Saving money on food bills

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

Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby superrad » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:53 am

Corgi wrote:I have an odd sort of problem that hasn't been brought up - I'm the only human in the house, so a lot of coupons I see or get don't do me much good, or for fresh items, they'll spoil before they're eaten. There's only so much room in my freezer.... My meals are at the whim of 'I don't feel like fussing'.


Weekly menus. More than a weeks worth of food is going to lead to waste. The "what if there's an emergency" part of me hates this, I keep a box of clif bars on hand to quell it.

I don't plan elaborate meals, a meat and a vegetable or two and maybe some fruit for dessert. It's all mix and match and everything is easily grilled, baked, broiled, boiled or eaten raw and if it takes more than 10 minutes to throw together, forget it or save it for a special occasion.

Stocking up is a waste of money and food. I buy a week's worth of food and generally get through it. 2-4 different meats, and 3-5 different vegetables/carbohydrates, and a 2-3 fruit options every week gives me enough variety that if I don't feel like making whatever is on the menu I can do something else, and while during the week there's quite a few options, by the end of the week my fridge is usually pretty bare. I may throw out the occasional half a head of lettuce I just never felt like eating, but I don't waste nearly as much as I used.

It comes down to about 15 minutes a week thinking about what you feel like having, looking at what you have on hand and writing down a grocery list. it took me a long time to realize that stocking up at sales and coupons are great for families and the like, but lead me to nothing but wasted food and, therefore, money. Yes, I saved 5 bucks but then I threw away $10 in meat and veggies, so not a win.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Pangolin » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:00 pm

Corgi wrote:I have an odd sort of problem that hasn't been brought up - I'm the only human in the house, so a lot of coupons I see or get don't do me much good, or for fresh items, they'll spoil before they're eaten. There's only so much room in my freezer, and half of it (when it hasn't turned into Tom and Jerry's Mice Capades like it is right now!) is filled with frozen edamame (much cheaper at the PK Mart). My meals are at the whim of 'I don't feel like fussing'.


We have a very old fridge, and the freezer never held much more than one package of chicken and a lot of snowy frost. Last year we got a chest freezer, and now half of it is filled with frozen fruit and veggies for our hedgehog and sugar gliders. We do manage to keep the other half for people food, but there's only two of us humans, so there is a limit on how much stocking up makes sense. We do try to keep some things around for emergencies (peanut butter and ice cream, maybe cereal) but we've been getting much better at the "planning for the week" part of things. Using coupons sometimes makes sense, but not if you have to buy three jars of soemthing you only use once a year.

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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Megs » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:16 am

My family is a bunch of crazy gardeners. My husband and I live in an apartment (with no patio T_T) so we can't participate. However, all summer I like to help out my parents and my sister with their gardens, and in late summer/early fall help with canning and freezing. As such, I've had the luxury of not paying for produce almost all winter (unless I need something fresh, or peppers). My crazy parents also have found a way to keep fresh carrots all winter (I don't know how they do this) as well as onions and potatoes!
I'm also lucky enough to have a friend who's husband is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish, but she doesn't like to cook it. I've offered to pay her for stuff, but she won't take it. Every now and then though, I give her a few pounds of ground beef (also home grown - thank you parents!)
A lot of people I know have kind of made these little connections with people - it has really helped us to save a lot of money!
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Caldercup » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:59 am

I shop for my pantry, not for my kitchen. That way I can stock up whenever there's a big sale on a staple item. Before I go to the store, I look over the pantry and see what we're getting low on.

To stock the pantry, I sit down with my coffee each Sunday and cut coupons and then check the sales flyers at the two grocery stores I go to, marking down all staple food items that are at a good price (I put an asterisk next to anything that I *know* I have a coupon for.) I put the coupon box with the sales list in my car and stop at the grocery store when I'm driving around doing other errands -- I can dash in and don't have to make a special trip.

When it comes time to plan out my week's menu, I "shop" from the pantry.

