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CARADAWN Posts: 1,955
9/23/13 4:06 P

If you're willing to spend the time there should be no problem significantly cutting down your grocery bill. My bill is usually around $150-200 for 2 adults and a 2/12 yr old. My daughter isn't a huge eater but I buy organic whenever it's available (organic milk, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, meat) so that adds to my cost. I use leftovers for lunch during the week and make sandwiches for lunch on the weekends. I use nuts, fruit, popcorn, etc. for most of my snacks instead of processed foods. I make some complicated dinners and some easy ones and try to do any prep needed on Sunday. Some good family meals: shrimp or chicken quesidellas with steamed frozen vegetables, whole wheat spaghetti and homemade meatballs (prep ahead of time), grilled chicken (use different spices or marinades to change up the flavor) with brown rice, loaded baked potatoes, homemade pizzas, and many sparkrecipies.

Breakfast for me is either homemade breakfast taco, breakfast quiche (made at the beginning of the week), or granola and milk. On some weekends I make waffles, pancakes, or some type of muffins and double the batch and freeze the leftovers. I use the leftovers for either my or my daughter's breakfast sometimes.

With a little bit of planning and meal prep you can cut down your grocery bill and get your family to have a healthy, sustainable diet.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,276
9/22/13 12:25 P

personally i spend about 30 a week on just me. so i think you could get that number down a lot. like around what you're spending on you for the whole family.
if you know nothing about food and calorie counting, start tracking what you are eating. use the nutrition tracker here and figure out how to measure apples and how many calories they have or the crackers you like, or basically all the foods that you are buying [for you or the family]. and this isn't something that you're going to do in an hour or a day or week or a month. it's going to be a long learning process, but it doesn't have to be intensive. you can spend five or ten minutes a day just figuring out how to count the calories in the foods that are already in your house. it's tough to learn to do, but once you get the hang of it it gets a lot easier and quicker.
once you have a basic idea of how to find out what's in the food that you're already eating look at what you could easily make at home. salads, fruit and cheese plates, and baked/roasted protein are all pretty easy prep and cook items. if you have no idea at all what to do in the kitchen, start out by getting a starving students cookbook from the library. it will tell you the difference between a pot and a pan and introduce you to the basics of your kitchen. if you're a little more advanced, look around the library for a cooking light or some other selection of recipes that look good to you. you can also use , but do keep in mind that some people use that to lighten up heavier recipes, so that you do have to use those nutritional critical thinking skills you honed up when you were learning about nutrition to make sure that the recipe is something that you want to be making and it fits within your goals.
once you have found one or two things to try, do so. you don't need to overhaul your whole world in a week, just try one new recipe for the whole family. healthy, nutritious, good for you foods should be the kind of thing that you and your family are eating. so make sure you find something that works with everyone's needs and have a whole family dinner. if everyone likes it, great, make a note of it and start trying to work it in. if it's not a hit, try and figure out why. for little kids it might be that ingredients touch or it's too bitter or too mushy or too crunchy and knowing what's wrong with them can make it easier on you. because cooking carrots isn't much more effort than serving them raw if someone doesn't like the crunch of the carrot.
keep rotating in new recipes and gradually let yourself work up to taking over all of the cooking onto your shoulders. part of this should be finding quicker meals if that is what you prefer. or utilizing the crock pot to make meals. so that the cook time is long, but your active cooking time is small and you are doing other things while the cooking happens.

one of my favorite hole in the wall local restaurants had a sign up. it said something along the lines of
fast, good or cheap, you can pick any two.
if you pick fast and cheap it won't be good. if you pick fast and good it won't be cheap. and if you pick good and cheap it won't be fast.

and all cooking is like this. if you want to spend a significant amount less money and cook quickly, the quality of what you're getting might go down [though i do think with what you're spending there is likely a middle ground where you can cut your bills with little effect]. if you want to keep paying for convenience, do so, but it will continue to cost more. if you want the item at the lowest price and the best quality it's going to take a little more time, either in prep or in shopping around. only you can figure out where you are willing to balance those things. but if you want to cut the cost down and keep the quality at the same place, that means that it will require more of your time.

Edited by: NIRERIN at: 9/22/2013 (12:45)
SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (250,758)
Fitness Minutes: (41,464)
Posts: 26,993
9/22/13 6:24 A

I bulk cook lots of things - casseroles, soups, stir-fries, healthy, filling, low-fat, good protein pizza, meat balls, meat loaf, etc. It saves heaps of time and money. As an example, today I made a few serves of soup - bacon (the cheaper brand with a low fat content), Jacket Potato, Leek (the green part that a lot of people throw) and a lot of dried green split peas. I had it for lunch - 274 calories, 13g Fibre, 23 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat. I just added a sandwich thin with cottage cheese to it, and I was stuffed full.

