Grocery Budget

Updated on May 03, 2010
R.M. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
37 answers

My husband wants us to cut back on grocery spending. Right now we spend about $90 a week for the two of us and our daughter, who is still in diapers. We buy nothing but generics. Help!!

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K.W.

answers from Boise on

My new and favorite buddy for financial everything is www.ynab.com YNAB stands for You Need A Budget. I love it!

Meal planning also helps considerably. I have about at $400/month budget for my family and am usually staying right about there...holidays were my issue! PM me and I'll send you several recipes that serve 4-6 and cost about $2/serving...oh, and they're delicious!

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B.S.

answers from Missoula on

Have you tried gardening and canning? That is the only thing that I can think of to help.
Every option helps right?
Good Luck~B.

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C.B.

answers from Denver on

First of all he needs to do some of the shopping.
Cut all extra snacks which includes any of his favorites. No Quik, chips of any kind or for that matter junk food. Plan out every meal in detail for the week. Cut all thing in a box and not made from scratch.

I had to feed 8 people on $100 a week at one time. It was not easy.

Good Luck
C. B

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D.R.

answers from Denver on

Good luck. Let me know how you do it. Hell, let me know how you do $90/week!!!

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J.J.

answers from Pocatello on

Send HIM to do the shopping to see if he can do it better lol. Good luck!

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M.H.

answers from Denver on

Check out http://www.angelfoodministries.com. It is a site where you can order boxes of food once a month. They have a box that is supposed to feed a family of 4 for a week. The box costs $30. You can purchase multiple boxes if you desire. You can also "add on" other options (extra meat, extra fruit and veggies, etc....), if you desire.

Good Luck!

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C.C.

answers from Denver on

Some people will think this advice is disgusting, but don't be afraid to buy dairy or meat that the stores have marked down for quick sale. I know a lot of people think I'm nuts for buying the marked-down stuff, but I save SO much money. King Soopers is the best for this. I go on Monday mornings and they have often discounted the meat that didn't sell over the weekend. I've been doing this for a couple years now and there is nothing wrong with the products. Either use them that day or stick them immediately in the freezer. Sometimes I'll get Boulder Sausage for like $1 a pound! I never buy seafood or turkey this way, but everything else is fine. Be brave or really learn to love beans and rice!

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C.H.

answers from Denver on

Try to cut back elsewhere or increase your family's income. His request is unreasonable.

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K.L.

answers from Great Falls on

I, too, think that $90.00 a week is awesome and that hubby needs to try doing the shopping. However, I'm not sure what diapers you're using, but Target's brand is actually really good. They're softer and more flexible than the Costco brand and don't leak any more than Huggies or Pampers. I had been buying Huggies at Costco. I have since switched to the Target brand since they are even cheaper than the Costco diapers (per diaper) and better!
Good Luck!

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H.F.

answers from Pocatello on

I hope that this does not offend you, but do you qualify for the WIC (women, infant, and children) program? Lower to mid income families can qualify, you recieve vouchers for free grocery items such as milk, eggs, juice, cereal, dry beans, tuna, cheese, etc. You also recieve information on nutrition, recipes, and support from the staff, and you children are weighed and evaluated to be sure that they are getting proper nutrition. My family participated in the WIC program for a few years when my girls were babies, it was a great experience, everyone that worked there was so nice and helpful and the vouchers were a Godsend. Your local Health Department should have more information for you, good luck!

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C.T.

answers from Denver on

Hi R. - all I can say is I cant believe you only spend $90 a week on groceries including diapers! That's amazing! You've received some really great ideas, another option you might consider is a program called Share Colorado. It's food cooperative - not a food bank and anyone can participate.

