbors.  This costs us $15/week and provides enough produce for about 3-4 meals.  We still have to supplement with store-bought produce, though. 

- We stopped buying organic (besides the CSA share).  The organic produce in our stores is usually too old and goes bad too quickly to justify spending the extra money on it. 

- We don't buy or eat any meat. 

- We mooch off our parents!  At least two nights a month, we eat dinner at my parents' or my MIL's house. 

- We mostly stay away from packaged foods, though we spring for a few things: graham crackers, generic bran flakes and cheerios, tortillas, bread, Goldfish crackers, frozen veggie burgers, etc.  I make my own tortilla chips, tomato sauce (from canned tomato purees), salsa, etc.  We often get excellent bread for free from friends who pick up and distribute out-of-date stuff from fancy bakeries. 

- Besides grains, beans, spices and flour, we don't buy in bulk.  I don't find that it saves us money (on most things) and we end up overconsuming some items because we have so much of them that the supply seems endless.  Having smaller amounts of things seems to keep us from 'pigging out' on them. 

- We treat expensive items (olives, nice cheeses, avocados, fancy crackers, frozen fake-meat items, etc) as occasional treats and luxuries.  Cheap food is for everyday consumption.  I use very little of the expensive stuff, adding cheaper things when possible to make it 'stretch.' 

- I buy the cheapest versions of things if it doesn't make much difference in the end product, i.e., dried TVP rather than the frozen 'designer' variety, dry beans rather than canned, frozen spinach rather than fresh, etc. 

- I nearly always buy generics. 

- Besides the aforementioned beer and wine expenditures, we generally only drink water.  Juice, milk, soy/rice milks, and soda (ick) are way too expensive.  DH gets store-brand carbonated water and splashes lemon juice into it as a "soda" treat. 

- I shop at our local discount supermarket for everything I can get there, and then go to the expensive supermarket for only the things I can't get at the first place.

- I try to be careful with coupons, and only clip coupons for things I already buy.  Otherwise I find it's just a ploy to get me to buy more-expensive varieties of things. 

- For ethnic-food items, I seek out the local food import stores and buy in bulk there.  I would never ever ever buy spices, rice, cornmeal, tamari, hot sauce, etc. at the supermarket.  These are often also good places to buy things like vegetable/olive oil, flour, tofu, fresh herbs, and canned/jarred items like olives, pickles, etc.  I've figured out what items are cheaper at our local Indian, Lebanese, and Vietnamese markets.  We're lucky that we live in a big city with easy access to so many small ethnic markets. 

 

Probably the single most important cost-saving thing I do is plan our menus about 2 weeks at a time.  I plan around what we already have and what we're getting in our CSA share for the week, and then I make the shopping list to reflect ONLY what I need for those meals.  That way I'm not overbuying (especially produce, which will go bad).  More importantly, I have what I need for those meals, necessitating fewer "last-minute" or "only a couple of items" trips to the store (which tend to be the kind of trips where I buy expensive treats we don't really need).  I was finding that when I was planning meals on the fly every day, I often needed to run to the convenient store at the corner to pick up some item I needed, and paying an enormous premium for the privilege of grocery-shopping within sight of my front door. 

 

We've also identified the things that really matter to us in terms of getting a 'premium' product, and we've made compromises to make sure they fit in the budget.  For example: it is important to us to support fair-trade coffee production, so we will not buy any coffee that is not fair trade.  In order to accommodate this in our budget, we compromise by drawing a hard line about "off-limits" expenditures: no fancy coffee creamers, no coffee at coffee shops, etc.  I've also had to reduce the amount of coffee I drink in a day in order to keep this budget line item within reason.  We have made similar compromises to allow for organic yogurt and organic, cage-free eggs.  (We buy the better product, but we agree that we will use less of it.  This seems to work for us.) 

 

 




This is totally my ideal for my shopping strategy, however I have a DH who is constantly telling me, "There's nothing to eat and I'm starving!" even though there's ALWAYS food in our house.  It's just not not the food he WANTS.  I also have not been able to get him to give up on his juice habit, and as a necessity of money savings, I've had to start buying drink mixes for him so he doesn't drink all of the little juice we have and/or go to the store on his own and spend more on it!  Anyone have any advice for a picky husband problem preventing their budget from working?!!

 

We should really only be spending about $80 a week on food but always spend at least $100.  So we either end up spending more than we should or we end up eating really boring/bland food at the end of the month since we have already expended our budget!


