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Old 07-04-2017, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Dover, DE
1,715 posts, read 3,664,817 times
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We are a family of 2. If I spent that much per month on food for both of us, hubby would freak!! I put a lot of things in my small chest freezer that we got at Sears for about $150. Also have a bottom freezer in my fridge. I buy cheese in bulk at Sam's Club, portion it out into freezer bags and freeze. Same with any type of breads. One thing I found was that you can freeze whole strawberries and bananas. Take the strawberries and hull them. If you wash them, make sure to let them dry completely. Lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put into the freezer. When they are frozen solid, just pile them in a freezer bag and take them out as you want. They last a long time. When bananas are getting slightly soft, slice them up and put them into the freezer on a cookie sheet. Again when they are solid, pile them into a freezer bag. I then use them on cereal (they thaw fast) and in my NutriNinja blender for smoothies. When I have extra onions I cut them up, put them in a bag and freeze them as well. Good for cooking. You can also do that with corn on the cob. Husk it and place into a freezer bag. Do NOT wash! Then when you want some "fresh" corn on the cob, dig out a bag and steam it. Tastes right off the stalk. If I want steak I wait until it is on a good sale and then get a couple packages, split them up and freeze as well. Same with hamburger (I use nothing less than 93/7) and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This time of year there are lots of sales on these as people like to grill them.

Never, ever buy cleaning/personal supplies at the grocery store. Way overpriced. Go to the dollar stores or WalMart. Clip coupons! Check out the weekly sales ads. I brew my own iced tea to drink from Lipton tea bags that I get from my local Family Dollar. I can brew a 1/2 gallon of iced tea for about 20 cents. And it's real brewed, not that icky tasting fake powdery stuff. I find that they carry a lot of name brand stuff that I like.

If you know someone who has a Sam's Club (or Costco or BJ's) membership, see if you can go with them and use their membership to check out. I know that ours will allow that as long as the member is with you. Not everything is in huge volumes. I buy their 6 pack of canned chicken breast and make chicken salad for sandwiches out of that as well as using it in casseroles. Just rinse off the canning juice well. I also buy large cartons of Chobani yogurt there to make my smoothies. Of if it's something your friend uses, offer to go halves on a larger pack.

There are a lot of things that I won't give up, or use off brands but I can still save a lot of money with little effort. Since I am retired and hubby is only working part time until he retires in 6 months we really have to watch our pennies. But that doesn't mean I'm going to give up the brands I like or going out to eat once in awhile. Good luck with it all!
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Old 07-04-2017, 02:09 PM
 
8,219 posts, read 8,507,022 times
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I can't imagine what you're buying not only to run up such a bill, but to have to ask strangers how to cut your bills.

First, produce does NOT go back in a day or two. Almost anything should last a week or more, with a few exceptions like raspberries.

Second, stop shopping at Whole Foods. If you're in an expensive area, in a bit of a food desert, than can be a problem. Try exploring farther afield.

Third, are you aware that boneless chicken breasts are considered to be the driest, least flavorful of all chicken options? If you insist on white meat, at least try the the whole of halved breast, with the bones and skin.

Fourth, you don't need a large house to take advantage of sales. Just let sales influence what you buy. If you insist on buying boneless chicken breasts, at least do it when they're on sale.

Fifth, get a couple of cookbooks that emphasize low-cost cooking. That will get you started on trying cheaper cuts of meat, etc.

It's a good goal, and I wish you luck with your efforts.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:20 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
16,756 posts, read 20,529,725 times
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Crock pot. You can turn almost any cut of meat into something tender in a crock pot. Look for crockpot seasoning packets, or just put chicken broth in with the meat.
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Old 07-07-2017, 05:23 AM
 
3,475 posts, read 1,988,641 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BellaLind View Post
I like to read this forum, even if I'm not great at being frugal myself. I've been told I'm frugal, but compared to most here, I don't hold a candle. I could use some grocery saving tips from you experts... please.

