We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

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stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:17 pm

I don't know whether to be thankful that we live in an area with an awesome grocer or take with a grain of salt what the OP is saying. Our monthly food costs are $200-$300 (family of 3) and I am a 210lbs. competitive athlete who needs 3k+ kcals a day to simply maintain my weight. We literally never eat out, consume virtually no processed food, and (thankfully) are all the type of people who have no issues eating the same things over and over again; I am trying to figure out how we could even store $230/wk worth of food in our refrigerator and pantry, let alone eat it all and still spend $150 more on eating out.

Part of my job is teaching families how to eat healthy on a budget, but I wouldn't even know where to begin with a pair who are spending $1500/month. Other than a few people I've worked with who eat out almost every single meal, those type of numbers are on a totally different planet than what I am used to dealing with.

traumadoc77
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by traumadoc77 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:19 pm

Our family of 5, is about 1500$ per month. We could buy cheaper stuff but don't.

denovo
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by denovo » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:23 pm

jay22 wrote:
The single biggest factor, though, is 98% vegetarian diet and cooking at home extensively.

Hope that helps!
I guess it depends , and I wouldn't make generalizations. A vegetarian who goes Whole Foods organic may have pretty big bills, even higher relative to someone who gets lower or "regular" grade meat in bulk at Costco. If you have room in the freezer, I see no downsides to getting meat in bulk at Costco.
Last edited by denovo on Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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jay22
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by jay22 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:02 pm

denovo wrote:
jay22 wrote:
The single biggest factor, though, is 98% vegetarian diet and cooking at home extensively.

Hope that helps!
I guess it depends , and I wouldn't make generalizations. A vegetarian who goes Whole Foods organic may have pretty big deals or even higher relative to someone who gets lower or "reguar" grade meat in bulk at Costco. If you have room in the freezer, I see no downsides to getting meat in bulk at Costco.
Wasn't making any generalizations, just saying what we have found out to be true in our case. YMMV, but I am certain you can save a heck lot on food if you're vegetarian.

tj
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by tj » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:15 pm

Have you considered a cooked meal home delivery service?

Such as

www.plated.com
http://www.dinein2nite.com


With your current expenses, you might save $

dolphinsaremammals
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:21 pm

stoptothink wrote:I don't know whether to be thankful that we live in an area with an awesome grocer or take with a grain of salt what the OP is saying. Our monthly food costs are $200-$300 (family of 3) and I am a 210lbs. competitive athlete who needs 3k+ kcals a day to simply maintain my weight. We literally never eat out, consume virtually no processed food, and (thankfully) are all the type of people who have no issues eating the same things over and over again; I am trying to figure out how we could even store $230/wk worth of food in our refrigerator and pantry, let alone eat it all and still spend $150 more on eating out.

Part of my job is teaching families how to eat healthy on a budget, but I wouldn't even know where to begin with a pair who are spending $1500/month. Other than a few people I've worked with who eat out almost every single meal, those type of numbers are on a totally different planet than what I am used to dealing with.
Why don;t you post what you buy in a month, that would be helpful. I would be interested to see it.

tj
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by tj » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:25 pm

stoptothink wrote:I don't know whether to be thankful that we live in an area with an awesome grocer or take with a grain of salt what the OP is saying. Our monthly food costs are $200-$300 (family of 3) and I am a 210lbs. competitive athlete who needs 3k+ kcals a day to simply maintain my weight. We literally never eat out, consume virtually no processed food, and (thankfully) are all the type of people who have no issues eating the same things over and over again; I am trying to figure out how we could even store $230/wk worth of food in our refrigerator and pantry, let alone eat it all and still spend $150 more on eating out.

Part of my job is teaching families how to eat healthy on a budget, but I wouldn't even know where to begin with a pair who are spending $1500/month. Other than a few people I've worked with who eat out almost every single meal, those type of numbers are on a totally different planet than what I am used to dealing with.

I go out virtually every meal and I've never topped $600/month and that's when I'm not paying attention to finances. I can't imagine spending $1500 for 1.

stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:23 pm

dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:I don't know whether to be thankful that we live in an area with an awesome grocer or take with a grain of salt what the OP is saying. Our monthly food costs are $200-$300 (family of 3) and I am a 210lbs. competitive athlete who needs 3k+ kcals a day to simply maintain my weight. We literally never eat out, consume virtually no processed food, and (thankfully) are all the type of people who have no issues eating the same things over and over again; I am trying to figure out how we could even store $230/wk worth of food in our refrigerator and pantry, let alone eat it all and still spend $150 more on eating out.

