General chatter - How much do you spend on groceries?




mammasita
03-06-2012, 10:10 AM
In an effort to organize my finances and not spend excessively :o - I'm wondering how much you all spend on groceries? Do you shop weekly, bi-weekly, monthly??

I will usually spend about 150 a week feeding 3 people with a few stop ins during the week to pick up things I feel like I need (which isn't always true - I have more than enough to make do at my house). BTW - This is an example of my not caring about cost and spending more than I need to :nono:

Anyway, between breakfasts, dinners and making lunch for my son and boyfriend to take to school and work.....What is a reasonable amount to spend (because I honestly have no concept of what is reasonable) ?


berryblondeboys
03-06-2012, 10:17 AM
Food is one place we do not skimp. They I do try to save where I can. I make our bread, our yogurt and home cook everything.

HOWEVER, we still spend about 200 a week for a family of 5. We buy organic dairy, eggs, meat. And fresh veggies and fruit. That stuff adds up.

I don't spend money on packaged meals, cereals, chips, etc - at least not much. But just apples for the week is over $12. Grapefruit for the week last week was $14. But we feel it's important.

If I were to give up something, it would be fresh veggies and fruit and would get more frozen veggies and fruit.

ETA: where you live also figures into cost of food. I live in the East. Food is expensive here - even at farmer's markets. It can be cheaper in other regions, so what you can buy for the dollar really does vary.

Here, where I live - a half gallon of organic milk is between $4.19-$4.49 depending on the store. Apples in winter on sale are between $1.49 to $1.99 a pound, etc.

mammasita
03-06-2012, 10:27 AM
I'm in Virginia, so sounds like I'm looking at the same prices as you (?).

I do tend to buy organic and whole foods. Based on what you say, 150 a week doesn't sound terrible. I do know what you mean about fruits and veggies adding up....and like you, I'd rather not skimp in that area.


kateleestar
03-06-2012, 10:30 AM
For my DH and myself, I eating mostly fresh/frozen veggies, shopping sales at regular grocery stores, going to Sam's Club and Aldi, I spend about $80 a week for the two of us. That includes cat food once a month and dog food once a month.. so, $320 a month for us. I do shop at specialty stores, for special ingriedients.. And I shop at "health" stores too, sometimes, for sales and health nut stuff I eat, lol. I cook dinner 4 nights a week and we keep a freezer stocked in the basement with meat and veggies that I buy at sales, that factors into the total too.

astrophe
03-06-2012, 10:46 AM
2 adults, one kid. Something like $75-$100 a week.

(This does NOT include dinner out on weekends or non-weekly buys. Just weekly edible groceries. Some people count house products (ex: toilet paper) in with groceries but I don't. That's a separate line for me. I also buy extras at Whole Foods and whatnot as they run out and do not track those on my weekly budget. Dry stuff like organic grains or organic beans. That factors in too.)

Here's the US table over the years at various levels.
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/usdafoodcost-home.htm

A.

djs06
03-06-2012, 10:54 AM
We end up spending about $150 a week for just us two. But that includes household and pet items as well. I'd like to scrimp on that but it seems when I do, I end up running back to the store at least once and spending way more than I intend. Ugh. Not a good budgeter.

We're in the midwest and I'm from the east coast, and I honestly don't see much of a difference in price (which was disappointing when I moved here, lol)

JudgeDread
03-06-2012, 10:56 AM
Hmm it really depends for me, I am a food hoarder by nature...like squirrels getting ready for winter! I usually buy more than I need because I HATE going grocery shopping. This town is a zoo, and I have to wait in line forever. So when I go I stock up. I actually haven't been out to get groceries for 3 weeks now. I had to stop and get milk and juice...but If I were to guess without looking I spend between 2-300 on groceries.......Hard to say when you throw in other crap like toothpaste or random crap from walmart.

And I do Sams around once a month which is around 80 for food items..(shot in the dark guessing)

I don't budget really, I am blessed not to have to...but rarely does food go to waste here. I got a foodsaver now and that helps a bunch!

kateleestar
03-06-2012, 10:57 AM
Just weekly edible groceries. Some people count house products (ex: toilet paper) in with groceries but I don't.

Thats a good point! Mine does, lol. I'm a coupon clipper too, but not to the point of being-on-tv. :)

berryblondeboys
03-06-2012, 11:10 AM
Oh, my $200 a week counts everything - I don't go to Target or Wal-Mart for things like toothpaste, shampoo, cat litter. All of that is stuff I buy at the grocery store. And we NEVER go out to eat. And this is for all meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ages in our family are: 3 adults (as my mother in law lives with us), a teen boy and a 6 year old boy.

And again $200 a week (and sometimes it's more)

tessendicott
03-06-2012, 11:58 AM
We (between 2 adults) spend $60 a week. So $30 each.
I plan our meals out ahead of time and that usually saves us a LOT of money when shopping.
I used to clip coupons, but our newspaper has been sucking with good ones lately. Need to get a printer.

SouthLake
03-06-2012, 12:00 PM
DH and I probably spend about 300 a month, not counting pet food and cat litter. We live in the Bay Area and eat almost entirely fresh foods- dairy, produce, meat. Sometimes we'll add in canned beans or something of that nature, but for the most part, that's it. We're fortunate enough that we don't have to force our budget down much, though I'm certainly sure we could.


