Saving money on food bills

Tricks for speedy prep, packing, food safety, freezing, organization, and saving money

Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Kyoki » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:57 pm

Riss raised a good point- five bucks is a LOT of money. You don't think so- it won't buy a combo meal, or two cups of espresso... but if you're poor, you know that five bucks is a lot of produce, ten pounds of rice, or two pounds of ground beef. Five bucks can feed you for two or three days, if you plan properly and don't splurge. Remembering the value of your money makes a huge difference. You stand in line and say "Oh, candy bar. It's only 99 cents." But if you do that twice a week, you've lost eight bucks. That's a lot of ingredients.

Remember the value of your money and don't let anyone tell you "Psh, it's just a quarter/dollar/ect."
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby minyad » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:32 pm

Here is what I have learned:

Add cheaper fillers to meats and casseroles to make them go farther, (oatmeal in ground meat, extra frozen veggies in shepherds pie etc. )

Keep an eye on the ad sheets. The loss leaders on the front page are USUALLY the best deals, but you have to compare when you get there, sometimes they are not. Also notice what is in a normal rotation and plan accordingly, for example I know my local store will have boneless skinless chicken breast buy one get one free every 6 weeks, so now I plan accordingly.

When you get there keep an eye out for unadvertised or "managers" specials, sometimes there are good deals there, which are better than what you already have on your list, be flexible to change your meal plan for the better deal.

Also look up and down on the shelves, often there are better unit prices up and down, they put the stuff they WANT you to buy at eye level.

Watch out for the end caps, they are there for you to quick pick them up, they may not be the right size or brand to the one that is on sale.

Keep an eye out for those little machines on the shelves that shove coupons at you, often they are manufacturers coupons and can be used at any store and have longer expiration dates than the ones you cut out in the papers. If it is something you would normally buy, grab the coupon, then wait for the item to go on sale and use the coupon too.

I have started keeping a $10 bill in my grocery money, if there is something with a really great deal, which I dont need right now, but I will pay full price at another time of the year, I stock up now. if there isnt, the bill sits there. For example, stock up around july 4th for condiments, the holidays for baking supplies etc.

If I am under budget I buy a grocery store gift card for myself and stash it, never know when you will need it. If you dont, you have a head start on one of those expensive meals like thanksgiving or christmas dinner.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby phraser » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:19 pm

Kyoki wrote:Riss raised a good point- five bucks is a LOT of money. You don't think so- it won't buy a combo meal, or two cups of espresso... but if you're poor, you know that five bucks is a lot of produce, ten pounds of rice, or two pounds of ground beef. Five bucks can feed you for two or three days, if you plan properly and don't splurge.


Wow, food must be much cheaper there. Five bucks here buys you 2kg (just over 4 pounds) of rice, or just under a pound of ground beef. Five bucks could feed you for three days if you ate nothing but peanut butter sandwiches (1.50 for a loaf of bread with 10 slices, so two of those and a jar of peanut butter for about $2, store brand...)

But the point is still valid. Little bits add up. We've always packed lunch to take to work, but convincing my partner to give up his takeaway espresso ($3.50!) and switch to drinking filter coffee at work (cost to us - one-off investment of $15 in a single-cup filter, and $3 for a week's worth of ground coffee) has saved us over $700 (edited to add: over the course of one year), which is enough to buy almost two months worth of groceries.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby otaku_freak_16 » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:12 pm

I noticed in my house we buy a lot of food that will sit there and go bad,, so for about a week or 2 I took stock of what food went fast and which food didn't. The food that goes fast buy in bulk, the food that doesn't I buy in regular or smaller sizes if possible.

I also plan meals for the upcoming week and stick to that list.

So, I just do the basic things - plan out meals/stick to a list, buy things you eat a lot in bulk/things you don't in smaller sizes, shop around for the lowest prices, and coupons^^
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby madhouse » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:50 am

I menu plan plan plan!
I am not much of a shopper per say but I am when it comes to groceries. We have a discount store that has food service cases that have been mislabeled or close to experation that are frozen, I just bought a case of frozen cinnamon rolls 240 of them for 15 bucks. just put in a greased pan let rise and bake. it works out to be 6 cents each with out the icing. So it makes for an inexpensive addition to our breakfast routine. Really handy when company is staying as well. I bought juice boxes their once for 8 bucks for an entire heaped full banana box, there were 160 in it. those kinds of bulk deals.

I finally just bit the bullet and went and shopped prices for my most used groceries and soon learned my product, I check sales online. I literally cannot afford our organic food co-op store prices 14.99 a pound for chuck roast is not in the budget neither is 8.99 for 32oz tomato sauce, so I opted to buy beef directly from a ranch. Is it "organic", well they dont use growth hormones so that was my biggest concern. We traded meat for helicoptor maintenance, my hubby is a mechanic. So ask around, most of us have something to offer in trade.

I cook and bake from scratch
freeze meals
pack lunches
picnics
garden, well over 2,000 pounds of produce, I am nuts giving veggies away!

