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Trying to Save $ on Groceries

June 16th, 2019 at 05:31 pm

I am trying to save money on groceries....

Here is what we already do:
- meal plan/make a list
- don't each very much processed food
- eat generic
- no prepared foods unless it's a special treat
- no prewashed salad or precut carrots or fruit
- no pre-grated cheese
- we eat mostly vegetarian (some chicken, fish but no meat/pork/lamb)
- we waste almost no food
- F and I drink only water; we never buy juice or anything like that
- we only shop once a week
- I cook from scratch

What I won't skimp on:
- we buy some organic (strawberries and a few other things)
- we buy organic eggs
- I buy a lot of fresh fruit and veggies for snacks for F
- I like to be generous with guests (like my friends or F's friends when they come over)

I am trying to figure out why our grocery bills are so high... Here are some ideas:
- we buy GF bread and bagels (about every 2 weeks; we aren't big bread eaters) and GF pasta (pasta once a week) and GF oatmeal which are more expensive
- nuts (but if I don't buy nuts then F's snacks would be empty calories)
- we don't eat out a lot so we have to buy more groceries
- dairy; because we don't eat meat, we eat more dairy
- we don't have an Aldi here
- we don't use coupons (because they seem to be only for processed foods)
- D's coffee and beer (but having these at home is less than getting these at Starbucks or a brew pub)
- it takes us a long time to go through milk/almond milk so we can't use the whole thing before it's spoiled (otherwise, very little waste)

Some ideas to fix the problem:
- one week a month could be eat out of the pantry/freezer week (but I'd still need fruits and veggies)
- better meal plans
- less dairy

Maybe groceries are just more expensive than they used to be.... What do you do to save on your grocery bill?

9 Responses to “Trying to Save $ on Groceries”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Temporarily, I've stopped buying organic eggs and meat. I'm not doing it long term, but just right now while we are feeling the pinch of extra expenses. It is a noticeable difference. I'm also not snacking at all, although my husband and daughter are still snacking, yes on some processed foods unfortunately.

    You are doing really well. Less bread maybe? I can imagine the GF variety is expensive. Is this something you could make on your own to save.

  2. Buendia Says:

    I really want to learn to make GF bread!!! We don't eat much bread, but between the two of us in the house who are celiac it adds up. I have an old bread maker, but when I've tried GF loaves they're super flat. I wonder if it's worth it to get an actual GF bread maker. I am also trying not to snack...

  3. Jenn Says:

    A couple of ideas: using rice in place of some pasta meals. It's naturally gluten free and even organic brown rice is cheap. I like making stir-fried veggies w/ coconut aminos (instead of soy or teriyaki), served over rice. Sometimes with a little fish. Also, do you eat legumes? Again, gluten free and cheap. Split pea soup, lentil casserole, red beans & rice.

    I'm with you on refusing to skimp on quality. Organic is worth it - cheaper than chronic health problems down the road.

  4. Lucky Robin Says:

    Can you grow a small vegetable garden? That helps us immensely during the spring, summer, and early fall. Even if it is just a small one in large containers where you can grow lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, green onions, a few herbs, and radishes, the savings on salad fixings is pretty large. Especially if it is organic salad fixings.

    Can you buy your oatmeal in bulk? Our food co-op has gluten free oatmeal that you can order in a 25 pound bag. You can freeze what you won't use immediately in whatever amounts make your life easier to prevent it from getting buggy and take out what you need for the week or two week period.

    How are you buying your fresh fruit and vegetables? Are you buying it precut or whole? You can save a lot of money by preparing it yourself. Are you portioning your fruit and veggie snacks or just allowing anyone to grab whatever?

    One snack that is cheap but that can really fill you up is popcorn, if you buy it in the one pound bag and pop it and season it yourself. They have these teapot looking things for popping kernels in the microwave, so you still have the convenience of microwave popcorn: https://www.amazon.com/Ecolution-EKPRE-4215-Micro-Pop-Popper-Maker-Qt-Snack/dp/B019HR91W4/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?keywords=microwave+popcorn+popper+glass&qid=1560740198&s=gateway&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1

    Rice balls are really great for filling people up. They just have a piece of shrimp inside surround by a lot of rice. It can stretch that seafood a lot further. They are one of the easiest recipes I've ever made.