I have to echo the joys of the Foodsaver. I only buy meat on sale and have a freezer stocked with a pretty good variety of meats. I also use it to make my own frozen meals.

sacha
03-06-2012, 12:55 PM
Way too much and I am trying to reign it in, it's almost embarassing to say about $800-1000 for 2 adults and 1 toddler. No restaurants either. My husband eats a lot of food and expects a lot of meat each night which is very $$$ especially here! Groceries are also very expensive here, a lot more than in the US (even compared to places like bay area or NYC!)

Sum38
03-06-2012, 01:07 PM
Atleast $1200 per month. 2 kids, mom, dad and usually at least one extra kid for dinner -- We eat salmon and beef tenderloin once per week, and those two are expensive. Lots of fruits and veggies. We eat out maybe once per month.

joyc21
03-06-2012, 01:09 PM
I spend about $900 to $1000 per month for a family of 6. That includes our household cleaning supplies and toiletries.

sacha
03-06-2012, 01:17 PM
I spend about $900 to $1000 per month for a family of 6. That includes our household cleaning supplies and toiletries.

Oh that's shameful, I spend the same and have 1 kid. Tips please!!?

EmmaD
03-06-2012, 01:18 PM
Interesting. I have just started keep track of everything so it is in my face now.

Apparently last month, for 2 adults, we spent $500 on groceries (which does include a bit of shampoo, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc - I don't take the time to go line by line to figure out what is food and what is not). Another $250 on restaurants and "work lunches" (which I keep track of for filing taxes). That = $187.50/week for 2 people for all food purchases. I'm SURE I could get that down with planning. I always buy organic when there is a choice and of course that is more expensive.

PrincessSophia
03-06-2012, 01:22 PM
I spend about ~$1200 per month. For a family of 6 (sometimes 7). 2 adults, 2 kids and my parents.

PrincessSophia
03-06-2012, 01:24 PM
Atleast $1200 per month. 2 kids, mom, dad and usually at least one extra kid for dinner -- We eat salmon and beef tenderloin once per week, and those two are expensive. Lots of fruits and veggies. We eat out maybe once per month.

yep, salmon and other fish are expensive and I love fish.

mirax3
03-06-2012, 01:26 PM
I spend a lot just on myself. I shop at whole foods stores for the most part which really adds up. But it's worth it!

Food is an investment in your health. No matter how much you are spending now, it will be worth it in the long run not having to pay for medication, doctors visits, surgeries- even with insurance!

I would love some tips though on how to cut down on spending. I'm still waiting for the farmers markets to open around my area which will cut down on my produce costs as they sell cheaper than whole foods stores.

joyc21
03-06-2012, 01:30 PM
Oh that's shameful, I spend the same and have 1 kid. Tips please!!?

One thing that helped me shave money off my grocery budget is planning. I plan our meals for the week so I know exactly what I need to buy when I go to the store. Otherwise, the little pit stops during the week were quickly adding up with $20 here and $30 there.

sacha
03-06-2012, 01:39 PM
One thing that helped me shave money off my grocery budget is planning. I plan our meals for the week so I know exactly what I need to buy when I go to the store. Otherwise, the little pit stops during the week were quickly adding up with $20 here and $30 there.

Thanks. Yeah I just recorded my purchases starting March 1 and I'm really seeing those little pit stops ugh... good idea thanks, I gotta smarten up.

krampus
03-06-2012, 02:06 PM
Not counting eating out, probably $50/week on average for just me.

Daki
03-06-2012, 02:18 PM
My boyfriend and I live in PA and we spend between $500 and $600 a month. Which he thinks is outrageous. But it includes all toiletries, going out to eat a few times, pricier food and not bargain barrel litter for the cats (About $85 a month) because they will only eat Fancy Feast and I will pay whatever it takes for a superior clumping litter (Fresh Step Extreme, $11 at Target SO worth it), a lot of meat, a lot of veggies, etc.

I like to cook more gourmet types of meals so I go through a bunch of spices (That I buy at a specialty store) and oils. We eat probably 7lbs of various meat a week.

I am often defending our grocery budget to him, he can't believe we need all of that. So then I ask him "Do you want to eat tuna out of a can or have seared ahi tuna steaks?" "Do you want a can of Hormel chili or my chili that will feed us lunch for a week?" or "Do you want fishsticks or blackened fresh catfish?" that usually shuts him up until the next month lol. I've gotten him use to good food but he's still not use to paying for it.

Also, most of our meat comes from the farmer's market which is MUCH cheaper than the grocery store. Farmer's market extra lean ground beef is $3.99/lb or $3.49 if you buy 5lbs. In Weis it's $5.49/lb. I usually pay about $13 for 5lbs of chicken breast. Veggies don't seem to be less expensive at all. Bacon is $4.49/lb but is FAR better than any prepackaged bacon I've ever had in my life.

rachaelm
03-06-2012, 02:28 PM
I spend about $140/week for a family of three. That amount does include toiletries/dog food as well as groceries.

berryblondeboys
03-06-2012, 02:28 PM
One thing that helped me shave money off my grocery budget is planning. I plan our meals for the week so I know exactly what I need to buy when I go to the store. Otherwise, the little pit stops during the week were quickly adding up with $20 here and $30 there.

I've never understood this and here's why. HOW do you know what veggies look good? what fruit looks good? And even what meats look good or are on sale? I always, always, always look for deals and will stock up where I can, but I cannot go in with a plan to make "X" when that week that item might be overpriced or looks bad. Only when it's like Thanksgiving or around a birthday where there are special requests do I stick to specific items.