http://www.sharecolorado.com/

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C.J.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I spend anywhere from $100 to $160 on grocery shopping once every two weeks. I only shop with my husband's paydays, the first and 15th of the month and there are three of us also, our daughter is 3, so it is all three of us eating on that budget. Occasionally it can be slightly higher if I have to buy toiletries, like shampoo or toothpaste, but that would maybe be once a month and might only add $10 to the overall bill. I also clip coupons, sometimes that helps, sometimes not, because I don't use the coupon if there is a generic or store brand that is already cheaper than the name brand, even with the coupon. I shop at WalMart's grocery, or wherever the sales might be better on certain products. To keep our shopping cost so low, I make meal plans for the two weeks (at least a rough idea of what I want to make), use my slow cooker a lot (which means I can usually buy the cheaper cuts of meat because they will get tender in the slow cooker), and we eat quite a few meatless meals each week. I also have quite a few recipes that make more than one meal and freeze really well, so that I can "bank" a meal in our freezer to have the next week or few weeks. I make my own spaghetti sauce and freeze it, which eliminates the higher cost premade store kinds and eliminates leftovers that would get thrown away since I store the extra sauce in containers with the amount that we would eat in one meal. We don't buy a lot of premade frozen meals or "junk" items (cookies, etc) - that can send your shopping cost through the roof! We don't eat out often, maybe once or twice between paydays as a treat. Steaks or other more expensive cuts of meat are now a luxury item, not every day shopping. We eat a lot of recipes with pasta or beans and have homemade soup at least once a week, if not more, depending on the weather outside - it's great when it is really cold outside. When I shop I will usually get a couple packages of ground beef (more if it is on sale), some chicken (I do splurge there, because I get the boneless skinless packages) and maybe some pork chops if the price is right. Combined with the meatless meals we eat each week, it is enough to get me through until the next payday. I usually bake my own treats, it is cheaper than buying at the store and my hubby has quite a sweet tooth! Generally we will make our own pizza instead of buying frozen. Cheaper (Jiffy crust mix is like .30) and usually tastes better. That isn't to say that we don't splurge on some things - my daughter loves pizza rolls, so I usually get a package of those once a month. Since she is so young she doesn't eat many and they make a quick lunch. We eat lots of soup or sandwiches or ramen for lunches. We used to spend a lot more, but I had to adjust quite a bit when I lost my job a year and a half ago and started staying home full time with our daughter. The adjustments can be hard at first, for example, we used to be "brand name" kind of shoppers and buy a lot of premade frozen items, but we are pretty used to it now. It was really surprising to me once I took a hard look at some of the extras that would always end up in the cart, so I am really careful to shop with a list now and to stick to it as closely as possible! Good luck - if you want any recipes feel free to email me. All the best, cj

Oh, and our daughter is still in pull-ups, that is included in the $100 to $160 as well, since I usually buy them in conjunction with the grocery shopping since I'm already there.

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J.S.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I am not sure what to tell you. My husband, Me, and my daughter spend $100-$150 each week on groceries. I cut as many coupons as I can to help save some money but I think your husband is being a little unreasonable. Why does he want to cut back on food? Does he take lunches to work? Do you all eat at home on the week days? If you all are eating out a couple times a week, then maybe I can understand but to cook meals at home for all of you, that is very resonable and I am not sure if you can get it under $90 a week. I actually admire you being able to do that. Maybe have your husband do the grocery shopping and see what he comes home with. Cook only what he has supplied you with for him and see how he likes that. I am not saying your husband is a bad guy at all, just a little unreasonable about how much food costs (even generics). If he is eating out for lunches, then have him cut back on those so you can spend what is needed for the family to eat. With another little one on the way the bill is just going to get bigger! Hang in there and maybe test his ability to make all meals for the week on less than $90...Your doing great and i would put my foot down on this one!
J.

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C.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My husband likes to spend money on things like games for the Wii and stuff like that. Then he'll tell me that we don't have money. I don't think that he is lying, but I do think that he gets carired away when he sees something fun for the kids or anyone else in the family. I should be more involved with the finances, but I have some many other things going on that it is another hassle that I don't want to worry about but know I should. I am very fortunate that he is a trustworthy guy. If you have time see if you could make more from scratch. I've noticed that it can be cheaper to buy in bulk and make it yourself. If you do it that way you won't have to worry about preservatives and other "junk" in food; you'll know what's in it. Cupons are quite helpful too! In the Spring and through the Fall, I think, there is a food stand or something at the city building next the where I live, so perhaps you could look for something like that. Sorry I don't remember what it is called and my brain has fallen asleep, so I won't be much more help to you! Anyway, Good Luck.

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D.H.

answers from Missoula on

R.,
You could help relieve some stress from the financial strain work at home and bring home an additional $500 or more a month, that may help relieve your husbands burden. Check out gotgreennow.fourpointmoms.com

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O.L.

answers from Denver on

I'm very impressed by your low spending already. I agree with those who've suggested you send your hubby shopping & see how he does!

Something you might look into as another area where you could save money is to maybe try elimination communication (ec--it's infant potty training) with the new baby. http://www.timl.com/ipt/ has some great info & you don't have to buy the book... it's all right there. There's also some good info here: http://www.tribalbaby.org/ECindex.html.