Part of my job is teaching families how to eat healthy on a budget, but I wouldn't even know where to begin with a pair who are spending $1500/month. Other than a few people I've worked with who eat out almost every single meal, those type of numbers are on a totally different planet than what I am used to dealing with.
Why don;t you post what you buy in a month, that would be helpful. I would be interested to see it.
We shop about every other week. If anybody is in Utah County, Utah, you are probably aware of our awesome local grocer LoLo's. This is a snapshot of a usual bi-weekly shopping trip:

5doz eggs ~$5
2 packages (6-8lbs.) of chicken breast - $1.99/lb ~$15
1 4-5lbs. beef roast ~$15
4 1/2 gallons unsweetened almond milk ~$10
12 16oz. packages of various frozen veggies (broccoli, green beans, peas, etc) ~$12
4 16oz. packages of various greens (kale, spinach, etc.) ~$5
5lbs. sweet potatoes ~$4
5lbs. various dried legumes ~$7.50
5lbs. bag of carrots ~$2
3lbs. of onions ~$1
3lbs. celery ~$1
1 large can rolled oats ~$3
2lbs. of raw almonds ~$12
4lbs. of raw peanuts ~$6
4lbs. of apples (fuji, gala, pink lady) ~$3
4lbs. grapes ~$4
4lbs. bananas ~$2
Hotsauce ~$2.50

Total = $112

This will EASILY last us two weeks and our average monthly eating out expenditure is $0. I guess it helps that our 2yr old eats most of her meals at daycare.

denovo
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by denovo » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:16 pm

Re: the above, this is very impressive. Nothing processed or prepared. I don't have the patience to cook that many meals from scratch.
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Random Poster
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by Random Poster » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:30 pm

stoptothink wrote:
dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:I don't know whether to be thankful that we live in an area with an awesome grocer or take with a grain of salt what the OP is saying. Our monthly food costs are $200-$300 (family of 3) and I am a 210lbs. competitive athlete who needs 3k+ kcals a day to simply maintain my weight. We literally never eat out, consume virtually no processed food, and (thankfully) are all the type of people who have no issues eating the same things over and over again; I am trying to figure out how we could even store $230/wk worth of food in our refrigerator and pantry, let alone eat it all and still spend $150 more on eating out.

Part of my job is teaching families how to eat healthy on a budget, but I wouldn't even know where to begin with a pair who are spending $1500/month. Other than a few people I've worked with who eat out almost every single meal, those type of numbers are on a totally different planet than what I am used to dealing with.
Why don;t you post what you buy in a month, that would be helpful. I would be interested to see it.
We shop about every other week. If anybody is in Utah County, Utah, you are probably aware of our awesome local grocer LoLo's. This is a snapshot of a usual bi-weekly shopping trip:

5doz eggs ~$5
2 packages (6-8lbs.) of chicken breast - $1.99/lb ~$15
1 4-5lbs. beef roast ~$15
4 1/2 gallons unsweetened almond milk ~$10
12 16oz. packages of various frozen veggies (broccoli, green beans, peas, etc) ~$12
4 16oz. packages of various greens (kale, spinach, etc.) ~$5
5lbs. sweet potatoes ~$4
5lbs. various dried legumes ~$7.50
5lbs. bag of carrots ~$2
3lbs. of onions ~$1
3lbs. celery ~$1
1 large can rolled oats ~$3
2lbs. of raw almonds ~$12
4lbs. of raw peanuts ~$6
4lbs. of apples (fuji, gala, pink lady) ~$3
4lbs. grapes ~$4
4lbs. bananas ~$2
Hotsauce ~$2.50

Total = $112

This will EASILY last us two weeks and our average monthly eating out expenditure is $0. I guess it helps that our 2yr old eats most of her meals at daycare.
Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.

stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:31 pm

denovo wrote:Re: the above, this is very impressive. Nothing processed or prepared. I don't have the patience to cook that many meals from scratch.
The proteins and legumes are all cooked in a crockpot and stored in containers for use in meals throughout the week. I usually hard boil about 2 dozen eggs and set them in a container for the week. Same thing for large batches of frozen veggies; I'll prepare about 3 days worth on the stovetop and put them in tupperware. Almost all our meals are salads with a protein and my wife will sometimes throw together a soup. Actually cooking prep time may be 2hrs for all of us for an entire week. It is so easy and cheap; fact of the matter is, most people are unwilling to eat this type of food every meal.

jlawrence01
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by jlawrence01 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:38 pm

Random Poster wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:I don't know whether to be thankful that we live in an area with an awesome grocer or take with a grain of salt what the OP is saying. Our monthly food costs are $200-$300 (family of 3) and I am a 210lbs. competitive athlete who needs 3k+ kcals a day to simply maintain my weight. We literally never eat out, consume virtually no processed food, and (thankfully) are all the type of people who have no issues eating the same things over and over again; I am trying to figure out how we could even store $230/wk worth of food in our refrigerator and pantry, let alone eat it all and still spend $150 more on eating out.