Like, last week the brussel sprouts were gorgeous and normal priced. The week before it was green beans and romaine lettuce and beets. One week the cabbage came down in price. These things aren't all in flyers in the mail either. You have to go and see.

I can only see that working if you make casseroles and then add in a frozen veggie or something for something green - or always eat the same salad all the time or veggie.

nelie
03-06-2012, 02:28 PM
We don't eat any meat and eat about 80% organic. For the 2 of us, it is between $200-$300 month.

Blueberries
03-06-2012, 03:26 PM
We have a budget of $200/two weeks (including household & toiletries) for two adults and two small kids. Any eating out also has to come out of this money, so we really don't ever eat out.

BananaMontana
03-06-2012, 03:41 PM
My food budget is approximately $100 every two weeks. Once I month I buy a $30 bag of dog food and every two months a $30 bag of cat food. Most of the stuff I buy ends up not being that great because we have such a tight food budget, but we manage.

When we were living large and had money, I bought healthier things and spent $100 every week not counting the dog food. I miss those days!

astrophe
03-06-2012, 03:56 PM
Best tip from me is to switch to green cleaning if you have not already and really pare back on the cleaners you buy.

Vinegar, baking soda and Bon Ami for scrubby powder cleaning is CHEAP. Can clean tile, tub, oven, cookware, sinks, etc.

A gallon of Dr Bronner's soap is $35. When you mix 1-2 tbs per 32 oz spray bottle of water? Few tbs in a foaming hand soap dispenser for the bathroom? That lasts for YONKS. There's 256 tbs in a gallon!

And then I'm not buying sprays or hand soaps at $3-$4 a pop and basically paying for a lot of expensive water and making lots of bottle trash. Can also clean floor, and in a pinch laundry or even shampoo/bathing needs.

Say I only used it just in spray cleaner? And at the 2 tbs per bottle amount?

1 gallon = 256 tbs = 128 bottles made for $35 + water small increase in my water bill + 1 plastic trigger bottle spray.

Instead of making 128 bottles of trash and spending $512 to do it. I can apply that savings elsewhere in my groceries and get better quality.

A.

kaplods
03-06-2012, 04:37 PM
I've never understood this and here's why. HOW do you know what veggies look good? what fruit looks good? And even what meats look good or are on sale? I always, always, always look for deals and will stock up where I can, but I cannot go in with a plan to make "X" when that week that item might be overpriced or looks bad. Only when it's like Thanksgiving or around a birthday where there are special requests do I stick to specific items.

Like, last week the brussel sprouts were gorgeous and normal priced. The week before it was green beans and romaine lettuce and beets. One week the cabbage came down in price. These things aren't all in flyers in the mail either. You have to go and see.

I can only see that working if you make casseroles and then add in a frozen veggie or something for something green - or always eat the same salad all the time or veggie.


Well I do something similar: not always planning all of the meals out in advance, but having a general idea of what we'll be eating, and I do it by sitting down with the grocery store flyers, and planning accordingly to the sales in the flyers (especially the "loss leaders" the items that are on sale for an exceptionally good price. If I have to go to several stores, I will do it if the sales are good enough)..

None of this planning is "written in stone," If I find that something in the flyer sale doesn't look good or something not in the flyer is on sale at a better price, I will make mild adjustment to my plan, but usually I only have to "swap like for like,"

If I planned on buying broccoli as the side dish for a meal, and there's a fantastic sale on brussel sprouts, then I swap one for the other. If I planned on buying chicken thighs, but there's an amazing sale on turkey breast - I swap what's on sale, with a similar item on my list.

Unless I have a complicated recipe planned (and often even then) last minute swaps work out great. Even in most recipes swapping one meat for another, often works just fine.

I stock up only if the sale is so amazing that I know a similar sale (on a similar type of food) is unlikely in the near future.

Our budget is extremely variable because we do stock up when there are extremely good sales, so our grocery budget can vary tremendously. I'm not even sure how much we spend in an average month, we just spend as little as we can (and often that's incredibly low). Our situation is much better now, but we went through a period a few years ago, where we only had $25 to spend on groceries for the month (we weren't eligible for food stamps, because our income was just over the limit, but our montthly medication expenses were higher than our rent).

I learned a lot from the book "The Complete Tightwad Gazette," and other frugal and simple living books and even now I still use most of the strategies, so often we spend very little on groceries.

I have a lot of guidelines that I follow - for example, I rarely pay more than $1 per pound for meat protein. That sounds almost impossible to many people, but chicken thighs at Aldi are 69 cents per pound, and often other stores will have chicken quarter sales for as low as 50 cents per pound. We eat a LOT of chicken thighs.

We almost always buy cabbage, because even when it's not on sale, it's usually under 50 cents per pound. But usually some store in town has cabbage on sale for as little as 25 cents per pound.

This week, we found broccoli and cauliflower at an unexpected low price of only 88 cents per head (which worked out to about 44 cents per pound). Even though the cabbage we had planned on buying was only 39 cents per pound, we passed on the cabbage and bought the broccoli and cauliflower.

Technically, we didn't "save" money doing this because we actually ended up paying 20 cents more than we would have if we had bought the cabbage we had planned on. However, the extra 20 cents was worth it to us to have something different than cabbage.

