Please help with grocery budget

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pomidoro
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Please help with grocery budget

Post by pomidoro » Sat May 26, 2018 5:26 pm

I'm in the middle of cutting cost process and after reading few threads here I realized that we spend too much for groceries.
We (family of 4) spend around $1300 monthly - 70% Costco, 10% Harris Teeter, 20% Farmers market. Meals we cook are: spaghetti with seafood, steak on grill, salad, soup. We also eat fruits and vegetables but we spend 0 on alcohol and dining out.
How to save few $$ here? Any cheaper shops (online)?

livesoft
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by livesoft » Sat May 26, 2018 5:30 pm

How much food do you throw out because it spoils or you don't eat it or you don't eat leftovers?

At $1300 a month, you could eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast and then buy a sofritas bowl at Chipotle for $8-$9 and split it: half for lunch and half for dinner and still come out ahead.

Post pictures of your last 3 grocery store receipts, too. :)
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pomidoro
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by pomidoro » Sat May 26, 2018 5:35 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 5:30 pm
How much food do you throw out because it spoils or you don't eat it or you don't eat leftovers?

At $1300 a month, you could eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast and then buy a sofritas bowl at Chipotle for $8-$9 and split it: half for lunch and half for dinner and still come out ahead.

Post pictures of your last 3 grocery store receipts, too. :)
Close to 0 - the only problem is fruits but when I see it's about to be spoiled I make a milkshake from it. Might threw away ~$20-30 YTD

JBTX
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by JBTX » Sat May 26, 2018 5:42 pm

We spend less on groceries, but we spend a lot eating out. For cooking good food and if you aren’t eating out that isn’t bad.

To the extent you buy fish, steaks, fresh fruit, etc it is going to increase your budget. Sure you could spend less by eating cheaper types of foods or more processed foods but unless you just can’t afford what you are doing I’m not sure why you would do that.

If this is unaffordable than maybe some of these meals are only occasional and other nights or breakfast/lunch you eat more simply and cheaply. Smaller entree portions may be an option also.

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by MJS » Sat May 26, 2018 5:45 pm

Are two of the four teenaged boys? Because then the most efficient way to reduce your food budget is to wait for them to move out.

What percent of your budget is spent on non-meal food such as jerky, snacks or sweets? Putting a monthly limit on them might help, if that's an issue.

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by luminous » Sat May 26, 2018 5:47 pm

Without knowing exactly how much of that $1300 is being spent on what it is hard to give guidance. The steak and seafood are expensive sources of protein and calories, consider having meat at fewer meals or reducing portion sizes to more of a side dish. Beans, quinoa, and cheese are less expensive protein sources usually.
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pomidoro
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by pomidoro » Sat May 26, 2018 5:53 pm

Without knowing exactly how much of that $1300 is being spent on what it is hard to give guidance
Will share the next receipt
Are two of the four teenaged boys?
Elementary school and pre-k boys but each eats more than my wife lol
What percent of your budget is spent on non-meal food such as jerky, snacks or sweets?
Less then 5%
We spend less on groceries, but we spend a lot eating out. For cooking good food and if you aren’t eating out that isn’t bad.
Good to know :)

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by VictoriaF » Sat May 26, 2018 6:02 pm

Do you buy at Costco only food or also other items?

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SQRT
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by SQRT » Sat May 26, 2018 6:48 pm

Do you really expect useful advice as to what to eat? Eat less and cheaper stuff. Costco is the best place to get quantity at a reasonable price.

teddytimtam
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by teddytimtam » Sat May 26, 2018 7:11 pm

pomidoro wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 5:26 pm
I'm in the middle of cutting cost process and after reading few threads here I realized that we spend too much for groceries.
We (family of 4) spend around $1300 monthly - 70% Costco, 10% Harris Teeter, 20% Farmers market. Meals we cook are: spaghetti with seafood, steak on grill, salad, soup. We also eat fruits and vegetables but we spend 0 on alcohol and dining out.
How to save few $$ here? Any cheaper shops (online)?
Since you're already mainly shopping at Costco, no need to trim down what you eat.

Simplest way, pay with cash. Want to try to cut your spending to less than $1,000 per month? Then withdraw $1000 at the beginning of the month, and only spend what you have in cash. Every time you check out, you'll have a second look at your cart to see if you really need all the items. Also, minimizing wastage will help save money too.

