Fitness Minutes: (19,110)
159 5/11/12 11:03 A
COUPONS! I spend about $100 a month for a family of 4 with them. You just have to match them up with the sales of that week to get a great deal. Also, don't buy stuff when you need it. The chance it will be on sale isn't great. Stock up on things when they are cheap so you won't have this problem. I go to giant eagle where my coupons are doubled to get even a better deal.
If you don't have the time to do that go to www.commonsensewithmoney.com and they will do a coupon match up for most of the popular grocery and drug stores for you. It will save you a lot of time and money.
I feed myself on groceries for about $150-$160 a month. I shop for groceries 2x a month, and if I run out of staples (mainly milk) then I'll go pick that up when I need it, too. A couple things I do to make my grocery bill low:
1-- Buying boneless/skinless chicken breasts in bulk-- you can buy a 3# or higher bag of individually frozen chicken breasts for cheaper than you could if you bought it in 1# trays.
2-- Buying produce that's on sale. When I do make it to the grocery store, if I see that carrots are on sale, then I'll buy those. What I mean is, my grocery list doesn't necessarily have specific vegetables and fruit listed on it, I just know that I need about 2 weeks worth of vegetables and fruit, and I'll get the ones that are on sale at that time.
3-- Coupons! I use Kroger, which has online coupons you can browse thru and then load onto your Kroger card. Those are great. They also send me coupons in the mail, sometimes for free things, like Free 1 Dozen eggs!
4-- You may have to sacrifice things. I used to eat cereal all the time in college, in the dining halls, but oatmeal is SO much cheaper so I eat oatmeal now and never buy cereal.
5-- Bake things yourself! You know how easy & cheap it is to bake your own pizza crust? Flour, little bit of oil, yeast, sugar, water, BAM much cheaper than buying a pre-made pizza crust. I make my own pizza crust, biscuits, crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls, muffins, breadsticks, soft pretzels, cookies, etc. There's really no reason to buy those Pillsbury refridgerated biscuit tubes because it literally costs cents to make yourself when you have a pantry stocked with flour, sugar, butter, baking soda, baking powder, etc.
6-- Obviously, store-brand groceries. Sometimes I'll get the name-brand version because I've tried the store version and it doesn't taste as good, but I know from experience that canned tuna, canned beans, canned tomato paste, tomato sauce, soy sauce, etc are really good as store brands. So I get kroger tuna instead of starkist tuna. Tastes the same!
Fitness Minutes: (1,414)
110 5/10/12 5:22 P
I shop at the cheapest name brand grocery store in the city I live in in central Ohio, Meijer and food items cost about $2.35 - $2.40 an item there. The key is to make your grocery list with fewer items on it. I have started to shop every day, for the freshest produce and grain products stocking my kitchen. I have found starting a diet and getting off the fast food kick very expensive, since I have been eating from about 10 items a day, although most items in my kitchen will not be used up in a week. I have been able to feed my family from my kitchen stockup, but still we have spent more initially on food going healthy than we did eating out 4 - 5 times a week for dinners out. Perhaps a tip to other folks starting a healthy diet and stocking up like I am is to not redo all your meals at once, only redo breakfast, then lunch then dinner then snacks, so you can buy fewer items at a time for your first week on your new diet. I spent over $200 on food, which I regret, although I've been able to stick to my new diet this way. Believe me, we had little healthy food already in my fridge, freezer and pantry to eat! So this was necessary. However, if you can eat for one person for $50 to $60 a week, I'll calm down.
Thanks for all the suggestions! My first budgeted pay check is coming up next week. I am going to see how I do.
5/9/12 5:05 P
Buying foods in bulk can certainly help as well as not purchasing pre-processed foods, or at least limiting them.
My food budget for over a year was less than $3 a day and that was with a 2400+ calorie diet. I ate a lot of oats, brown rice, lentils, hummus (chickpeas, sesame seeds, lemon, cumin) and vegetables -- the latter being the most expensive.
I have some inexpensive foods listed on the side of my page, though I took some out, such as soybeans, since I don't do much cooking any more (I used to make tofu and tempeh).
My food costs have gone up somewhat lately, since I have been buying organic, though some will decrease, since I am expanding my garden -- something I previously had no interest in.
Overall, buying items in bulk can save a lot of money, especially if you find a buying club and spend a day or so looking around for the best prices. For example, a 50lb bag of oats was running me just under $40. That's a lot of oats.
You may say that for one person that is excessive, but if it is a dry product such as legumes, oats or others that can be stored for long periods, it can certainly be worthwhile.