    Can you make your own almond milk? It isn't hard and you could tailor it to how much you need so you aren't throwing any out.

    Frozen fish is usually cheaper than fresh. You may sacrifice a little in quality, but the price will make up the difference. So will good recipes that help it retain its moisture.

    Chicken does go on sale. We had boneless skinless legs and breasts on sale last week for $1.99/lb at Safeway, and .99/lb drumsticks at Winco. I bought 26 pounds of chicken and did it all up in meal size portions for the freezer. We will have lots of chicken meals coming up.

    DH just got a fishing license for father's day from his mother so I expect our fish expenses will go down. Is that something you can do, have someone in your family go fishing? Or put out the word that you'll take any fish anyone doesn't want when they go fishing. A lot of people like to go for the enjoyment, but will often give away their catch.

  5. Carol Says:

    Good ideas! However, food has gone up and your daughter is an athlete and in the eating years, so that's part of it.

  6. mumof2 Says:

    is there somewhere near you that you can buy the nuts and gluten free in bulk and google recipies they are usually easy to make...menu planning is good...we just write a shopping list and buy what is needed so save money...although we have had house guests for 2 months so haven't been doing this and our food budget is way over...but only for another 3 weeks...take your hubby and daughter and decide what you want to spend on groceries and thats what you get might make it easier for them to understand how expensive it is...we grow a lot of our own vegies in spring and summer...nothing tastes better...but food is our big luxury we don't drink/smoke/go out much...so we buy good quality food instead

  7. CB in the City Says:

    Are you celiac or gluten-sensitive? If you are gluten-sensitive you may be able to eat sourdough bread. Nuts -- they're pretty cheap at Sam's. You have to have a membership, of course, but I find that it pays for itself in gas alone.

    Food prices are definitely rising, it's not you! I'm trying to cut out processed food as well, both for financial reasons and health reasons.

  8. rob62521 Says:

    Food prices have gone up as far as I am concerned and good food costs money. We buy fresh fruits and vegetables and I cook a lot from scratch. I've just accepted that our food costs are going to be higher than most because I figure good food helps with health.

    Lucky Robin has a good idea about growing some stuff. Right now I have two of the ends of celery growing in a pot. Had to use a tall pot due to hungry bunnies. But, by the fall, I should have two bunches of celery from the leftovers of two other bunches. We grow garlic each year. I reserve some of what we grow to replant, and clean and mince the rest and keep it in a jar with olive oil in the fridge to use year round.

  9. Jane Says:

    I only have to feed/please myself, so it's easier to save when you don't have to account for someone else's tastes. I have some cheap staples that I mostly eat at home (eggs, cabbage, frozen broccoli, garlic, pasta, bulk white mushrooms) and jazz up with spices that I get mostly from the Asian grocery store/dollar store/on sale. One way I keep grocery bills in line is that if something on the list seems more expensive than it should be, I simply don't buy it, figure something else out, and pick it up next time there's a better deal. This can mess with strict meal planning, but is usually not a huge deal. I stock up on staples like tea and coffee when there's a good sale. I buy fresh fruit when there's a good sale (right now is watermelon season. A personal watermelon was $3!) but switch to frozen in the off months.

    It may just be that things are more expensive with an older active child and 2 people who need gluten-free products. When you post your menus they certainly don't seem extravagant. Do you know what the norm is in your area? It might be most helpful to save your receipts for a few weeks and then analyze where the grocery money goes objectively.

    Do you have a CSA option around you that might help save on fresh fruits and vegetables, especially "ugly" (but perfectly good) ones that didn't make the supermarket cut? Is there somewhere you can buy nuts from bulk bins by the pound, which can be cheaper?

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