We actually start our shopping for the month at a salvage grocery (we actually stop in every week to see if there's some incredible sale). These are "scratch and dent" stores. They buy out non-perishables that other stores have rejected. Most major chains will refuse an entire shipment if there is even one damaged can. These stores buy out the shipments and sell them at discount often tremendous discounts.

We never pay more than $1 per box for breakfast cereal (the only cereal I eat is hot oatmeal, but hubby eats cereal for breakfast and snacks).

I avoid gluten and the salvage store we shop has gluten-free and health-food sections selling the items for about 25% or less what we'd pay in the regular grocery store. We buy individual packages of nuts and protein bars for 10 cents per serving (these are items that sell for up to $2 at full price).

We will buy dented cans if there are no sharp dents or actual creases a soft dent doesn't weaken the integrity of the can. A sharp crease usually is safe, but it can weaken or break the seal, so we don't risk it.

Because there's no way to plan for what will be on sale, we don't shop with a plan, we just stock up on the unusually awesome finds and we will plan the rest of our shopping around what we found at the salvage grocery.

Our second trip is usually to Aldis. Starting with the flyer, but also being prepared to swap and stock up if a price is unusually awesome (every summer they have a crazy, awesom sale on strawberries sometimes as little as 25 cents per quart. You have to "stumble across" these sales or hear of them through word of mouth. We've stumbled across a couple, and when we do, we stock up).

We buy tvp at the health food store to extend ground beef. Per serving it's about 1/4 the price of ground beef, and it's low calorie and low-fat. I can blend it with cheaper, fattier cuts of ground beef to end up with a ground meat mixture that's as lean as expensive 90/10 or 95/5 ground beef.

We also pick up some items at a small asian market. We can buy a quart of gourmet mushroom soy sauce for the same price as a half-pint of Kikomann's in the regular grocery. We buy a huge bag of beansprouts for the price of a tiny bag. Fish sauce is a cheaper (and much better tasting) substitute for worcestershire sauce in american dishes. Rice wine vinegars are also an extremely good buy. Exotic fruits are also much cheaper in the asian markets.

Once every three months, we take a trip to a cheese shop about 45 minutes away. We stock up on hard cheeses, and pay on average $3 per pound for cheese that in the grocery store would cost us $10 per pound. We also buy whey protein here, for about 1/3 the price of unflavored whey protein in stores or online.

I know it sounds like we spend a lot more time on grocery shopping this way, and maybe we do, but it actually feels like much less time than when we did our shoppng at one store and in one trip for the week or month as we did in the past. This is because the shops tend to be much smaller, so we spend a lot less time waiting in line, and we don't fill the cart and then our car, so getting the groceries into the car and then into our home is much easier on our backs. We're both disabled, so a "full" grocery store shopping is often unmanageable and we wear ourselves out by having to lug all the groceries to the car and into the house. These small mini-trips are more enjoyable and less physically and emotionally stressful.


We also shop thrift stores (usually two or three stores once or twice a week) just to see if there's anything we need or want. I crochet and knit, and I rarely have to buy "new" yarn, because it's so common in the thrift stores. I would never get to knit with high-quality yarns if I weren't able to find them in the thrift stores. I also buy most of my clothes at thrift stores. I only find something nice in my size about 1 in 5 or even 1 in 10 trips, but that usually means at least one nice item per month. By shopping frequently, I rcan buy most of my clothing (except for socks, bras, underwear, and pajamas) at thrift stores. I buy at the cheapest thrift stores so usually only pay $2 to $6 per piece, and I then SELL them (as I get slimmer) at the highest priced consigment shop (and usually get all my money back, or even make a profit).

Most of our friends don't understand how we can live so well on our budget (A few friends have said that govt disability must pay extremely well, when we tell them what we get, they're actually astonished. Our income is 1/3 or less than theirs, but you'd never guess it because we're so careful with our money. We never buy anything new that we can get used, and we never pay more than we have to. It takes persistance to live this cheaply, but we live a much higher standard of living, because we do.

berryblondeboys
03-06-2012, 04:50 PM
We never buy anything new that we can get used, and we never pay more than we have to. It takes persistance to live this cheaply, but we live a much higher standard of living, because we do.

This is me too. Besides our mattresses, all our furniture is used. My small kitchen appliances are used (all high end). We live in the DC area which is very wealthy and very transient so you can find a deal if you look long enough. I like high quality. I'm just not willing to pay full price for it. I don't mall shop for clothes either - second hand or TJMaxx, Marshalls and even then I hit the clearance sections of that store.

BUT... with food, it's pricey here. You can find cabbage for 25-50 cents a pound? On sale it's 65 cents a sale once in a blue moon. Usually it's 99 cents a pound no matter what store we go to.

I do go to the Asian market for veggies and spices frequently, but I started to shy away for some things because they were Bad - like I got bean sprouts that had started to go bad (made me sick - they were fresh). Bought apples and discovered they were starchy/mush inside. Throwing away everything is not saving money. So now I'm much more careful there.

BUT... I will say, what you call 'planning' is what I do. I know how much food we will go through in a week and buy that amount. I never, ever, ever throw food away. The only time that happens is if we get sick and for some reason the food goes bad before we can eat it, but that is super rare. We eat all our veggis, fruit, dairy and meats - never throwing it away. That would bug me to no end to be throwing away food.

But, that I know of we don't have a dent special store. Haven't heard of such a thing. One of our local groceries does that with fresh produce and I'll always go there to see what I can find - like bruised tomatoes - normally $1.99 to $2.49 a pound being sold for 19 cents a pound. I bring them home, cook them up and voila - fresh 'canned' tomatoes for way cheap and way healthier.

