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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 12:40 pm 
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Chard Martyr
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I probably spend $50-$100/week on myself. More if I go to Whole Foods or buy a lot of organic items.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:14 pm 
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Oh god, buying coffee is like a whole separate issue. I buy 1-2 iced coffees a day during the work week, because it's seriously the part of my work day I most look forward to. (Yeah, that's sad).


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:18 pm 
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I feel like we're really bad at this too. Gluten-free, organic, local, prepared foods all add up very quickly.

We have a $200 trip to Costco every month ($100 of which is just food for our feral colony), and then multiple trips to other places. To save money, I have tried to stop being the family shopper, because I love food and shopping for food is my version of porn. I go into WF, and I gasp at all the crisp young produce and then end up taking home a single $100 bag of vegan treats (Daiya - $4.99, Veganaise - $8.99, organic kale - $2.99 a bunch). Same thing with going to Trader Joes which is really all overpriced, processed yummy treat food. It looks so cheap and exciting individually, but then you find yourself with $100 bill. But its such a nice experience, and the cashiers are all so sweet.

My husband now goes to Pathmark for us, and I give him a list. We also go to our local ethnic market for fruit and produce, and I can leave there with two giant bags of stuff for $20. I hate shopping at both places.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:28 pm 
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Limone wrote:
paprikapapaya wrote:
Hoodwinked wrote:
eating healthy is expensive.


I'm going to disagree. How much you pay for food really depends on where you live and what's available, but I don't think it's impossible eat healthy on the cheap if you do a little research and planning. My boyfriend and I probably spent about $30-$60 per week on groceries for the two of us, depending on whether we need to stock up on things like soy sauce, oil etc. This does not include the occasional restaurant, takeout or bought lunch meal but those are not an everyday thing and they cost what they cost. This is my strategy for keeping the grocery bill low:

1. Buy fruits and veggies at the one of the local produce markets, and use 'em up fast. Seriously, it's much cheaper than the supermarket. If you have to get your veggies at a supermarket, buy based on what's on sale and work around that. Things like garlic and onions are always cheap.
2. Shop sales and stock up. I live in a studio apartment so I don't have room for a giant hoardpile like you'd see on Extreme Couponing, but if something I use frequently like canned tomatoes, pasta, tofu etc. is on mega-sale then I will buy extras and freeze or find room for them in the deepest corners of my pantry. I do use coupons from time to time, because you will occasionally find them for things like dried fruit, nuts, etc. Also, if you shop at Whole Foods, pick up that "Whole Deals" booklet near the front door. It's filled with store coupons, sometimes for stuff like soy milk and Earth Balance!
3. Buy in bulk. When I say "bulk" I don't just mean the bulk bins at the health food store (which aren't always a bargain,) but also buying stuff in quantity online. For example, if you use a ton of vital wheat gluten you might do well to order a multi-pack of it from Amazon.com or something, and this can work out to be cheaper per-package than your local market. Same goes with other more expensive grains, steel-cut oats, etc. If the bags are unopened they'll keep in your cupboard for months.
4. Even if you don't have room for 20 packs of vital wheat gluten, you can sometimes still save money by shopping online. I like iHerb (http://www.iherb.com?rcode=pib512 if you want to use my referral link) because they sell health foods that are sometimes at a lower price than my local store (like big cans of Kal nutritional yeast!) and they offer free shipping at a relatively low $20. And they ship internationally. And they sell Dandies marshmallows. :P

Aaaaaaand last but not least: Don't buy something if you aren't going to use it. That may sound obvious but I can't even imagine how many dollars I've wasted on random vegetables that I thought I would use but ended up just rotting in the back of my fridge.

ETA: We don't buy vegan cheeses, which I'm sure saves us some cash. I make mine at home, and they're 1000x more awesome than any storebought cheez I've tasted.


I'll add that mealplanning has really helped me stay within a reasonable budget. I plan out the week, and I make the meals even if I'm "not in the mood" to eat it (sometimes I switch with another night). If I planned to have leftovers (say, for lunch the next day) I put those into a reusable container immediately.

