I realize this is a Canadian article, however, there are tips that will apply to those in any country. Our local Co-op has the Price Accuracy Voluntary Code sticker on all tills, so that you know that you have rights, if the price is inaccurate. My brother was going to call the cashier on an error a couple weeks back but didn’t. He said he saw how exhausted she was, how busy the place was and decided not to cause any issue. She caught it immediately before he said anything – asked another cashier what the correct price was (as it was a sale item and was going through as full price). It’s really hard to catch inaccuracies (as they don’t happen often) but it’s good to know that many stores have opted to be part of the program.
As for the shop high or low on the shelves, I find that to be very inaccurate in the grocery stores that I shop in. For example, at our local Co-op, the heavier bulk items are often on the bottom shelves and the lighter items at the top. It doesn’t translate into the expensive items in the middle – as the middle appears for the items that are more popular. I find that many stores set up their shelves in this manner.
As for shop the perimeter and not in the middle, that one has always frustrated me. While it is true that whole foods – vegetables, fruits and meats are on the outside – so are the processed foods, such as deli foods, breads, dairy, all frozen processed foods and junk – such as magazines, toys, candy. If one stuck to the whole foods and never bought bulk items (such as rice or canned fruit), then you’d be paying big money. It’s very expensive to stick with the fresh items and for those of us in northern regions, in the winter when fresh fruit and vegetables are at a premium, it means we have to be very frugal on what we purchase – if on a limited budget. For people on lower incomes or working poor, pasta and rice stretch out a meal in a far cheaper manner, than purchasing a cart full of fresh items. Throw in canned beans with rice, for example and you can stretch a meal to a large family for pennies, however, you’ll have to shop down the aisles to make it happen.
I always check prices with the unit price. Many stores have large tags on the shelves that have the actual price, then the unit price. I have found it surprising at times to realize that a no-name item is actually more expensive than a brand item, when there are sales (for example). I also used to carry a calculator with me and input the costs of the food as I put it in my cart, so that I didn’t go over my budget. If you are in some provinces in Canada (such as my own), it is complicated now, as many foods are taxed and it’s not easy to remember which ones are and which aren’t. So I tend to do estimates high, which covers the taxes.
I hate that people pop in their ear buds because it’s often these people that stand in aisles singing away, taking up all the room and totally ignoring everyone around them. In many stores that I shop in, bargain items are at eye level, so that you are caught immediately.
Last as for never shop when you are hungry, I always say “never shop when you are thirsty.” Hunger has very little impact on my shopping, however, if I’m thirsty I will speed through the aisles and not pay attention, as all I can think about is getting bottled water when I hit the till. Our local Co-op has their water machine set up that you can drink a cup of water if you are thirsty and it really helps. I think the bottom line is know what your trigger is and take care of it, so that you shop with your mind focused on the task instead of everything else.
It's always great to pull up past discussions and share thoughts. Glad that you did that and shared the website that helps with the odd ingrediant recipes.
Just last weekend at a gathering (work related we were discussing food and budgets. It used to be (at least up here in my province) that junk food was over 1/2 less than regular food items. Buying food items to create meals was really expensive, buying macorni and eating that for weeks with hotdogs was cheap. It has changed with the advent of 12% food tax on all food with special focus on junk foods. There are exceptions to the food tax, as vegetables and fruits are except as is meat; luncheon meats and processed meats are still taxed. Add in that all processed foods including junk has climbed in prices, it's become the same price to buy junk or empty calorie foods (like macaroni) as it is to buy healtheir foods. In some cases it's cheaper - such as I used to buy packaged salads as it was cheaper than buying all the items needed and now, packaged salads are $5. Buying individually I'd initially pay more, however, I'll have enough for several meals rather than only enough for 2 meals.
Or another example, it used to be cheap to buy mac'n'cheese, now it's cheaper to buy hamburger individually, macaroni individually, skip the cheese as you need a bank loan to purchase it and make it with whatever you have in your cupboards. Or buy cheese on sale - which I do all the time.
It's good you and your husband are looking at the bills, making priorities and in the process are not only coming through with less debt, but with a healthier lifestyle. That's really good.
