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Can't afford it!

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Old 08-26-2008, 08:54 PM   #1
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Default Can't afford it!

On a fixed income and I stuck to my list yet once again! I planned to make the meatloaf, brocolli and ceddar soup, salads, bought some frozen veggies, ands a few staples like, salads, peanut butter and a treat for my pup. I walked out the store with a $90 bill!

I do not make this much on Unemployment and for just one person, for one week, this is outrageous!

I'm just ranting, sorry... but man, I thought with my son gone I'd see this bill go down, but NNNOOOOOOOOOo, not really!
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:00 PM   #2
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Sorry you're so frustrated. I could eat beans 3 times a day. They're cheap & easy. Some nights I just open a can and heat them up. Eggs are also a nutritional bargain. Hope things start looking up for you.
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loriann7 View Post
On a fixed income and I stuck to my list yet once again! I planned to make the meatloaf, brocolli and ceddar soup, salads, bought some frozen veggies, ands a few staples like, salads, peanut butter and a treat for my pup. I walked out the store with a $90 bill!

I do not make this much on Unemployment and for just one person, for one week, this is outrageous!

I'm just ranting, sorry... but man, I thought with my son gone I'd see this bill go down, but NNNOOOOOOOOOo, not really!

I hear ya Loriann, I'm the same way, can't really afford it either.
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:50 PM   #4
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My last grocery bill was $170 for a week worth of food and a few necessaries - laundry detergent...etc...- I am currently at home with my youngest all day long so I do cook 3 meals a day on most days but that is nutz. And I even watch for sales on meat and other more expensive items that can be frozen or prepared and frozen for later use. It has gotten to the point in which I made chili dogs using canned hormel chili and had half a can leftover and froze that for later. That is sad that the $.50 means so much to our monthly grocery bill anymore.
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:50 PM   #5
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Lori do you have access to Trader Joes or Aldis?
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:52 PM   #6
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Lori I'm right there with you hon!
Ness I wish I had an Aldi nearby

Lor for veggies do you have an asian grocery? sometimes their veggies are cheaper
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:01 PM   #7
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Nessa, I do have an Aldi's, but I find that their foods aren't any cheaper than the local Wegmans! And I wouldn't trust their meats or veggies!

KO, I'll have to check for an asian place!

I did stop at a veggie stand and got a Quart of Tomato's (There's 8 HUGE Tomato's in there) for $3!!
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:05 PM   #8
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I feel your pain. The cost of food (especially healthy food) is insane these days.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:05 PM   #9
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Where are you in NY? Just curious, i'm in Liverpool. I to find it difficult to buy healthy foods on a budget.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:13 PM   #10
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I buy veggies at local farmers markets. Not the store type, but the ones where farmers pull up in their trucks I can spend 10 bucks and buy a HUGE amount of veggies! I buy dried beans and soak them, and do all sorts of fantastic things with them. I buy dried grains from the bulk bins. Cheap eats, but whole food and truly delicious! I also buy my herbs and spices from the health food store bulk herb jars. I can spend 25 cents on something that would cost 3 or 4 bucks at the supermarket. Plus it's much, much fresher.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:39 PM   #11
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I just finished my shopping for the week for my family of 3.5 - 2 big eaters. I walked out of the store for 97.02 for 7 days worth of meals.

I'm not sure where my meals differ from yours....this week wasn't even exceptionally cheap as far as meals go. I think we're having meat as a protein for all but one meal. We buy heavy on the fresh produce as well.

Where do you shop? Maybe being in NY, the prices are higher?
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:47 PM   #12
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My husband and I shop at Aldi's a lot. The value is fantastic. They also stand behind their double money back guarantee if anything disappoints you. Not everything is cheaper, but we buy what is. The meats are good, but usually Walmart's are cheaper.

Eating "whole foods," doesn't have to break the bank. Hubby and I are on disability and on a small budget. There are many South Beach friendly foods that are even cheaper than their SAD (standard american diet) counterparts.

Walmart matches other store's flyer ads (not gimmick prices like two for one, or buy one get one free, but any add with a clearly stated price). Some Walmart's have good meat departments, some not so much. We're lucky that our local Walmart has a very good meat department.