For me, I only eat vegetables/fruits in season and what's on sale for meat. Learn to make different recipes with these produce. You can find yourself saving an easy couple of hundred per month with this.

rgs92
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by rgs92 » Sat May 26, 2018 7:32 pm

It gets expensive if you eat fresh fish or fresh berries every day, especially if you tend to eat a lot.
That's my problem.

Gretchen
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Gretchen » Sat May 26, 2018 8:16 pm

I cut our grocery bill down somewhat by doing two things.

First, I identified inexpensive foods that we like (such as carrots, bananas, tofu, dried beans, and eggs) and planned to eat more of them.

Second, I identified one high-leverage item to concentrate on. DH loves Diet Coke (hey, he's 70, this isn't going to change), which is hugely variable in price. I watch the sales like a hawk and load up when 12-packs go for $2.50 or $3.00 in quantity. If he runs out, he goes to the convenience store and pays $6.49 for a 12-pack.

Then Aldi opened up down the street. I get eggs, milk, half-and-half, and sharp cheddar for about 60% of what I was paying in the full-service grocery stores. There are usually a few fruits, berries, vegetables, and cuts of meat at deep discount on every visit.

When our son was a teenager at home, we always had a houseful of boys on the weekend. A week's grocery shopping could disappear in one refrigerator raid. If your kids are having friends over, you may be feeding more than four people on average!

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TxAg
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by TxAg » Sat May 26, 2018 8:29 pm

Sounds like a lot of surf and turf!

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by tesuzuki2002 » Sat May 26, 2018 8:37 pm

pomidoro wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 5:26 pm
I'm in the middle of cutting cost process and after reading few threads here I realized that we spend too much for groceries.
We (family of 4) spend around $1300 monthly - 70% Costco, 10% Harris Teeter, 20% Farmers market. Meals we cook are: spaghetti with seafood, steak on grill, salad, soup. We also eat fruits and vegetables but we spend 0 on alcohol and dining out.
How to save few $$ here? Any cheaper shops (online)?
I would gues average you should be closer to $1000 a month max...

I’m a 35 year old endurance athlete so I take in a lot of calories.. but my monthly grocery budget is only $140 for myself.

livesoft
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by livesoft » Sat May 26, 2018 8:37 pm

Gretchen wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 8:16 pm
I cut our grocery bill down somewhat by doing two things.

First, I identified inexpensive foods that we like (such as carrots, bananas, tofu, dried beans, and eggs) and planned to eat more of them.

Second, I identified one high-leverage item to concentrate on. DH loves Diet Coke (hey, he's 70, this isn't going to change), which is hugely variable in price. I watch the sales like a hawk and load up when 12-packs go for $2.50 or $3.00 in quantity. If he runs out, he goes to the convenience store and pays $6.49 for a 12-pack.

Then Aldi opened up down the street. I get eggs, milk, half-and-half, and sharp cheddar for about 60% of what I was paying in the full-service grocery stores. There are usually a few fruits, berries, vegetables, and cuts of meat at deep discount on every visit.

When our son was a teenager at home, we always had a houseful of boys on the weekend. A week's grocery shopping could disappear in one refrigerator raid. If your kids are having friends over, you may be feeding more than four people on average!
Diet Coke can be bought in 2-liter bottles for under $1 when on sale.

I used to send my boy to his friends' homes to eat. It works.

I suspect there are a lot of Cheez-Its, Wheat-thins, Goldfish, Potato chips, and other junk foods being purchased in bulk at Costco instead of not being purchased at all.
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by pomidoro » Sun May 27, 2018 7:34 am

SQRT wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 6:48 pm
Do you really expect useful advice as to what to eat? Eat less and cheaper stuff. Costco is the best place to get quantity at a reasonable price.
No, but I expect to get advice like this:
Then Aldi opened up down the street. I get eggs, milk, half-and-half, and sharp cheddar for about 60% of what I was paying in the full-service grocery stores. There are usually a few fruits, berries, vegetables, and cuts of meat at deep discount on every visit.
We also have Aldi but they offer only few items. Meat was horrible (in comparison with Costco), bread was horrible, cheese was great, pineapple was acceptable.
Any experience with saving $$ using online grocery shopping (Walmart, amazon whole foods)?

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by doss » Sun May 27, 2018 7:44 am

$69/week to feed a family of 4 dinner 3x a week via hellofresh.com. Fantastic restaurant quality meals. Now their algorithm is efficient and can design meals with leftovers for next days lunch, too!

Coupon.cancel. coupon. Cancel.

