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Groceries
Old 07-13-2004, 04:50 PM   #1
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Groceries

Last fall I asked for help with my food expenses. I was spending about $450 a month, for one person, all eaten at home. I rarely if ever eat out.

When I saw some of the numbers that you guys put up, I thought there must be more room for me to cut, and still enjoy eating.

First thing I did was stop wasting food. If I come to the weekend and I am going away, any leftovers or uncooked meat goes into the freezer. I make sure that those things get eaten first next week no matter how good the stuff in the butcher's case looks.

Second, I settled on 3 Buck Chuck Cabernet as my vin ordinaire. Not the greatest, but I have had a lot worse.

I watch for sales on my breakfast meats- sometimes Hormel LIttle Sizzlers-(yum!) get as low as $0.88 a pack, and that is enough for 3 meals. Since they are frozen, I can buy quite a few packs at a time.

I swapped out some beef and fish for chicken. Much cheaper and almost as good.

All this has me down to $300 a month. I think if used Costco or WalMart more, it would be cheaper. But I might lose in gas what I gain in food. Also, I find those enormous stores and huge packages of food a little offputting.

All in all, I can live with this level of spending, and I have given up only a little.

Mikey

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Re: Groceries
Old 07-13-2004, 05:21 PM   #2
 
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Re: Groceries

$450 a month!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that for one person??
Man, we never spent that much for 2 people and 4
dogs since I ERed, and we are not even that careful.

John Galt
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-13-2004, 07:18 PM   #3
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Re: Groceries

If you're wiling to go to the next level, only buy the things you use at the cheapest price you can fine. Then buy enough for a period of time, maybe 6 months or a year. That way you can eat out of your freezer or pantry.

I buy the meat or chicken we use on sale and I buy 6 packages instead of 1 or two. Then I don't buy it again until it's on sale. It takes more of an effort and more time to find the sales in the weekly sale papers, but eventually you only are filling in the gaps.

I buy paper goods, shampoo, advil, etc at Sam's or Costco (split membership with friends or family) and they last a long time. Price comparison is what will save you money; as long as you don't drive all over town and long distances, which I doubt you'd do.

Good luck, I've got it down to a fine art and I spend about 250.00 a month for me and 2 teen age boys.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-13-2004, 07:45 PM   #4
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Re: Groceries

We started eating less meat mostly to improve our eating habits and in part to stop paying ludicrous beef prices.

We arent militant about it though. We get individual frozen fish filets in 2-3lb bags at sams. I pay about $7.50 for 2lbs of mahi mahi filets. We also get 5lbs of chicken wings for about $8. Chicken thighs have a lot more taste than breasts (dont go there boys). In fact, in eastern europe and russia, you cant give chicken breasts away but the thighs and legs go for big bucks.

The two biggest things that made a difference was shopping around and finding the cheapest market. The one I go to has prices 30-50% lower on many items.

Next I started raiding the bulk bins. I can get pasta for 50c to 75c a lb, hot cereal, rice, dried fruits, flour, sugar, and especially spices. I can refill a $5 bottle of spices for 50c.

Our basic meal is a nice batch of garlic mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, some rice or pasta, a couple of veggies like roasted brussel sprouts, some squash, or a grilled ear of corn. Piece of seasoned fish, or a small piece of chicken. Side salad with some herbs and tomatoes from my little garden.

Including booze and everything I buy at the grocery store, I'm below $300 a month for two. I throw very little out, it gets bagged and frozen for later or made into a soup or chowder.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-13-2004, 09:10 PM   #5
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Re: Groceries

Just ran the numbers on MSN Money, so far this year I've spent:
  • 1352 on groceries inc: paper towels, light bulbs, soap, etc
  • 339.68 eating out since Feb 19th -- average 1-2 lunches per week
  • 120 on coffee cards
This is much less than I expected . Course I don't eat red meat anymore and do an awful lot of vegetarian meals.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 04:19 AM   #6
 
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Re: Groceries

Well, I am embarrassed. I checked with Mrs. Galt and
the numbers I quoted do NOT include booze and paper
products, etc. as I thought. She pays for all that stuff and since I don't have a detailed budget...............
Anyway, as in the case of the $50.00 per day, I am quite
sure we could get down there. However, this is one of the household expenses she handles and I am loath
to interfere. BTW, after 2.5 years of marriage we each have settled into a routine on who covers what. It just
kind of evolved and I am quite satisfied with it. Not sure
about Mrs. Galt, although she doesn't complain. It's one
area that seemed to work itself out pretty easily.