I know this is an old post, but I'm new & thought I'd add my 2cents...As far as the beer & eating out, it's really something that can be cut out. My husband LOVES pop & that is so expensive. He's had to cut back bc he knows there are other bills that HAVE to be paid. As far as eating out, it's expensive & usually not as good for you. As much as it sucks, it's cheaper to use the ingredients you have, which calls for creativity. A website I've used when getting low on odd ingredients, supercook.com. You plug in the ingredients you have & it gives you recipes that you can make with it. If you like cooking & trying new recipes, this is also a great resource! :) Everyone has given great advice! Seeing as this is old, I hope you've been able to make a change :)
"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before" -Steve Young *Christina Stewart* Annandale, VA (KS at heart)
current weight: 217.0
Posts: 494 9/8/11 11:49 P
i also base my meals on store sales and then go from their i buy my produce from a produce market it is cheaper
Fitness Minutes: (12,491) Posts: 375 8/25/11 10:09 P
Food is pretty much the only area I don't worry about when it comes to my budget. I don't buy all fancy schmancy stuff but I don't really focus on saving so much as health. It is possible to do both obviously but I never tried.
current weight: 147.0
Posts: 8,380 2/12/11 8:53 A
i clip alot of coupons and put them in a pencil holder box.
i go through them each time i shop, make a list with them then add other things i need / want.
i shop and follow my list first then go and shop the sales the store is having.
i usually spend anywhere from 70 to 125. through out my two weeks between my shopping trips i do buy produce 2 maybe 3 times. but only spend maybe $10 a time.
my boyfriend shops twice a month and spends about 70 to 125 each tme also.
this includes our food and drink mixes.
so we spend anywhere from 280-500 a month on food. no going out to dinner and there is 3 of us who live here. one does not really buy food cause he is having alot of money issues right now.
so about 96 -166 a person is spent
*sparking since june 2007
current weight: 189.8
Posts: 10,388 2/5/11 10:59 P
If you are able to do that and have it as an option, that's great way to budget for food. :)
That's great. When you have options it totally makes sense to utilize those options. :)
My bff goes across the line down into Bellingham and Blaine for groceries when she's really low and like you, she spends time scoping out the deals first. The one store she hits in Bellingham is like a warehouse and she often comes out with amazing deals. One trip she ended up paying around $50 USD (which right now we are par) for enough groceries to cover her and 2 boys. So it does pay to scope out the deals when that option arises.
Fitness Minutes: (8,190) Posts: 526 2/3/11 11:11 A
My husband is out of town right now so it is just me at the house. I decided to use that opportunity to try my meal planning a bit differently. This time, I looked at the store ads before doing my meal planning. It worked out super well. Everything I bought was on sale. I ended up saving 35% on the total bill and spending just $32 on groceries for me for the week (plus a couple extra freezer things that were a really good price). I think I need to do it like this more often. It does take a bit extra time and thought but I think it will be worth it.
Doing it as a group would be great as you wouldn't be stuck with a ton of canned goods, no where to put them and having to eat them up before they spoiled. It takes longer to spoil but they do spoil if let for years. (found out the hard way, one time going through and saw jar that was missed) Hopefully it would work with your sisters.
It sure was a mess. My dad used to make his own beer. One summer I complained it wasn't fair, he had beer and we had nothing. He made us rootbeer and we kids helped. The first batch went well but the next, I think it got to warm in the room. It's really touchy to make. And yes, it was quite the sticky mess.
Like you, I grew up canning and we used to also do our own hamburger patties, plus we made meat pies. Canning is quite expensive now though, especially if you are starting up. Everything has tripled in costs. When my mother stopped canning the neighbour scooped up all the jars and screw lids, exchanged for baking as she sells baked goods. We also give back to her the jam jars after they are empty, to help cut down on expenses (which in turn keeps her cost down on the jam). I hated doing corn, it was too picky for me. I used to make apple sauce and freeze that, along with canning fruit but the time it took (as I had no water) wasn't worth it. The next summer I sold the jars and we got cans from the grocery store when we went out for winter shopping. Now I just wouldn't eat enough to warrant the work and expense. I do though freeze fruit when I get it in season or on sale, as it'll last for about 6 months and doesn't take up much room in the fridge freezer. I remember one year making root beer and every single bottle exploded!! LOL!! What a mess. Never again, it's so picky on temp and storage. I think this summer though I might make freezer jam as it'll store easily in the fridge freezer and is so simple to make.