We do have to stop and grab milk and produce weekly.
Eileen
Cooking for a Type 1 diabetic, gluten-free, teenage boy.
Thank goodness he thinks bento is fun!

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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Kyoki » Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:18 pm

Megs wrote:My crazy parents also have found a way to keep fresh carrots all winter (I don't know how they do this) as well as onions and potatoes!

Sand. Seriously. Take your carrots, and bury them (with the greens sticking out) most of the way in clean playground sand in a cool, dark, mostly dry place, like a root cellar or a basement. It works for any root veggie, although for potatoes I'd recommend sawdust instead of sand. (Sawdust works for apples for a while too).
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The Laughing Otter- bento stuff mixed in with other stuff!

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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Corgi » Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:24 pm

Alas, Miami has no 'cool, dark, mostly dry' places unless you have cool, dark, mostly dry money. Two out of three is the best I can manage. ;)
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Caldercup » Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:36 am

The Tightwad Gazette recommends using a clean trashcan with a 'locking' lid -- start with a layer of sand in the bottom, add in the veggies, cover with sand, add more veggies, more sand, and so on and so on.
Eileen

PS - you can find the Tightwad Gazette in most libraries, but it's available at bookstores too: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Tightwad ... 0375752250
Cooking for a Type 1 diabetic, gluten-free, teenage boy.
Thank goodness he thinks bento is fun!

See my ramblings at: http://www.thesublurbs.com
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Dragonflyknits » Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:09 am

No one has mentioned shopping at Aldi yet! I live in the US, and we have to drive a bit to get to one, but it saves me a good 30% off my grocery bill; very important for a single mom of 2 teenagers, 17 and 15! (Especially a mom who works in the automotive industry and who just got cut to 32 hour weeks :shock: ).

I get paid every 2 weeks; we go to Aldi every Saturday with a grocery list and a menu plan, and if it isn't carried there, we don't eat it. On payday weeks I do go (alone!) to the "regular" grocery store for things that Aldi does not carry, but otherwise, that's what we eat. I completely agree with the previous posters about not shopping at Walmart because of its treatment of its employees, but Aldi seems to achieve most of their savings by putting the burden on the customer (do-it-yourself grocery packing, paying for using the shopping carts, no-frills displays, etc.), and I am more than willing to deal with that for the savings.
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Corgi » Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:37 am

I've never heard of Aldi, they're not in Florida (unless they're sneaking down from the border). 'Splain more?
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Re: Saving money on food bills

Postby Dragonflyknits » Tue Mar 31, 2009 10:01 am

Corgi, they are a no-frills grocery chain that started in Germany. If you go to (I think) www.aldi.com and select the US, I think there is a store locator. They are all over the world now.

Basically, they only carry their own store brands, although a lot of times it looks to me like the cereal, etc., is excess production from brand names, because it sure looks like the high-dollar stuff! Their coffee comes from Germany, and it's $3.99 for 500 grams, which is more than a pound. Around here even the generic coffee in the big chain stores is $6 and up for 12 ounces or so. Milk is $2.89/gallon, eggs are $1.15/dozen; both of these are prices MUCH lower than other groceries in my area (upstate SC).

The downside, sort of, is that they are not fancy. The groceries are put on the shelves in their original cartons, and there are no bagboys, no free grocery bags (we generally collect empty cartons as we go through the store) -- if you want one of their bags I think it's 5 cents/bag. So no wasteful plastic packaging floating around. You pack your own groceries on a shelf at the end of the checkout lines, which I actually prefer, because I like to sort things as I go. To get a grocery cart, you insert a quarter; when you return the cart, you get it back. So there are no grocery carts rolling around in the parking lot, and again, no need for bagboys to go round them up!

They have an excellent guarantee on the quality of their food -- if something is not good, you get a replacement AND a refund of your money. I have only returned something once though, some beef jerky that was spoiled.

Anyway, as I say with two big eaters in the house, one of them a 17 yo boy, it is really saving me money. And I like seeing the European stuff that they bring in...oh yeah, I forgot to mention -- German chocolate! Cheaper than a Hershey bar! :lol:
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