It does take quite a bit of time, so it's not for everyone. I did sort of a halfway job of it with my two boys. It has definitely decreased the number of diapers we use, at least. Anyway, just a thought.

I've got a girlfriend who swears by www.thegrocerygame.com. (Her hubby was out of work for over a year and she still didn't have to go back to work!) She said she saves more than she would shopping at Costco/Sam's Club. She did say you'll spend more for the initial 6-8 weeks while you get your stockpile built up.

Good luck! I hope you'll post your results with whatever you end up doing!

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K.R.

answers from Cheyenne on

Hi R., Not to be scarastic or mean, but your husband is nice. I have an average grocery bill (including groceries, household stuff, diapers and such) of $350.00 to $400.00 dollars a month for our family and we have 4 kids and 2 adults. I buy genertic stuff as well. I don't really care if it has a brand name label on it. If I go over $350.00 I usually get questioned about why I went over. :-) The sad part about this is, he hasn't made any allowance for the inflation of groceries either. So I quess, what I'm saying, is if you absolutely have to do it, I think it can be done. You might look at what you are making. Like are you buying a bunch of convience foods. Like boxed stuff. For instance mac. & Cheese. Instead of buying the boxes, make it instead. One box of macaroni usually is the same amount of one box of mac & cheese. You will get more use out of the macaroni then the other.

Hope things work out for you.

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C.Y.

answers from Denver on

Holy cow! $90 is almost nothing for 3 people. That's an average of only $4.29 per meal for all 3 of you. And that includes diapers which are no small amount!

Here are some coupon websites I use. Hopefully they will help. www.pgesaver.com (loads electronic coupons on your store card), www.coupons.com (allows you to select and print coupons off your computer).

You could also participate in Share Colorado if you even do a few hours of community service a month. My mom used to do this and it was a huge budget saver for us. I've been looking at getting involved in it myself. www.sharecolorado.com. It saves about 50% on the budget and they have the food distributions once a month. It's not a foodbank. They buy in huge volume or places donate to them and the folks at the distribution point are volunteers so they can provide the food very inexpensively.

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A.S.

answers from Denver on

OK, I want YOUR secret. I've heard people can buy all their laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toiletries, diapers AND food for so little, but I'm stumped as to how.

We eat a fruit and/or a veggie with each meal. Typically nothing exotic though I sometimes can't resist the jumbo pack of blueberries for $6 at Costco. We make nearly everything from scratch, soups, simple dinners, etc. The only processed things I buy are bread and cereal for the kids.

We spend roughly $200 week for a family of 4.

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T.B.

answers from Colorado Springs on

You have gotten some really great tips. You are doing well with your budget. We do something a bit different, that might not work for everyone. We get whole animals. That said.. my husband hunts. We process our own meat and have a year's worth at one time. I know not everyone hunts or likes game meat. We have (in the past on bad years) bought a whole pig or half a beef from local ranchers. The whole pig (processed the way we wanted at the butcher) was only $180. That was about 90-100 pounds of meat, sausage, chops, roasts, hams, etc for about $2 a pound. We got the pig b/c we didn't like the bland flavor of store bought pork. My mom and dad buy a half a beef each year and it runs about $500. They get a freezer full.. so much they give it away when they order then next years beef. You have to have a deep freeze to store it all in. But when store meat runs (on sale)$3-$4 a pound it is all worth it in the end.

Just what works for us. We are a family of 5 and I only spend $300 a month on groceries and house hold items (incuding diapers).

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P.B.

answers from Denver on

I agree with posters that $90/wk is great. If you are buying formula in that, frankly that will put you over, in my experience. I am a single mom with a 6 mo old, and cook everything from scratch, including now baby food; buy generic; and buy almost nothing processed or packaged. And I can't stay that low.

If your husband is sincere, maybe he could go with and help you decide what to cut out or substitute. In other words, walk the aisles, look at his staples, and compare what he'd give up or sub?

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K.M.

answers from Denver on

Hi R., as some people have said Share Colorado is a great idea. We've used them before with good luck. Also, the best thing we ever did for our grocery shopping bill other than Share Colorado was simply going to Walmart instead of Safeway/King Soopers etc. We also have a Costco membership and save a ton of money on diapers (208 diapers for $35), cereal, canned goods etc. Good luck!