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Alexa9
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Alexa9 » Sun May 27, 2018 7:48 am

Good food is worth it. Portion control, freeze leftovers, and not wasting food is key. Skip most junk food. Young kids eat a lot of cereal and sandwiches. Eat more chicken, rice, beans, nuts, vegetables, eggs and less fruit (most fruit is pure sugar and overrated). Apples, bananas, and berries are ok. Fruit juice is the worst. Avoid drinks other than coffee (or tea) and water. Kids should drink whole milk: very filling.

antheus
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by antheus » Sun May 27, 2018 9:40 am

1300 a month for 4 people
325 a month per person
10.80 per person per day
3.60 per meal

You don’t waste food, you buy in bulk, you don’t eat out, and you eat well. I’m sure you can cut down but at the same time this doesn’t seem bad at all.

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telemark
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by telemark » Sun May 27, 2018 9:26 pm

Spaghetti is good, but I would add eggs, oatmeal, bananas, rice, and chicken. Baked beans and sauerkraut.

blueman457
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by blueman457 » Sun May 27, 2018 9:28 pm

antheus wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 9:40 am
1300 a month for 4 people
325 a month per person
10.80 per person per day
3.60 per meal

You don’t waste food, you buy in bulk, you don’t eat out, and you eat well. I’m sure you can cut down but at the same time this doesn’t seem bad at all.
+1

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by LadyGeek » Sun May 27, 2018 9:34 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (help with food budget).
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frugalmama
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by frugalmama » Sun May 27, 2018 9:54 pm

Do you want to eat the same stuff for cheaper or are you wanting to gain the same nutritional content from cheaper sources? I spend less than half of that for 12 people a month - This month was 599 and last month I spent 512 (and that includes toiletries and dish soap, etc. too). We eat pretty healthy and almost everything is homemade - nothing processed. There are a lot of cheaper foods for a healthy lifestyle. Steak and seafood are very expensive and we rarely have them. We tend to only eat meat that is less than $2.00 a lb, eat it as part of the main course (not the main course) and we eat a lot of meatless meals - 2 lbs of beans often accompany a meal. I garden - my berries and a lot of our fruit is free - blueberries, blackberries, figs, and apricots and so are many of our organic veggies. Would you be interested in taking gardening up? Blueberries can be grown in containers. I shop at Sams, Aldi, Sprouts, and still check the sales of all local grocery stores weekly. I stockpile items when they hit their lowest price (about 3 months worth) until they hit that price again. Do you buy extra when you see sales? We aren't brand specific on most things. If you have a Winco, you can often purchase things like oatmeal and grains in bulk at a discount.

I think that if you are wanting to continue eating the way you are eating, you have probably found the cheapest sources (based on what info you have given) although receipts would be helpful. However, if you are looking for alternative foods with high nutritional content, I think you could lower your bill a lot.

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Toadandfriends » Sun May 27, 2018 11:57 pm

I changed my food shopping and eating habits to save money. I thought it was really, really hard. We have to eat every single day - multiple times a day. What a pain! I think this makes it a really tough budget item. It isn't as simple as switching one time to a lower cost phone plan - food comes up again and again. And changing eating habits is so difficult! I am finally at a place where my food budget and eating are where I want them to be and it has literally taken me years of trying and backsliding. Finally I cook everything (I had to learn to cook well) and eat mostly vegetarian. Careful meal planning has been the key to lower food costs for me. I use recipes (meals are heavy on veggies) that are easy, quick, and include accessible and inexpensive ingredients. (So maybe things like make your own black bean burgers instead of steaks and then convince everyone to like black bean burgers as much as steaks. Buy frozen broccoli instead of fresh. Make own hummus and convince everyone that your hummus is as good as the store bought. Mine still isn't! What's up with that)
Best wishes,
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Moolala » Mon May 28, 2018 12:12 am

I'm a huge fan of frozen vegetables. Green beans, brussel sprouts, and vegetable mixes have really helped me eat healthfully on a budget. Carrots are my staple fresh vegetable, and I buy large tubs of plain yogurt and mix things in rather than buying small individual packages. I also agree with Toadandfriends about making hummus. :happy I like my recipe way more than store bought, and it's so cheap and easy to make!

fujiters
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by fujiters » Mon May 28, 2018 3:54 am

Toadandfriends wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 11:57 pm
Finally I cook everything (I had to learn to cook well) and eat mostly vegetarian...I use recipes (meals are heavy on veggies) that are easy, quick, and include accessible and inexpensive ingredients.
+1