Edited by: MENESTRELLO at: 5/9/2012 (17:07)
Fitness Minutes: (20,400)
2,704 5/9/12 4:59 P
I spend about $70/week on myself, but I'm in a part of Canada where prices are significantly higher than in most of the USA. I could definitely get the same stuff for $50-55 in the USA. I always plan out all of my meals in advance and create a shopping list for the ingredients that I need. I also plan meals around what I already have on hand (last week I made taco salad from homemade tortillas because I had extra Maseca kicking around, for example...)
5/9/12 2:19 P
Even if you don't want to clip coupons, most stores have a loyalty card program you can sign up for.
Not only are generics/store brands generally cheaper, in a lot of instances, the food is identical with different labels slapped on.
If you do a little searching and scanning through this forum, you'll find a lot of previous discussions about this topic. On the coupons, I'll just add that even if you don't use many for food, it's worth using them for health and beauty and cleaning items, etc. I rarely pay more than a dollar for deodorant, soap, shampoo, and the like, because I stack coupons with rebates at places like Walgreens. If you're not choosy about brands, and if you can remember to buy things when you see them and stockpile a little, you can get most non-food items free from time to time and at a fraction of the price the rest of the time.
My food budget is also about $50.00 per week, and I usually spend less than that in the summer months due to being able to buy cheaper produce at the farmer's market. The majority of the items on my list are fresh items -- produce, meats, & dairy -- and due to preferences & space issues, I don't stockpile. I prefer to eat fresh foods, and I don't have the space to store tons of shelf stable items.
It is funny that you mention coupons, because I have just started getting into that. There are a ton of coupon-focused blogs out there that will provide info to you on how to get started and where to look for the best coupons online. Coupons fit really naturally into my shopping process, as I am a planner & organizer. I plan out my meals and shopping list before going to the grocery store, which helps me stay on track with my budget & my diet. In the planning process, I check online to see if there are coupons for any items I am looking to purchase OR if there are any really great deals that I could take advantage of by incorporating into my meal plan.
The main thing I have learned is that it isn't truly a good deal unless you are buying something that you will use. In example, those extreme coupon shows feature people buying 80 bottles of Vitamin Water for $.10 a bottle. That sounds like a great deal, but I don't drink Vitamin Water -- I don't even like the stuff. So, it wouldn't be a good deal for me. This was a hard lesson to learn at first, because you will find out about tons of great deals and will want to take advantage of them.
My view on coupons is this: I'm not going to spend hours upon hours upon hours each week hunting them down, but if I can quickly and easily find coupons for items I will use and normally buy, I am going to use them to save money. Sometimes, I save $2.00. Sometimes, I save $20.00. Regardless, I am saving a bit of money that I wouldn't have normally -- and that isn't a bad thing. :)
It also helps to know which stores are generally cheaper than others. In example, I typically buy certain items -- like dairy, meats, spices, etc -- from Target, but I buy produce from Trader Joe's. I have found that, for the produce items I like to purchase, that Trader Joe's generally runs about $0.25 - $0.50 cheaper per item (i.e. a head of cauliflower, a bag of pea pods, etc).
It takes a bit to adjust to keeping within a budget & a meal plan with groceries, especially when you are coming from a place where you went to the store and bought whatever suited you, no matter what the cost or the nutrition information (which is what I did before I changed), but after a bit, it will become easier.
Best of luck! Let me know if you want more info or have questions about my process. :) I'm happy to share!
I don't go grocery shopping on a set schedule. I do most of my meat shopping at Publix which is about a 10 minute drive away, and that happens about once every 3 weeks (I stock up my freezer, and defrost the day before I cook the meat). I usually buy produce at the Piggly Wiggly about a half a mile from my house, and on the way to work. I buy dry and frozen goods (canned things, dried beans, etc...) at multiple locations, depending on available and price, including Wal-Mart and Whole Foods.
Like today I made myself some Greek flavored chicken with feta and zucchini. I already had the spices and meat stocked up, so I took a 10 minute walk to the Pig to buy the feta and zucchini. Good exercise and a time to get fresh air. I also stop there on the way back from work if I know I need something.
$50 a week works for me because I don't have many expenses, although I do work at a tiny bit above minimum wage (not a full dollar above).
Thanks for the response - do you go once a week? I think 50 a week might be too much :/ I have a guesstimate of 75 for 15 days. I am going to use Mint.com to help, though. See what I do spend once I get paid again.
In addition to making healthier food changes, I am also trying to make healthier money decisions. One thing I am doing is dropping the use of credit cards so that I can pay them off. I am having some issues with budgeting the money I have left over after paying bills twice a month. I have no idea how much to budget for food!
I get paid twice a month and like to split everything up that way. I try to shop deals, but sometimes find myself really wanting stuff that isn't on sale (usually beef of some sort). I don't really use coupons because I really don't buy too many things that they offer a coupon for. OR to get the deal you have to buy 3-5 of the item. Since it is just me, this isn't necessarily a deal.
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