Saving Money on Groceries in the Portland Area

Updated on March 31, 2010
K.G. asks from Oregon City, OR
7 answers

My husband and I are trying to cut our expenses so that I can hopefully leave my full-time job and work only part-time. It seems like our grocery bill is pretty high some months. I was wondering if anyone had money-saving tips that they use for keeping their grocery bill down. We live in the Oregon City area, clip coupons, try to limit processed foods, and eat some organic items. We have a 2 year old daughter.
Thank you for the help.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Portland on

I think I might be able to help. Maybe.

You're probably not vegetarian. I am. If you aren't, I can't give you any advice in that department. But for the rest of it, maybe you might find some helpful ideas.

First off, buy at Winco. They are the cheapest place around, for the most part. You can stock up on bulk items like oatmeal for 43 cents a pound, pasta in bulk (even whole wheat pasta), and they even sell a few organic things (carrots, for instance). I don't buy much organic myself, because I can't afford it. Maybe if I didn't have to buy hemp milk for my son to drink (he's allergic to dairy and soy), I could afford more organic produce.... Buy beans. You can cook a lot in a crock pot overnight, then freeze meal-sized portions for use later. Beans are cheap, especially dry. I can my own beans, and I figure that for the price of 3-4 cans of beans, I can get 7 quarts. That's a lot of savings! I usually stock up on bulk items at the beginning of the month. That way we will have food, even if we run low on money by the end of the month. It's easier to limit fruit that is more expensive than it is to limit the things that you fill up on.

Try experimenting with making more from scratch. Once you're home more, you should be able to make a lot more from scratch. That way you can make lunches to take to work and save on take-out. Get a bread machine (you can usually find them at the Goodwill) and make your own bread. You can put all the ingredients in before you go to work and set it with a timer to start so that it finishes just as you get home. There's nothing better than home-cooked bread, and it costs less than $1 a loaf. Plus there are no preservatives in it. You can find good bread machine recipes online. Don't use the premixes--they are as expensive as buying ready-made bread! Depending on how much bread you use, this can definitely be helpful. We don't use a lot, but we still make our own bread (my husband is from a country where only rich people eat bread, so we don't eat it at every meal like many Americans do).

You've probably heard this before, but make a menu. Then build your shopping list around the menu. You can make your menu based on the sale items in the list. For instance, planning a dish with broccoli in it wouldn't be such a good idea when broccoli is $1.50 a pound, but would be better when it's $.88 a pound. Closely monitor what you have, so that you you don't waste food, also. Buying 5 heads of broccoli because it's on sale is only a good idea if you're making a broccoli dish to take to a potluck--or unless you have 10 kids. Just buy what you know you will use within a week or less.

Check the dollar store. I know Dollar Tree sells frozen strawberries, peaches, peas, corn, and mixed vegetables (at least, the one near us does), for $1, and ounce per ounce it does come out a bit cheaper than WinCo most of the time. But you have to be careful. Sometimes they can be a cent or two more expensive (to make that even $1). They also have other stuff cheap sometimes, too. You just have to know what things are worth at your regular grocery store.

Consider using homemade rice milk as an alternative to cow's milk sometimes. Especially in recipes. The recipe I use goes as follows:

1/2 cup long grain brown rice (about $.55 cents a pound at WinCo)
4 cups of water
1/2 tsp salt
Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and simmer for 3 hours.
Then take equal parts of this soupy rice mixture and water and blend and strain (don't use a cheesecloth; just any scrap of calico-like cotton fabric will work fine). Sweeten and flavor as desired (I leave it unsweetened and sweeten it as needed). This tastes almost exactly like Rice Dream, and only costs pennies per quart (this recipe makes about 2 quarts). This is cheaper than any other milk available, hands down.

I make my own soy milk, also. I bought a soy milk machine, because it was a lot of work to make by hand. Then I buy organic soybeans and make milk for about $.25 a quart, and tofu for about $.75 a pound. As vegetarians, this really is a savings. I just have to buy the soybeans ahead of time, in bulk, because I want them organic.

Other than that, try to avoid having a lot of exotic foods. Once in a while a fancy meal is good, but usually we have the same thing on the same day of the week. For instance, this morning we had plantain bananas (not super cheap, but a favorite in our family--cost about the same as sweet potatoes) and black beans (home-canned, therefore super cheap). We almost always have them on Tuesdays, unless we are out or they aren't ripe enough. Sundays we usually have waffles. I make them up in bulk and then we can wake up whenever we want and all we have to do for breakfast is to warm them up and top them. Which reminds me, get peanut butter in the bulk section at WinCo. It's about $1.43 a pound, which is considerably cheaper than what you get in the largest size on the shelf, and you can buy in small batches to keep it fresh longer. It's got no sugar, either.

Also, I would avoid any of the toddler foods. At 2 years old, your daughter should be able to eat just about everything you eat--that is, if she will. If not, you can always have cheap, simple things on hand that she likes, like pasta.