JOhn Galt
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 05:22 AM   #7
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Re: Groceries

My food bill for 2 people is on average $300 a month including paper stuff but not including liquor. Last weekend I went to some Niagara wineries (45 min drive from my house) and bought $150 worth of wines which should last me a year. I go to Niagara wineries once a year to get my booze.

I also shop at a cheaper grocery store (the kind that won't give you shopping bags or charge $0.10/bag). I use a cardboard box I got from work to stash all my grocery. When I go grocery shopping I usually choose veggie/fruit that are on sale and I don't buy organics (I notice they are usually more expensive). I don't keep a price book or whatever but whenever something I use a lot is on sale (like tp), I stock up.

If there is a choice between a generic brand product and a brand name product, I almost always choose generic brand (cheaper).

Once every 2 weeks or so, I go to Costco to buy meat and freeze (we eat more chicken than red meat or fish). We eat veggie meals every few days or so, which cut down our meat consumption.

We rarely eat out and always pack our lunch from home. Once a month we will go for a brunch with our friends but other than that we prefer to cook our own food (we both happen to be good cooks).

In the summer we got our fruit and veggie from Farmer's market (cheaper). I also only allow us to buy 1 junky snack per week (popcorn etc). The rest are healthy food.

My bf likes to bake and thus, he bakes most of our dessert and cookies from scratch. I don't know if this is cheaper or not since I have not done any cost analysis between homemade sweets vs store-bought sweets but he thinks it is, so I just let him. Plus baking seems to do him good. it relaxes him Which means we probably spend less on entertainment...

Jane
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 05:29 AM   #8
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Re: Groceries

Forgot to add, $300 also includes our weekly pizza. Friday night is pizza night - for some reasons we haven't tried to make our own pizza. I am pretty sure it is not too difficult but we haven't tried to make it. I guess it is some sort of entertainment for us.
Jane
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 07:40 AM   #9
 
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Re: Groceries

Well Jane, you are about where I "thought" we were
before checking with my spouse. I eat out a fair amount
although not at the country club and 5 star
restaurants like in my former life. I used to pile up huge tabs and not even blink. Had some good times though.
Found out I can enjoy myself just as much without
mortgaging the farm. So, I had fun then and I have fun now. I just spend a lot less doing it.

John Galt
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 07:51 AM   #10
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Re: Groceries

Wow, I didn't realize groceries were so high. Maybe I'm not wasting as much as I thought on almost always eating out.

(I'm not saying eating out is cheap, it's just not wasting quite as much money as I originally thought. It's still a 2x-4x premium, though, depending on shopping habits.)
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 08:03 AM   #11
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Re: Groceries

BigmoneyJim: i don't think grocery is that high: $300/month for 2 people is roughly $10/day or $5/day/person (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks). If I go out I probably spend $10-20 per meal (unless I eat fast food - which is not very good for me). Plus it also includes stuff like freezer baggies, toilet paper, paper towel etc.

Plus when you cook your own, you know what you put in your food.

For me, cooking my own food has 2 rewards: financial and health benefits.

John Galt: I hold the power of grocery and bill paying money in our house so I can keep track of our spending

Jane
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 08:49 AM   #12
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Re: Groceries

$5 per day per person is plenty cheap. I think I am at around $10 a day, I don't know how I could do it for less! I buy at the local farmers for the fruit / veges because it is better, not necessarily cheaper. I eat lunch out instead of dinner now because that is also cheaper. I am not 'retiring' my occasional coffee out because it is relaxing. Guess I should learn to cook even though I am not motivated.

