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 Post subject: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:48 am 
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Wears Pleather Undies
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Location: Pennsylvania
I feel like I am spending too much on food. I try and purchase less snacks and processed food but with a preschooler and toddler sometimes it's easier make soy nuggets or soy dogs and in addition to fruit we do get pretzels, crackers, rice cakes etc. for snacks. I just know that I don't need to spend $177 at the store for one week worth of food! It's crazy. I do make a lot of soups, pasta, stir fry, burritos etc. so it's not like I don't cook from scratch. I also cook my dry beans rather than canned. Somehow I still just spend way too much. I am thinking of trying to plan a weeks worth of meal (yikes-I am not organized in that way) and see if that helps. I don't want to spend a million hours in the kitchen cooking. I enjoy it but with little ones it can be tough. Any suggestions or tips from people who are good with this kind of thing? I know in my area the groceries are more expensive than some other places that I've lived.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:54 am 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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I am terrible at budgeting for food, it is the only thing that I don't care how much I spend. That being said, I know things that my Mom did and they definitely help. First, plan your meals for the week based on what is on sale at the grocery store. Does the store you shop at put out weekly ads in the newspaper or online? If you can see what is on sale ahead of time you can try and think of things that you can make based on what is on sale. Cut coupons, especially for the snacks, and stock up when things are on sale. And always try to shop by what is in season for veggies and whatnot. Being able to get something grown nearby definitely cuts down on the price over buying cherries when they are $8/pound flown in from Chile.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:55 pm 
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Not a creepy cheese pocket person
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If you're not a planner, maybe try writing down what you buy ( or keeping the receipts) for a week or two, noting what gets eaten and what gets wasted, and start from there. You might notice that you're spending more than you'd expect on a certain categories of foods.

I have to say, berries from Chile are always always cheaper than the local stuff in season places that I've lived. The 67 cent 1/2-pint blackberries from Chile are killing me lately. The same berries in season will be 2.99 for a 1/2-pint later this year.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:48 pm 
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Huffs Nutritional Yeast
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If you can, try to cook a ton of food on a couple of nights per week. Roast as many veggies as you can (I have two giant cookie sheets and can fill them both), cook big pots of greens, make big logs of seitan, boil a bunch of potatoes, grains, etc. Then you can either assemble meals or just have a bazillion things to serve from ready in the fridge/freezer. Buy the more expensive ingredients like tvp, nooch, quinoa, flax seeds, etc. in the bulk section at Whole Foods or wherever. We buy rice by the sack at Costco, but it would probably be even cheaper at the Asian market. If you have an Aldi nearby, they are super cheap and I go mostly just to stock up on fruits and veggies. It sounds like you'd have to go grocery shopping all over town, but you don't have to go to all of the places every week when you are stocking up.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:04 pm 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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I honestly think planning is the most important part of keeping the bills low. I don't plan out to the meal, I just jot down some meal plans and make sure I have the stuff for them, but I leave myself wiggle room. Try to make things that use similar ingredients; for instance, celery is great for soups as well as V'Con pot pie. If I only made one of those, I would wind up with a ton of wilted, yellow celery. Maybe put a weekly limit on convenience foods?

Make some snacks up a the first of the week and stick in the fridge/freezer. I also try to find whatever fruit happens to be abundant and inexpensive (and that keeps well!), I've been all over clementines for the past few months, along with bananas and bagged apples. Then I can sprinkle in whatever happens to be on sale, or even just what looks good. If you're not opposed to places like Sam's Club, they actually have pretty great produce for the price. I also tend to buy some staples from amazon-Bob's gluten and TVP are way cheaper that way.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:12 pm 
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Nooch of Earl
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I highly recommend the "Vegan on the Cheap" cookbook by Robin Robertson! It has great recipes that use inexpensive ingredients, but also gives a lot of great tips for stretching food dollars on a vegan budget. I also like that there are plenty of recipes that rely mostly on pantry staples and are super quick, so you can make them in the same time it takes to fall back on frozen foods. In fact having a good arsenal of recipes that can be made easily from pantry items can help you put off that trip to the store for another day, which seems like it shouldn't save much money but in my case it usually does, since it's the expensive convenience and snack foods that get eaten first.