I also prep beforehand as much as possible so that I don't look at full cupboards/fridge and still pick something up for dinner because I just can't face making something after a long day at work.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Yeah, I need to ban myself from Wally World. I go in for ketchup and come out with $45 dollars worth of food. I need to shop locally and keep the money I spend in my hometown. We have a nice ethnic grocery store that has everything I need. I just keep forgetting to go in that direction when I get in my car. It seems like my car automatically drives to Wally World without me thinking about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:26 pm 
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I spend way more than I used to on food and I have no shame about it. I have the money, I'm spending it at businesses and on products that share my values, I'm eating healthily and not wasting food for the most part. I'm incredibly grateful that I have the ability not to pinch my pennies anymore. But I'm not flogging myself for how I spend money either.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:50 pm 
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I spend a lot on groceries for a single person, but I love to cook, I firmly believe that fine ingredients are the most important thing in good food and I'll spend for them since cookin' is one of my main hobbies. When I really have to, I can budget shop as well and still have yummy food. I still spend way less on food than any regular restaurant eater would every week and eat fine dinin' style most meals (although I put much more time into shopping for and prepping food than restaurant eaters do--and time is money for some).

Like some others, I also include drugstore items, cleaning supplies, household items/hardware items etc. as part of my grocery bill, so it's not all technically food (though ~probably 80% of it is in the final analysis)

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:39 pm 
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Amy wrote:
Oh god, buying coffee is like a whole separate issue. I buy 1-2 iced coffees a day during the work week, because it's seriously the part of my work day I most look forward to. (Yeah, that's sad).


Hey, if you have even one thing that you look forward during a work day, you're not doing too badly.

What kind of iced coffee do you like? Is it something you could replicate as a diy operation for cheaper?

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 5:20 pm 
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Hoodwinked wrote:
I don't really use coupons because I never see any for fresh fruit, veggies, and leafy greens which is 95% of my food intake. Do they even exist?? It's frustrating but I do think that eating healthy is expensive.

earthbound farms often has coupons. (in fact, they have a thing going on right now. it might appear that the coupon is for a specific item, but the wording allows it to be used on any EB farm thing.) http://www.ebfarm.com/join
also, driscoll's berries has a thing where you give them your birthday, and they'll send you a coupon each year. http://www.driscolls.com/about/promotions.php
there's an onion coupon available right now (facebook only)

limone has the right idea. buy things you use often when they're on sale and stock up. (even better if you have a coupon for it.)

instead of cold cereal (which adds up! not to mention, you're using relatively expensive milk along with it) eat oatmeal which is waaay cheaper. buy the canister, not the packets. (or mix some from the canister in with a packet.) (mccann's usually has coupons on coupons.com)

if you don't mind relatively boring meals, those are usually the least expensive. chili, chana masala, curry, lentil soup, spaghetti etc.

for lunch, bring dinner leftovers instead of sandwiches. (a pack of deli slices are $3-4, and only lasts for 3 sandwiches, and they're not all that filling anyway.)

if you want juices, buy the frozen cylinders of concentrate. even the organic ones are cheaper than the ones in the refrigerated section. (and there are usually coupons for $1/4 by old orchard)

and finally, if you don't have facebook, vegan coupons can come to you through e-mail. <3 http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailv ... ganCoupons

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 6:22 pm 
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I think this depends so much on where you live. When I lived in Vancouver, there were so many little produce stores that had really cheap fruits and vegetables. In Edmonton there really isn't. So now I spend way more on produce than I did before. And I don't know what people keep talking about when they say you should shop at farmer's markets for cheap produce. Delicious? Yes. But cheap? No way. At least not where I am. It's pretty much double. I understand the value of buying from the market and I do buy there when I can afford to do so, but I just don't understand when people try to pass it off as a money saving tip.

(Anyway, I spend about $200 a month for me, not including eating out or anything. This is on top of a $200-300 Costco run once every 4 months of so for staples).


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 6:25 pm 
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food spending is definitely my weak spot.
we only have 2 adults in my house and we spend between $80-$100 a week at the regular grocery store and it's not unusual for me to stop at the grocery store on my lunch break 1-2 times a week.
i also usually go to whole foods at least once a week on my lunch break and get salad bar for lunch and then other food for home like my soy coffee creamer, field roast sausages, and god only knows what else. usually i spend at least $30-$40 there.

i almost never use coupons because i never find coupons for food i would actually eat or products i would actually use.

there are no farmers markets near my house so i dont have that option. i also dont really have the option of buying bulk at a health food store unless i drive a half hour.

i love cooking from scratch for dinner from my cookbooks but i seem to perpetually buy things and then forget to make them or forget what i was going to make.
i also find i keep having different new things you keep in your cabinet for different recipes. different vinegars and spices and "stock" items which makes things expensive.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 7:45 pm 
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Limone wrote:
paprikapapaya wrote:
Hoodwinked wrote:
eating healthy is expensive.