You save on cheap chicken. That's where I draw the line. I will only buy organic chicken and ONLY from certain stores and certain brands. i can taste the difference from bad quality chicken and high quality chicken. My husband can too. He'll say, "This isn't from X, is it?" I admit, we are snobs there.

lovemydoggiesx2
03-06-2012, 05:14 PM
When the DH is home we spend about 150E a week (about $225 bucks) for 2 people. We donīt scrimp on food, and I cook almost all of our meals. This inclused household things and pet food.

When he is not home I spend about 30E a week ($50). I go to the farmers market on Sunday and pick up all my frsh fruit and veg for the week, and then pop to the market for the rest (which these days is not much). I wish I could use coupons, but they donīt exist here, and sales are rarities. DH like brand names, but I try to buy generic when possible.

lovemydoggiesx2
03-06-2012, 05:19 PM
pricier food and not bargain barrel litter for the cats (About $85 a month) because they will only eat Fancy Feast and I will pay whatever it takes for a superior clumping litter (Fresh Step Extreme, $11 at Target SO worth it),

Itīs crazy but we love our babys. I have a 9 year old cat that eats 1 container of fancy feast a day and here they are the equivilant to $1.20 each and I buy Tidy cats litter...the normal jug I think is 10lbs, and it costs a whopping $15bucks!!! Oh, how I miss Target!

Sum38
03-06-2012, 06:23 PM
yep, salmon and other fish are expensive and I love fish.

I call fish as brain food :D -- DD has a full ride for college because of academics ~ I hope all that salmon paid off :)

Sum38
03-06-2012, 06:25 PM
One thing that helped me shave money off my grocery budget is planning. I plan our meals for the week so I know exactly what I need to buy when I go to the store. Otherwise, the little pit stops during the week were quickly adding up with $20 here and $30 there.

I write out menus for each week. i always know what to buy and I barely ever throw anything away.

Sum38
03-06-2012, 06:27 PM
I've never understood this and here's why. HOW do you know what veggies look good? what fruit looks good? And even what meats look good or are on sale? I always, always, always look for deals and will stock up where I can, but I cannot go in with a plan to make "X" when that week that item might be overpriced or looks bad. Only when it's like Thanksgiving or around a birthday where there are special requests do I stick to specific items.

Like, last week the brussel sprouts were gorgeous and normal priced. The week before it was green beans and romaine lettuce and beets. One week the cabbage came down in price. These things aren't all in flyers in the mail either. You have to go and see.

I can only see that working if you make casseroles and then add in a frozen veggie or something for something green - or always eat the same salad all the time or veggie.

I check out all deals online before hand. I usually shop at Kroger or Meijer, and they post their fliers online.

mammasita
03-06-2012, 06:35 PM
Very eye opening. Thank you to everyone who shared.

I have to say, its very hard for mw to NOT stop at the harrris teeter on my way home from work. their veggies are always SO pretty.

ERHR
03-06-2012, 07:41 PM
We just upped our food budget to $360/month for 2 adults, including paper and personal care products like shampoo. We spend a LOT of money at Costco. While we buy a lot of fresh produce, it's generally not organic. We live in North Carolina.

I've really gotten into personal finance recently (new-ish blog: Evolving Personal Finance (http://evolvingpf.com/)) and my next budget area to tackle is our groceries. I think we're going to make a trip to Aldi once per month (35 minutes from our home) because on many items the cost is lower than at Costco. I'm also going to start looking in advance at the sales at Harris Teeter and Kroger and do some light couponing. While I eat little in the way of processed food, my husband does eat some things that occasionally have coupons available, like breakfast cereal.

I really struggle with balancing frugality and desire for high-quality, sustainable food. We subscribe to a CSA in the summer but overall eat very largely "conventional." I feel like we're on such a tight budget - we are both graduate students - and buying better quality food (especially meat) just hasn't been a priority so far. I hope it will soon but don't people always say things like that?

kaplods
03-06-2012, 09:12 PM
But, that I know of we don't have a dent special store. Haven't heard of such a thing.

I've learned that most people haven't heard of them, and don't know they exist, mostly because these stores tend to be in poorer neighborhoods or in out-of-the-way spots (where the rents are cheapest) and they almost never advertise. They're often very small, inconspicuous stores, and because they don't look like grocery stores (and look more like hardware or dollar stores) they are also overlooked. They also tend to have the false reputation (when people do know about them) as selling expired and spoiled food (and rarely, but occasionally you will find that some of the food has passed it's "sell by" or "best by" date, but these stores are usually only allowed to sell non-perishables, so that's not as big an issue as many people percieve it to be.

I first learned about salvage stores in the Compete Tightwad Gazette, and I too thought "no such store" existed anywhere near me (this was when I was in Illinois), I learned that there were six within an hour's drive.

If you google "salvage grocery stores" you will find state-by-state listings, and yet most of the stores I've found have not been on the list.

Mostly you learn their location by blind luck (free local newspapers and classifed sometimes) and by word-of-mouth when speaking to other cheapskates (a lot of people are hesitant to talk about it, because of the unsavory image some of these stores have. I've known folks to be embarassed about shopping at Aldi).

Yahoo groups like freecyle (if they have a discussion page), Craig's List, and other saver sites sometimes are a good place to ask.

