Grocery Challenge : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

Anyone still trying to save money on groceries?? My yearly budget goal is to spend about $250 per month. This counts all food consumed, seeds, garden plants, chicken feed, and any meals bought "out" Right now I am running about $300 a month, but this is typical for me!! The average should drop a good bit as summer comes, and we eat more and more fresh. I also keep my pantry fully stocked and my freezer full. So I know I have probably $700-800 worht of food on hand, and all of my home-canned items too.

Feel free to list any tips/hints here...YOur goals and budget amounts etc... I try to run this around the 1st of the month as an encouragement to everyone....

I have been cooking in a more healthy way, and everything from scratch. I have found that eating healthier costs a little more. Some items are just more costly, like olive oil, natural peanut butter, whole wheat products etc... So I am really working on tightening up my budget, and carefully watching for sales.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 07, 2002


I was wondering if you have started using olive oil in things like cakes yet? I've been switching to olive oil and have been surprised that it has worked in some sweet things too. I have been buying huge slightly dented cans of olive oil in the surplus salvaged grocery store lately for very little$.

-- Ann Markson (, May 07, 2002.

I have used it a few times and I have not even noticed a difference, but I baked it in things like pumpkin bread and choc. cake, where the overall flavor is pretty strong, not delicate... I found some for $8.99 a gallon, and that is the cheapest I have found. It is very light and has a nice taste.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 07, 2002.

I am trying to decied if I should eat cheap or healthy. Unlike most of you I am stuck in the suburbs and can't grow food. (Rental house with neurotic landlord!) We averaged 1,500.00$ on food last month. That was being frugal,using store brands and watching for sales. Nine people sure can eat a lot! If I wanted to go healthy it would be around 2,000.00$ a month.

-- Buffy in Dallas (, May 07, 2002.

Eat healthy!!! I have found that by cutting out chips and snacks, it gives you a little more to buy the healthy stuff! It was kind of funny last week, we had brown rice that was left over from another meal. I put some olive oil in a pan, and fried it a little crispy. I sprinkled it with herbs, and used about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese on top... with a salad and some corn it was a good cheap meal. Kadia, who eats rice, but is NEVER all that happy about it, said "You know that rice was actually pretty good!" I think all converstaion ceased with that proclamation!!! She has never said that rice was good, it is all what they get used to!!!!

Another thought for you Buffy, could you use containers on a patio, or in your back-yard? You could grow a lot of stuff in several containers!!!

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 07, 2002.

I average about $140 for the two of us a month. I like to shop at Aldi's once a month when I go to the "big" city near by to get my hair cut by my brother who is a hair stylist or family barber. (I suppose my husband and I could cut each others hair like we did for years when on the mission field but I like to keep in contact with my brother regularly like this.)

-- Nancy (, May 07, 2002.

Melissa, it sounds like you are doing great. I spend much more for the two of us since we started eating all organic and shop mostly at the health food store. I probably spend at least $400 to $450 a month, sometimes more. Eveything organic costs at least 3 times as much as it would say in Krogers but we feel our health is worth it plus it tastes so much better. I realize this would be difficult to do with a family. I couldn't afford it when my kids were at home. Hopefully when the garden starts producing, that will help. We eat lots of veggies and fruits. For instance the organic lettuce we eat costs $3 and we eat a whole head at least a day. We also quit eating meat so that helps some.

-- Barb in Ky. (, May 07, 2002.

I have been buying some of the organic food from Kroger's too. It is a little more costly, but I am becoming more determined to only eat really healthy foods. I did find a place in Amish country with organic foods that is a bit cheaper, but I don't know if I can find it again!!! It was way out in the country...

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 07, 2002.

You folks are depressing me. I have to keep reminding myself that you're talking AMERICAN dollars.....

I have been averaging about $100-120 a week for a family of four -- Cdn dollars. We don't eat out. And that is just for store-bought groceries -- doesn't include cleaning supplies, etc. Like Melissa -- my average will go down when the garden starts to produce!

We don't eat a lot of meat -- the kids don't like beans, in any way shape or form -- but they've been taught to eat what is in front of them -- or not -- but no complaints -- and there are no snacks if the plates aren't cleaned at mealtimes.

Snacks are limited to fruit or homemade bread or crackers. Sometimes cheese or dry granola to munch on -- but not often. I can't remember the last time we had a store-bought "snack" like potato chips or pretzels in the house!! We deal with a lot of food allergies with the kids -- so I am VERY careful about what comes through the door. MIL brought a package of store-made cookies with that colored sugar sprinkle garbage on top a few months ago, and they're still sitting on top of the fridge. I have to remember to throw those out today...