Part of my job is teaching families how to eat healthy on a budget, but I wouldn't even know where to begin with a pair who are spending $1500/month. Other than a few people I've worked with who eat out almost every single meal, those type of numbers are on a totally different planet than what I am used to dealing with.
Why don;t you post what you buy in a month, that would be helpful. I would be interested to see it.
We shop about every other week. If anybody is in Utah County, Utah, you are probably aware of our awesome local grocer LoLo's. This is a snapshot of a usual bi-weekly shopping trip:

5doz eggs ~$5
2 packages (6-8lbs.) of chicken breast - $1.99/lb ~$15
1 4-5lbs. beef roast ~$15
4 1/2 gallons unsweetened almond milk ~$10
12 16oz. packages of various frozen veggies (broccoli, green beans, peas, etc) ~$12
4 16oz. packages of various greens (kale, spinach, etc.) ~$5
5lbs. sweet potatoes ~$4
5lbs. various dried legumes ~$7.50
5lbs. bag of carrots ~$2
3lbs. of onions ~$1
3lbs. celery ~$1
1 large can rolled oats ~$3
2lbs. of raw almonds ~$12
4lbs. of raw peanuts ~$6
4lbs. of apples (fuji, gala, pink lady) ~$3
4lbs. grapes ~$4
4lbs. bananas ~$2
Hotsauce ~$2.50

Total = $112

This will EASILY last us two weeks and our average monthly eating out expenditure is $0. I guess it helps that our 2yr old eats most of her meals at daycare.
Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.



Actually, the only two items that I could not procure in Chicago-land at those prices are the eggs ($1.49/ dozen) and the celery. I can't speak for the almond milk as we only use dairy milk.

I would be more interested in seeing the menus ...

stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:41 pm

Random Poster wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:I don't know whether to be thankful that we live in an area with an awesome grocer or take with a grain of salt what the OP is saying. Our monthly food costs are $200-$300 (family of 3) and I am a 210lbs. competitive athlete who needs 3k+ kcals a day to simply maintain my weight. We literally never eat out, consume virtually no processed food, and (thankfully) are all the type of people who have no issues eating the same things over and over again; I am trying to figure out how we could even store $230/wk worth of food in our refrigerator and pantry, let alone eat it all and still spend $150 more on eating out.

Part of my job is teaching families how to eat healthy on a budget, but I wouldn't even know where to begin with a pair who are spending $1500/month. Other than a few people I've worked with who eat out almost every single meal, those type of numbers are on a totally different planet than what I am used to dealing with.
Why don;t you post what you buy in a month, that would be helpful. I would be interested to see it.
We shop about every other week. If anybody is in Utah County, Utah, you are probably aware of our awesome local grocer LoLo's. This is a snapshot of a usual bi-weekly shopping trip:

5doz eggs ~$5
2 packages (6-8lbs.) of chicken breast - $1.99/lb ~$15
1 4-5lbs. beef roast ~$15
4 1/2 gallons unsweetened almond milk ~$10
12 16oz. packages of various frozen veggies (broccoli, green beans, peas, etc) ~$12
4 16oz. packages of various greens (kale, spinach, etc.) ~$5
5lbs. sweet potatoes ~$4
5lbs. various dried legumes ~$7.50
5lbs. bag of carrots ~$2
3lbs. of onions ~$1
3lbs. celery ~$1
1 large can rolled oats ~$3
2lbs. of raw almonds ~$12
4lbs. of raw peanuts ~$6
4lbs. of apples (fuji, gala, pink lady) ~$3
4lbs. grapes ~$4
4lbs. bananas ~$2
Hotsauce ~$2.50

Total = $112

This will EASILY last us two weeks and our average monthly eating out expenditure is $0. I guess it helps that our 2yr old eats most of her meals at daycare.
Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.
I've posted in at least half a dozen similar threads and included links to my grocer's weekly mail-outs. Admittedly our grocer is awesome, but our costs were very similar while living in Houston, Texas as well, we just used the Chinese market (99 Ranch Market) instead of LoLo's here in Utah. I constantly see posters on this board recommend Costco to save money on food; in both instances we had a Costco very close and their costs were substantially higher than our chosen grocer for literally every single item. Maybe, I've been very lucky but the principles still remain regardless of where you live; food costs are not 4x or more higher where the OP (or anyone) lives than where I reside. There are ways for almost everybody to save significantly on food costs, regardless of where you live, you just have to eat in a way you are likely unwilling to. It's how I was raised, so it's all I know.
Last edited by stoptothink on Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bacchus01
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by Bacchus01 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:54 pm

I can't buy food for anything close to what you list there.

dolphinsaremammals
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:54 pm

stoptothink wrote:food costs are not 4x or more higher where the OP (or anyone) lives than where I reside.
Well the items whose prices I have in my head are indeed about four times higher than what you pay.

stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:03 pm

dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:food costs are not 4x or more higher where the OP (or anyone) lives than where I reside.
Well the items whose prices I have in my head are indeed about four times higher than what you pay.
You pay $8/lb for chicken breast, $15/lbs for beef roast, $24/lb for almonds, $3/lb. for run-of-the mill apples, $4 a dozen eggs, $5 for a bag of Dole greens,...? I could probably pay that much as well, if it was the finest cuts, all organic, and at Whole Foods, but cost is a major factor in my food-buying decisions. If you are indeed paying that much, that is out of choice. I grew up in and visit one of HCOL areas in the country several times a year (Los Angeles), the food costs are not twice there what they are where I live currently.

playtothebeat
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by playtothebeat » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:39 pm

One thing I've noticed is that while Costco is not the cheapest option, the quality is better than a regular grocery store. At least in my opinion. Seafood and red meat especially. Fruits and vegetables also.

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Clearly_Irrational
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:07 pm

Random Poster wrote:Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.
Last time I saw prices like that was in the early 1990s.

stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:25 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
Random Poster wrote:Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.
Last time I saw prices like that was in the early 1990s.
http://lolosfoods.com/. I know there are Aldi stores all over the country though I've never visited one, browsing their webpage, their prices are similar. I moved from Houston less than 2yrs ago, 99 Ranch Market there (and all over California, where I grew up) has similar prices and in fact is often cheaper when it comes to produce. I think a lot of you have not spent much time exploring your grocery options.

Kind of a waste of my time to try to convince people they can save money on food, other than I can't stand to hear that it isn't possible.

CanyonCitySteve
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by CanyonCitySteve » Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:50 pm

Kind of a waste of my time to try to convince people they can save money on food, other than I can't stand to hear that it isn't possible
I think what you're doing, food-wise, is interesting. Don't let the "negative" comments bug you, just people sayin' whats on their minds.
It is in the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma or want of dogma that the danger lies. | --Samuel Butler

Carson
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by Carson » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:10 pm

jlawrence01 wrote:
Random Poster wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
dolphinsaremammals wrote:
Why don;t you post what you buy in a month, that would be helpful. I would be interested to see it.
We shop about every other week. If anybody is in Utah County, Utah, you are probably aware of our awesome local grocer LoLo's. This is a snapshot of a usual bi-weekly shopping trip:

...Snip...
Total = $112
Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.

Actually, the only two items that I could not procure in Chicago-land at those prices are the eggs ($1.49/ dozen) and the celery. I can't speak for the almond milk as we only use dairy milk.

I would be more interested in seeing the menus ...
Just backing up that I live in chicago too and shopping around I can replicate those prices as well. Maybe we really are in a lcol area for food! I go through Aldi once every two weeks to get our pantry and dairy, some produce (if it is good). I shop the neighborhood grocer for their meat markdowns. And then I fill in with random trips to other stores or the local produce place. Sometimes I grow weary of this and wish I could just go to one store and load up, but its threads like these I see the value.

A huge component is waste and meal planning. I have told people 'eat what you buy, buy what you'll eat'. I try to keep ahead of our consumption for meat by sorting it in the freezer. Then we discuss what we all want to eat and round them out into meals. I have actually stopped making enough for leftovers, because I find that we end up eating 1.5 servings or so. Instead I make just enough for the meal at hand.

To the OP, seriously need to look at your receipts to determine how much is food vs other stuff. I find when I simply don't go to target or shop the household aisle of the grocery store, I don't 'need' half of the things I think I do!
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dolphinsaremammals
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:37 am

stoptothink wrote:
dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:food costs are not 4x or more higher where the OP (or anyone) lives than where I reside.
Well the items whose prices I have in my head are indeed about four times higher than what you pay.
You pay $8/lb for chicken breast, $15/lbs for beef roast, $24/lb for almonds, $3/lb. for run-of-the mill apples, $4 a dozen eggs, $5 for a bag of Dole greens,...? I could probably pay that much as well, if it was the finest cuts, all organic, and at Whole Foods, but cost is a major factor in my food-buying decisions. If you are indeed paying that much, that is out of choice. I grew up in and visit one of HCOL areas in the country several times a year (Los Angeles), the food costs are not twice there what they are where I live currently.
I'm a vegetarian, so I don't buy anything like (gak) chicken breast and so on. Eggs are $4 a dozen and I use a lot of them. I shop 95% of the time at the local market chain. It would require a major expedition and I'd probably spend more on gas that I'd save on food to get to a Costco. There isn't even one in the state.

madbrain
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by madbrain » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:45 am

dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:food costs are not 4x or more higher where the OP (or anyone) lives than where I reside.
Well the items whose prices I have in my head are indeed about four times higher than what you pay.
Yes, same thing here, even shopping at Costco it would still be at least 2x higher than the prices posted for most of the items on the list. And 4x at a regular grocery store like a Safeway.