A lot of food prices vary with season and popularity within the store's particular market, so I try to mix up the stores I shop at. If you're looking for vegan convenience foods, Trader Joe's is great and even Whole Foods is often cheaper on a lot of things than regular grocery stores because they order in higher volumes and have higher turnover. Regular grocery stores are great for coincidentally vegan staple foods. Asian and Latino grocery stores often have more unusual produce (and in the former case, soy and gluten products) for waaay cheaper than anyplace else.

If you're really super organized and determined about it, you can check out Amy Dacyczyn's books. They're about saving money in general, but I like her approach of doing things systematically. She doesn't just figure, eh, something's on sale, it must be cheap! She keeps a log of what things cost at various grocery stores and so she KNOWS when a sale is a good deal and stocks up.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:54 pm 
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Top of the food chain & doesn't need to prove it
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I write out a meal plan, stuff that has tons of fresh produce gets cooked first. I am always braindead during the weekdays so I just have to glance at the list on the fridge (with coordinating page numbers from cookbooks) and see what I need to start. Things like soup and other freezeable stuff-double the recipe and freeze it for the next week. Less cooking! We make our own bread (dough made in the breadmaker), own pizza dough (again I heart the breadmaker) and that helps out a lot. I try to pick things that will have leftover for the next day so I'm really buying food for 3-4 dinners. I also spend a lot less when my 5 year old is not with me, he's going to be a good salesman cause he always convinces me "we must have xyz". If he's not with me I always just buy what's on the list. Lately we've been baking muffins for snacks, again we double the recipe and freeze. We buy all the flour and baking stuff in the bulk section.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:58 pm 
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Hoards Peppermint Jo-Jos

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2010 7:10 am
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Location: Boston, MA
I eat for $3.33 a day.. and have lot of recipes on my blog..

http://melomeals.blogspot.com/

When I first started my blog (in 2006) I was married and cooking for my family.. I did a lot of frugal vegan cooking..

Planning and big batch cooking is really really helpful.. make burgers out of leftovers..

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:30 pm 
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Wears Pleather Undies
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Thank you everyone. I guess I need to be more of a planner. melomeals-your blog looks great, exactly what I am looking for. I am a photographer too.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:56 am 
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Not NOT A Furry
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Melomeals is my grocery budget hero! I make a loose meal plan on Sundays and then hit the sales. Bulk bins are my BFF for beans, nooch, tvp, rolled oats, rice, you name it. I also make my own seitan, sprout my own seeds, cook my beans from scratch, grow my own herbs, etc... All these little things add up to savings.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:08 pm 
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Attended Chelsea Clinton's Wedding
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I make a weekly meal plan, cook from scratch, shop from the bulk bins, and still manage to spend about a quarter of our income on food. I'm not kidding. Part of the issue is that with my food sensitivities, I end up buying "special" things (gluten-free flours and such). And having a newly-picky preschooler doesn't help, either.

Fortunately, most of that grocery money goes to fresh (and often local) produce. And we spend almost nothing at the doctor's office... So that's something, I guess.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:08 pm 
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Not a creepy cheese pocket person
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This might be useful. Someone compiled lists of the best nutrient-per-dollar fruits and vegetables using Dr. Furhman's ANDI charts.

fruits
vegetables


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Nooch of Earl
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What a neat list!! I tend to think of watermelon as basically water and fiber, but I guess not! Unfortunately, it sounds REALLY good to me right now...in March.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:30 pm 
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Attended Chelsea Clinton's Wedding
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Awesome list! Thank you! I loves me some produce (and Dr. Furhman).

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:35 pm 
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Hoards Peppermint Jo-Jos

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Location: Boston, MA
I love all the tips and links!

Mel.. thanks for mentioning sprouting! That is one of my huge money savers too..

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:47 pm 
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Can't Dance, Isn't Part of Revolution
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This is just the thread I've been waiting for! I'm always trying to meal plan and make my dollar stretch as we're soon to be a family of 4!!

What I do, which a lot has already been suggested, is check what's seasonal, and on sale. Then I base meals around that. I clip coupons and stock up on sale items. I cook most meals at home and only go out to eat maybe once a week.