We do shop with a list - but we only make the list after we see and compare all of the flyers.

We start our shopping at a store similar to Big Lots, but privately owned. The sell out stock of stores that have gone bankrupt or who have discontinued a product. These items aren't "expired," or defective (well, sometimes they come straight from the factory because the box is misprinted, but there's nothing wrong with the food inside). We start there and pick up staples that don't spoil. Whole wheat pasta, canned tomato products and vegetables, seasonings, almost anything can show up.

Then we look at the flyers and make a list accordingly. We might shop Walmart and take all of the flyers (to get the matching guarantee) or we might go to the store that had the most sale items we wanted.

You can save money on meats by buying large packages and cutting down yourself. Or buying cuts that most people don't want (chicken legs and thighs, for example). Aldi's brand and Walmart brand of frozen vegetables are both AWESOME. Walmart's I'd rate as the best. They have for $1.50 frozen vegetable blends that are twice the price anywhere else (the asparagus stir fry blend is my absolutel favorite).

I buy tvp granules from the health food store in bulk (they look like grape nuts cereal and are soy protein to substitute for ground beef). One pound of dry tvp is about $2.25 per pound here, about the same price as mid-grade ground beef - except that a pound of tvp is the equivalent of about 3 or more lbs of ground beef (because you rehydrate it with equal volume of water). Instead of buying 95% lean ground beef, I buy the 80 to 85% (much cheaper) and brown ground beef with onion, celery, and maybe green pepper and dry tvp. I usually use about 1 heaping cup of tvp per pound of beef. So this brings down the cost of the mixture to the equivalent of about $1.25 per pound. When money is really tight, I add more tvp. When the ground beef is mostly browned, I add enough hot tap water to match the amount of tvp. So 1 cup of tvp, 1 cup of water (sometimes a little bit more).

I then freeze the mixture in a ziploc bag, and while it's freezing I smoosh the bag around every few minutes until it freezes in crumbles. Then I take out what I need, when I want to make any recipe that would use browned ground beef (spaghetti sauce, taco filling, sloppy joe's, shepherd's pie....).

I buy rotisserie chicken from Walmart ($4.50 - $4.95 - only about $1 more than frozen raw). And when I'm done with the meal or two we get from it, I save the carcases in freezer ziplocs to make chicken soup.

I shop farmer's markets for veggies in the summer. A farmers' market tip that can save you money (or if it doesn't, it'll still brighten your day), be friendly and chatty with the vendors. Ask them what they recommend, and how they prepare their produce. Ask about the unfamiliar stuff. Compliment them on their produce, and shop late if you can. If the vendors are closing up, they will often throw in free stuff, or make a deal so they don't have to carry it home (some vendors like to haggle, some don't; but if you're friendly about it few take offense).

The Tightwad Gazette books (I bought the book that combines all three editions, it sells cheap on amazon or you can borrow it from the library),
have tons of money saving shopping tips.

We bought a Sam's club $100 membership because it allowed us to save more than that per year on our medications (the pharmacist ran the numbers for us), and switching to the Sam's pharmacy, we were able to save hundreds of dollars each month on our prescriptions. We switched some of our prescriptions to Sam's $4/month $10/3 month prescriptions. I thought maybe that I'd find that the cheaper drugs didn't work as well, or had more side effects, but that wasn't true for me. In fact, two of the drugs I was on, work much better for me than the more expensive, newer drugs I had been taking.

We shop at Sam's for some things, but you've got to watch, because "in bulk" doesn't always mean cheaper. But I often buy Sam's organic baby spring mix (a gourmet lettuce mix that is only $5 for a huge box that is the equivalent of maybe 4 to 6 bags of the $3 - $5 version in the grocery stores. I also buy their bag of small bright bell peppers, snap peas, and haricot verts, because they're a significant savings.