Big Lots, TJ Maxx, Value City and Dollar Stores also do large liquidation "buy outs" so you can often find name brand and even famous maker health-food brands.

Many large bakeries, suich as Interstate Brands (Butternut, Sunbeam, Roman Meal) often have "discount" or "outlet" stores, where they sell bread and other bakery items at huge discounts. Sometimes these are called "day-old" or even "stale" stores (despite the fact that it's often no less fresh than in your local grocery. In fact, if you get to know the staff, they will tell you which day they restock, and on that day the bread is likely even fresher than what is available in the local grocery store).

Often to find these stores you need luck and persistence, but they're more common than most people believe. They're just so unconventional, most people don't know to look for them or they don't know how to look for them. It's almost like a "secret society," because once you "get in" it's the way to find more. You chat up the owners or other customers (even at thrift stores like Goodwill) and they tell you about other local cheap stores. Most of the stores I've found have been via this word-of-mouth "underground."



. You save on cheap chicken. That's where I draw the line. I will only buy organic chicken and ONLY from certain stores and certain brands. i can taste the difference from bad quality chicken and high quality chicken. My husband can too. He'll say, "This isn't from X, is it?" I admit, we are snobs there.


I'm pickier about chicken than you think. I've learned to recognize which brands and which stores I can trust. We can often even get organic and free-range chicken for my "under $1 per pound" criteria (but only in the late summer and fall when there's an abundance of poultry). Overall, however, the meat quality here in northcentral Wisconsin is quite high, even the cheapest meats and cuts. In Illinois, we had to be much more careful, especially with chicken.

In Illinois we had to use cheap chicken differently than the "good stuff." Cheaper "generic" chicken got stewed in sauces and strongly flavored soups. Here in Wisconsin, we've never had to do that. The cheap chicken tastes almost as good as organic, free range birds. In fact, we actually like older stewing hens (which you can't even get in the grocery stores anymore), and those traditionally bred, truly free-range birds actually taste "gamier" than "factory-chicken," because of their age and natural diet. It's one of the reasons they're cheap around here, is that the natural feed (grass and insects) and older age of the bird creates a depth of flavor that the more younger (and almost universally more popular) birds never develop. Less flavor and more tender meat is actually preferred by most of the nation (even in the organic market) so if you like the tougher, stronger flavor of the older "real" stewing hens, you can save money (when you can find them. Even the organic farms don't LET chickens get old enough to develop much chicken flavor, which is why the meat and skin is so white. The yellowish color of the skin only develops in older birds). I'd love to only buy traditionally-fed chicken from small-farm organic or near-organic, but that's not feasible all year (and while I like the flavor of the stewing hens, as I mentioned, virtually no one kills chickens at this age for meat. You have to basically find these birds through word-of-mouth by knowing someone who raises chickens for eggs).

Even in our large chain groceries and even our Aldi store (which is a nation-widee german-owned chain) the meat and produce is often local. For example, I buy many of my apples there, including honeycrisp and pink lady and they are locally grown. The regular grocery store produce is also quite often locally grown. The farms are identified on the packaging, and we follow the farms reputations online and through the farm and farmer's market directory that's put out every year (this is one of the places you will read about farms that use organic practices but aren't certified organic. Often the reason they weren't certified is even listed, such as farms that have applied for certification but haven't received it yet). We have a lot of Hmong farmers who use traditional organic methods (that are much safer than large certified organic farm that use some of the more dangerous organic pesticides).

Arctic Mama
03-07-2012, 12:01 AM
We're at $800-1000 per month for the five of us, including toiletries and paper goods. I cook everything from scratch except one meal out a week, which is also factored in. Unfortunately we live in one of the most expensive parts of the country and I know for a fact I have a pretty clean budget each month compared to many of my mommy friends. Your region's cost of living, climate, and transport concerns all factor into food prices, just do the best you can.

I echo planning and buying in bulk - crucially important.

sacha
03-07-2012, 06:31 AM
I find that trying to balance savings/quality is very hard.

I actually grew up with a 'freegan' mom. She spent, no joke, less than $20 a month for a family of 4 at times. She worked in a grocery store and whenever the produce was pulled off shelves for being 1 day expired or not pretty, that's what we ate. Each day.

So, I'm not really sure how to do it because my husband thinks it's terribly gross and for me, it seems really normal??? I'm really bad at gauging what is a smart deal and what isn't.

PrincessSophia
03-07-2012, 06:31 PM
I call fish as brain food :D -- DD has a full ride for college because of academics ~ I hope all that salmon paid off :)

Wow, that is good idea. Will check in a couple of years when my daughter starts college. :D

PrincessSophia
03-07-2012, 06:39 PM
I check out all deals online before hand. I usually shop at Kroger or Meijer, and they post their fliers online.

online stores will work too. My kids love arborio rice and I found out that if you buy it from amazon (4 or 6 pack)it is much cheaper than go and buy it in Trader Joe. And these are vacuum packed and you can keep it long time.

Nibbles
03-07-2012, 07:22 PM
I have no idea. I know it's a good bit higher than most here. Family of four adults, and two of them like really good wine and the other two like really good cheese. A bottle of really good wine every other night will set you waaayyy back, and I can toss twenty dollars worth of parmigiano-reggiano into just about any pasta/casserole that passes through our kitchen.

EZMONEY
03-07-2012, 09:14 PM
Angie and I keep track of these things. We shop at Costco, Ralphs (Krogers), Fresh and Easy and Trader Joes.