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#19 of 35 Old 08-23-2011, 06:31 AM
 
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We spend about $150/week for a family of three (me, dh, and 11 year old son who eats like an adult!).  We are vegan, I make a lot from scratch, and we don't eat a lot of processed foods (but there are some).  I try to buy organic whenever possible (but it's not always possible), and in bulk when it makes sense.  

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#20 of 35 Old 08-23-2011, 06:55 AM
 
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Here's my advice about how to get started with meal planninhg.  First, use up as much of the food in your house as you possibly can.  Be creative.  Be unusual.  But start with a fairly empty pantry/refrigerator.  Then, look at the handful of things you have left, and come up with 5 or 6 creative meal ideas to use them up.  Write down all the ingredients you will need to purchase for those meals.  Go buy them all at once.  Then (and this is important) DO NOT GO TO THE STORE AGAIN until you have prepared all of the meals on your plan.  In the meantime, if you find yourself running low on something you didn't count on, be creative with substitutes, or just do without it.  I find that about half of our grocery purchases are "extras" -- items we don't really need for our meals, but things we just like to have around the house.  Getting them off the list really trims our grocery bill, esp. because many of them are more expensive packaged things.  If I buy only what I need for planned meals, then I have to eat leftovers for lunch instead of heating up a can of soup, or eating cheese and crackers, for example. 

 

 


I think this is really great advice! I am guilty of LOVING to stroll down each and every aisle of the grocery store but just recently, we're trying to change our ways.  I realized this week (as we're cooking mostly from things we already had in the house) that I actually PREFER to cook creatively--using what I have in different ways--rather than run out to the grocery store for things I think I "need."  Besides, when I actually took stock of what we had in our pantry and freezer, we easily had a week and a half of dinners sitting around.


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#21 of 35 Old 08-24-2011, 06:52 AM
 
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That reminds me of a piece of advice I hear every so often -- "shop the perimeter."  (There's an MDC mama on here who has it in her siggy; it's fabulous!)  The freshest, least processed stuff in a grocery store is always along the store's perimeter.  It's usually less expensive for the actual food value you get, too.  If you do the perimeter first, then just hit the aisles for the things on your list, you'll find yourself buying far fewer "treats."  I am an awful impulse shopper, so I've had to develop some serious strategies for avoiding it.  I have learned to skip certain aisles altogether because they're too tempting (cereals, snacks, candy, frozen foods).  If I need something in one of those sections, I go straight to where I know they keep it, then avoid looking at anything else!  (Or I send DH in after it as he is mostly resistant to impulse shopping!) 

 

Incidentally, on grocery budgets in general -- I read another piece of advice yesterday -- to buy nonperishables once a month, then buy perishables only as you need them.  I haven't tried this strategy, but it might work.


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#22 of 35 Old 08-25-2011, 07:10 AM
 
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Well, it's late in the summer for this idea, but I would recommend buying produce from the farmer and freezing/preserving. For example, we bought organic blueberries from a farm up north in July. We paid $2.40/lb and bought 40 lbs. This may not be realistic if your monthly budget is too tight. In that case, frozen fruits & veggies are generally cheaper than off-season fresh produce.

I'm going vegan, but my husband & daughter are omni. So, we buy our raw milk from a farmer. In our state (Indiana), selling raw milk is illegal, so we participate in a cow share program. Since we own the cow, we can consume the milk however we want. wink1.gif It's cheaper than the hormone-free milk at the grocery. And we know the cows are happy. smile.gif We don't make cheese, so we just buy it at the farmer's market (cheaper than grocery).

I know that buying organic at a big chain store is pricey, but the VT chapter of NOFA just released a study showing that most items are cheaper at the farmer's market than at the grocery.

Also, if you're politically active at all (or just care about this topic), you can write your congress person and ask them to update the farm bill to include all fruit and veggie subsidies, especially for small farms & to remove subsidies that primarily benefit giant corporations.

Hope that helps!

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#23 of 35 Old 08-25-2011, 08:48 AM
 
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This is totally my ideal for my shopping strategy, however I have a DH who is constantly telling me, "There's nothing to eat and I'm starving!" even though there's ALWAYS food in our house.  It's just not not the food he WANTS.  I also have not been able to get him to give up on his juice habit, and as a necessity of money savings, I've had to start buying drink mixes for him so he doesn't drink all of the little juice we have and/or go to the store on his own and spend more on it!  Anyone have any advice for a picky husband problem preventing their budget from working?!!

