S.A. asks from Chicago, IL on September 02, 2010
Saving Money on Groceries
I am looking for ways to save money at the grocery store. I am always astounded when I see the total ring up on the register. I have heard people claim they only spend $80.00 a week on groceries for a family of 5, but I wonder how. I already shop at Ultra Foods, use a shopping list and stick to it for the most part, but the total is still staggering. I just joined Couponmom.com, but most of the coupons are for processed food. I'm trying to reduce the amount of processed foods my family eats. I'm buying a lot of baby food right now for my 12 month-old and would like to find more "real food" that is soft enough for him to eat so that I can cut costs there. Is anyone a super saver at the grocery store? Can you give me some tips on what to do? How can I plan healthy meals, purchase the ingredients needed to make them, along with milk, yogurt, cereal, produce, stuff for school lunches etc, stuff for the baby...all for $125.00 a week or less????
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H.H. answers from Los Angeles on September 02, 2010
Maybe focus on a cheaper menu than coupons. What about oatmeal for breakfast instead of boxed cereals? I actually eat mine raw with raisins and milk. Its great and I don't have to wash a pan. My daughter loves it too.
J.A. answers from Spartanburg on September 02, 2010
I spend an average of $80 week for a fam of 4, and that includes lunches for hubby. I never bought baby food, if he is 1 then cook whatever veggies you are having at dinner done enough for him. I discovered frozen veges when I really had to trim the grocery bill, they are a good value and go far, I had to experiment with cooking techniques b/c I was used to preparing fresh veges and they are a little diff but I have been pleased. One thing is to make sure your list is based on that week's sales. You can usually access the sale flyer online and make a list from there. We eat meat but I make the meat go far with cassaroles and crockpot recipes, and I make up the difference with lots of veggies and beans. Buy yogurt in the large cartons (32 oz) instead of in individual containers, I only buy those if they are on super sale. Cereal is a ripoff and not overly nutritious, my kids love oatmeal (I buy the generic big canister and make a pot on the weekend, divide and store in the fridge for weekday mornings), and the cereal we buy is generic and in a bag (bulk). I am not making lunches for kids in school, but my husband takes whatever leftovers from dinner the night before, I know I had freinds in school that did the same. I usually spend no more than $8 on a dinner meal with leftovers for lunch the next day. I usually spend $4 a day between breakfast and lunch for me and the kids at home. (I know people doing it on less but this is comfortable for us) We generally don't buy "convience" packaged items, like juice boxes, snack packs, string cheese, pudding/applesause/fruit containers, etc. We eat these items but I buy the biggest generic container I can. A wholesale club can help if you want these items too. We don't regularly buy soda or chips either. I rarely use coupons b/c they are often for name brand products and even with the discount aren't as cheap as a generic brand. I will say I have less "brand loyalty" shopping this way. We have spaghetti once a week and it is a different brand of sauce every week based on the sales. Last week grapes were on sale, so that was the fruit we ate, this week apples are on sale, so no grapes but 5 lbs of apples! Good Luck, it can be done for me it was a transition that took a few months to get good at.
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D.W. answers from Indianapolis on September 02, 2010
My first recommendation would be to eliminate the baby food.
There's nothing he can't eat at this age (American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations state that you should avoid choking hazards and family food allergens) that the rest of the family isn't having......within reason.
We do a lot of our basic shopping at Sams Club/Costco. We get tons of fruit/veggies each week which can be expensive, but it makes us eat healthier, and it's so much less expensive than at the grocery store.
We get as many common items there as possible. Cereal is a lot less expensive, meat (ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breasts), etc.
We have the savings cards for the grocery stores, but we also shop for items such as pasta and sauce at Walmart where it really is a lot cheaper. Some things you can't stock pile, some things won't perish for a while.
We limit our kids snacks to things like String Cheese, yogurt, fruit snacks (I know they're not healthy) that we can purchase in bulk.
We probably spend less than $100/week on our groceries for a family of 4 (kids 2 and 4 years).