I'm going to disagree. How much you pay for food really depends on where you live and what's available, but I don't think it's impossible eat healthy on the cheap if you do a little research and planning. My boyfriend and I probably spend about $30-$60 per week on groceries for the two of us, depending on whether we need to stock up on things like soy sauce, oil etc. This does not include the occasional restaurant, takeout or bought lunch meal but those are not an everyday thing and they cost what they cost. This is my strategy for keeping the grocery bill low:

1. Buy fruits and veggies at a local produce markets, and use 'em up fast. Seriously, it's much cheaper than the supermarket. If you have to get your veggies at a supermarket, buy based on what's on sale and work around that. Things like garlic and onions are always cheap.
2. Shop sales and stock up. I live in a studio apartment so I don't have room for a giant hoardpile like you'd see on Extreme Couponing, but if something I use frequently like canned tomatoes, pasta, tofu etc. is on mega-sale then I will buy extras and freeze or find room for them in the deepest corners of my pantry. I do use coupons from time to time, because you will occasionally find them for things like dried fruit, nuts, etc. Also, if you shop at Whole Foods, pick up that "Whole Deals" booklet near the front door. It's filled with store coupons, sometimes for stuff like soy milk and Earth Balance!
3. Buy in bulk. When I say "bulk" I don't just mean the bulk bins at the health food store (which aren't always a bargain,) but also buying stuff in quantity online. For example, if you use a ton of vital wheat gluten you might do well to order a multi-pack of it from Amazon.com or something, and this can work out to be cheaper per-package than your local market. Same goes with other more expensive grains, steel-cut oats, etc. If the bags are unopened they'll keep in your cupboard for months.
4. Even if you don't have room for 20 packs of vital wheat gluten, you can sometimes still save money by shopping online. I like iHerb (http://www.iherb.com?rcode=pib512 if you want to use my referral link) because they sell health foods that are sometimes at a lower price than my local store (like big cans of Kal nutritional yeast!) and they offer free shipping at a relatively low $20. And they ship internationally. And they sell Dandies marshmallows. :P

Aaaaaaand last but not least: Don't buy something if you aren't going to use it. That may sound obvious but I can't even imagine how many dollars I've wasted on random vegetables that I thought I would use but ended up just rotting in the back of my fridge.

ETA: We don't buy vegan cheeses, which I'm sure saves us some cash. I make mine at home, and they're 1000x more awesome than any storebought cheez I've tasted.


I disagree. This depends entirely on where you live and what you can afford to pay upfront.

1. You assume people have access to things like local produce markets. If I want decent produce where I live, my options are Whole Foods and Whole Foods. Anything else I'd have to travel 5 miles on major non-bike-friendly roads which is highly impractical for a full time student in an area with bad public transport.
3. Buying in bulk can save money in the long run, but is really expensive at the time you're doing it.

2 and 4 are very reasonable, though. My grocery bill for the last couple of weeks has been $25 (for one person) but in order to keep it that low I've had to eat less veggies and more pasta and seitan and beans. When I'm eating a of vegetables, the bill gets to be $40 easily (both of these scenarios involve cooking two dishes in bulk and eating them all week) which is half my weekly paycheck. I wish groceries weren't so expensive.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:11 pm 
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thanks guys! I guess I'm not quite as bad as I think but it sure hurts. I budget us like $300/month for groceries which seems like plenty but when I add up trips to the commissary and trips to trader joes and whole foods (which are rare - twice in the last 4-5 months) and the local crappy overpriced health food store it's a lot.

Limone wrote:
Aaaaaaand last but not least: Don't buy something if you aren't going to use it. That may sound obvious but I can't even imagine how many dollars I've wasted on random vegetables that I thought I would use but ended up just rotting in the back of my fridge.


Obvious sure but I'm totally guilty. I just threw out a package of baby kale because it went bad on me and an orange and I have some beans I cooked up and I think they're gone too, as is some tomato paste.

zwingtip wrote:
1. You assume people have access to things like local produce markets. If I want decent produce where I live, my options are Whole Foods and Whole Foods. Anything else I'd have to travel 5 miles on major non-bike-friendly roads which is highly impractical for a full time student in an area with bad public transport.