We go out almost every Friday night and some week-ends for breakfasts. We eat at mom/pop Mexican and Italian places for the most part or for burgers.

We always take our own lunch to work.

Our grocery bill for EVERYTHING runs us about $800 to $900 a month...that's just the two of us....that's all things from food to paper goods and my beer/wine :)

Our 2 golden retrievers run us, on average, with food, vet bills, etc $120 a month...yep...having pets is expensive...especially when they need surgery's for their knee :(

Our date night/breakfasts out runs us about $225 a month, tip and all.

EZMONEY
03-07-2012, 09:16 PM
Oh and seriously...I think I was paying just about that when the kids were here...

of course we had more hot dogs and less organic then!

pluckypear
03-07-2012, 11:48 PM
What a great question and a way to compare. I am not sure exactly how much I and DH spend. But I am being financially conscious. I have to say it is likely around 150 per week on average. That does not include kitty litter and cat food. I saw only one other poster from Canada and I have to say I think our food is much more expensive.

I do look at flyers weekly and shop with sales in mind. I do not drive, I am in a major city and walk to the grocery store so I typically go to the one nearest me. Best deals this week were 2 heads of cauliflour for $5, 2 celery -organic $5 and pears 99 cents a pound. This was a sale!!!!! I cannot afford all organic but some things I only buy organic, like berries. I have researched which foods are the least risky to eat non-organic. I eat fish once per week, I eat wild fish only. Cod was on sale this week. Last week I paid $14 for wild salmon for two people, typical serving size.
I got canned tuna for $1 per can. That is a good deal here.
Buying kitty litter I buy a big bag for around $30, swheat scoop, no clay, etc. around 5 bags for two months. I have two cats and two litters. I scoop daily and change litter every 5 days, adding no new litter in those 5 days.
I feed my cats the best I can afford, they get wellness canned and kibble. They only like the salmon kibble. I got the large cans on sale for 3.19 recently, that is a good sale.
I do not eat meat but DH does. We do not buy organic. But I get what is on sale. They had angus sirloin tip roasts buy one get one free, things like that, but still costs $23 for two roast but lasts him a long time.
Does this sound expensive to you?
Curious.

Serval87
03-09-2012, 04:14 PM
We got through about $320 a month, but we're on food stamps, so there's no taxes in there.

I don't really plan meals. I just buy roughly the same stuff every month, which includes organic spinach/lettuces/carrots, and then nonorganic produce, lots of bananas, and whatever fruit I can stock up on in season (right now it's been different varieties of oranges). I also buy breads/tortillas/noodles/rice, cheese, dry beans, frozen fruit, canned salmon, eggs, almond milks, Greek yogurt, hot chocolate (husband loves the stuff), and a few frozen items that are a little junkie (we've been trying to wean ourselves from eating a lot of junk by having a small amount with a huge salad).

I shop bi-weekly, usually spending 95-230 the first week, and then spending the rest the third week. We shop at Kroger and Walmart. There is an Aldis where I live, but it's a bit longer of a drive, and since I carpool with my mom, she doesn't like going out of the way.

I have managed to spend less on my regular stuff. I use Dr. Bronner's magic soap as a dish/counter/table cleaner, tooth paste, laundry detergent, white vinegar as a replacement for bleach, water filters, toiletries (the cheapest kind), trash bags, and cat litter and food. Some of this stuff lasts us more than a month, so we don't always buy all of these every time.

threenorns
03-09-2012, 05:00 PM
i'm in canada and i'm in an *expensive* part of canada to live - haliburton county, ontario, where milk runs about $6.39 for a bag (it's 4.99 or less just about everywhere else).

i hit the grocery store about 3x a week for fresh fruit and veg and pet food (my dog and two cats eat raw food, not commercial) and i spend usually around $40.

before i started the VLCD with it's high emphasis on fruit and veg, it was more like $400 a month for 3 ppl, the dog, and two cats.

mandalinn82
03-09-2012, 05:25 PM
We spend somewhere between $100-120 a week on food (and including paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc) for the two of us. Cat food and litter is included in that, but dog food is separate (ours has food allergies, so needs special food). That buys us enough food to have just about every meal at home - usually on Saturday or Sunday we'll go out for one to two meals, but the vast majority of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks come from that budget. Admittedly, pregnant I'm nearer the top of that range...baby boy needs a lot of fuel! But still under $120 each week.

We make 2 grocery stops each week. Stop 1 is the year-round Farmer's Market, where we buy whatever is in season. In summer, we eat a ton of squash, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and stone fruits. In winter, we get greens, root vegetables, winter squash, apples, oranges etc. Right now is my favorite time of year - strawberries, asparagus, greens, spring onions, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, carrots, and the like. If you buy in season, you can get a meal's worth of veggies for 1-2 dollars. We budget about $40 a week, and get all of our veggies, plus fruit for snacks and desserts, and a dozen eggs. In summer, if we have money left over, I use it to stock up on something cheap that I can preserve - pickles, jarred tomato sauces, salsa or diced tomatoes, and jam all come out of that market budget in the summer (I also use those jars as the basis for a lot of my Christmas gifts...everyone loves homemade jam and salsa).