Cutting your meat consumption will typically make a big dent in your food bills. I make a weekly pot of vegetarian chili filled with kidney beans, black beans, lentils, rice, and sweet potatoes. Less than $1/meal. You can make an incredible amount of hummus from a 1 lb bag of chickpeas.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/ can be a good source for new, inexpensive meals to try out.
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by DarthSage » Mon May 28, 2018 6:54 am

pomidoro wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 7:34 am
SQRT wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 6:48 pm
Do you really expect useful advice as to what to eat? Eat less and cheaper stuff. Costco is the best place to get quantity at a reasonable price.
No, but I expect to get advice like this:
Then Aldi opened up down the street. I get eggs, milk, half-and-half, and sharp cheddar for about 60% of what I was paying in the full-service grocery stores. There are usually a few fruits, berries, vegetables, and cuts of meat at deep discount on every visit.
We also have Aldi but they offer only few items. Meat was horrible (in comparison with Costco), bread was horrible, cheese was great, pineapple was acceptable.
Any experience with saving $$ using online grocery shopping (Walmart, amazon whole foods)?
If you haven't been to Aldi's lately, you need to re-look. I'm a long-time Aldi's shopper. I'll be honest--10 years ago, I wouldn't have bought meat there. I wouldn't have bought produce there. Their selection was very limited, usually picked-over, and most meats were frozen, not fresh--except for processed stuff, like bacon.

These days, there's much more fresh meat, the produce section is larger, and they have a large variety of organic items, both fresh and packaged. Aldi's will never be one-stop shopping--they have limited space, there's always something missing from your list. But they truly work to improve quality constantly. Similarly, you won't find every cut of meat, every week.

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Gretchen » Mon May 28, 2018 7:38 am

livesoft wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 8:37 pm

Diet Coke can be bought in 2-liter bottles for under $1 when on sale.
DH loves his bubbles, so he drinks only about the first third of the bottle. Then it goes flattish and he throws it out. I've spent 34 years of marriage trying to outwit his Diet Coke habit, and cheap twelve-packs seem to be the way to go. Thanks, though!

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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by livesoft » Mon May 28, 2018 7:40 am

Gretchen wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 7:38 am
I've spent 34 years of marriage trying to outwit ....
:D Many of us are in the same boat. :beer
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Therapist Investor » Mon May 28, 2018 7:47 am

I don't have much to add to the numerous comments. Costco generally has some very good deals as you should be saving money when buying in bulk. Meats at costco are very well priced. I suggest you actually go through and line by line record the price of your food purchased at farmer's markets and Harris Teeter. I can't speak to the cost at farmer's markets, but Harris Teeter is generally going to be more expensive than other options. In my area there is a budget grocery store chain (Shoppers) where we save anywhere from 10-15% of the cost of Harris Teeter. They also send out weekly coupons that provide $10 off of a bill over $50. That really adds up over time.

All of that aside, I think you can find more savings really analyzing the big purchases (house/car). If you find your savings there, then don't sweat the small stuff.
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by LadyGeek » Mon May 28, 2018 7:55 am

Gretchen wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 7:38 am
livesoft wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 8:37 pm

Diet Coke can be bought in 2-liter bottles for under $1 when on sale.
DH loves his bubbles, so he drinks only about the first third of the bottle. Then it goes flattish and he throws it out. I've spent 34 years of marriage trying to outwit his Diet Coke habit, and cheap twelve-packs seem to be the way to go. Thanks, though!
How about pouring the 2-liter bottles into four 0.5 liter bottles? Use empty 0.5 liter plastic water bottles. The screw caps should be able to hold the pressure.

It's more work, but might be worth a try.
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Jags4186 » Mon May 28, 2018 8:55 am

I both love and hate these threads. The simple answer to every single one of these threads is some variation of eat simpler, eat less, change what you eat.

If you want to eat beef and fish nearly every night, of course your food is going to be expensive. Beef and fish are expensive.

If you want to eat “fancy” multi ingredient meals every night, of course your food is going to be expensive. Tons of ingredients are expensive.

A $10 pot of chili plus $0.50 worth of rice can literally feed two people for a week. 4 lbs of beans, 2 lbs of diced tomatoes, 2 lbs of ground turkey, and a packet of McCormack’s low sodium chili seasoning. Bananas are $0.49/lb and if you buy large sized greek yoghurt on sale it costs $3-$4 for at least 6 servings.