Walmart has yellow sticker "reduced" meats. Sounds scary, but is perfectly safe - you just have to use or freeze the meats the day you buy them. In our area Tuesday and Thursday mornings are the best times to get them, but the secret is out, so if we get there after 11am, there's none left. Savings are usually about 40% - even more for the family packs. Talk to the meat department manager though to find out when your store markes down which meats, as it can vary from store to store.

Crock pots are great for cheap cuts of meats.

I also use asian groceries - some stuff is much cheaper and of higher quality. Gourmet soy sauces are about $3 a bottle - for a quart or more. Bean sprouts, greens, eggplant, cilantro, bokchoy, green onions, basil, mint.... are almost always cheaper, and usually fresher. I've never had bean sprouts so nice as those from asian stores.

Brown rice and beans - if you can buy in bulk and dry. I've cooked and frozen beans in bulk too. I boil rice like pasta and drain in a sieve. It's easier to not burn and the grains stay nice and seperate. I cook beans according to their directions. Whole grain pasta also. Each of these can be frozen using by "squish" method so as to freeze them in a way that you can scoop out just what you need. that way, you can cook once and portion out as you need to. Makes meals nice and quickly too.

I don't buy salad dressings or marinades, because there are so many wonderful free recipes online. I sometimes make freezer or fridge pickles, and would can and freeze if I have the space, but don't.

Fruit is cheaper in the bag, but often hides more spoiled fruit, so I don't buy in the bag unless it's an amazing deal (or it's a store that has a great reputation for returns like Aldi, because of the double money back guarantee).

There really are so many tons of ways to save money and still eat healthy. It does take extra work and preparation, and a bit of openmindedness.
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:12 AM   #13
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Great post by Kaplods.

Just wanted to add that with just a little effort you can create a price book (google price book to find out how to set one up) where you basically have a page in a small loose leaf binder for each food item you regularly buy. Track the prices in the stores you shop - regular prices and sale prices. Within a short period of time, you'll be able to use the book to determine when something is a true deal. You can stock up on the item at that deal/sale price. You'll also find that items go on sale in cycles and you'll figure out how many to stock up on so that you run out right when it's available on sale again.

I keep a list of items that we typically buy at Sam's. When we're headed there, I pull the list out and see if I'm running low on any of those items.

Freeze meat items individually (lay them on a cookie sheet or small baking pan, separated - for a couple hours) then put in labeled freezer bags, remove as much air as possible (you can zip the bag almost to the corner and suck the air out with a straw and quickly seal it the rest of the way). Then instead of having a block of 5 chicken breasts, you have 5 individual chicken breasts that you can thaw more quickly and one at a time if you wish. This method works for individual servings of casseroles, lasagne, desserts, etc. You can also wrap the frozen item in plastic wrap before putting into the freezer bag.
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:35 AM   #14
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I spend a lot of money on food. I can't buy too much produce or fruit in bulk because it's only hubby and me, unless I want to cook all of it and freeze, but that sort of defeats the purpose of buying fresh produce.

I have a small chest freezer and Food Saver, so I buy my meats and some frozen organic bagged veggies, bread and other stuff when things are on sale. I buy raw milk and free range eggs from a local farm. Not cheap, but you can't beat the nutrition. (Same prices as Whole Foods milk and eggs.)

We eat mostly organic food. Our friends who eat badly make fun of us because we spend so much money on food. But I budget like crazy and think about every purchase. I wouldn't touch the garbage that they eat, even though it's much more affordable.

I buy the Whole Foods store brand - 365, and The Publix store brand - Greenwise, when I can. I buy some things at Trader Joe's, but you have to be careful there and scrutinize labels.

We hardly ever eat out and we never buy processed or convenience foods.

We've cut out other things in the budget to allow us to eat whole food/organic food. It's a tradeoff. But still, it is very expensive and getting worse. I guess we're somewhat resigned to this problem of high food prices. I'm going to try a CSA next season. I've heard mixed things about it in this area. We'll see how it goes.

I guess I have no real advice for you, except to make a list, weigh every purchase, and hope the prices come down some day.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:06 AM   #15
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I always by frozen veg - it still as a lot of nutrients in and yet much cheaper than fresh veg -also you don´t run the risk of any of it going off!!
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