Also true. Here I'm screwed and I have no good options, but once I move back north I have better options.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:17 pm 
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I think we had another one of the these threads before. Everyone's situation is different and it's different depending upon where you live. Also, what's an expensive luxury to one person is a necessity to another. That doesn't mean that someone else is wrong! There are vegans who live with only small markets and Wal Mart available as food store options.

Obviously if you buy vegan snack foods, things like Veganaise or vegan cheeses, many different milks, faux meats, energy drinks, booze, or bar shaped meals you will be spending more.

You can also buy frozen veg which are often a cheaper and better option than spendy out of season options. I never go to WF but I have local HFS which are cheaper, closer, and not as irritating. I also never buy exotic ingredients that only get used once in a great while.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:00 pm 
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appifanie wrote:
as is some tomato paste.

put it in a baggie in the freezer. flatten it out a bit so it's easier to break off a tablespoon here and there.

i just remembered. for clif and luna bars, if you have a bed bath and beyond nearby, get 3 packs of the minis (boxes of 18) throw in something super cheap, maybe from the travel section to get it over $30, and use 2 $5/$15 coupons. (these are usually only on the backs of the catalogues. the things that come separately are almost always 20%/1 item. 33% is much better than 20% so they end up being $20 for 54 mini bars = only .37 per mini bar. of course, the selection is slim, and they're variety packs, but it's good portion control.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:12 pm 
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supercarrot wrote:
appifanie wrote:
as is some tomato paste.

put it in a baggie in the freezer. flatten it out a bit so it's easier to break off a tablespoon here and there.


i normally do but sometimes I get ambitious and figure I'll cook up a storm in the next few days and use it all.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:20 pm 
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zwingtip wrote:

I disagree. This depends entirely on where you live and what you can afford to pay upfront.

1. You assume people have access to things like local produce markets. If I want decent produce where I live, my options are Whole Foods and Whole Foods. Anything else I'd have to travel 5 miles on major non-bike-friendly roads which is highly impractical for a full time student in an area with bad public transport.
3. Buying in bulk can save money in the long run, but is really expensive at the time you're doing it.

2 and 4 are very reasonable, though. My grocery bill for the last couple of weeks has been $25 (for one person) but in order to keep it that low I've had to eat less veggies and more pasta and seitan and beans. When I'm eating a of vegetables, the bill gets to be $40 easily (both of these scenarios involve cooking two dishes in bulk and eating them all week) which is half my weekly paycheck. I wish groceries weren't so expensive.


Yes, it's true that there aren't produce markets everywhere. But what about frozen veg? Things like peas, carrots, spinach, kale, broccoli, corn etc. hold up fine when frozen, you can sometimes find coupons for them if they're brand-name. And agreed that buying bulk is expensive up-front, and obviously not everyone is going to have the space, so it all depends on what works for you. Like I said at the beginning of my post, how much you pay depends on where you live and what's available there. But I still think it's possible to work within a budget and eat well almost anywhere. Those are just some things that work for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:32 pm 
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I honestly think clipping coupons tends to be a waste of time. I look out for deals and buy more of things I use frequently (bread, nooch, PB, coconut milk, non-dairy milk, tofu, etc...) when they are on sale, but I think meal-planning and sticking to grocery lists is key. If I get too into deals I end up buying like one litre of organic maple syrup even though I totally don't need it.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 10:14 pm 
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appifanie, your grocery bill doesn't seem extravagant to me, but if you need to save money maybe it would help to set a limit on how much to spend each week. If you only have x amount to spend, it becomes a challenge and you may learn there are some things you can do without.

mollyjade wrote:
I spend way more than I used to on food and I have no shame about it. I have the money, I'm spending it at businesses and on products that share my values, I'm eating healthily and not wasting food for the most part. I'm incredibly grateful that I have the ability not to pinch my pennies anymore. But I'm not flogging myself for how I spend money either.


+1 yummy. I'm fortunate to be able to walk into a grocery store and not have to worry that I won't have enough money to buy food for the week. That was not always the case so it's kind of a big deal for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 10:20 pm 
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Another consideration is that some people just need to eat more food than others. I'm one who eats a lot of food. If I don't, I'm basically not even a functional human being until I do. Some people can get by on just a couple small meals a day. I'm not one of them. I need at minimum three serious meals, though sometimes I'll spread it out and eat 4-6 smaller meals...but it's just not even an option for me to eat popcorn all day or cut complex carbs or skip a meal because I'm running late or anything like that.

My trick is to shop at Whole Foods...and only at Whole Foods. I have my weekly food budget (usually $75-100), I have my shopping list, I make one trip per week, and then that's it. If I miss something, I get it next week. If I need an ingredient mid-week, I put it on next week's list. I figured out a few years ago that if I try to save money by buying some foods at cheaper grocery stores and some foods at Whole Foods and making all these different trips, I end up spending even more money because I'll buy "just a couple extra things" which adds up to a lot of extra things if I go to more than one store.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 11:05 pm 
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I do not live near a WF - when we go I tend to over spend on snacks & body care. I dropped over $100 on cosmetics, vegan candy bars, energy bars and plant food last Saturday. Man did I feel bad.

Tonight at Sunflour I spent like $30 even with coupons. I bought 2 bags of Daiya, a box of vegan taquitos, zico coconut water, 6 pack of zevia, bulk whole wheat organic flour, bulk corn meal, 1 organic tomato and laundry soap...

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 11:38 pm 
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choirqueer wrote:
Another consideration is that some people just need to eat more food than others. I'm one who eats a lot of food. If I don't, I'm basically not even a functional human being until I do. Some people can get by on just a couple small meals a day. I'm not one of them. I need at minimum three serious meals, though sometimes I'll spread it out and eat 4-6 smaller meals...but it's just not even an option for me to eat popcorn all day or cut complex carbs or skip a meal because I'm running late or anything like that.

My trick is to shop at Whole Foods...and only at Whole Foods. I have my weekly food budget (usually $75-100), I have my shopping list, I make one trip per week, and then that's it. If I miss something, I get it next week. If I need an ingredient mid-week, I put it on next week's list. I figured out a few years ago that if I try to save money by buying some foods at cheaper grocery stores and some foods at Whole Foods and making all these different trips, I end up spending even more money because I'll buy "just a couple extra things" which adds up to a lot of extra things if I go to more than one store.

Oh yeah. A big part of the reason I spend so much is, well, I eat a lot. No two ways around that.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 12:08 am 
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This thread makes me feel so much better because I'm right in the spending "norm", though it is still more than I want to be spending or think we should be spending.
One thing that seems to help for me is making casseroles. Casseroles are usually pretty cheap and they make many portions. For example, the chickpea broc casserole from VWAV or the jambalaya in VCon or enchiladas. I've stopped buying name brands except in cases where I can't cope with the difference (I hate trader joes almond milk, I have to get almond breeze). If you have a day off without much to do, you can make dried beans and rice and freeze them in little baggies so they're good to go for quick soups and stews and salads. Veggies I can't seem to save money on, I get organic whenever it isn't obscenely more pricey but often compromise and get conventional.

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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 12:37 am 
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I've tried to get our grocery budget (including soap and trash bags and all that stuff) to $100 a week for two people and it's tough! I went through a serious but brief budget phase where we shopped at discount places, bought conventional produce, and clipped coupons and it was definitely cheaper but I didn't feel as good -- about what we were supporting, about what I was cooking, and just plain physically. Now we're back on good organic food and green products and it's more money but I feel better about it. And I know we're so lucky to even have the option. But the money, yeah. Ouch.

I swear I have a problem with spices, too. I think I'm a spice hoarder. I can't stand to be out of a spice I consider basic and I consider probably, I don't know, 50 spices absolutely essential. As soon as one gets low, I put it right on the list. I just don't feel like I have a well-stocked pantry without jar after jar after jar of spice.

I also wish I had the discipline to make all the snacky things I put in my partner's lunches -- Buying good vegan chips and cookies and rice cakes and peanut butter and that sort of thing really adds up.


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 Post subject: Re: Grocery Spending Issues
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 1:21 am 
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I like this thread! I spend a lot on groceries. Then I get busy at school and get too stressed out to cook so I eat out for lunch and dinner way more than I should. So it's doubly expensive! I also have a giant fancy coffee most days. We should be saving money for retirement and to buy a house...but food makes me happy and gets me through my day so I keep doing it!

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