Great article and comments here! My thoughts: 1. I use a free Android phone app called "Out of Milk" where I can keep everything I buy, then build a shopping list from the history. It also has a bar code reader and I can check the current price against the price I've entered - "usual" price or competitor price. 2. "Buying in bulk" can mean getting the giant containers, or it can mean measuring out the amount you want from a bin (so you can get even a tiny amount). Both have different advantages 3. For fruits and vegetables, I make it a game with myself to use them up before they go bad - the competitive streak in me comes out!
I would say also visit you local market for fruit and veg, on the market i can get a courgette, a massive mushroom 8 tomatoes and a big onion all for for bout a 1.50 in total and the fruit although more expensive also has deals like sometimes i can get HUGE mangos for 40p :P healthy and cheapey
4/24/2012 1:25:53 AM
One of the greatest normal expenses in any household is food. There are a lot of ways to save on groceries and put a little back in one’s pocket.
Grocery Outlets are totally worth it - with a few caveats.
The main this is that it's a dice roll as to what they have, as they tend to get the stuff that's not moving well at other stores, seasonal items after the season is over (Valentines candy in nid-March) or stuff close to expiration date.
Produce? Unless it's hardier stuff like apples, carrots, and potatoes, you're probably better off not bothering. A lot of the stuff is past its prime.
Frozen foods? This is where they do a jaw-droppingly good job. Amy's Kitchen frozen dinners will be about $5 apiece at a grocery store, and they'll be $2 here. Frozen fruits and vegetables also are about 50% off. Frozen fish, if they have some, is also a great score.
Milk alternatives (Soy, almond, rice)? You can score at least one of the three for about $2/gallon. Much of the time, they're in the shelf-stable packs, for those of us who have small fridges.
Regarding bulk sizes and such: It's not a good deal if it goes to waste. This is doubly important for singles and city dwellers who don't have anywhere to store the 20# bag of brown rice or massive tub of peanut butter.
Shredded cheese is normally cheaper than block cheese now, because they can use bits of odd sizes to send through the shredder.
When using the store's unit pricing, make sure they are comparing the same units. Many times I've seen similar items having the unit prices in pounds, ounces, and by the package.
Some items are still cheaper to buy pre-made than to make it yourself, but the nutrition normally plumets on those items (such as bread). It cost about $1.25 a loaf to make a healthy loaf, or I can buy a sugary/hydrogenated/who-knows-what loaf for only 89 cents.
I started spending less on junk and convenience foods when I started listening to upbeat music on my iPod as I shopped -- the store I frequent plays nostalgic and sometimes sad ballad-type music, and I think it makes me reach for comfort food.
At my grocery store they put the per unit price on the tag, even if it's on sale. That makes it easier.
The thing about gardening, well I'm an avid gardener myself and while home grown tomatoes are far better than the ones in the store, I'm afraid that they are not cheaper. By the time you add up the water, feterlizer, seeds, not to mention your time you are paying for that extra flavor. I happen to think it's worth it.
Herbs quite possibly are cheaper to grow at home since they can live in pots in the window all year.
A couple more thoughts: -buy local - when I shop I buy Ontario produced/processed first, then Canadian, US and then the rest of the world. Local food is usualy less expensive. -try produce/products you have never bought before - and check recipies on Spark for ideas. Before SparkPeople I had never used Chick peas! -shop at home - check for items previoulsy bought but now languish in the cupboard or freezer. And buy several when items are on sale to replenish the larder.
I would add that in terms of fresh produce (or anything that spoils I guess), you shouldn't buy more than you think you can eat before you goes bad. I hate throwing away food that has gone bad because I couldn't eat it fast enough.
I have been recommending Linda Watson's book Wildly Affordable Organic. She lays out a plan of vegetarian eating, planning ahead, and DIY which allows you to eat whole foods on a food stamp budget ($4 per person/ per day) and whole and organic on $5 per person per day. It's given me a lot to think about for myself and has also changed what I give to food pantries and when I take meals to friends. Her website is www.cookforgood.com
Buy In Bulk is not always best. Only buy in bulk if the quantity is something you'll reasonably use within the shelf-life AND a reasonable length of time. I don't think I'd use a restaurant size container (5 lbs. O_O ) of black pepper ... in years of cooking. I'm not saving money by spending nearly $30 for it. I'm wasting $20 or more that could go toward foods I need now.
Love most of these strategies but think the coupon clipping needs to be smart. Don't buy things you typically wouldn't buy. Don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it. Make sure that the coupons are actually worth your time. When I got into coupons big, I "saved" a lot of money but my grocery bill doubled. Buying store brands, generic, bulk, and less prepared food will save you more than coupons and there are never coupons for those items.
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