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interplanetjanet
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by interplanetjanet » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:04 am

madbrain wrote:Yes, same thing here, even shopping at Costco it would still be at least 2x higher than the prices posted for most of the items on the list. And 4x at a regular grocery store like a Safeway.
Have you tried Asian supermarkets (99 Ranch, Shun Fat Market, etc)? There are some excellent ones in the south Bay Area. Produce in particular seems to be cheaper there than anywhere else except greengrocers or farm roadside stands (though it helps to haggle with those) and I've found the quality to be excellent. Meat and fish prices are very good as well, often even better than my local Mexican carnicerías.

madbrain
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by madbrain » Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:18 am

interplanetjanet wrote:
madbrain wrote:Yes, same thing here, even shopping at Costco it would still be at least 2x higher than the prices posted for most of the items on the list. And 4x at a regular grocery store like a Safeway.
Have you tried Asian supermarkets (99 Ranch, Shun Fat Market, etc)? There are some excellent ones in the south Bay Area. Produce in particular seems to be cheaper there than anywhere else except greengrocers or farm roadside stands (though it helps to haggle with those) and I've found the quality to be excellent. Meat and fish prices are very good as well, often even better than my local Mexican carnicerías.
Yes, I have actually. I was amazed recently that one tiny vietnamese market that my husband took me to had oranges for half the price per lb of Costco and 1/3 of Wal-Mart. We did a lot of extra driving for those cheap oranges in my Leaf that day though :) That tiny market didn't have much else we happened to need.

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interplanetjanet
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by interplanetjanet » Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:00 am

madbrain wrote:
interplanetjanet wrote:Have you tried Asian supermarkets (99 Ranch, Shun Fat Market, etc)? There are some excellent ones in the south Bay Area. Produce in particular seems to be cheaper there than anywhere else except greengrocers or farm roadside stands (though it helps to haggle with those) and I've found the quality to be excellent. Meat and fish prices are very good as well, often even better than my local Mexican carnicerías.
Yes, I have actually. I was amazed recently that one tiny vietnamese market that my husband took me to had oranges for half the price per lb of Costco and 1/3 of Wal-Mart. We did a lot of extra driving for those cheap oranges in my Leaf that day though :) That tiny market didn't have much else we happened to need.
I've found smaller ethnic markets to be great for finding niche products (dried spiced anchovies! pandan! yuzu juice! weird burdock cultivars! ungassed bananas (*dark* army green)!) but the large Asian supermarkets really offer amazing value. I'm fortunate to have a few excellent ones about a half hour away, and usually go once or twice a month. I do a weird kind of rotation, though...I use about six grocery stores and I rotate through them depending on the season and what I need (the greengrocer is best in the fall when local crops come in, etc).

I'd check out SF or 99 Ranch if you can. You may have to wade through some strange stuff and oftentimes what English translations there are are rather...inadequate, so it can be an adventure. The people handling the meat and fish counters may not speak much English, but pointing and "more" or "less" usually get the point across, along with some body language and a very very basic grasp of a few Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino words. I like adventures where food is concerned, though. :)

That reminds me, I need to plant some pandan. It's lovely stuff, I honestly think it would be on par with vanilla in the culinary world if it didn't require immediate freezing to keep its flavor (it deteriorates rapidly if not frozen). It makes sublime ice cream. I'm thinking of doing an east meets west ice cream with pandan and black walnuts, with maybe a tiny hint of cherry to bridge the flavors. Mmm.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by goaties » Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:23 am

I haven't read all 126 posts on this but, going back to the original post, I noted that included in groceries were makeup, cleaning supplies, prescriptions and so on! These things are really really expensive! Perhaps the OP doesn't have as much a grocery problem as she thinks. Indeed if two people were spending that much on actual food then much of it must be getting thrown away...either that or they are both morbidly obese. I think the problem is that lots of non-food items are getting lumped into the number we've been given.

It's hard to be frugal with food costs when you have a hectic lifestyle. Also it seems the hubster is not exactly supportive (he *refuses* to eat Aldi's food? well, then he can just go do the shopping himself!)

I would say wear less makeup, quit buying expensive single=purpose household cleaning products (whoever invented the Swiffer should be taken out and shot), and get off the hectic lifestyle so you don't need so many drugs! Okay, I'm being flip, but the solution is in there somewhere. Separate out true food costs from everything else and then decide what needs to be cut back. The results may be surprising.

saladdin
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by saladdin » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:02 am

This is what got us under control.

White erase board we use to write out menu for the month.
Shop for those meals only.
2 peeps with no kids. $300 a month and another $100 eating out.

We do not buy snacks like cokes, snake cakes, chips (minus salsa/tortilla chips).

In my area a 1lb of 80/20 ground chuck is 4.98 a pound and ribeye is 10.98 a pound.