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S.B.

answers from Colorado Springs on

We try to budget $100 per week for a famliy of 4, but usually go over by quite a bit! (I'm blessed to be able to pick up extra shifts, so we usually have "extra" income, to cover the essentials not in our budget.) If you're actually able to stick to your $90, I'd say you're doing awesome! I'll have to look closer at some of the other suggestions that you got and see what I can do better!
S.

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D.C.

answers from Boise on

I am not sure if this will help much, But what we have done to cut back, is to right a grocery list. When we need something it goes on the list. If it isnt on the list we dont get it. Once in a while we splerge but usually we stick to the list.

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M.B.

answers from Denver on

Sorry to be forward here but your husband needs a wake up call. $90 a week is awesome, I am impressed with that! Diapers alone are what, $25? An with a baby coming! Couldn't you cut back somewhere else? I am assuming he eats homemade lunches?

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D.T.

answers from Denver on

You don't state if $90 a week if food only or includes other household expenditures such as detergent, TP and the like. Either way it's pretty low. Maybe you need to look at your entire budget. Do you pay for cable or satilite? Can you go to local channels only or eliminate it? That could save you from $30 -100. What about your phone service? Do you have both a landline and cell? What extras does your service include? Are you paying for stuff like call forwarding, GPS, cell phone internet, downloads? Pretty much all of that could go and save you quite a bit.

What about things like tobacco and alcohol? Does he eat lunch out or pack a lunch? How about Starbucks or other drink and food purchases away from home? How often do you eat out? That kind of stuff adds up much faster than most people realize.

How about gym fees? Sports events, movies? If you are worrying about cutting a few bucks from your already slim grocery expenses you've got no business spending on that kind of stuff. What are your transportation costs like?

Cutting from such a minimal grocery bill is nickel and dime stuff, what are you going to do, save $40 a month? Having been in finacial services in the past and having looked at quite a few household's budgets I'd bet there are other areas that could be cut more effectively. Look at the whole picture, not just one slice. You have to eat, you have to have diapers and you've got another baby on the way. There have to other places you can cut more effectively.

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S.D.

answers from Fort Collins on

Hi R.-

I'm in a similar position: due in march and on a tight budget.

To save; we make meal plans based on store deals and shop every 4-5 days. Buy staples in bulk at Sam's Club- $20 for 3 month supply of toilet paper- sweet (but I think I will get a membership to Costco instead next year). I also use shortcuts.com to download coupons onto my store card (paperless rocks) and I'm sure to get the coupons that print-out at the check-out stand b/c they print-off based on what you bought.

In the house I grew-up in, we had tons of food: stuffed fridge+freezer+huge stand-alone freezer=lots of freezer burned "food" and mystery containers; and not much of it was actually edible. In college I had yogurt and a few apples on hand- not a very balanced diet. Adam is super good about cleaning-out the fridge and I love it! All of the food in our fridge is edible and not expired. He has shown me the light! Buy stuff that will last forever in bulk, but just what you know you will eat in a few meals when it comes to parishable foods and think about how to use leftovers in a different meal.

Buy nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables- they will fill you up better so you don't have to snack on empty calorie treats- which are the most expensive. Using herbs and spices to make home-made flavor, whereas the "prepared" stuff is so much sugar, sugar substitutes, and MSG. Shopping like a (well-informed) poor person will actually make you healthier!

Good luck and if all of the ideas you get from this don't work, then you always have community food resources- a pregnant woman needs plenty of food!

I am also concerned about diaper costs and I'm a little nutty granola crunchy so I'm going with cloth- but I wouldn't if I didn't have a washing machine at my house; here is the site I found with a great tutorial on how to make your own awesome diapers: http://www.geocities.com/mytafadhali/DiaperSewingTutorial...
oh there's also recipies online to make your own baby wipes out of a roll of paper towels- if you make them, you know what's in them.

Good Luck:)

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L.B.

answers from Provo on

I spend half that for 2.5 adults. (The .5 is for a Mongolian student who lives with us but doesn't always eat with us, but who does use food.)

Several suggestions:

1. Use cloth diapers rather than paper diapers - much, much, much cheaper in the long run.

2. Make your own babyfood from in season food.

3. Make your own bread from whole grains purchased in bulk.

4. DO NOT use processed, packaged, or convenience foods. Cook from scratch.

5. Use less expensive oatmeal, etc. for breakfast rather than expensive, nutritionally useless cold cereal.

6. Learn to cook from scratch with dried legumes.

7. Shop the case lot sales. If you buy case lots of what you use most on sale, that will save you money. Do not exhaust the case lots, though. Most stores have about a six week sale cycle. When the item comes on sale again, replace what you have used on sale. That way, you never have to buy the things you use most when they are not on sale and you always have some of that item on hand.