Keep the good idea's coming.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:49 am 
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Wears Durian Helmet
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My attempt to cut the grocery bill this year is by growing whatever I can in my little backyard. I would love make my own salsa, jam, canned tomatoes, pickles, etc, because we go through sooo much of it during the year.
I think next winter I'm going to set up a garden in my front window for greens and maybe tomatoes.

I'm also a planner. I try to cook 3 or 4 big meals per week that have somewhat similar ingredients, some of which I already have.
I buy everything I can in bulk if it's cheaper (spices! 30 cents for a big bag instead of 3$ for a little one), I use dry beans instead of canned, and we eat everything that comes into the house. We never throw food away. Well, except maybe if it's leftovers my mom sends home with us.... sometimes those just aren't edible.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:52 am 
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Wears Durian Helmet
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Also, I know it's not food, but it's usually included in my basket at the grocery store- toilet paper, laundry and dish soap. The brands I buy usually go on sale half price once every 2 or 3 months. I can also get coupons online for them. So when they do go on sale half off, I get to use my coupons too, so I get laundry soap for like 2$ a jug, 16 double rolls of toilet paper for 3$, etc. I'll get like 6 of each to last until next time they go on sale.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:12 am 
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Top of the food chain & doesn't need to prove it
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I'm the worst at food budgeting. I swear, no matter how many times / week we go to the grocery store, I never leave there having spent less than $75. Some weeks we spend $200+ on groceries! There are only 2 of us! We do tend to eat more than the average person - I'm breastfeeding so I'm constantly hungry, and MrSneakers is a marathon runner and does anywhere from 40 - 60km of running spread over 4 days in a week - but it's a bit out of control and I need to cut it back. What gets us usually is processed food and splurge stuff ie raspberries that are out of season, frozen burritos, fresh herbs.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:43 pm 
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Nooch of Earl
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At the risk of being the jackasparagus who revives an old thread, I saw this article today and thought it was interesting/relevant: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42317990/ns ... _business/


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:47 pm 
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Has it on Blue Vinyl
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sneakers wrote:
I'm the worst at food budgeting. I swear, no matter how many times / week we go to the grocery store, I never leave there having spent less than $75. Some weeks we spend $200+ on groceries! There are only 2 of us! We do tend to eat more than the average person - I'm breastfeeding so I'm constantly hungry, and MrSneakers is a marathon runner and does anywhere from 40 - 60km of running spread over 4 days in a week - but it's a bit out of control and I need to cut it back. What gets us usually is processed food and splurge stuff ie raspberries that are out of season, frozen burritos, fresh herbs.


Me too. I'm almost afraid to go to Wegman's these days because I know I can't resist good food...

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Attended Chelsea Clinton's Wedding
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Seems counter-intuitive, but I got our grocery bill down a bit by using a grocery service. You select your groceries from the store's online list, then pay a $3 fee on top of your grocery bill for someone to shop for you in the physical store and then meet you at the curb with your groceries. Because I can use it to do meal-planning and price comparisons for different ingredients at my leisure on Sunday nights after R goes to bed--as opposed to trying to get through the store before the sands of toddler patience run through the hourglass--that fee pays for itself several times over.

I also usually make all of my own cleaning supplies so that we don't have to pay much for that stuff. Surface cleaner = 1 part white vinegar + 2 parts water, laundry detergent = 1 grated bar of castile soap + 1 cup borax + 1 cup washing soda, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:43 pm 
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Would you be able to do a day with an inhome babysitter (or better yet a friend or 2) and make some "convenience" food? You could make seitan sausages and seitan nuggets and tofu nuggets in bulk one day and then have them for quick toddler friendly meals in the future. You could make some soups and freeze them as well, or burritos/breakfast burritos too, and freeze those.

But the toddler friendly finger foods might be the best bet!

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery budget
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:48 pm 
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Level 7 Vegan
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annak wrote:
At the risk of being the jackasparagus who revives an old thread, I saw this article today and thought it was interesting/relevant: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42317990/ns ... _business/


How dare you. I hate relevant information.


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