Random Poster
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by Random Poster » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:08 am

stoptothink wrote:
Random Poster wrote:Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.
I've posted in at least half a dozen similar threads and included links to my grocer's weekly mail-outs. Admittedly our grocer is awesome, but our costs were very similar while living in Houston, Texas as well, we just used the Chinese market (99 Ranch Market) instead of LoLo's here in Utah. I constantly see posters on this board recommend Costco to save money on food; in both instances we had a Costco very close and their costs were substantially higher than our chosen grocer for literally every single item. Maybe, I've been very lucky but the principles still remain regardless of where you live; food costs are not 4x or more higher where the OP (or anyone) lives than where I reside. There are ways for almost everybody to save significantly on food costs, regardless of where you live, you just have to eat in a way you are likely unwilling to. It's how I was raised, so it's all I know.
Perhaps, but I tend to think that, in order to procure a dozen eggs for a dollar or chicken breasts at $2 a pound, one may have to eat in a way that has limited concern for the welfare of the animals and workers who are providing the food. Similarly, in order to obtain grapes at $1 a pound or apples at $.75 a pound, one may have to eat in a way that has limited concern for the application of pesticides and the workers who handle the items. I'm not suggesting that one choice is better than another, but I'm merely pointing out that food selection can involve many competing factors, and price may not always be the most important one to some people.

And, as a complete aside, food costs may not be four times (or more) than where you reside, but there are certainly places in the US and Canada where it would be exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, to buy some of the food you have identified at the prices that you have listed.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:55 am

Random Poster wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
Random Poster wrote:Those prices are unrealistically low for, I suspect, around 95% of the population.
I've posted in at least half a dozen similar threads and included links to my grocer's weekly mail-outs. Admittedly our grocer is awesome, but our costs were very similar while living in Houston, Texas as well, we just used the Chinese market (99 Ranch Market) instead of LoLo's here in Utah. I constantly see posters on this board recommend Costco to save money on food; in both instances we had a Costco very close and their costs were substantially higher than our chosen grocer for literally every single item. Maybe, I've been very lucky but the principles still remain regardless of where you live; food costs are not 4x or more higher where the OP (or anyone) lives than where I reside. There are ways for almost everybody to save significantly on food costs, regardless of where you live, you just have to eat in a way you are likely unwilling to. It's how I was raised, so it's all I know.
Perhaps, but I tend to think that, in order to procure a dozen eggs for a dollar or chicken breasts at $2 a pound, one may have to eat in a way that has limited concern for the welfare of the animals and workers who are providing the food. Similarly, in order to obtain grapes at $1 a pound or apples at $.75 a pound, one may have to eat in a way that has limited concern for the application of pesticides and the workers who handle the items. I'm not suggesting that one choice is better than another, but I'm merely pointing out that food selection can involve many competing factors, and price may not always be the most important one to some people.

And, as a complete aside, food costs may not be four times (or more) than where you reside, but there are certainly places in the US and Canada where it would be exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, to buy some of the food you have identified at the prices that you have listed.
I knew it was only a matter of time. As I mentioned earlier, I think I may be able to replicate the exponentially higher food costs some of you are seeing, if I was buying all organic at Whole Foods and specialty shops. Knowing full well about how food is produced, distributed, and variances in nutritional value (I am both a licensed nutritionist and part of my job is being the administrator of a food program which serves over 6,000 children per day), let's just say I have a different perspective and leave it at that. It sounds like the main factor in your food-buying is how the food was produced, more power to you but mine is cost and nutritional value. Different strokes for different folks. It is still a choice.

I totally agree that it may be difficult or impossible to find similar prices in many areas, although I have kept my food costs pretty similar in three very different areas of the country and a few other posters have mentioned they see similar prices in their areas. I still think for a lot of the posters, especially the OP, the costs could be cut very significantly if they were willing to change their habits. If they aren't, the thread is kind of a waste of time as they were specifically asking how they could lower costs.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:58 am

playtothebeat wrote:One thing I've noticed is that while Costco is not the cheapest option, the quality is better than a regular grocery store. At least in my opinion. Seafood and red meat especially. Fruits and vegetables also.

Maybe in YOUR area, but not in Chicago.

The local independent supermarkets SOURCE locally as do the regional chains like Meijer's and Woodman's. In other words, we get Michigan apples, Wisconsin cheese, Chicago sausages, all kinds of baked goods from local bakeries and the like. For example, Woodman's sources its cheeses from a minimum of 30 different Wisconsin cheese coops. They source their baked goods from 20-30 different bakeries depending on the location.

Shopping at Costco or Trader Joe's for that matter means that everything is shipped from one of the coasts. I do not believe that the buyers from Costco even realize that a lot of cheese is produced in WISCONSIN as their main offerings are Tillamook from Oregon or Cabot from Vermont.