I think it all boils down to each person spending whatever they can easily afford. I would shop at Food-for-Less instead of Safeway if it became a problem, but so far I've budgeted more than I need for each spending category. Still it is interesting to see how we all come up with similar amounts despite quite dissimilar shopping habits
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 10:59 AM   #13
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Re: Groceries

We track expenses to the penny. For the past 12 months we have spent $4,960.32 on food for four people ($3.40/day/person). There are a few paper products in there, but no alcohol. We eat whatever we want and haven't focused too much on sales and bulk buying, so I know we can do better. We tend to have a meat/potatoes/side veg/desert type of diet - the typical 50's diet I grew up with.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 12:58 PM   #14
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Re: Groceries

I’ve been tracking our expenses now for just over six months and our grocery bill is averaging around $600 per month for two people. That includes not only food, but anything else that we would normally buy at Safeway such as paper products, cleaning products, garbage bags, shampoo, toothpaste, non-prescription medicines, and an occasional bottle or two of wine. I would not be able to separate just food from that total….too time-consuming for what little value it would add.

In addition, we spend around $250 per month dining as a couple and about $150 each per month on lunch (simply no time to prepare a lunch for work each day). Yes, it is a lot and we could certainly cut back, but I think we are comfortable with it for the moment.

Grocery costs, contrary to popular perception, can vary considerably from one city to another. Here in the DC-area, food is rather expensive. Mrs. MileKing and I have relatives in both Charlotte and Fort Worth, and grocery prices are much less there. Next time you travel and have occasion to stop at a supermarket in the unfamiliar location, check out the prices, particularly the prices of razor blades and cereals….you might be very surprised at the price differences. I’ve seen differences in these products of 30%+ in some cases…..no sales, same exact brand and product, same grocery chain, just a different city.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 01:34 PM   #15
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Re: Groceries

We spent $362/mo for groceries for two over the last 12 months. This includes paper products, toiletries, and beer and wine purchased at the grocery store. Add another $30 / month for other alcoholic beverages purchased at the liquor store.

We eat out about once per month and were away from home for about 30 days during this period. So it would be fair to add about 10% for those factors adjusting the $362 to about $400/mo or $4800 per annum or $6.57 per person per day.

We eat very well with a variety of meat, poultry and fish and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits and lots of herbs and spices for the various ethnic dishes we enjoy. We buy very little processed food, except for bread and some snacks and occasional deserts like frozen yogurt or ice cream. Cakes, pies, etc. we make from scratch.

My wife is an excellent cook and a dedicated value hunter. (I would not have been able to retire early without her.) She never does all the grocery shopping at one store, but rather shops from the sales flyers for specials and utilizes coupons to get the best deal available on nearly everything. For instance, the best milk prices are usually at the pharmacy chains, not the grocery stores. We are fortunate in that we live in an area with several groceries and pharmacies to chose from. She usually buys bread from the "day old" bin and only buys snack products or desert items when they are on sale.

We do not have a Sam's or CostCo membership and only shop at the discount clubs when they offer a free day of shopping for non members. Then we will stock up on some bulk items. While at the club stores, my wife always compares prices and sees many items that she can get better deal elsewhere by waiting for specials. Essentially she "cherry picks" for the best deals from multiple stores and builds our menus around the best values.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 05:23 PM   #16
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Re: Groceries

Quote:
Grocery costs, contrary to popular perception, can vary considerably from one city to another.
I am beginning to think this is a very big factor. When apples cost $1.50 a pound, which they do here, you eat one normal sized apple and that is pretty close to $1.50. I bunch of greens is no less than $1.29. I usually eat a bunch as a serving. Maybe I can get two servings. Even cabbage, the sustainer of poor people all over the temperate world costs $.79 a pound, and a cabbage might weigh 4 pounds, and give two servings. A bunch of green onions, $0.69. For me, a bunch is one to two servings, depending on how I am using it. So before I get to the meat, I am close to or over $5 per day. Add $1.50 minimum for beverages-wine, iced tea, coffee, and I have only about $3.50 left for meat, spices, condiments, etc. Pretty easy if I have hamburger or wings that day, but a halibut steak sure knocks it out.