Fitness Minutes: (12,828) Posts: 10,313 2/1/11 8:18 P
I would love to can or freeze veggies and fruit, but I need to buy a freezer to do the freezing. I remember my mom and grandma doing the canning. I remember eating peaches and corn while they canned them. Then they also made pickles. Yummy!! I think with the way the economy is, we need to back to the "old" ways...such as canning!
That's good you have those options. Do you can the vegetables for winter?
I feel like I'm living way up north rather than the north central interior of the province. I know in the past when prices rose they stated it was due to the increase in fuel costs, although they sure didn't drop the prices when the fuel costs went down. Right now diesel - garbage fuel - is higher than gas! That's just crazy!!
Fitness Minutes: (12,828) Posts: 10,313 2/1/11 6:56 P
I have a farmers market that opens up in the late spring and I can find cheaper deals there on fresh produce. I also have a store that is local and they sell fresh produce cheaper than at the grocery stores. I go to that one during the winter. During the summer I grow my own cherry tomatoes, green peppers and cuces. Only problem is that I need to get rid of the groundhog that made my yard his home and also my one dog loves tomatoes and peppers! I put fencing (chicken wire) up, but the dog found where the groundhog got in, so I need to come up with a better fence this year.
Fitness Minutes: (8,190) Posts: 526 2/1/11 3:58 P
I agree - the cheap stuff is always junk. I do a lot of frozen veggies on the off season from costco. We always have a bag a peas, corn, green beans, and stir-fry mix. But you can't get salad spinach frozen. Or tomato or avocado. And I'm sorry but nothing beats fresh herbs and they are ridiculously priced. I really need to have my own herb garden. But I'm pretty sure I can't keep anything alive.
CSA, that's something our region is working on developing. I am surrounded by agriculture but we have never had any method to share - it's all sold to corporations who ship it back to us down the road. A person can go to a farmer they know and do personal deals but there hasn't been anything official. In my workplace we have a greenhouse that the special needs adults run all summer and they sell their products in the recently started farmer's market. They give to the local food bank first, then sell their produce. Unfortunately it's very expensive for the bits that one gets and hopefully this summer they'll adjust the prices. It's supposed to be non-profit, so unsure why they put it up at such high costs. They had lots left over at the end of the season, so yeah, hopefully they'll sort that out.
I went this past Friday to the grocery store and anyone who says (a) food costs haven't gone up and (b) healthy is the same cost as unhealthy foods - they have never shopped up here.
A few years back it cost me around $50 for groceries - one person - per 2 weeks with my supplementing pershiables through the 2 weeks (milk, yogurt and such). I figured around $100 every 2 weeks. This past Friday it cost me $145. I only had around $10 of unhealthy food, the rest was healthy. I also saved $30 purchasing items on sale. Over $4 for lettuce kit (as the actual lettuce was nasty) and one expects the salad kit to be slightly higher but not that much. $2.50 for small bag of carrots (and I mean small). Over $3 for snap peas. These items were all on sale! I might have to return to frozen vegetables until the prices come down as that is crazy. I already buy frozen fruit and canned fruit - on sale. Fresh is out of season and if it's around, extremely expensive. (as I cannot eat citrus or apples)
Even cat food jumped and I buy the cheapest as my cat won't eat anything else - for soft. She has medicated hard food. It's now up to 70c per can (and it's a one serving can, not the typical 2 serving cans like Whiskas).
The unhealthy part - mac'n'cheese bulk packages significantly sale price, junk food big slash in prices (even though it's taxed and raised, it's still cheaper than the carrots and snap peas), frozen pizza that can feed 4 slashed prices. Why is it that unhealthy foods are always on sale and cheaper than healthy foods? It's crazy wrong.
Fitness Minutes: (8,190) Posts: 526 2/1/11 1:06 P
Community Supported Agriculture
We basically paid in November for a share of a local farm's produce. Once a week during the season, I drive to the farm and pick up a box of whatever is in season. It's a great way to get your veggies in and support local business and eat organic.