It is not that Midwestern producers can't sell to that chain ... they just don't seem to get a chance as some of my producers friends have told me.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by linenfort » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:18 am

goaties wrote:I haven't read all 126 posts on this but, going back to the original post, I noted that included in groceries were makeup, cleaning supplies, prescriptions and so on! These things are really really expensive! Perhaps the OP doesn't have as much a grocery problem as she thinks.
Yes, it's been mentioned.
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by sls239 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:58 am

Knowing essentially nothing else, I'd suggest the easiest ways to save the most money would be:

1) stop buying most cleaning products Dawn, warm water, bleach / comet are likely all you need. Borax if you have hard water. All are very cheap. Use rags / washcloths not disposable wipes. Also, most people use too much detergent - measure it or buy the pods.

2) Learn to use cheaper sources of protein - roasts, chicken thighs, or whole chicken, and eggs for starters

3) Learn to incorporate cheaper produce items including ones that are in season

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MikeWillRetire
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by MikeWillRetire » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:09 am

For a family of four in the Baltimore metro area, we spend $330 a week for groceries, cleaning products, paper products,etc., and $160 per week for eating out. Hope that makes you feel better. With two teenagers, after school activities,and both parents working and commuting, it's hard to avoid the convenience foods.
But our cell phone bill is $16 a month, no cable TV,and cheap DSL. So there.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by denovo » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:13 am

MikeWillRetire wrote: But our cell phone bill is $16 a month, no cable TV,and cheap DSL. So there.
I'd rather starve than give up high-speed internet and cable tv. :D
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:26 pm

denovo wrote:
MikeWillRetire wrote: But our cell phone bill is $16 a month, no cable TV,and cheap DSL. So there.
I'd rather starve than give up high-speed internet and cable tv. :D
No tv at all in my house. It makes my head hurt when I'm in some public place that inflicts tv on passersby and double digit IQ tv "personalities" are blathering away.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:28 pm

jlawrence01 wrote: Shopping at Costco or Trader Joe's for that matter means that everything is shipped from one of the coasts.
Or worse. Look at some of the Trader Joe's frozen food packages. Some of that stuff is shipped in from Asia.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:31 pm

sls239 wrote:
1) stop buying most cleaning products Dawn, warm water, bleach / comet are likely all you need. Borax if you have hard water. All are very cheap. Use rags / washcloths not disposable wipes. Also, most people use too much detergent - measure it or buy the pods.
I wash an amazing percentage of things with...water. Comet, in some cases.

I've been using 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of dishwashing and laundry detergent with no apparent problems since I read an article in the New York Times about that.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by White Coat Investor » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:33 pm

mojave wrote:We need some help and the first step is admitting we have a problem. :-(

There are two of us in a household, no kids or pets. We are frugal with everything except groceries and food. We live in the Chicago area so somewhat HCOL. Looking at mint.com, we average over the last 12 months:

- $230 a week on groceries (food and anything else from a grocery store - makeup, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, pharmacy/Walgreens stops)
- $90 a week on fast food (cafeteria, coffee, subway, etc)
- $60 a week on restaurants (some months we don't go out, others we go out a few times, also some of this may be miscategorized and should be with fast food)

The cause of this is we both work full-time and commute 2+ hours each day. I usually make dinner every night or every other night with leftovers in between, but if it is something he doesn't want he will make something else which leads to waste and then a lost meal for another day, so often I'll have to go back to the grocery store. Additionally, he will make a few stops a week at the grocery store and grab snacks or anything else he wants. I am guilty of doing this every once in a while, but he does it more frequently than I do.

For a while I was shopping at Aldi which helped, but my husband refuses to eat their meat and produce and I don't care to shop at two grocery stores each week, especially since meat and produce is most of the grocery bill.

My husband's job is very active with long days and he has the appetite of a hungry bear (he doesn't gain weight so he is not over eating) so he eats A LOT.

We live totally fine on our income and are able to save every week - but we want to start a family soon with me either being home or working part time. I may do PeaPod if that is the case, it might be more expensive prices but it will also help with planning and avoid impulse buying which seems to be our biggest issue.

So my questions are - how do our averages look for 2 people in a somewhat HCOL, and how does it compare to your household? Also, any nuggets of wisdom in tackling this problem would be welcome, but convenience is hard to dodge with our long days.
I don't know that you have a problem. Depends on your income. Are you able to meet your financial goals despite this spending? If so, I wouldn't worry about it as long as you're spending money on what you prefer to spend your money on.
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dbr
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dbr » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:48 pm

Your costs are about double ours, also in a large metropolitan area, including any household and personal products bought at a grocery store.

But then ours includes this:

http://www.malts.com/index.php/Our-Whiskies/Lagavulin

and this:

http://www.scapamalt.com/Home.aspx

but not in massive quantities.

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mojave
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by mojave » Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:50 pm

You all are seriously awesome. I got so many great ideas out of this. Looking at Costco or Amazon for bulk non-perishables, but we will see.

On Sunday, we planned 4 meals for the week together and agreed on a shopping list. There should be enough to not need to order out.