We basically rotate through 6 meals. I always make enough for multiple meals. Everything I cook is good at a minimum for 2 lunches and 2 dinners. It takes almost a month to get through all 6 meals because we’ll go out to dinner once a week and usually we’ll order a pizza once a week.

For those with kids, I can’t tell you how many PB&J or turkey sandwiches I had for lunch when I was young. We always ate what my parents ate for dinner...there wasn’t a “kids” option once I got to around 5 or 6 years old. Before that I believe there was a fair amount of Kraft Mac N’ Cheese and hot dogs.
Last edited by Jags4186 on Mon May 28, 2018 8:59 am, edited 3 times in total.

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pomidoro
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by pomidoro » Mon May 28, 2018 8:57 am

Thank you everyone for huge number of suggestions!
Dietologists also suggest eating beans so I'll add it 1-2 times per week. I'll also revisit Aldi to take a closer look. Me & DW both work full time so we cannot chase every coupon/discount but whenever I see a decent price I buy a bulk (last time bought around 30 lbs of spaghetti in HT).
We also do a minor gardening (I do hot peppers and DW does tomatoes) and I believe this is a good area to improve.
frugalmama wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 9:54 pm
I garden - my berries and a lot of our fruit is free - blueberries, blackberries, figs, and apricots and so are many of our organic veggies. Would you be interested in taking gardening up? Blueberries can be grown in containers.
Could you share some additional details (suggestions/web resources with detailed how to)? My kids would love to help me with that (especially growing berries).

livesoft
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by livesoft » Mon May 28, 2018 9:11 am

pomidoro wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 8:57 am
(last time bought around 30 lbs of spaghetti in HT).
Nice! A 30 year supply in one shopping trip. :)
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DarthSage
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by DarthSage » Mon May 28, 2018 11:13 am

livesoft wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 9:11 am
pomidoro wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 8:57 am
(last time bought around 30 lbs of spaghetti in HT).
Nice! A 30 year supply in one shopping trip. :)
Or one week, in our house! :wink:

Okay, not THAT bad, but pasta is a staple here. Of course, my kids are picky about the shape--luckily, pasta is $0.77/lb at Walmart, in various shapes. Obviously, it's cheaper to bulk-buy regular spaghetti, but it's not such a splurge to get rotini, penne, etc.

Speaking of which, OP--have you looked at Walmart grocery pick-up? I find this very handy, and the prices are, by and large, quite good. Even if you don't by pasta by the ton. I find their store brands to be decent quality, although I'm not a fan of their fresh meat.

NextMil
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by NextMil » Tue May 29, 2018 4:25 am

Like everything else you need a plan. Www.plantoeat.com

It’s $40 for the year, but it will save you that cash easily. Takes about 15 minutes to meal plan the week, and will ensure you do not buy nonsense or too much of anything. Think of it as the diy version of blue apron.

cheesepep
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by cheesepep » Tue May 29, 2018 4:32 am

These help my food budget posts are always so easy. In order to save the max money while still eating very well, you got to change your diet, not where you buy your food. You will still eat well, perhaps even better than now. Consider trying to eat a non-American or western diet instead. Focus less on huge chunks of meat like steak and more on something else, whatever that might be.

A440
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by A440 » Tue May 29, 2018 9:14 am

Our monthly grocery budget is $850 for a family of four with a tween and a teen, both boys. The budget includes paper products and toiletries and occasionally alcohol. It does not include eating out. We try to eat real food whenever possible and avoid processed food. My wife shops one day a week at 3 stores: Aldi (for most items), ShopRite (items not avail at Aldi) and BJ's Club (paper goods, milk (did I mention two boys?) and bulk items). All the stores are near our home and each other. We live just across the river from Philadelphia for a cost-of-living reference.
We also use American Express Blue Cash that gives 5% back on grocery stores (not Wholesale clubs) and the card has no annual fee.
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by stoptothink » Tue May 29, 2018 9:40 am

cheesepep wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 4:32 am
These help my food budget posts are always so easy. In order to save the max money while still eating very well, you got to change your diet, not where you buy your food. You will still eat well, perhaps even better than now. Consider trying to eat a non-American or western diet instead. Focus less on huge chunks of meat like steak and more on something else, whatever that might be.
This is definitely a large part of it. Actually, you don't even have to limit your meat, we (I, a 200lbs+ former competitive powerlifter, eat a lot of meat), just be cognizant of when and where you buy it. We spend <$300/month for a family of four (some months, well under), so I am always blown away when I see these threads. It is about planning and just being mindful; most people don't even look at prices when they shop. If my wife was to do most of our grocery shopping, I bet our spending would more than double immediately, and we'd be eating the same exact things. You can easily spend $3+/lb. or $1.29/lb on chicken breast, $2+/lb. or $.60/lb on apples, for the exact same thing.