Fitness Minutes: (8,190) Posts: 526 2/1/11 11:48 A
I do a bit of couponing but not a ton. I find that in general, the foods that we use regularly do not ever have coupons. Fresh produce, organic meat, etc. I think we "save" most by shopping at Costco, especially on paper goods and dog food. I should be better about looking at what is on sale and meal planning around that. This summer, we have already paid for a CSA so all of our vegetables will be taken care of for the most part. That will be nice.
Fitness Minutes: (1,802) Posts: 12 1/31/11 10:42 A
I am a foodie as well. My husband is a chef and I am a catering manager in the NYC area, so needless to say, we love food. We both cook at home quite a bit, and we eat out about once a week. About once a month we go to a nice meal in NYC, and the other weeks it is usually a chain restaurant near our house.
Couponing is my hobby, along with cooking. My husband and I go through the circulars together each weekend, and see what produce and meat are on sale, and plan our menus for the week around that.
You can check out my coupon blog if you are interested. I post tips about saving money, plus I post my weekly shopping trips with the savings. I am always looking for ideas for future posts, so let me know if there is anything you would like to see written about.
Motivation: 15 pounds - 1 slice of pizza 25 pounds - new pair of boots 35 pounds - new dress for a friend's wedding
Fitness Minutes: (53,781) Posts: 4,381 1/24/11 5:53 P
Yes, food & cooking can really be entertainment! So you actually need to factor that in, and if you are buying the more healthy types of food, I think that does get more expensive.
We are a family of 3 (one grown son lives with us), and we spend about $700-800 on food & alcohol per month (we really should cut down on our wine consumption, but then again, that's our entertainment instead of going out).
Sveiki! Central time zone
Posts: 205 1/23/11 7:45 P
try going to krazycouponlady.com its a website that matches coupons w/sales to help you get really good deals i use it a lot.
Pounds lost: 0.0
Fitness Minutes: (12,220) Posts: 2,058 1/23/11 12:42 P
2 people live here also we spend 120 on food....about 25 every 6 weeks on cleaning and personal items......i also love to cook...but i have learned how to be creative......
Pounds lost: 25.0
Fitness Minutes: (12,828) Posts: 10,313 1/22/11 6:44 P
Personally, I think $450 is a lot to me for 2 people! Even including your "going out" amount. But I am a single person and I have a lot lot lower budget for myself. I spend at least $100 per month with a gift card that I get and that includes non-food items. I also don't buy organic stuff...way to pricey for me. I do spend probably between another $20-$40/month on other food items that I didn't pick up with the $100. I try not to eat out, but every now and then I have to have a pizza or McDonald, but I limit it per month! I also don't drink alcohol unless I am out with friends and that is hardly ever. My family doesn't drink but still pop or tea cost alot at sit down restaurants.
So if being a "foodie" is your hobby, then I guess what you spend it ok! If you can afford the amount you show, then I guess you have budgeted it to work it all in. Sure food is a priority, but I have other bills that have to be paid, so I have to sacrifice somewhere and that means cheaper store brands, cuts of meat, non-organic veggies and fruit.
Fitness Minutes: (8,190) Posts: 526 1/22/11 1:55 P
One of our biggest struggles is trying to reign in our food costs. We spend a lot of money on food for the two of us. We don't dine out a whole lot but I cook a lot at home. Its a bit of a hobby - I blog about all the recipes I try. I'm also very passionate about choosing organic and eating grass-fed/vegetarian-fed beef/chicken and humanely raised animals, etc. To cut back, we don't eat a lot of meat. Beans and produce is cheaper. We also shop in bulk at Costco. We get a CSA for our vegetables in the summer.
But we still spend quite a bit for two people. I justify it because it is entertainment for us. We don't go to the movies or concerts or take trips or buy the latest technology. To help us control it a bit, I created this budget:
Per Month: Groceries: $450 - Just food. Doesn't include toiletries, dog food, etc. Dining Out: $100 - This is usually 2-4x eating out a month depending on what we get. Alcohol: $50 - This is primarily to limit my husbands beer habit. He likes to try new beer all the time.
So the total is $600 p/mo which still seems like a lot to me. We are in our second month of this budget. Last month we went over in dining out by $15 and it looks like we will do the same this month.
I know the tricks to cheap groceries, looking for deals, clipping coupons, but I'm a bit of a foodie and really don't want to sacrifice a lot in this department.
So I guess my question is:
How much do you spend on food How much of a priority is food for you and your family
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkTeams, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.