Yes, he is very picky. He grew up in a house where his mom never worked and their kitchen overflowed with an insane amount of food - they still have this food habit. They give away food all the time to guests (just something they like to do). So, he grew up with pretty much unlimited amounts of whatever he wanted, and choices galore. This habit has followed him since! My house was the exact opposite - mom went grocery shopping once a week and if our favorite snack ran out before the next shopping trip, oh well.

Husband works much more than I do - I work 35-40 hours a week, he works 50-60, more if deadlines are looming. So, that's why I'm in charge of the food - I prefer it that way anyway. He would of course help if I asked, but I rarely do.

EmergDoc and a few others asked if this is affecting our finances, it's not - I'm happy with out savings rate but I also know with just a few habit changes we could cut this amount back. But it won't kill us if we don't.

Someone mentioned Woodman's - there used to be a giant Dominick's by us that has been empty for a while. I'm really hoping Woodman's pops up there. The one right off 94 in Kenosha/Pleasant Prairie has the most amazing cheese aisle...

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:07 pm

mojave wrote: Someone mentioned Woodman's - there used to be a giant Dominick's by us that has been empty for a while. I'm really hoping Woodman's pops up there. The one right off 94 in Kenosha/Pleasant Prairie has the most amazing cheese aisle...
I mentioned Woodman's and there are three stores in Northern Illinois - East Rockford, Carpenterville, and North Aurora. The latter two stores are along Randall Rd. Do remember that they accept cash only - no credit cards.

The ONLY site that a Woodman's store would fit in is a Walmart Super Center or a large Meijer's Supercenter. You could fit 3-4 Dominick's stores the size of the vacant ones in Crystal Lake or Mundelein within one.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by gardemanger » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:37 pm

If you are interested in buying grass-fed meat from local producers, the website eatwild.com is a good clearinghouse of information including producers all across the US. http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html Jo Robinson's new(er) book about getting the maximum nutritional density from fruits and vegetables is also an excellent read and well-researched.

Many people can save on grass-fed meat by buying a "share" of an animal. This is also a good way, as a consumer, to know the conditions under which your meat was raised and butchered. If it is butchered conscientiously and frozen promptly after slaughter, the quality of the meat is very well maintained. For instance, here in the Philadelphia area, Philly CowShare offers pre-slaughter shares of grass-fed cows as well as pigs. The price per pound is less the bigger a "share" you purchase. https://www.phillycowshare.com/

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by livesoft » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:53 pm

Got a credit card bill today and looking at it, there are only 3 non-food charges, so if I subtract those, it looks like we paid about $470 for sustenance last month and ate out in restaurants 11 times. Also noticed I did not buy any gasoline last month.
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mojave
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by mojave » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:52 pm

"Also noticed I did not buy any gasoline last month."

livesoft - I admire your frugality but I hope you leave your house sometimes :)

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by WallyBird » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:57 pm

mojave wrote:"Also noticed I did not buy any gasoline last month."

livesoft - I admire your frugality but I hope you leave your house sometimes :)
Many people have found ways to leave the house that don't involve gasoline.
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gloomydog
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by gloomydog » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:13 am

I spend a lot on food for 2 people since we're not strict bogleheads and enjoy some splurge for the sake of convenience. You have inspired me to add up(approximate) our spend on food.

$135/month for 15lbs of random great quality meat from a CSA.
$300/month for some fish and veggies from great quality supermarkets like whole food.
But also another $400/month for eating out. This buys 2 entrees, a pizza, some starbucks per week.

Total $830/month for 2 working adults.

I think our costs range from $750-1000/month in actuality depending on how often we go out. There is a lot of food wastage too as weekly I'd throw away moldy bread or spoilt milk...

Anyway OP you are not alone in high food costs, but I would say it is 100% by choice, not because of anything else. We live in hcol area (Boston burbs) but even so, I can half the food costs and still eat well if we make conscious effort to eat at home more.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:36 am

gloomydog wrote:There is a lot of food wastage too as weekly I'd throw away moldy bread or spoilt milk...
I keep bread objects in the freezer and microwave slices when I need them.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:00 am

livesoft wrote: Also noticed I did not buy any gasoline last month.
We spend nearly twice as much on gas as we do on food. My office is 4 miles away, even driving the gas-drinking crown victoria, a tank will last me almost an entire month. My wife, on the other hand, has to fill up at absolute minimum twice a week in the 30+mpg Hyundai. She's put 30,000+ miles on the car in the last year; she's the state director for her program so there are weeks when she visits Logan (in the north) and St. George (in the south) which are 400 miles apart.

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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by runner9 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:45 am

dolphinsaremammals wrote:
gloomydog wrote:There is a lot of food wastage too as weekly I'd throw away moldy bread or spoilt milk...
I keep bread objects in the freezer and microwave slices when I need them.
+1 but I toast them, or just leave them out (buns).

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