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A.A. answers from Chicago on September 02, 2010
I don't really use coupons, because I buy alot of generic and they never have coupons for that and I think it is still cheaper most of the time then a brand name item with a coupon. One of the best things I have found out to do is to shop at smaller ethnic stores for many of my items instead of the big chains groceries. Not sure what is around streamwood, but here in the city I go to a hispanic grocery (Cermak Produce) for all my fresh fruit and veggies, lunch meat, rice, beans, and tortillas. I go to a local asian market (Hong Kong Market) and stock up on oils, noodles, rice, beans, specialty sauces like soy...I buy my meat in bulk like ground beef, pork chop, or steak when it is on sale and freeze it in the deep freeze from whoever has it on sale. I also buy whole chickens and turkeys and roast them, then shred the meat and freeze in sandwich bags ( I buy the cheap non ziplock kind and just double/triple up) containing about one meals worth. You would be shocked at what you can add chicken or turkey too (omelet, quiche, chili, enchiladas, soup, salad) and when you find turkey on sale buy a few and you can get about 12 meals out of one turkey. (hint: Thanksgiving time means turkey on sale!) Also save the bones for stock, and the drippings for gravy. Getting a deep freeze was one of the best things I ever did. I also make up soups, chilis, stews in big portions in the winter and freeze for quick ready made dinners. I buy bareky anything packaged these days. Rice is way cheaper to buy in bulk and then learn to season and steam your own rice instead of those box mixes. I buy the big containers of apple sauce, yogurt and that stuff and send portions in thermoses or food containers for lunches. Snack sizes are rip-offs and wasteful anyway. (all that packaging and garbage) I never buy juiceboxes. My daughter has a thermos that keeps drinks cold for 12 hours and I buy apple juice in big gallons from Walmart that I water down 1/2 and 1/2 and put in the thermos for school. Hope some of this works for you. For baby you really can just steam fresh veggies and then puree with water and freeze in ice cube trays. Once they are cubes put them in sandwich bags and defrost as needed. Old fashioned oats for oatmeal in bulk.
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C.R. answers from Los Angeles on September 02, 2010
I have 3 kids and do a lot of entertaining, and have to keep to about $100 a week.
I make my own yogurt--it's much cheaper than buying it. Google "make your own yogurt," there are a million great recipes and they don't require special equipment. Buy produce when it's really cheap--we look for .50 per pound or cheaper, and cut it up and freeze it. We use it in smoothies (frozen fruit, yogurt, orange juice or milk in a blender) for breakfast, on cereal, in pancakes, etc. You can cut up and freeze onions, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, etc. also. When you find ground turkey or chicken cheap, buy a lot, package it in individual servings, and freeze it. Or, make for instance 3 pounds of taco meat and then freeze it for later. I make my own refried beans (I don't "refry" them, though) because dry pintos are so cheap and so good for you.
I also buy whole chickens when they are under .70/pound, roast them in the oven and have the meat for dinner, and then boil them. The broth is perfect for soup or dumplings.
Coupons are key, the Sunday paper is worth $1.00 because you save so much! I don't buy many canned goods, but the savings on paper goods, haircare, etc. add up. We use cloth napkins (got them from my grandma) so we don't buy paper napkins, and old T-shirts as rags, to cut down paper towel use. My kids cut the coupons and sort them, and then I check them against weekly grocery ads.
Also, keeping a price log is really helpful. Make a simple chart with the things you buy all the time on the left and the stores you can shop at on top. Fill in the boxes to see a pattern of where things are cheapest. I buy the same 15-20 things at Costco every month because I know what is cheapest there.
Hope that helps!
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L.A. answers from Austin on September 02, 2010
I never purchased baby food for our daughter. I just made her food by steaming it for a long time and then blending it.. No spices, salt or sugar. The fruit I mashed or also steamed it then just fed it to her.. If I made mashed potatoes for her I did a small potato and baby carrots . peas, squash and swirled them up.. I also put portions (not potatoes) in ice cube trays and froze them.. Then I had ziplocs of frozen baby food.. Carrots, peas, apples, peaches, plums, green beans, spinach.. Then I would also make brown rice and add them to some of the veggies and blend that.. These were the things we ate anyway, so when it was on sale, that is the veggies we ate that week
As she got teeth, I could just give her really soft cooked carrots, mashed peas, pinto beans, spinach, and I introduced chicken in small pieces she could chew (dark meat was the softest), fish.. What ever we were eating, but in tiny pieces..
We eat simple food. Much of it is based on the weekly sales. If chicken is on sale, I will purchase quite a bit and grill all of it at once and then freeze it.. In the winter, it can be used in soups. We eat a lot of rice, brown or white again depending on the best deal.. I make it with water, chicken or beef broth and different herbs to give it a different taste each time..
The other day our grocery store had corned beef for $1.99.. I brought it home and cooked it in the crock pot.. I was not planning this, but it was too good of a price to pass up.. I could kick myself for not picking up a couple more..
Roast on sale? Pork or beef, I buy quite a bit and cut it up into smaller portions. Some of the roast I will cut into cubes for future stews or soups.
Ground turkey is sold in chubs in the frozen section. Many times I find it for .99 or less a pound. I purchase it and add it to all ground beef recipes this way I do not need to add fillers to ground beef.
Beans, pinto, navy.. We eat them a lot in the winter.. Sometimes, with pieces of sausage (on sale). I make cornbread, biscuits... If bread is on sale or day old.. I freeze it. Bread is great for a long time in the freezer.
Cobblers as a treat made with frozen or canned fruit is very inexpensive.