I want to save an extra $100 a month. I need to make cuts somewhere to do this and ran some reports in Quicken. I spend about $500-$600 a month on groceries! I read in another thread where singles were spending $200 or $300 a month and I think I can make some improvements. I'm single, but I have a relative I take care of who lives with me most of the time and I buy her food too. So we are kind of a house of two. But she doesn't eat much and she also spends a lot of time with other family. She really doesn't add much to the bill other than some easy to prepare food for herself should I not be home.

I DON'T know where you live, so food costs may be way higher, but $500-600 A MONTH??? REALLY? I spend UP TO $200/month to feed two people!!! Amply! AND I read your second post, I go shopping no less than TWO times a month to a MAXIMUM OF ONCE A WEEK. Also, STOP shopping at Whole Paycheck, and STOP buying Organic. They ran multiple tests and tests and found organic to be NO MORE healthier than regular produce/meat. ALso, DO you have an ALDI in your area? It is a German company Grocery chain expanding here in the USA {with USA products...no label or house label generic brand}. You DO have put a quarter in the shopping cart and take your own bags, but the savings is TREMENDOUS! Just google "ALDI in Anytown USA", they are mostly on the east coast, but rapidly expanding all over USA. ALSO SHOP your grocery circulars on every Sunday in your local paper BEFORE you go shopping. SEE what is on sale and who has the best prices BESIDES Whole Paycheck!

My grocery bill is food and also household stuff like shampoo, soap, cleaners, etc.

STOP doing that. "household needs" should be a separate budget column...maybe you are spending a LOT there too! Also, SHOP WALMART or DOLLAR TREE or GENERAL DOLLAR or the like for Household Needs. Grocery stores, unless they price it REAL LOW on sale, ARE FAR MORE EXPENSIVE on those items!

I've looked at a lot of websites and I do what they list. Cook at home, from scratch. Don't buy a lot of prepared foods etc.

GOOD START!

I can get better at buying stuff on sale, but I have a small house and don't have the space to stock up on things. I'm thinking of buying a pantry cabinet for the garage so I can store extra stuff on it. There never seem to be coupons for what I buy (generic and fresh foods).

I have a 750 SF foot SMALL house and added a bank of cabinets {3 high each 30" tall} floor to ceiling for about $300. One on top the other, they are double door cabinets, screwed to studs in the wall. They are between the back door and the Bedroom door off the kitchen on a barren stretch of wall just asking for cabinets. OR buy a 36" or 48" silver food service shelving system form Walmart for about 1/3 that, I erected one of those squeezed in on another wall. The cabinets came from Lowes, but Home Depot should have them cash and carry too. They also have single door 12" and 15" cabinets if you lack the space for the 30". Shop. Walmart online and look for shelving systems. Or Amazon.com. I split a shower curtain with a tree on it in two pieces and hung it over the shelves to cover them up. GO to the dollar store to shop for $1 bins that will hold things like onions and potatoes.

I do have an issue with produce waste. A lot of it goes bad in a day or two. I try to cook it up quickly and reheat it as needed. But I throw away too much. Also my choices of grocery stores is "inexpensive but horrible produce" or Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods). When I visit my mom (who lives rurally) I stock up at roadside produce stands (best produce I can get at a reasonable price).

Then you are buying at the wrong place. Fresh produce from a grocery store should last you at least a week in or out of the fridge. OR you are buying too much. I big 10# bag of potatoes is cheaper than a 5# bag, but if you are throwing away 8# due to rot, the 5# is cheaper in the long run. That's the maximum I buy, and I buy only the little red potatoes or the little yellow ones in the 5# bag.

I'm also kind of a meat snob (because of what I ate growing up). Filet mignon and boneless chicken breasts, that sort of thing. I tend to buy organic chicken and beef too. I'd love suggestions for other types of meat that's cheaper and tastes just as good. Although I honestly don't buy a lot of meat.