8. Shop in bulk for staples. Making bread from hard red wheat acquired from Costco or the Lindon Cannery results in better and more nutritious bread (per my home teacher) and much less expense than buying ready made bread or even bread made from staples purchased in smaller, more expensive packages.

9. Get a freezer and only purchase meats and other frozen items on sale.

10. In season, save on produce by growing your own in your garden. If you have excess, you can dehydrate or can it and use it in the winter to reduce your reliance on grocery store items.

Good luck and have fun.

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D.K.

answers from Denver on

Well, have your husband plan out the meals for a week, good healthy snack options for your daughter and go shopping!
$90 a week is AWESOME!

I am a single mom with two kids, four and seven, I do part time child care too and easily spend $175 a week. I plan all my meals out seven days in advance, including breakfast, lunch and snacks as well as dinner. I look over the weekly ads, get coupons from the Sunday paper and shop accordingly every seven to ten days. Big itmes like toilet paper, kleenex, cleaning products, laundry stuff and paper towels I buy at Target as their store brands are great and less expensive.

If your hubby can pull off getting your bill lower then $90 a week with the diapers, then we all want to know his secret!! Just an average family dinner, a healthy one- can cost $6 to $10 to prepare. And diapers, wipes, add another $50 to that just for that. So you are doing great!!!!!!!!

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S.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Have him figure out the cost of each meal you currently eat. If the entire $90 is being spent only on food you have about $13 a day for food. Make sure he knows you will not compromise on health and variety (my husband wanted us to eat only mac and cheese and hot dogs for dinners so we could spend less on food but I showed him the lifetime health costs would be greater than the savings). Then see if he can come up with substitutions that would be cheaper but still healthy and tasty. If he can't then hopefully he will let go of the idea, if he can it might save a little money.

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J.O.

answers from Boise on

Is 90 a week for everything, not just food but diapers? If so that is really good, heck even if it isn't that is good. Food has gotten so expnsive! It is unbeliveable. I know that for my family of nine I spend 260 every two weeks or 130 a week, but that is only food, nothing else, tack on another 100 or so for everything else.

Have your husband shop send a list of everything you need to gwt through the week and tell him if he can cut it down you would be happy to. It won't happen, my husband spent twice as much as me!

S.K.

answers from Denver on

90 bucks a week on everything is really good, we are paying about 120-160 a week. My husband is a diabetic so we cannot live off the ramen or that type of food. I really do not know any ways that you can take anymore off. Perhaps working on getting your daughter potty trained before her brother gets here so you have two in diapers.

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S.G.

answers from Cheyenne on

Try planning your meals around what's on sale. If chicken and rice are on sale, try to make something with that. Also, check your local paper for coupons. You can also look on line for manufacturer or store coupons. And find out if your grocery store doubles coupons. If they double coupons on one day of the week, try to do the bulk of your shopping on that day and have your coupons ready. I saw a woman on Oprah who did this and had $132 worth of groceries for 27 dollars. Good luck! And send your husband...that's a great idea!

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F.W.

answers from Dallas on

I could sorta easily only spend $50/wk but that is when my husband traveled and i did not have to cook big meals for him...when he came home though he did not understand we did not have junk food snacks or chips or sodas, etc. this is only food.: mac/cheese, bologna, bread, eggs, milk, snack or two maybe an extra that was a much needed item, mayo, catsup, mustard. no ceral unless from Dollar Store. you can get SO much from the Dollar Store. Also, I heard some Krogers take expired coupons too. never tried that b/c seems that Dollar Store and Walmart are the least expensive for me. and will go so much further on the dollar...so some add ins i go to the Dollar Store. Now my grocery budget is more like $100-$120/wk. And cook as much as you can from SCRATCH!

www.beautyinsideout.myarbonne.com

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K.H.

answers from Denver on

$90 a week is great! We eat all organic and spend $400 A WEEK for two adults and two toddlers. We are totally committed to organic food, but we are not wealthy and it's getting very tough since food prices have spiked so much.

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H.S.

answers from Provo on

Check if your local news has a grocery specialist. Utah has one named www.gurusdeals.com they give you weekly suggestions on meals for the week with the store and coupons you need to make it very inexpensive.

Next question: How to save at the Grocery Store???!!!