Our costs are so low because we are willing to eat the same things everyday and know where/when to get those foodstuffs really cheap; admittedly, that is not for everybody. I bet the OP could maintain exactly their same eating habits and save at least 1/3 by just being mindful of when and where they are buying.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by VictoriaF » Tue May 29, 2018 10:20 am

stoptothink wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 9:40 am
Our costs are so low because we are willing to eat the same things everyday and know where/when to get those foodstuffs really cheap; admittedly, that is not for everybody. I bet the OP could maintain exactly their same eating habits and save at least 1/3 by just being mindful of when and where they are buying.
I'd like to build up on your point of eating the same things every day. With the right types of food, the same food is a prudent option for:
- cost savings
- simplicity
- nutrition.

The cost savings come from buying in bulk, e.g., from Costco, and from the economic justification of driving farther away for bargains.

The simplicity is in gaining efficiency in preparing the same meals and in freezing some food for future consumption.

The nutrition value of the same meals is usually used as an argument against them. However, with the right food selection, the opposite is true. For example, a packaged organic mixed salad ($6 for a 1lbs container at my local Safeway) is more nutritious than several different canned vegetables or different flavors of french fries. A large container of plain yogurt is more nutritious than a collection of 6 small yogurts with 6 different flavors. Broiled Alaskan salmon is more nutritious than variety of fried and breaded fish from polluted waters. And of course, plain water is far better than soft drinks, juices, smoothies, and other complex liquids.

Our ancestors have evolved consuming a relatively small variety of food; they ate different types of food but little variety within each food group.

A modern example or a limited but healthful diet is that used by Himalayan people who are strong enough to climb Everest -- and assist hapless Westerners -- on a diet of Dal Bhat (rice and lentils), some potatoes, and some spices. When I was trekking in Nepal, I was fine with Dal Bhat three times a day. Some of my Western friends complained about the monotony of the meals. What they ate? At every night stay they were selecting a pizza with different toppings. Pizza at high altitudes is relatively expensive, and it's not nutritious at any altitudes.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Tue May 29, 2018 10:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Frank Grimes
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Frank Grimes » Tue May 29, 2018 10:23 am

I think we are pretty good about our grocery spending, usually in the range of $100-$140 per week which covers all breakfasts, 5-6 lunches and 5-6 dinners for a family of 4 (including a toddler and three year old), and diapers too. Kid breakfast and lunch 5 days a week is included in daycare, but that'd be a negligible cost if we were buying the groceries for that too.

We go to the grocery store once a week. I plan out a week of meals (usually chicken based and lots of vegetables) and make a list of what we need to make those meals. Then I buy only what's on the list. So you have a situation where you end up with a ton of extra stuff in your cart then try making a list.

Harris Teeter specific suggestions: chicken breast is currently on long term sale for $1.99 a lb. We eat a lot of that. Rotisserie chickens are a good deal at $4.99 on the weekends on sale. Or fried chicken when it's on sale for $4.99 as well.

But going back to your preferences, spaghetti with seafood (assuming shrimp?) and grilled steak is never going to be cheap.

jehovasfitness
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by jehovasfitness » Tue May 29, 2018 10:27 am

Easy sub is eggs are a great source of nutrition and cheaper than steak and seafood.

Granted, steak and seafood are excellent for nutrition as well, but $/nutrients eggs will come out ahead.

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BogleFanGal
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by BogleFanGal » Tue May 29, 2018 10:41 am

So much of this is regional dependent. We spend way more than I think we should on food for just the two of us, but I try not to beat myself up too much about it. Mix a fairly high cost of living area with the desire for leanest, highest-quality eggs, fish and chicken, high volumes of salad greens/veggies, only whole grains and the bill adds up fast. (Even eggs have gone up a lot for some reason lately.)

Cheaper ingredients like rices, pasta, breads, beans, natural peanut butter and in-season fruit are also some of the most calorie-dense and some like milk, yogurt and fruit have a lot of sugar. As one ages, keeping weight down is harder, even w/regular exercise. It's easier eating more protein & veggies, very small portion sizes on carbs, healthy fats and sugar.