STOP THAT TOO! Filet is NICE, but I like a good chuck roast. How are you spending $40-50 a week on TWO PIECES OF MEAT? The packages I buy ARE UNDER $10 each! For $40-50, I could buy 4 or 5 packages of beef cuts and FREEZE them in heavy duty FREEZER ZIPLOCK bags to last longer. Taste is unnoticeable if used that month or the next. ALSO, WE have here in both Walmart and the other local grocery stores...a "Filet Mignon" wrapped in bacon individual 6 or 8 oz package for just $1.99 each or less if on sale. I will grant you it is NOT a whole filet, rather it is the scrap piece they cut off the "perfect"{expensive} filet, and wrap it in bacon in a circle and tastes JUST AS GOOD. It IS filet of course, just not the "perfect piece"! Try it. ALSO, STOP buying "whole boneless skinless organic" chicken! BUY a breast if you want, but at 1/3 or more off, you can buy a BONE IN SKINNED REGULAR chicken breast and take the skin off and cut the bone out yourself with a sharp knife! It REALLY is NOT hard to do! SAVES A LOT OF MONEY!

My boyfriend bought me a Kurig and that thing is pricey! I bought a reusable pod for it and I'm going to buy cans of coffee again. Boxes of coffee pods are $8 for 12 cups.

YES! STOP that! It's nice to have a fresh one cupper brewed for you, but REALLY? Get a regular "v" funnel shaped filter drip maker {over the round flat based filter}.. the "V" shape means more coffee grounds get "wet" and it drips through ALL of the grounds, and GO TO WALMART...the regular bags of coffee are $3.95 each, BIG CANS less. IF you can't find the "V" shaped Filter maker or V shaped funnel filters, even the flat round ones don't do too bad. ALSO: if you tend to buy coffee "on the run" at Starbucks or Dunkin, STOP! Make extra when you make your morning brew and TAKE it WITH YOU! There Are TONS of coffee cups to go and thermoses to buy...check Walmart! WHole Paycheck MAY limit you on coffee and supplies...try walmart or regular grocery...they have a ton of coffees and flavorings to add, to get you the "perfect" cup like you can buy when out and about.

So that's what I know. I might be able to pull things off with just that, but I'd appreciate more grocery saving tips. I also live in a high cost of living area. But I know I can be smarter about shopping.

Ok...so your HCOL area SHOULD still have reasonably priced Grocery stores, if not, go up to an hour outside your area ONCE A WEEK or ONCE EVERY OTHER WEEK and shop. Check it out. You can buy bulk broccoli of cauliflower, for example, and chop it up the way you like, and freeze it raw in ZIPLOCK FREEZER bags, then steam it to heat and cook it. REALLY no difference, if it IS, GET used to it! That way when you buy, you have a whole month or two of frozen {BUT NOT PROCESSED} veggies on hand. EIther steam in the ziplock in the Miracle wave {micro} or the pan over a strainer. THAT is HOW I DO IT. Your results may vary.

I wish I could cut "eating out" but that only nets me an extra $45 a month.

THAT- eating out- is 45% of your goal of saving $100.00/month! SO TRY NOT eating out...we only do if for B-days, our anniversary, vacation {if we go anywhere} and for after medical stuff. Otherwise, it's a NONO!

MY responses are in BOLD RED.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:50 PM
 
365 posts, read 214,354 times
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Great thread, OP! I've learned some new ideas.

Things I do -
Use cloth kitchen towels and napkins rather than paper. (I do use 1 - 2 paper towels rolls a year for some things.)

Use baby shampoo from Dollar Tree for hand soap, laundry soap, and other soap things. I use 1 - 2 tablespoons in the clothes washer for a full load. We only need enough soap to break the surface tension of water to get the benefits of cleaning. If I'm washing something muddy or otherwise unusually dirty, I'll add a bit of Simply Green. I get dishwasher soap and other cleaning supplies from Dollar Tree.

Now that temps are getting cooler, I'm getting out the slow cooker. I've been requesting slow cooker cookbooks from the library via the library website and my library card number. Right now I have the book "The French Slow Cooker" for copying recipes to the computer.