IF the store has a big sale on a frozen lasagna.. I figured out it was cheaper to purchase it than make it. And it could be microwaved so it also took less energy than baking one in an oven.. $1.99 Cheese pizzas can be grilled and taste lots better than when baked in the oven.
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M.B. answers from Dallas on September 02, 2010
At 12 months, your child can eat whatever you do. We spend about $150 a month for food. I buy for a family of two, but we are a family of 3. I say that, because my 16 month old eats what we do and I don't have to buy extra for him. I buy food once a week, shop the sale, and buy seasonally. I shop at ONE grocery store and buy what's on sale that week. For example, meat wise...chicken and quarters and pork chops were on sale. I only bought those two meats and enough quantity for one week. I spent about $15 for one week of meat. I cook them in different ways, so we don't get sick of eating the same things. I bought the fresh produce that is in season right now, because they are cheap. I only buy one weeks worth, so they don't go bad. For all other produce, I get frozen fruits and veggies. They are frozen, at the peak of freshness and are cheaper!! Our lunches and dinners consist of a protein, veggies, and some fruit after. Desert for us, is fruit or a fruit Popsicle. It sounds boring, but we actually get a great variety, since I buy different meats, fruit, and veggies every week. I don't buy special lunch foods, we eat leftovers from the night before. I do keep a pack of lunch meat, sunflower butter, jelly, and bread on hand...just in case there are no leftovers. I also don't buy special snacks. We all eat fruit, veggies, apple sauce, yogurt, or fruits we dry in the oven for snacks. We don't drink much juice and my son only drinks very watered down juice occasionally. (the pediatrician recommended that) We don't keep boxed, processed foods in the house at all. We eat a lot of salsa, so I make it myself, it's so easy! We use eggs for protein in the morning. For example, my husband takes two hard boiled eggs and an apple, or other fruit for breakfast. I don't buy bottled water, we invested in the filtered pitchers. Lots of money saved there!!
Really, I never walk down the grocery isles, unless I have to purchase pasta or canned tomatoes, jalapenos, and spices. Shopping the perimeter and not wasting money on unhealthy, packed foods helps the budget tremendously. I know a lot of woman go to several different store sales and have binders of coupons. I've found, coupons are only for expensive and unhealthy food. Running to many different stores, to get a handful of items at each store...is a waste of gas money and time. A coupon doesn't make most foods cheaper then cooking meals. Good luck!!
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M.J. answers from Chicago on September 03, 2010
One of the best things for you to do is to become very familiar with the pricing cycles of your store. Everything goes on sale in cycles! I am not a good person to rely on for living on a budget, but I am a firm believer in stocking up on the things my family likes when they are on sale. I do the majority of my shopping at the two stores in my town..jewel and aldi. I also buy certain things at sam's. I use coupons, but only for the stuff that we actually eat. I buy my meat, when it is on sale. I have a freezer to take advantage of the sale prices. A couple weeks ago, I came across the best sale ever at jewel. they had perdue, boneless, skinless chicken breasts for only 99 cents a pound..one day only. I bought 10 packages! they were only around 2 dollars each!!! So, that is my recommendation to you. get a freezer, watch the sales and by the things your family likes when on sale. this gives you the opportunity to purchase whatever fresh items in the produce and dairy section that you need. when you combine any coupons, with sale items, that is a real bargain!
B.A. answers from Chicago on September 03, 2010
Purchase all of your meat on sale and if possible with a coupon. Only buy in season fruits and veggies fresh and if you need something else buy frozen on sale..stock ahead on any and all sale items. Buy the cheapest rice and a sheap rice cooker in it I make everything from rice to applesauce to when my babies needed it baby food. I have on hand rice, dry beans, dried fruits and dried veggies from my garden to round some meals out. Also start an herb garden from seed, they are cheap and easy. Now is a great time to plant a small cool weather garden for small cauliflower, lettuces, small carrots. Make sure you plan ahead this winter as well and start some seeds in some containers you would have recycled with dirt from your yard so you can have some fresh/very cheap produce to start your year. We worked hard last year and had producing plants 9 months of the year and ended up with a chest freezer full of food for a cost to us of about 35.00. We never buy deli meats, we make chicken and slice it or roast beef, turkey(especially cheap around cooler holidays) and ham. We watch for deals on milk from wherever they may come pharmacies, convenience stores, no processed cereals, we use alot of oatmeal, rice. Cut up veggies for the lunch box like celery, carrots, broccoli and the trimmings go into a pot for making soup, if you buy a whole chicken(jewel just had them for .69lb and I had a coupon for 1.00 off) break it down and debone it add the bones to the pot for soup, save meat bones when you make roasts/hams as these are a part of the richness of foods.
Lastly make a menu for the month and then make a grocery list for the menu...adjust what you are having according to sales that come up.