I admire you folks who manage on so little for your grocery budget. I dream of a time when you can find chicken for 29 cents a pound. A good deal here is 99 cents per pound. And it is DISGUSTING, tasteless chicken, too!!

-- Tracy (, May 07, 2002.

We are still spending about $250 a month on groceries for a family of 6. We simply buy stuff by the case when it is on sale. It's amazing how much you can save just by doing this. Also, we buy no "junk" food, cookies, snacks, chips, soft drinks, etc. I do my baking using homeground wheat or other grains that I buy by the 50 lb. bag. We use locally produced honey in much of my baking too. We have found that a local produce place sells to anyone at wholesale prices on Mondays as long as you buy it by the case so several of my friends and I go together every few weeks to buy our produce.

-- Deena in GA (, May 07, 2002.

Melissa, I sometimes buy organic at Krogers too especially if I can't get to the health food store in the next town. I do think the organic produce at the health food store is better though but is so expensive. One of our big downfalls is almond butter - much healthier than peanut butter. It is $4.59 a # in bulk. There is a bulk Mennonite store about 15 miles from me that sells some organic things such as wheat berries and a few different dried beans but they do not have any produce at all. That is what is expensive! come on garden season!!!

-- Barb in KY (, May 07, 2002.

We don't even have a "health" store here, unless you count the GNC!! LOL

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 07, 2002.

sometimes I question the 'organic' label. On alot of things it makes little difference other than giving them an excuse to charge alot more. I'm spending less around $140 a month now for myself and my 2 kids. I could probably lessen that a bit if I cut down more on beef. I've been moving away from eating so much meat and more veggies. I myself ate 1 pound of beef(cheap steak or stew meat) just about every night for the past 3 years until recently. Just a bad habit I got into trying to gain weight/add protein. I feel much healthier and no heartburn/angina now that I've replaced most of that with vegtables and rice. Produce is very cheap around here. Lots of organic type stores with reasonable prices too.

-- Dave (, May 07, 2002.

For health reasons we had to change our eating habits considerably and that meant cutting out all of the snacks that we indulged in. At first our food bils were somewhat higher and I was concerned. Then our medicine bills and doctor bills started going down and we are becoming healthier, so I guess we basically made a trade off in this area of our budget. We also are spending a lot less time in the doctors office and that is great for us also. My dh is diabetic and is now totally diet (after almost 13 months on a pill for diabetics) controlled. My blood presure is diet controlled. I just didn't want to go on any bp medicines like the rest of my family members. Best yet, our cholesterol is just below the borderline now and we are going to keep going to get that down. My grocery bill is still averaging 95.00 a week and that I really work on next. Jennathome PS: The bathroom scale has been much kinder also.

-- jennathome (, May 07, 2002.

For our family of four (ok, Simon is only 6 months old, and still mostly eats breastmilk, and a little carrot mush ;-), we run about $250-300 a month. We buy almost no prepared foods, except for a few quick things to keep the toddler happy (soy nuggets, chex, cheerios, popsicles), and very little out of season produce, but we haven't been able to get it lower than that, since we eat a lot of veggies, a lot of beans, etc... already. This summer, with a proper garden, things should be better. We don't have a price book, though, and that might work for us. Does anyone use one?

Our biggest problem is guests - we have guests probably every other weekend, and frequently during the week. We are lucky and blessed to have a lot of loving family and friends, and because we're out in the country (and because the grandparents can't stay away from the boys) we're a destination spot for a lot of people. We have months where we've had guests every single weekend and during the week, and it really adds to our grocery bill - both because we cook fancier and feel like we can't offer the same meal night after night (we often cook in quantity and eat it several nights in a row), but also because we feel like we need to have the things people are accustomed to - paper tissues, when we don't use disposables, bottled salad dressing rather than homemade vinagrette, more meals with meat for those who are accustomed to them, bottled water, since ours tastes faintly of sulfur. This is our biggest expense, and something we haven't really been able to resolve - any wisdom?

-- Sharon in NY (, May 07, 2002.

For the water I use a water filter, I really like it and the costs os low...

We feed a lot of company and I just give them the same food we eat!! One little boy after staying all weekend commented, "Do you make EVERYTHING homemade??" Another little girl sent me the cutest Thank you note telling me how much she loved my "home-cooking", and other kids have their Mom's call to get instructions on how to cook certain things I have made!!!! So I do not think it is always necessary to duplicate what they have at home. Feed them what you eat and they will get a new experience!!!