I suggest that you make a list of pantry staples. Things like pulses (lentils, dried split peas) brown rice, wholegrain pasta, cans of tomato, beans (baked beans, kidney beans, cannelloni beans), tuna, canned salmon (bones in still), Oats, Bran, wholemeal flour, etc. Use your freezer not just for bulk cooking, but buying frozen veges (peas and beans are generally very cheap) in there, too, as well as buying meat when they are on really good specials. Take advantage of the specials in your Supermarket - buy as much as you can afford, because you are going to use them to extend your casseroles and in your soups, so they won't go off. I found that by keeping a really good pantry and freezer, there were times I couldn't afford to buy groceries for the week, other than some bread and milk, but we didn't go without. I never run out of groceries because I have plenty of back-ups. Quality bread is another good thing to buy on special and keep in your freezer.

Taking time to sit down with pen and paper and think through what you would use in a week, I am sure that you will discover that you will be able to save money, AND actually LEARN how to cook for a family on a budget AND in a healthy way. This is part of our healthy lifestyle journey.

Below is a link to NZ'd "Healthy Food Guide" - disregard the prices because obviously they are for NZ and OUR costs, but the nutrition is the same. Of course, with some of them you will be able to reduce the meat a bit and increase the veges - that will lower cost, and give you more fibre to help fill you

Here is the Mayo Clinic's Heart-Healthy Recipes (good for most people)

You will be able to get good ideas from them. The reason I didn't suggest the SP recipe base is that a lot of members put in their own recipes, and they may not necessarily be the healthiest or good for weight-loss, but rather for treat meals.


MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,229)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,780
9/22/13 1:36 A

I suggest:
--setting aside 1-2 hours each Sunday to do batch cooking for the week (I love this time with my family. we sing and dance in the kitchen while we plan and get everything prepped and portioned for the week. I will gladly share easy recipes if you want.)
--buy in season vegetables/fruits
--buy meats on sale
--utilize cheap, healthy staples (watch for coupons and sales): eggs, frozen spinach, frozen green beans, bananas, carrots, canned tuna, homemade soup, brown rice, dried beans

A family of 5 can live very well on 100/week.

Sample day:
B: 2 hardboiled eggs, green smoothie
S: kale chips
L: homemade soup, garden salad
S: turkey jerky (easy to make when turkey goes on sale)
D: chicken wings, spinach sauteed in EVOO and garlic, steamed carrots, side salad, brown rice (for kids)
S:raw veggies dipped in greek yogurt

cheap snacks:
greek yogurt (homemade, sweetened with fresh fruit), raw green beans, apple slices, bananas, baby carrots, cucumber slices, kale chips, black bean brownies (homemade), mini quiche muffin, hb egg, brown rice pudding

Edited by: MICHELLEXXXX at: 9/22/2013 (10:19)
AGILEDOBE Posts: 428
9/21/13 8:27 P

For just myself, my list would include bananas, 2 or 3 eggs, several cans of tuna in water, onion, 3 bunches of romaine lettuce, 3-4 tomatoes, lean grd meat for a burger patty, 3 boneless chicken breasts to halve, then bake as needed. Lean turkey slices, a whole grain bread, natural peanut butter, no fat yogurt, low fat salad dressing, I like Bolthouse brand. Also get 1% cottage cheese. Sometimes I drink 8 oz Bolthouse high protein drink in the morn after my exercise for the protein boost. Weigh your foods, enter them in the favorites in your Nutrition tab and everytime you put food in your mouth you must record it, as well as your exercise. I wear a heart monitor with chest strap when I e ercise to tell me the time spent and calories burned. I try to get in up to 60+ minutes daily in the morn so I know its out of the way either walking or on treadmill, dancing, cutting grass, yard work, lifting 8# weights for 2 sets of 10 till I get stronger. I am 66, hope that helps. Keep these foods for yourself, feed the others their own meals.

SRAINES91 SparkPoints: (76)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 18
9/21/13 6:23 P

You all gave me my "spark" back on my PANIC! post. THANK YOU :)

I would like to cut my shopping bill down. Currently I am spending $150 a week on diet food which gets delivered to me. Its everything I need to eat and most of it is prepared already.
I then do a food shop for my hubby and 3 kids which costs roughly $200 per week. Bringing our weekly spending to about $350 (sometimes more)

I would like to start saving money vs. using all the money on myself. So I wanted to know about calorie counting for myself and recipes to use.

To start with, Calorie counting. How do I work this out for recipes? Do I need to buy a counter? Or is this something people just add up and already know... AS I am a complete newby.

Also, I found spark recipes. Can I live off them 1 for each meal? Then a piece of fruit for morning and afternoon tea? Or no.

Do you think I can get this menu for under $350 considerably? Because if its only going to save me a few dollars per week I am much better off doing this how I am, because I won't cheat and also, if it takes hours and hours to make recipes, it wouldn't be worth my time when I feed my family a reasonably healthy well cooked meal with less time and I don't cheat on my diet?

I would love any advice.

How much your list cost? If you have a family how much is your list? Will be feeding 5. 2 adults and 3 children under 5.


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