When I know I can't eat produce before it will spoil, I wash, cut, and put the produce in little baggies and pop in the freezer. They will become ingredients for quiche and slow cooker recipes later.

"Better Than Bouillon" is terrific, esp the low salt ones. Lots of flavours. Makes for a great stock at a low cost.

Great recipes can be found in cookbooks (from the library and other places) and on a few select websites. Food.com is not one of them. Williams-Sonoma.com MarthaStewart.com and FoodNetwork.com have better recipes. Libraries also stock some good cooking magazines, like Chef. Check them out and copy the recipes that intrigue you.

Buy fresh herbs in the summer and freeze them in snack size little baggies for use in winter.

Buy spices from a spice store or a store selling spices in bulk. Spices are fresher and cheaper.

Make your own creme fraiche - tangy and tons cheaper than the store.

Cut out things with white flour: pancakes, white bread, flour tortillas, rolls, etc. Make crustless quiche and tarts. White flour has low nutrition and low flavour. (Tho I admit to loving sour dough bread with a crunchy crust.)

Look through FoodNetwork.com for ingredient ideas for quiches and crustless quiche / frittata. (Spinach, ham, cheddar, and nutmeg for one example. Pesto, pine nuts, and parmesan for another.) Eggs & milk are wholesome and cheap.

Make a big batch of pesto in the summer with fresh basil. Freeze in ice cube trays. When hard, put cubes in little baggies and freeze. Take out as much as you need for a meal the rest of the year.

Make a big batch of herbed butter in the winter. My fav is Montpellier butter. Freeze in ice cube trays, transfer to baggies. Use on chicken, steak, fish rest of year. Sometimes I give out several cubes as Xmas gifts, they are so tasty and unusual.
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Old 09-14-2017, 08:01 AM
 
Location: The analog world
15,640 posts, read 8,764,064 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BellaLind View Post
Thanks for the ideas so far.

I'll be sure to check out the dollar store. I haven't been there in a while. I last went there a few years ago when I read an "Ultimate Cheapskate" book (because he made suggestions for food items at the dollar store). I was disappointed that my local dollar store doesn't really carry food other than candy and snack food. It's a lot of "junk" for the most part. But I didn't really look at soaps or cleaners (or remember them). So it's time to look again.

It looks like I need to add a little bit more explanation. Yes, I do eat more than chicken and beef... I just brought those two up because I read that chicken breasts and filet are probably the most expensive way to go on meat and I knew it was a easy place to cut. The idea on buying the whole chicken makes sense. I don't really buy pork, not a fan of it. Although I do like Polish ham and buy that when I can find it on sale. I also buy seafood, mainly tilapia or cod. But that's rare. Even more rare I will buy bison meat. Love that. But actually my whole meat budget is pretty small. I usually only buy one package of meat a week, maybe two. So I'd estimate I spend about $40-$50 a month on meat stuffs. But every cut to the budget adds up and can help... so thanks!

I need to look into it better, but I think my biggest hit is produce. It's probably where I have the most opportunity to save and make cuts. I am terrible, I just don't like most frozen veggies and I hate canned (other than canned tomatoes for pasta sauce, soups, or chili). Both are tasteless and since they seem to be pre-cooked, they aren't good for salads and such. For example, my main lunch I pack is hummus and raw veggies (carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, etc). Or I pack myself a salad. Dinner too is mostly veggies and just a little bit of meat (not much bread-stuff either). I love buying fresh veggies out by my family where it's literally fresh picked on a farm that day. It tastes "normal" to me and it lasts longer and it's cheaper (almost half the price of stores). It's a three hour drive and a few tolls to get there though and then another three hours back, so I save that for when I visit.

I forgot to mention I checked out two local "farmer's markets." I put that in quotes because maybe there are one or two vendors with a limited selection selling fruits, veggies, or meat. Most people seem to sell trinkets, bread, snacks, even ice cream and makeup. It's only around in spring and summer. I need to start going back to that too... it may have changed.