I feed our family of 5 for 550 per month and that does include the occasional meal that we eat out. Normally we dont eat out because while forking over 40 dollars,I am calculating in my head...crap that is 2.5 days of food gone in one pop.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby killerkitty » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:52 am

Biggie wrote:1. Choose your stores wisely
2. Shop smart


I'm sorry that I can never ever let this kinds of tips go uncommented... I know that a lot of people here are tight on money, please don't feel offended, I grew up as an immigrant kid on government support myself. But IF you have money, please don't go to the cheapest store! The reason why it's so cheap is probably because they treat their employees like shit and underpay then and because they exploit third-world countries. You an make a much bigger impact by making sure that you buy fair food from shops that don't mob their vendors than by donating the same amount that you've spent less on groceries by shopping at the cheaper store. Well, I guess you can file it under "shop smart".

Apart from that, I've learnt to efficiently freeze leftovers or pack them in the box for the day after - normally we would eat them up until we're stuffed or throw them away, so that's done wonders both to our budget and to our bellies ;)

I also come from a big russian tradition of making our own pickled vegetables, jams, etc - you name it, even kimchi. Tastes better than store-bought and if you make the food in its season it's also cheaper. I grow my own herbs at home which saves a lot because you only get fresh herbs in expensive bunches in Germany.

Back when money was really tight we used to make a big pot of soup and just eat it for a week. Soup is often much cheaper than any other food you could make!

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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby btvsrcks » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:45 am

I second the "Make a list and don't stray from it" mantra. That really does save a lot of money.

Also, don't scrimp on an item you won't eat. For example, if you prefer nectarines but buy apples because they are 'on sale' and never eat them, you wasted money on rotten apples and didn't enjoy your food. Unless you are starving, it is better to buy one nectarine and enjoy it than 5 apples that will not get eaten.

Lastly, stay away from anything in a single serving size. I still buy boxed and canned goods, but I stay away from single serving sizes. If I want to have things in single sizes at home, I take the 2 minutes to divide the items up into tupperware or single serving bags and pop them in the pantry or fridge. This saves a TON of money, even if you figure in the cost of plastic ware.

Also, try not to buy anything premade. Things like jello, fruit cups and pudding are cheap if you make them yourself, but are incredibly expensive if you buy them pre made.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby madhouse » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:30 am

btvsrcks wrote:
Lastly, stay away from anything in a single serving size. I still buy boxed and canned goods, but I stay away from single serving sizes. If I want to have things in single sizes at home, I take the 2 minutes to divide the items up into tupperware or single serving bags and pop them in the pantry or fridge. This saves a TON of money, even if you figure in the cost of plastic ware.

Also, try not to buy anything premade. Things like jello, fruit cups and pudding are cheap if you make them yourself, but are incredibly expensive if you buy them pre made.


AMEN SISTAH!!!
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http://keepitsimplecowgirl.blogspot.com/

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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby jskidmoreca » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:50 pm

btvsrcks wrote:Lastly, stay away from anything in a single serving size. I still buy boxed and canned goods, but I stay away from single serving sizes. If I want to have things in single sizes at home, I take the 2 minutes to divide the items up into tupperware or single serving bags and pop them in the pantry or fridge. This saves a TON of money, even if you figure in the cost of plastic ware.

Also, try not to buy anything premade. Things like jello, fruit cups and pudding are cheap if you make them yourself, but are incredibly expensive if you buy them pre made.


I am torn on the value of packing your own vs single serves. There are certain things that I tend to buy in the smaller packages cause because if I break them down myself it means that I have a fairly large quantity and the kids get tired of the product way before it is finished. Then the singles that I created end up sitting in the cupboard - getting pushed around for months till they are just crumbs and I end out tossing a lot and then I have wasted more $ than if I had just bought the single servings in the first place. Applesauce is a good example of this as well. We can open up a large jar of applesauce and have a few servings from it and then it gets forgotten in the fridge and by the time it is found again it has gone bad - if I buy the fruit cups of applesauce - although more expensive, I have no waste. They all get eaten and nothing goes bad.

I don't do this a lot, but there are definitely certain things that I buy in smaller containers
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Bunny » Sun Jan 18, 2009 9:36 pm

I never buy single serves anymore. Beyond the price issue of paying extra for something you could do yourself in just a few minutes, all that extra packaging (usually plastic) is, simply, wasteful. If it's something that I will get tired of quickly, I will just not get it in the first place. Or I will force myself to eat it all. I paid good money for it, someone in the house WILL eat it.

I used to shop at Wal*Mart for my groceries, because it was (is) the cheapest game in town. But then I learned about how they *get* those low prices, and I rarely shop there anymore. I will only go there for things no one else has, or if they have some incredible sale on something I can stock up on. I prefer to buy a few less groceries each week and know I'm shopping somewhere with some ethics. (Because, really, I don't need huge amounts of groceries.)

I don't hesitate to use coupons if I have them, or shop from the sale ad. I also have a shopping list program on my Palm device. (Stone age, I know!) I can keep track of things I buy frequently, and I can enter prices from different stores, when I make my shopping list the program will tell me automatically which stores have that item, and at what price.
I try to stock up on things I use a lot. This one is hard for me, since my husband and I have a tiny apartment with very little storage space. We don't have a CostCo membership, because we simply have no room for those big packages of things. But, my grocery store has had canned tuna, dry pasta, and canned soup on sale for a couple weeks now, I grab a few each time I go. Shouldn't have to buy any of those things again for awhile!
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