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 07, 2002.

Sharon -- I had this problem too, until my MIL ASKED for my homemade vinagrette.

As for the water thing -- are they coming to see you or drink your water? If your regular diet isn't "good enough" for those who are coming, why are they coming??? Grandma and Grandpa would probably love to try homemade rather than store-bought -- and sulfurized water is no big deal. If you are bothered by it, buy a BRITA -- they're cheaper than constantly buying bottled water.

Be yourselves, and live as you do normally -- the visitors want to visit with you, they aren't there to inspect your lifestyle.

-- Tracy (, May 07, 2002.

Our grocery bill for a family of 5 at home runs about $200 a month. I bulk buy also, and cook everything from scratch, no junk food, eat out rarely. That also includes soap, TP, shampoo, etc. My husband and I both take good home cooked lunches to work, and if we know we are going to be out somewhere during mealtime, we pack a cooler and take our own food and drinks. Surprisingly, I have discovered that my college age daughters and myself have started eating less than we used to, maybe due to aging?

-- Gina NM (, May 07, 2002.

I had a good shopping day today, yet only here on the forum can I find an appreciative group of like minded frugal people, lol. Everything I bought today was on sale- made the rounds of the 3 local grocery stores. Got 10 pounds of red delicious apples for .59/lb which is really cheap here in citrus country; bought 6 packages of McCormick fajita and taco seasonings, usually .97/each, for a grand total of .35, or .058/each. They were on sale at 3/$1.00 and I had 3 coupons valued at .55 off for two packs. This might have been my best "deal" ever on groceries. Got fresh salmon for $59/lb. Oh, wait, the milk was not on sale- it was 2.89/gallon for whole milk- how much do others pay in their area? I held off on purchasing eggs because they are on sale later in the week at 2 doz/$1.00.

-- Elizabeth (, May 07, 2002.

Gee, the salmon seems a bit pricey, lol! Actually, it was $3.59/lb.

-- Elizabeth (, May 07, 2002.

Milk is often a loss leader item here, and usually we can get it for $1.69 a gallon, or sometimes they have the half gallons for $.99. This is when I buy buttermilk. I freeze it in one cup portions and use for biscuits and pancakes...

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 08, 2002.

My food budget (and budget in general) has gone through the roof latley-I had been feeding an additional 3 adults most nights and we also have weekend guests. I think I'm getting a grip now. I KNOW these adults like pot roast and gravy and all that, but I just couldn't afford the money or energy everynight. I have been playing with Oamc-(once a month cooking) though I don't cook just one day-I spread it out over a couple of days. This has been great. For example, one day last week our grocery ran ground chuck for $1.39 a pound- a considerable savings over the 2.39 that it sometimes is. I bought a TON (like 15 pounds) and made up frozen hamburger patties, meatloaves, taco mix, chili mix and sphegghetii sauce. To go a bit further and to make it a little healtheir I tossed in generous handfulls of tvp. I have a bunch of meals all ready to go in my freezer, so if something comes up at the last minut-and around here, latly it does! I can just pull a pre-cooked meal out of the freezer- pop into either microwave or oven, and ta-da instant meal. I wish wish wish I had done this before I was out of town for a week, a couple of month ago!!! (thats what prompted all of this!)

With guests... If its a special occasion, yes I will make a special meal. Otherwise, they eat the same as us. And I have quit being shy about saying "oh. no, thats ok" when people ask if their is anything they can bring/helpout with. Often I make big pots of spheggetti, chili that sort of thing-my brother in laws boys alone could eat us out of house and home!!!!!

I'm tring to do more healthy food, we don't have any organic grocery isles or health food stores here, If I want organic, I have to grow it myself!!!! Actually, thats not intirely true-in the summer there are small farmers markets that sell organic stuff

I havn't been able to get my family to eat veggie burgers though.

-- Kelly (, May 08, 2002.

Kelly, have you tried the Boca burgers? They are pretty good, especially the roasted onion ones. We actually prefer them over the real thing now. But, as for price, if you were to figure it # for #, I'm sure they are a lot more expensive than beef! Do you have any large Krogers near you? Most of them sell some organic. Have you ever shopped at the Good Foods co-op in Lexington on Southland dr.? That's where I do the majority of my shopping now. I go there twice a month and stock up on sale items that we use. In between that I buy at Kroger's.

-- Barb in Ky. (, May 09, 2002.

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