I haven't been out of this region much lately, so I don't know how this compares. We do have a few of the very cheap stores, which I think mostly sell canned goods and baked goods, the lattter of which I don't eat anyway. The closest one to me is about 40 miles, so not likely that I will be going there.

A note to CutThroat- my $300 per month includes wine, and the occasional roll of paper towels, etc. Liquor is separate as we have to buy it in state stores up here. Likewise, household cleaning supplies, etc. I mostly buy at WalMart, so I can easily keep the expense separate in MS Money.

I do see that many are doing it cheaper, but maybe tastes and regional cost differences are part of this.

Mikey
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 05:59 PM   #17
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Re: Groceries

Our budget for "food" is $650 but that includes cleaning stuff and lots of other small things outside of consumables.

The biggest money saver we have found with food is cooking big amounts, as if we were a big family (we are not, its just the two of us) and then putting leftovers into single servings in plastic deli containers and freezing them. The key is to make good tasting food so when you come home too tired to cook, the food in the freezer looks better than fast food.

You also have to focus on foods that freeze well and microwave well, like pastas, casseroles, chicken and rice, etc.

We don't eat this stuff all the time, but it is nice to have if you don't feel like cooking.

Another potential savings is homebrewing beer. My German wife MUST have her beer, and I can brew up something better than Warsteiner at the cost of about $20 per 5 gallon keg. However there is a learning curve and the equipment costs a bit. At least I don't have to buy the $10 a six pack stuff anymore.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 06:28 PM   #18
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Re: Groceries

Like Mikey, who started this, I think I could cut a lot out of my grocery bill with a little effort.

My latest attempt: I just contracted today to buy 1/4 of a cow, which will provide more beef than we possibly can want for the next year - $300. It should work out to less than $2.00 per pound. I HOPE this is a good plan. A friend has been doing it for years and says the quality (organically farm raised, no hormones, etc. ) is excellent. We will get an equal share of the various cuts, steaks, roasts, ribs, etc. with three other people.

We're not huge beef eaters, so I hope this isn't a big mistake, but lately we have bought steaks once a month or so at over $8.00 per pound for a tiny little piece.
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 07:26 PM   #19
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Re: Groceries

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Another potential savings is homebrewing beer. *My German wife MUST have her beer, and I can brew up something better than Warsteiner at the cost of about $20 per 5 gallon keg.
Skylark, I congratulate you. To be able to make a beer that compares with Warsteiner is an accomplishment. To do it cheaply is fantastic.

Mikey
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Re: Groceries
Old 07-14-2004, 07:42 PM   #20
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Re: Groceries

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I just contracted today to buy 1/4 of a cow, which will provide more beef than we possibly can want for the next year - $300. *It should work out to less than $2.00 per pound. *I HOPE this is a good plan. A friend has been doing it for years and says the quality (organically farm raised, no hormones, etc. ) is excellent. * We will get an equal share of the various cuts, steaks, roasts, ribs, etc. *with three other people.

We're not huge beef eaters, so I hope this isn't a big mistake, but lately we have bought steaks once a month or so at over $8.00 per pound for a tiny little piece. *
Hi Sheryl. My wife and I and two boys did this for many years. We would use a half beef, plus a lamb every year. It amounts to more meat eating than is currently in vogue. But you feel pleasantly full most of the time. The method you are using to share it out sounds good. Since we would buy a half, we just took it all. With with a quarter, you would normally have to choose a hindquarter (good) but big, or a forequarter which is mostly pot roast, hamburger and stew. One thing we did was specify that a lot of the neck, back trim etc was cut as stew meat rather than hambuger because we liked it better.

Do you know if that price includes cutting and wrapping? If so, it is a great bargain. BTW- the guy I bought from has passed over, and I would like to get some again. You live in Puget Sound, don't you? Would you share your source with me- either on the forum or in a message?

Beyond saving money, I would like to get back to this because I believe it is nutritionally better.

Thanks, Mikey
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