Stop #2 is a local grocery store that has consistently had the best deals. Now, we do have to WORK for those deals - they have a website with promotions you can add to your store loyalty card, one-off promotions, special prices based on your buying history, etc. We also coupon pretty extensively. So each week we do maybe 2 hours of prep for the grocery store, between searching out the deals, planning our meals, and clipping the coupons we plan to use. Then we do our shopping. That store also has gas stations, and a promo where you get 10-30 cents off a gallon of gas once you've spent a certain amount, so if we have a promo, we'll go fill up the tank at a discount.

juliana77
03-09-2012, 10:17 PM
I average $100 per week (one adult, one 8-year-old). That's pretty much for 3 meals a day for both of us. I almost exclusively shop at Trader Joe's except for a couple things at Target. We don't eat a lot of meat and when we do it's frozen chicken, whole chickens, or ground turkey/beef. I buy organic when there's the option, and I spend close to $20/week on yogurt alone.

A big money saver is that we often take leftovers for lunch. Monday nights I make spaghetti & meatballs for him, and a pot of chili or curry for myself, and the leftovers are lunches for the rest of the week (he gets school lunch occasionally to break up the monotony - I don't mind it).

mimsyborogoves
03-10-2012, 12:18 AM
As a single, lowly paid college student, I spend anywhere from 20-50 bucks on food, depending on how much money I have. Since I have access to a dining hall, I don't feel like I need to spend so much on my groceries. My typical list includes nonfat milk and yogurt, stuff to make sandwiches (light wheat bread, turkey, cheese, mustard), at least 2 kinds of fruit, some sort of vegetable, something to go with said vegetable, cereal, and peanut butter.

indiblue
03-11-2012, 08:33 AM
I live in a developing country, which means fruits, vegetables, beans, etc are dirt cheap and imported items (cheese, bread, pasta, etc) are quite expensive. I usually do 1 big grocery run a month (equivalent to $70) and walks to the nearby shops for fruits, veggies, eggs, and milk every few days ($20/week). So around $150 for my fiance and I.

When I lived in the States I did something similar- 1-2 medium-sized grocery runs a month to the grocery store ($100), then 1 run a week to the farmer's market ($20), for a total of $140/month. That was just for me though.

pluckypear
03-11-2012, 01:12 PM
i'm in canada and i'm in an *expensive* part of canada to live - haliburton county, ontario, where milk runs about $6.39 for a bag (it's 4.99 or less just about everywhere else).

i hit the grocery store about 3x a week for fresh fruit and veg and pet food (my dog and two cats eat raw food, not commercial) and i spend usually around $40.

before i started the VLCD with it's high emphasis on fruit and veg, it was more like $400 a month for 3 ppl, the dog, and two cats.

Hello fellow Canadian. :) I had two dogs that lived to 21 and 12 years old on a raw diet. I used to cook for them and then switched to raw. They have sadly both passed away several years ago. And I fed them raw which included grinding organ meats while I was vegan. lol They loved it and it was cheap. I tried with my two cats but they will not eat raw food. sigh

I am going to track my grocery bills closely and see. I know when I can hit the farmers markets it will be cheaper for veg and fruit. The only problem is with working full time it is difficult to get there and not much available yet.

pixeldust
03-11-2012, 02:54 PM
I come from a poor background and still enjoy penny pinching.

For just myself, I spend no more than $60 a week on organic fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fortified unsweetened almond or coconut milk. It helps that my staple foods (apples, oranges, bananas, and spinach) are relatively cheap.

I have a good idea of what I’ll be eating throughout the week so I try to avoid pit-stops between buying days. I’ve also compared everyday prices from my farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and grocery stores. I keep an eye out for sales and swap out items when the deal is good. I like looking for ripe produce that has been marked down, because the seller wants to make some money off it before they have to toss it. If I wasn’t feeding just myself, then I’d join a CSA and get large vegetable boxes delivered from a local farm to me at an incredible discount. Another idea would be to contact produce vendors to see if I can get my food cheaper if I were to buy from them in bulk quantities. I also have a credit card that has no annual fee and offers cash rewards for grocery store purchases.

What is helping me save a lot of money is giving up junk food, meat, and eating out often. I have also simplified my home cleaning supplies (I clean everything in my home with baking soda, vinegar, alcohol, and water) and toiletries.

And like other chicks, since I expect my body shape to go through a lot of changes before I reach goal weight… I shop for clothes at thrift stores too. For the price of a top at a department store, I can buy a few nearly new outfits at a thrift store.

CherryQuinn
03-11-2012, 04:04 PM
we have no kids. my mans off working 5 months of the year. when im here alone during that time i spend on avg 25-50 a week. when my mans home its usually 50-75 a week. but he also likes to take me out to dining.

alaskanlaughter
03-11-2012, 04:28 PM
we live in an alaskan coastal city but there are no roads to or from town...all food as well as everything else (vehicles to buy, people coming to and from town) all arrive by ferry, barge or airplane...for a family of four plus one puppy, i spend about $300 every two weeks on food including other supplies...i make a few other random stops for small items as needed but that's pretty much what we spend....i do a big shopping trip every two weeks when i get paid, a stop at costco for things we use in bulk (meat, toilet paper, lunch supplies) and a stop at walmart for smaller items (deoderant, puppy treats, seasoning packets etc) and occassionally fred meyers for specialty things like greek yogurt or ground pork (which WM doesnt carry)

prices here include, off the top of my head, a gallon of milk for $4.12, hamburger for $3.29/pound, hunk of pork for $2.29/pound, etc...prices here seem about the same as the other places that i've lived in alaska...i've never lived outside of alaska and havent even left the state itself since i was four years old