 

We should really only be spending about $80 a week on food but always spend at least $100.  So we either end up spending more than we should or we end up eating really boring/bland food at the end of the month since we have already expended our budget!

 

LOL--I'm in the same situation. We can have a fridge full of food but if it's not prepackaged or prepared, my husband will complain that there's nothing to eat. He also has quite the sweet tooth so we spend a lot more on juice, cookies, candy etc. than I normally would (although I do consume my fair share of ice cream.) I've mostly given up trying to convince my hubby that we don't need the sweet treats. Our budget is higher than I would like, but I see it as a compromise. We also don't eat meat and we only go out to eat once or twice a month, so I rationalize that we spend less than most families--although after reading this thread, I realize we could do a lot better!

 


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#24 of 35 Old 08-25-2011, 09:20 AM
 
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My DH is the same way!!!!  I've solved it by making large batches of things he likes from scratch and having them on-hand for him to eat at a moment's notice: things that are moderately "junky" like mac & cheese, cookies, etc.  Cold salads are good too -- like pasta salad, cous cous salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, etc.  They store well and he can pull 'em out for a snack without working too hard at it.  :)  You could also try making salty snacky food from scratch, like potato chips or french fries -- pretty easy if you don't mind deep-frying.  I have a friend who dehydrates cooked black beans and sprinkles them with chili powder, salt and nutritional yeast for a snack food.  I find that he does pretty well with raw nuts and dried fruit for snacking, too, though those can be pretty pricey. 

 

I've learned my lesson about not having *any* of those things around.  If we don't have anything for him to snack on when a 'snack attack' hits, he just walks over to the corner store and comes back with beer, barbeque potato chips and ice cream sandwiches. irked.gif  Better to have some healthier, cheaper options available! 

 

I suppose I shouldn't complain.  Before he married me, the man lived on Taco Bell. 


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#25 of 35 Old 08-27-2011, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I keep a list of meals we've shopped for or have the supplies for on the fridge.  That way, when someone (*cough cough DH cough*) complains that there's nothing to eat, I can say "Huh.  Why don't you go see what's on the list?"

 

We make just about everything ourselves: granola, hummus, tzatziki, bread, crackers, baked goods, stock, salsa/jam/pesto/etc.  Our real issues seem to be with produce and cheese...but now that it's August, we have plenty of tomatoes and spices from our garden, and that's helping quite a bit.  For some reason our bell peppers never really took off, though :(

 

One of my favorite tricks is tagine!  It's basically a slow-cooker, but the neolithic version.  It's a terra cotta cooking pot and cone-shaped cover designed for either direct-heat (stovetop, fire) or indirect-heat (oven, earth baking) use.  You layer whatever you have in your kitchen in it: a dry grain (we like barley), root vegetables, other vegetables, a few tomatoes on top, whatever spices you feel like adding, a tiny bit of oil and about a cup of stock.  Then you just leave it to simmer on low heat for about an hour.  The shape of the pot preserves the liquid and makes it go a long way as steam for the vegetables and cooking water for the grains, but since it's handmade and therefore not quite perfect, it can vent pressure through the gap between the pieces..  And, since terra cotta is porous, over time you don't have to use as many spices or as much oil because the pot retains flavors and fats.  I like to have tagine once a week, usually at the end of the week, because it's a great way to make tiny leftover amounts of whatever produce we have really delicious with a minimum of fuss.

 

Our other big saver is stock.  We keep all the trimmings of our vegetables in baggies in the freezer.  Once we have a full baggie of mirepoix-type vegetables (celery, onion, garlic, carrot, pepper) and a full baggie of whatever else, we can make stock with zero additional cost.  I heat a tiny amount of oil in a stockpot, toss in the mirepoix, sweat until translucent, then add the other baggie of veggie trimmings and 5 cups water and simmer for almost 2 hours.  I strain out the vegetables with cheesecloth, and store the liquid stock in the fridge to be used as needed.

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#26 of 35 Old 08-29-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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My DH is the same way!!!!  I've solved it by making large batches of things he likes from scratch and having them on-hand for him to eat at a moment's notice: things that are moderately "junky" like mac & cheese, cookies, etc.  Cold salads are good too -- like pasta salad, cous cous salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, etc.  They store well and he can pull 'em out for a snack without working too hard at it.  :)  You could also try making salty snacky food from scratch, like potato chips or french fries -- pretty easy if you don't mind deep-frying.  I have a friend who dehydrates cooked black beans and sprinkles them with chili powder, salt and nutritional yeast for a snack food.  I find that he does pretty well with raw nuts and dried fruit for snacking, too, though those can be pretty pricey. 