Sadly, we also enjoy a glass or two of wine with our dinners. So there goes the budget. Even reasonably priced bottles add up fast week in/week out. :beer

We shop Sams for many things, clip coupons, and don't use any costlier stores like Whole Foods, but still...we spend about what you do - occasionally more - and we're just two! :shock:
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getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Tue May 29, 2018 11:24 am

We spend about $400 per month, including ordering a quarter beef once a year. L-MCOL area, and I don't particularly chase down deals or clip coupons.

I am not sure Costco is the best for doing the majority of one's shopping, because I think it encourages people to spend money on food that they may not otherwise purchase, and there's no way to buy only exactly what one needs with respect to produce/etc. Or to put it another way, if you buy lots of prepackaged meals, they're cheaper at Costco than elsewhere, but you'd save more money by buying less processed food. We like Costco for chicken and dry goods but mostly ignore the produce. I also am skeptical that putting in fruit trees will be a cost savings (pleasant, and perhaps worthwhile, but there's a reason industrial agriculture has brought down food costs) unless you happen to have mature trees that the previous occupant of your home planted twenty years ago. At least, there will be a bit of a learning curve and initial expense.

One thing I've found is that buying fruit in season really helps cut down the cost. So, while I know the kids need fruit, whether its berries or apples or clementines depends on what happens to be on sale that week. We also buy whole chickens. Roast a chicken on Sunday, and with four of us there's usually enough left over for another meal or two during the week. Buy the larger container of yogurt instead of the mini containers.

H-Town
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by H-Town » Tue May 29, 2018 11:29 am

pomidoro wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 5:26 pm
I'm in the middle of cutting cost process and after reading few threads here I realized that we spend too much for groceries.
We (family of 4) spend around $1300 monthly - 70% Costco, 10% Harris Teeter, 20% Farmers market. Meals we cook are: spaghetti with seafood, steak on grill, salad, soup. We also eat fruits and vegetables but we spend 0 on alcohol and dining out.
How to save few $$ here? Any cheaper shops (online)?
I agree with livesoft. Leftovers that got thrown away is one area you can focus on. Plan your meals out before going to the groceries. Have a list of things that you're going to need for the week. Eat all leftovers before cooking new meals, etc.

Also, don't go to Costco for the sake of going to Costco. Know what you need to get and the value of things that you buy in bulk. You can waste a lot of money at Costco if you don't do this strategically.

doss
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by doss » Tue May 29, 2018 11:38 am

Make sure that you are not counting non-food items such as diapers, baking pans, etc in your "food" bill. That scan skew it up pretty drastically. You may find that without those items, your grocery list may not be bad after all.

Here's something I thought of...what if you just pick up the sales flyer at the front of the store and just shop based on what's in there?

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Pajamas
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by Pajamas » Tue May 29, 2018 11:55 am

pomidoro wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 5:26 pm
I'm in the middle of cutting cost process and after reading few threads here I realized that we spend too much for groceries.
We (family of 4) spend around $1300 monthly - 70% Costco, 10% Harris Teeter, 20% Farmers market. Meals we cook are: spaghetti with seafood, steak on grill, salad, soup. We also eat fruits and vegetables but we spend 0 on alcohol and dining out.
How to save few $$ here? Any cheaper shops (online)?
Sounds pretty reasonable to me, $325 per person per month or a little over $10 a day for food. Maybe check out Aldi or Lidl if you have one around as well as any asian or hispanic or similar grocery stores for lower prices and also focus on seasonal and on-sale whole foods.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue May 29, 2018 4:33 pm

The quality of meat at Costco is great, but the price can't compare to a major grocery store sale prices.

Nor fruit - while Costco fruit looks good, it doesn't compare to fruit on sale at a grocery store. Just got strawberries for $0.98 per pound...

We buy bread at an outlet. $0.75 per loaf vs $3.00 in the store for the exact same loaf.

We buy almost no prepared food. No frozen meals, no bags of ravioli, no chicken fingers.

If we spend more than $115pp per month something is wrong.

Last night we had leftover meatloaf and hotdogs.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Tue May 29, 2018 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ianferrel
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by ianferrel » Tue May 29, 2018 5:03 pm

LadyGeek wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 7:55 am
How about pouring the 2-liter bottles into four 0.5 liter bottles? Use empty 0.5 liter plastic water bottles. The screw caps should be able to hold the pressure.

It's more work, but might be worth a try.
In my experience, this doesn't work. Maybe if you have an iron grip.