One thing we do is have a grocery budget. Thanks to my son's allergies, it is sometimes hard to keep in budget. I went $7 over in March. I used my own money to make it up, rather than asking my husband for more (I don't work outside the home, but bring in a little in sewing jobs). If I hadn't spent $27 on a case of hemp milk (on sale), I would have had an extra $20. But then I would have spent that in about 3 weeks on buying it for $4 a quart at Fred Meyer, and would have gone more over the budget than I did. If he wasn't allergic to so many things, he'd still be nursing and I wouldn't have had to buy it at all. But that's what we have to deal with. Plus, if I hadn't bought those pears that turned out bad and had to be thrown out, I probably would have about broken even. That's how it goes.

They say that a reasonable budget for a family is $100 per person per month. We have 2 adults, a 3 1/2 year old, and a 14-month old with allergies, and we spend about $330-350 a month. If I clipped coupons, maybe I could save more, but it's so much work and there's so few coupons I would actually use anyway. Plus, who wants to go to more than one place to shop when you have two little ones to take in and out of their car seats?

Hopefully that will give you some ideas. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi there,
I read several blogs daily that have helped me save hundreds of money on both groceries and drug store items in the past several months. I pretty much get free shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, soaps, etc with using coupons and sales. I have paid just a few pennies/diaper and about a penny/wipe which helps a lot. I think I have enough diapers in my garage for my son until he's two! :) I also save quite a bit on groceries too. If you are interested I can send you a link to these blogs. It takes a while to get used to doing it all and it does take quite a bit of work, but the free items and being able to stay home with my son make it worth it.
I just went to Target yesterday and with coupons I saved almost $20 off my total and got several free items (band aids, toothpaste, campbells soup for 25 cents/can, etc.).
Just let me know if you want more info on the links and I'd love to help you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I went Winco. Same brands, better price, but have to be selective on fresh items. I also prep 'freezer friendly' food so that I can take them along in family outing days with less prep time. I also packed milk from gallon to covered cup and take with us. Foods out there can be iether expensive or not really nutritious. Hope this help :)



answers from Portland on

I'm not so good with coupons but the things we are trying now that my husband is a stay-at-home dad is to buy local and in bulk (like half a pig and that is all the meat we will buy for a year and we know it is good quality and good to eat), growing our own food (super cheap and fun for the kids), and yes cutting some coupons (but they are almost always for processed things we don't buy). I have been watching this blog and she is giving coupon classess at the library and I have been trying to come up with my own ideas such as eating less meet or cooking with cheaper and healthier food sources (such as polenta and lentils) - check it out at



answers from Portland on

I just discovered Portland Green Parenting online & think it will help our grocery bills. try it out.



answers from Portland on

I don't know if you have space issues or not, but getting a second freezer is the best thing we did for helping with grocery costs. If you go to the Daves Killer Bread bakery/outlet in Milwaukie you can get 12 loaves of their awesome organic bread for $24 (this bread is usually $5-6 in the stores! Then I put it in the freezer and it lasts a month. I like to shop at new seasons and I can't afford their regular prices so when the things I like go on sale I buy a lot of it and freeze it. I freeze meat, and gallons of milk. Costco has large bags of frozen organic vegetables and I keep them in the freezer too (three bags will last us almost three months). I reduced the amount of ready made items like spagetti sauce (I make my own) and I cut down the amount of meat that I use .. for example, I put only half a pound of hamburger in my chili/spagetti sauce (I used to put a full pound). This really makes a difference for us. I have three very hungry boys and a hungry hubby and I can squeeze our grocery bill down to $300 a month by doing these things. Hope this helps!



answers from Portland on

My husband is the one who is in charge of food around here. Here's what we do.

We are a family of two adults, one teenage boy, and an 8 month old. We spend on average $60 per week on groceries (food items, not health and beauty).

We shop WinCo (just not meat) and Costco (frozen chicken breast tenders) regularly. I can't believe how much money we used to throw away at Safeway (I've worked for them for 11 yrs, that's 11yrs of shopping at S and not getting the good deals that WinCo has).

He makes a food menu for the entire month. Makes a shopping list for one weeks worth of food to make the meals. Each week the meals have a similar theme since the ingredients cross from one dish to the other. If something that is needed for another week's menu goes on sale we try to stock up. If something needed that week is not on sale or went up in price we alter the meal plan.

We eat mostly soups and one dish meals that can be cooked in the oven. Things like lasagna and enchiladas go a long way, dinner then lunch the next day, sometimes two dinners out of it.

He finds good recipes on a site called
We only splurge on "junk" food if we are having company or really "needing" something junky to munch and it's cheap.

Each Wednesday he reads the new ads in the food day. If there is a good sale we hit it. Albertson's has been having real good deals on cold cereal, you just have to read the ad not the in store tags for the extra good deals. About a month ago they had an amazing deal on ground beef, watch for those and by the limit, have them wrapped in individual 1lb packages and freeze them.

We only use coupons for items we really use, not just because there is a coupon. But watch the Catalina/check out coupons. Sometimes you get % off or $ off total purchase, those are good.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions