Grocery Spending : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

I told you all that I am making an effort to reduce my grocery spending. This month I spent $174.46 for a family of 6. We had company on two weekends, a birthday party and company for dinner on 3 occassions. This decrease in spending over other months has decreased my year to date average from $66.02 per week, to $64.94 per week! I am hoping to bring my average down to $50 per week, which would save me over $700 per year, (if I can spend $15 less per week).

I am really making a great effort in this area. Many tips here have really helped me. I appreciate all of your responses and suggestions! If anyone else has managed to decrease their spending over the last month, let us know what has helped you. I know I still have a long way to go.

My biggest expenses seem to be in the dairy department (milk, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt) I am working to find cheaper sources of these items and reduce our use of them

We love cheese! One day we hadn't had any for about a week, and we all sat around just dreaming up all the things we could fix to eat if we just had some!! It was entertaining at least!!!!

Thanks Everyone!

-- Melissa (, October 28, 2001


I may have missed this before, you shop at Aldis for your dairy? They are sooooo cheap and their dairy products are good! I hope you live near an Aldis. Jennifer

-- Jennifer (, October 28, 2001.

Yes, we do have an Aldi's store and that is where I do most of my shopping. Their milk is usually @ $2 a gallon, cream cheese is $.89, sour cream is $.99 and their 1 pound packs of shredded cheese is $2.49. There bar cheese is $1.69 for 10 ounce packs. Butter has been high, it is about $2.69 a pound. Even though I feel theri prices are low, I still usually spend about $12-15 a week on this category, depending on what I need. I buy 3 gallons of milk a week, 2 packs of shredded cheese, and I will buy the other items as needed.

-- Melissa (, October 28, 2001.

Melissa~ Do you have a food processor? I shred all my own cheese. Just buy in blocks and use shredder attachment on processor. This is cheaper than buying pre-shredded and my kids like to eat kabobs made with chunks of cheese i cut and thread on toothpicks with grapes or apples. Good snack and packs well in a lunch. Just an idea!

-- Ivy in NW AR (, October 28, 2001.

We just use a metal grater to shred our cheese. If it is cheaper to buy it bythe block I do, however Aldi's only sells mozzarella pre- shredded and I rarely find it cheaper than there in the block.

-- Melissa (, October 28, 2001.

Melissa- I think your doing a great job-My goal-which I hardly ever reach is $50 a week, but I only have two kids. I do feed a fair amount of company (extended family) though-I take meals to my father in Law regularly.

Have you tried making your own yogurt? I save a LOT this way, because I also use homemade yogurt in recipies that call for sour cream-though I don't use it on baked potatos. Also, I use powdered milk in cooking-my family likes to drink fresh. Sometimes I mix it half and half. I make up my own cocoa mix with powdered milk, I have that for breakfast and snacks and that streaches the regular milk a little further.

-- Kelly in Ky (, October 28, 2001.

Hi Kelly! Yes I made my own yogurt ONCE! It was good and one of those things I wanted to try but just didn't get in tthe habit of doing it. My husband likes it, and I will eat it once in a while but the kids don't really care for it. I will have to try again. I use powdered milk for hot chocolate and to make evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. My kids do not like to drink it. I really think that the cheese is the budget buster!

-- Melissa (, October 29, 2001.

Melissa-how do you make evaporated milk from powdered? I have a way to do Sweetened condensed, but not evaporated. I recently came across a bunch of Crock pot recipies that called for E.Milk apparently regular milk breaks down. I tried using powdered straight, but it didn't work out too well.

-- Kelly in Ky (, October 29, 2001.

Just use 1/2 the water you would use to mix it normally. I don't know the amounts but if it takes 1/4 cup of milk to 1 cup of water, just use 1/4 cup of milk to 1/2 cup of water. Hope that makes sense.

-- Melissa (, October 29, 2001.

Girls, you know there IS such a thing as carrying a good thing too far!

I like being frugal with groceries as well as the next person, and can proudly claim 4 meals from one road-kill rabbit; but I always made sure that I had the foods that were important to me, even on a $15/2 weeks food budget. I want to caution you against carrying the money saving thing too far.

Melissa, you say that your family loves cheese and you had had none in the house for a week and you were all sitting around dreaming about things you could make if you had some - yet you want to reduce your use of it. This sounds like my one Grandmother who wouldn't buy puffed rice cereal for her children - because it didn't last long enough!! She bought a different kind that they didn't like as well, so they didn't eat as much of it, and she saved money on cereal. Nothin' like sending your kids to school hungry - what a great mom she was - NOT! Is this the kind of memories you want your children to have of your meals?

When we go to my MIL's for supper, if there are 5 of us, there will be 5 slices of lunch meat on the table. I'm always scared to take a full spoonful of anything because I'm afraid there won't be enough for everyone. They don't understand why I don't stop by for supper very often. And no, they aren't hurting for grocery money; and I give them eggs and stuff from the garden all year long. This is just the way they do. When my husband lived at home as a teenager, he would buy a half gallon of milk and a bag of cookies and sneak them to his room and eat them all - he's still greedy and stingy about food, altho he's getting better. No one ever goes hungry in this household; and there is always enough for anyone who stops by.

On the other side of the fence, my Pop's cousin and a buddy of his stopped at my other Granny's home on the way home on leave in WWII; it was 8 o'clock at night. They asked if they could have a bite to eat and at nine o'clock Granny had 16 different dishes on the table and was afraid she wouldn't have anything that they liked to eat!

Yes, people will eat darn near anything if they are hungry enough, but I think food is meant to be enjoyed; not just fuel for our bodies. Is saving money really more important to you than good food?

-- Polly (, October 29, 2001.

Polly! I really laughed at your post!! Just the thought of anyone thinking my children are deprived of anything is kind of funny to me, my kids truly are not deprived at anything. Believe me we eat plenty good around here!!!!

They can polish off 2 or 3 pounds of cheese at a sitting though, so I really can't just let them eat it at will. The reason we didn't have any for a week was just because I was trying to use up some stuff I already had on hand and had not gone to the grocery store for a couple of weeks!

I am a pretty good cook, and my kids will rarely even eat at anyone else's house because they love my cooking so much. We make home-made desserts, pizza, potato chips, and always have their favorite meals often. I am absolutely positive that none of them feel deprived in the food department.

Of course they have to eat good food as well as the snack foods they enjoy. I try to give them a good, wholesome, healthy diet, and they all really like to eat. We also have a lot of company and I love to cook for everyone.

The main reason for cutting back on the grocery budget as much as possible is to enable me to continue to stay at home and not have to get a job. I try to frugally manage my money as much as possible, and I am extreme in this regard. I don't feel it does the children any harm to see money managed properly and to learn that there is not an unlimited supply of everything they want in the world. We call it creative deprivation (see the Tightwad Gazette). If you always give children EVERYTHING they want or desire, you usually end up with a bunch of spoiled children! so while we try to give them what they need, we often don't give them everything they want.

I am not at all offended by your post and I thank you for bringing up that point. Please feel free to keep posting, I really enjoyed hearing from you!!!!

-- Melissa (, October 29, 2001.

So, Melissa, how do you make sweetened condensed milk?

-- Cathy N. (, October 29, 2001.

Hope I'm not intruding but here is my recipe for Sweetened COndensed Milk.

2 cups instant nonfat dry milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup boiling water

6 TBSP sweet butter, melted and slightly cooled.

Mix dry milk and sugar together. Then slowly added the boiling water. Stir in melted butter. Whip in a blender or by hand until smooth. Store milk in refrigerator for 1 week or freeze the extra for up to six months. Makes 20 ounces.

This recipe tastes just like Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk and costs about 85 cents to make.

This is from a book entitled "Cheaper & Better" by Nancy Birnes. This book is out of print, but if you happen to find a copy somewhere, be sure to buy it. There are recipes for many, many things I always thought could only be "store bought"; like vanilla, dog biscuits, pudding pops, etc.

Hope I didn't step on your toes, Melissa.

Wishing you enough.

-- Trevilians (aka Dianne in Mass) (, October 29, 2001.

Hi everyone, just an update on the condensed milk recipe: the one I have calls for 1 cup powdered milk, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of boiling water, and 3 tbsp melted butter. Follow same directions as above. This makes an amount that is equivalent to the 14 ounce can of Eagle Brand that almost all of my recipes call for. I know there are probably different sizes of cans so I just wanted you to know this is for the small can.

-- Melissa (, October 30, 2001.

Thanks Dianne for posting too, I don't mind at all. That book sounds like a really good one, I will have to look for it at the library!!!

-- Melissa (, October 30, 2001.

You know, I was reading an article in the most recent issue of Countryside about this very subject, and I just don't know how these folks do it! $50 and less a week for groceries just seems absurd to me!

We don't eat anything pre-made, pre-packaged, or with artificial coloring or flavors -- both my sons have food allergies. We eat healthy, homemade meals, and a great deal of home produced stuff, but I STILL spend more than this.

When I read about grocery prices Stateside I begin to understand, though. $1.99 for a gallon of milk? Here it's at least $2.98. In reading on the internet and different "cheapskate" publications, I've heard of the mythical $0.19 can of tuna....WHERE? The cheapest I've been able to find in Canada is $.89.

I tell myself that a $50 a week grocery bill is something to aspire to, but not to seriously expect. My kids could eat $50 worth of corn flakes in a single sitting.

I average around $100 a week, and count myself lucky.

-- Tracy (, October 30, 2001.

I really don't think it is absurd, but is totally obtainable through many different methods like: buying only on sale, raising everything you can, free food from foraging and hunting, using all food you prepare, cooking from scratch, cutting back on pre-made products, and many other methods.

Maybe if you have unlimited money, it doesn't matter to you how much you spend. But around here, if we can cut back on the groceries, maybe we can put in a new basketball court, or buy another pony for the kids, or use the money for a small vacation. Last year we bought a really nice pony and saddle for our kids. This summer we went to Columbus, stayed in a hotel with a pool and visited COSI, the zoo, and a water park. Next spring we are saving for a basketball court for the kids.

They understand that to get some of these things, we have to cut back on other things. These are all things we have done or plan to do with the money we save. We spend a lot of time with our kids and prefer not to become enslaved to a job, by cutting back on all the little things we can buy our freedom!

Our kids are in no way deprived of food. One of my children said that most of their friends don't even have supper when they get home, they order a pizza or eat cereal because both of their parents are at work.

This never happens to my children because I am here, and for over half of the year ther Dad is also home full-time. We have a small income for 6 people, we will probably make less than $16,000 this year, but live a lifestyle that is much more consistent with a higher income. This is by diligent planning, discipline and self-control.

As an example tonight for supper we had ham, green beans and potatoes, home-made garlic bread, salad with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, and chocolate ice-cream for dessert, and choice of iced- tea or milk for the drink. Each night I try to have a wide variety of food. I only purchased the ham (on sale for $.79 a pound, I used about 1/2 a pound) and the items to make the bread (calculated cost about 40 cents for 2 big loaves), and the ice cream was on sale for $1.89, we only used 1/2 of the carton. No one went away from the table hungry or feeling deprived.

I am going to continue to post on here our meals each night. One of my daughters suggested I do this, when I told them all about some of the reaction to this thread. They thought this would be a good way to show the variety of our meals.

Keep posting your thoughts I think this is very interesting!

-- Melissa (, October 30, 2001.

Melissa -- I certainly didn't mean any offence -- and we certainly don't have unlimited money....I would honestly like to know how, in detail, people do it?

In my utter awe of the families who accomplish this I managed to lose the meaning of my posting -- how on earth do you do it? I have looked for "cheap" grocery lists online...they don't seem all that cheap to me, with Hamburger Helper and like products being used which are expensive here, and which I can't use anyhow, considering my boys' allergies.

Your ongoing posts of what is on your table would be very interesting to me. I grew up in a house with five older brothers and DH says I always cook too much, maybe that's my problem -- but I sure could use some pointers!

-- Tracy (, October 30, 2001.

Tracy and others with allergies and food sensitivites: I realize that many people have to spend a little more due to these things. I would not risk the health of my family just to save money.

I am not trying to make anyone feel bad about how much THEY spend, I am trying to spend less myself. I just don't get the seeming criticism. I am just looking for all the hints and tips I can, to cut back on this often overspent category in the budget???

-- Melissa (, October 30, 2001.

Melissa, I admire your frugality. Isn't it interesting what you can create when you think you don't have anything in the cupboard? lol I was the oldest of five and cooked for the family a lot as a child. Momma always said she loved it best when I cooked, because I tried to use many different spices to change the ordinary foods. Sometimes she was the only one who had seconds though. lol Also, I found that if you freeze a block of cheddar cheese, when thawed, it crumbles nicely by just rubbing on it. Saves shredding time and doesn't seem to hurt the texture or taste. Iris

-- Iris (, October 30, 2001.

Melissa, This is a great thread, I really enjoy seeing what others have for dinner and how inexpensive they can fix that dinner. It gives me some good ideas.

-- Roxanne (, October 31, 2001.

Tracy--Count your blessings--milk over here in Ontario is $4.19 average, with the odd store selling it for $3.79. Figure in conversion to U.S. funds, and you'll see that you are paying roughly the same for milk; we are paying a little more.

Melissa--I would love to get a cow. I am looking into dual purpose breeds which do well on forage in summer and hay and root crops in winter. By the time we get the land, we should have the breed picked. I hope to start with a goat this spring. Also, I am feeding calcium through dark green veggies rather than milk. We are all milk- a-holics here, and always went through a gallon a day. Now we try to stay at 4-5 a week. Well, that's a guess anyway. I can never remember if our 4-liter jugs are more or less than the gallon jugs.

-- Cathy N. (, October 31, 2001.

I was waiting for someone to mention getting a cow!! I just don't think I want one, they are so slobbery I just don't know if I can deal with it!!!! although I love the animals we have I just don't really think we need any more. I think 4 liters is probably a little more than a gallon, but not much. We use 3 gallons of milk a week, pretty consistently.

-- Melissa (, October 31, 2001.

Hello women who desire saving money. In the last year I have discovered a wonderful book "Miserly Moms" by Joni MCCoy. It is an unbeatable refrence to saving money in so many areas. Joni Also just came out with a book "Miserly Meals", under $.75 per serving, many are alot less. I have found these resources very helpful. She also has sevral resources to turn to for further tips and stradegies. Good luck.

-- Terra (, August 26, 2002.

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