Anyway, my problem with produce is while it easily makes up half of my grocery bill (roughly) I waste a lot because it goes bad. I've literally have had stuff go bad in a day (but more commonly it's 3-4 days although some stuff does last the whole week: carrots, potatoes, apples, onions, garlic, etc). Maybe I do have to simply run to the store 2-3 times a week to keep up with fresh--that seems like the best fix based on my area. Kind of a pain, but it should save me money.

You know whose produce I really like around here (if I can't get my farm produce)... Costco! the problem is there is so much bulk it goes bad. But overall it seem fresher and keeps longer than the grocery store stuff. I wish I could buy smaller quantities of Costco product... maybe I can find someone to split Costco produce with.
Your issue with food waste is poor portioning. I spend about $50-60 on fresh produce for two adults and one ravenous 16-year-old boy per week, and that's plenty. (We eat vegetarian five days a week, btw, so it's not like we skimp on the produce.) I pay very close attention to how much broccoli, bell peppers, leafy greens, avocados, etc. I need when filling my cart, and I don't buy anything more just because it looks like a deal. I also don't buy pre-cut packaged produce, which is a waste of money. Use the scales at your grocery can help you figure out how much to buy.

It will help, too, if you focus on purchasing produce in season. Right now is a very abundant time, so you should be seeing a drop in your produce bill; however, during winter and early spring, the selection will be slimmer. If you're not familiar with the seasonality of food, time to start googling. Also, make friends with the produce staff at your local grocery. Ask them to direct you to the best deals. They'll be happy to make suggestions, and they'll also cut things for you, so if you don't need a whole watermelon, ask them to cut one in half and wrap it up for you. Really, they can do that, especially at higher end groceries.

Also, learn to make soup. Slightly wilted vegetables work just fine in soup, which will be nice as the weather turns cooler. Somebody already mentioned buying whole chickens, which the meat department will cut up for you if you ask, btw. A chicken carcass makes great a great stock. Keep a bag in your freezer for vegetable trimmings (onions, celery, and carrots), and a stripped chicken carcass. Throw them all in a big pot or a slow cooker and cover with cold water. Add some fresh parsley and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and let cook for as long as you can stand it, at least a couple of hours. Strain out the vegges and chicken carcass (discard), taste and season the stock, and then use it to make a delicious soup for a cool autumn day lunch.

Now, on to the other stuff you're buying at the grocery...don't buy your paper towels at Whole Foods! Better yet, stop buying them all together and use cloths instead. I haven't had a paper towel in this house in years, and nobody is suffering for it. The same goes for household cleaners, hygiene products, etc.

Women, in particular, are suckers for something that smells good and comes in a pretty package, but nobody needs three body washes, two different shampoos, and four different moisturizers cluttering up their bathroom. After years of cycling through different hair products, I finally settled on one that everyone in my family likes based on a suggestion from my hair stylist. I bought a gallon each of shampoo and conditioner from Amazon at a steep discount, and we're now into year two of using them. (I store the big bottles in the closet and refill shower-sized bottles from them whenever needed.)

The same goes for the specialty cleaning products that take up a shelf or two in your hall closet. Choose a few versatile products, and use them to their fullest advantage. A multi-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, and whatever you need for laundry and dishes will go a long way.

Anyway, those are my suggestions. I know how hard it can be to live on a budget, but I'm confident that with a little forethought, you'll find some savings in your grocery budget without feeling deprived.

Last edited by randomparent; 09-14-2017 at 08:18 AM..
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Old 09-14-2017, 05:04 PM
Status: "I am in preparation mode!" (set 8 days ago)
 
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Cook your own meals. Bring breakfast and lunch to work.
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Old 09-14-2017, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
8,880 posts, read 15,644,831 times
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I don't waste my time cutting it, I just wad it up and throw it in the trash.

Unless there's a coupon at the bottom, then I do cut that off first. I generally use the crease and tear method because I can never find the scissors when I need them.
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