The carbonation isn't lost when you open/close the bottle. It's lost slowly because you never really get a good enough seal after the first opening. The pressure in those separate bottles will leech out just as quickly. Plus you've lost some in the pouring.

The proteins that the OP mentions, fish and steak, are about as expensive as proteins go. Most meats are less expensive, and non-meat protein sources are less expensive still.

Fruit can also be quite expensive, although it depends on which ones. Berries are much more expensive than apples and bananas most of the time.

frugalmama
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Re: Please help with grocery budget

Post by frugalmama » Wed May 30, 2018 12:25 pm

pomidoro wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 8:57 am
Thank you everyone for huge number of suggestions!
Dietologists also suggest eating beans so I'll add it 1-2 times per week. I'll also revisit Aldi to take a closer look. Me & DW both work full time so we cannot chase every coupon/discount but whenever I see a decent price I buy a bulk (last time bought around 30 lbs of spaghetti in HT).
We also do a minor gardening (I do hot peppers and DW does tomatoes) and I believe this is a good area to improve.
frugalmama wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 9:54 pm
I garden - my berries and a lot of our fruit is free - blueberries, blackberries, figs, and apricots and so are many of our organic veggies. Would you be interested in taking gardening up? Blueberries can be grown in containers.
Could you share some additional details (suggestions/web resources with detailed how to)? My kids would love to help me with that (especially growing berries).
I am no expert for sure...I'm learning more every day and just have some years of experience (and setbacks) to work from, LOL! A lot of my advice is only good if you live in the southern USA (zone 8A like I do) as you didn't say where you live. Here is a map to tell: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/+

1) Figure out what variety grows best in your area. I checked with our local university's agricultural extension and only picked varieties that would do well in my area (which was not what was sold at big box stores). I'm not sure where you live so I can't give you much advice on varieties but your extension office can. I also tend to shy away from large large nurseries as the plants don't seem to be as healthy (smaller family owned nurseries often send you better and larger stock for your money in my experience as word of mouth is their bread and butter). This is true for seed germination as well (I order from smaller operations in my area rather than large corporations where the seeds, etc. may be older). For fruit trees/fruit plants in general, I've had really good success with Willis Orchards in GA (even though I don't live anywhere near them and have to have everything shipped).: https://www.willisorchards.com/ but I'm sure there are a lot of other good ones out there - they just have had all the varieties in my area and have sent me good quality plants in the past which I think is key as you need a good start. I tried several varieties to see which ones really worked the best for me. Select different varieties that mature at different times so you don't get overwhelmed with your harvest and have fruit all year. Blueberries come in 5 kinds - when I was in Canada, they had low bush, but where I live rabbit-eye seem to do best. Note that rabbit-eye blueberries do best with 2 complimentary pollinating bushes (assuming your region is a good fit for rabbit eye bushes) usually - so 2 varieties to work pollinating each other. Assuming rabbit-eye work well in your area, I love Tif Blue, Climax and then use them with 3 or 4 other varieties. I keep them in big 20 gallon pots (I purchased at Wal-Mart) just in case I have to bring them in (to the garage) when if the temps dip too low. I use a peat moss mix (large bundles can be found at some Lowes) with vermiculite (small garden and feed stores will have for much cheaper than a Lowes, etc. will) soil with rocks at the very bottom of the pot for drainage. Water always until water is running out of the bottom of the pot.
2) Water is everything...prior to ordering, make sure you figure out how much water your plants need and the most efficient way to get it to them is. I installed irrigation systems as our summers are extremely hot and the plants struggle without underground irrigation to help them out during the day (above-ground watering can sunburn plants). Also, don't plant when it is too hot/cold. That is one thing that smaller nurseries will often do...they will send the items to you when it is time to plant so you aren't planting at the wrong time.
3) Plant larger plants if you can afford them and don't give up...diagnose the problem...and it can take some time, but once you get it right, it will be easy! This is a reason to start small, so your experimentation isn't so costly or overwhelming. My first 2 tries with our Turkey fig failed...the smaller trees couldn't handle our tough winters, even with mulching and covering. The 3rd time I spent 3x as much and purchased a much larger tree and even with much colder weather the next year, the tree survived (although a few branches died). 3 years later it is several feet taller than me and very happy.
4) The Gardenweb forums can be helpful. I also just google a lot. The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening is also very helpful - I've used my copy so much through the years that the cover has fallen off.

HTH!

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