 

I've learned my lesson about not having *any* of those things around.  If we don't have anything for him to snack on when a 'snack attack' hits, he just walks over to the corner store and comes back with beer, barbeque potato chips and ice cream sandwiches. irked.gif  Better to have some healthier, cheaper options available! 

 

I suppose I shouldn't complain.  Before he married me, the man lived on Taco Bell. 


I have done this occasionally and it works pretty good, other than if I have home made cookies in the freezer the go QUICK!  I have another added complication in my life which is that I'm a nursing student and I work part time, so when schools in full swing, I have a hard time finding time to do all this prep work.  What I have done in the past is to just to buy the junky food and tell myself  'if he wants to eat crap, it's his body and his choice'.  Sometimes it's easier to buy the junky food on sale and have it around then to have to worry about it and get stressed when he complains there is nothing to eat!  I feel like I'm exactly in the same boat as you, gitanamama in that I usually feel it's a battle I don't want to fight. I just started using my dehydrator though, and he has really like the dehydrated tofu 'jerky' and seitan 'jerky'  so when I have a bit of time and ingredients again, I'll make some big batches and keep them in stock for those munchies!  I think I'll try those black beans too..they sound yummy!

 

I am happy that I just discovered a really nice discount grocery store which sells a lot of the healthier go-to foods for much cheaper than I had been paying previously. 

 


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#27 of 35 Old 08-29-2011, 09:24 AM
 
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Are you able to post recipes of your tofu and seitan jerky? They sound awesome and I'd love to use my food dehydrator. Thanks!

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I have done this occasionally and it works pretty good, other than if I have home made cookies in the freezer the go QUICK!  I have another added complication in my life which is that I'm a nursing student and I work part time, so when schools in full swing, I have a hard time finding time to do all this prep work.  What I have done in the past is to just to buy the junky food and tell myself  'if he wants to eat crap, it's his body and his choice'.  Sometimes it's easier to buy the junky food on sale and have it around then to have to worry about it and get stressed when he complains there is nothing to eat!  I feel like I'm exactly in the same boat as you, gitanamama in that I usually feel it's a battle I don't want to fight. I just started using my dehydrator though, and he has really like the dehydrated tofu 'jerky' and seitan 'jerky'  so when I have a bit of time and ingredients again, I'll make some big batches and keep them in stock for those munchies!  I think I'll try those black beans too..they sound yummy!

 

I am happy that I just discovered a really nice discount grocery store which sells a lot of the healthier go-to foods for much cheaper than I had been paying previously. 

 



 

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#28 of 35 Old 08-29-2011, 11:09 AM
 
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I don't have a lot of time right now to keep the fridge stocked but I did make a big batch of potato salad, pasta salad (thanks for the suggestion Comtessa!) and whole wheat muffins. My hubby was definitely a junk food man before we met so I'm proud that he's come as far as he has but I still wish he'd do a little more of the cooking. That being said, the last time he made soup, he added romaine lettuce to it......


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#29 of 35 Old 10-13-2011, 07:47 PM
 
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Good job to all the mamas who have cut back their bill, and good luck to all those who are trying! I just went through my grocery purchases for the last few months using my online banking and realized I spend about 450/ month. It's 2 adults and dd (4.5yo). We buy some organic foods, but mostly not. I have just decided to go GF and soy-free for a while, so that might encourage the meal planning. I want to cut back a bit, even 50.00 would help. My goal is to make a meal plan, and start making homemade hummus, bread, dips, etc. Wish me luck!

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#30 of 35 Old 11-23-2011, 12:10 PM
 
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I love all your advice.  I'm new to this site, wound up on here by accident and there is just so much great stuff that I joined!  I will be having my first child in May 2012 and I will be a stay at home mother and house wife for the first time.  I would love more of your advice!  I've been doing tons of listening and asking other women and I have a blog: mrskitchentableadvice.weebly.com were I talk about budgeting and so on, but I have no clue how to meal plan and what is this Mothers Maker?  Please, please share all!  Even your house cleaning organizing tips.  Are you a stay at home mom?  Do you get lonely or bored?  I can't wait!

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