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Old 04-01-2009, 10:53 AM   #41
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We buy bulk, dry, organic beans and cook huge pots of them. Put them in the smaller Mason jars (about the size of a normal can of beans) and then freeze them. We do it with red beans, pintos, black, Garbanzo, navy, red, lentils, etc. Three nights a week we have beans over brown rice, amaranth, quinoa or teff, all of which we also buy in bulk by the pound at the health food store. We chop up tomatoes, onions, avocados, maybe some corn, etc and put on top. And then have a salad with it, which we get in bulk from the farmer's market. We eat only organic and yet have still drastically reduced our grocery bill by moving to this three or four nights a week. And I don't think there has been any sacrafice to our health by doing so.
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Old 04-01-2009, 11:57 AM   #42
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Gator,

That's quite an advanced vegetarian diet. How does your monthly bill compare with the $400 or so that most of us appear to be laying out for groceries?

(Granted, I include coffee, aluminum foil, napkins, and cat food in our $400--we probably spend <$350 a month on human foodage).
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Old 04-01-2009, 12:49 PM   #43
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Bank, it sounds as if you're following some South Beach variation, with low carb and low fat, with a large portion of your calories coming from protein. That being said, I can offer some suggestions:

As others have noted, buying in bulk can dramatically lower your costs. One of the biggest bargains is a family pack (3 pounds) of chicken leg/thighs at 0.39/pound. Since you're cooking them longer than breasts, the fat renders out and you have a tastier, juicier result.

Buy in season - buying peppers right now is more expensive because they come from South America. Tomatoes taste lousy right now, and they're more expensive than in the summer. Canned tomatoes are a better choice.

Avoid packaging. The three peppers for $3.69 seems like a good deal, until you actually look at the per pound price, which puts them at about $4.00/lb. In contrast, red peppers are on sale locally for $0.99/lb. Usually whenever something is packaged together for convenience, the price is higher.

The more preparation you have to do, the cheaper the price usually is. You pay for convenience.

As noted before, look for ethnic markets. Asian supermarkets in particular are good deals. The quality of produce and price are hard to beat.

Trader Joe's is not very cost effective in comparison to my other options. Exceptions to this are nuts and selected other foods. In general, TJ's is about convenience rather than real groceries.

Know what good prices are a stock up when you see a screaming deal. A local store had white albacore tuna on sale recently for 50 cents a can, and we bought about 20 cans. Then look at the weekly sales flyers for all your local stores (easily done online in about ten minutes) and look for good deals to stock up on. Loss leaders are particularly good deals. The easiest way to identify them is if they require additional purchases or the amount you can purchase is limited.

Cold cuts are very pricy - you can eat steak every day more cheaply than sliced cold cuts. As noted before, you can make your own ham or turkey cheaper than buying at the deli counter. And a quicker way of having turkey is to buy the Hotel breast, roast it, using the leftover carcass for stock or soup.

Use your freezer. This saves not only money but time, and helps eliminate waste. Its just as easy to make enough chili, pot roast, or other food to last several meals as it is for one.
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:06 PM   #44
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Bank, it sounds as if you're following some South Beach variation, with low carb and low fat, with a large portion of your calories coming from protein.
I'm not too familiar with the South Beach diet, but am somewhat following the the P90X nutrition plan. It's not geared towards losing weight but getting ripped. I'm suppose to eat 3,000 calories and over 100 grams of protein a day. That much protein quickly adds up $. I've had great results so far and have learned a lot about nutrition. Feel free to send me a PM if you'd like more info about.
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:07 PM   #45
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I know about it - I've used BB products before. And I would hazard that you're taking in quite a bit more than 100grams.
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Recipe Thread
Old 04-01-2009, 03:08 PM   #46
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Recipe Thread

I started this thread - Great Recipes for Cheap!

Hopefully it will help give me and others some ideas for good, cheap meals.
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:52 PM   #47
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For that high of a protein intake, I'd recommend getting a lot of your protein from shakes. I use the 100 % whey protein (vanilla) sold at Wal-mart.

My trainer buys protein powder online in huge quantities--you might want to check that out as well.
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Old 04-01-2009, 04:17 PM   #48
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Gator,

That's quite an advanced vegetarian diet. How does your monthly bill compare with the $400 or so that most of us appear to be laying out for groceries?

(Granted, I include coffee, aluminum foil, napkins, and cat food in our $400--we probably spend <$350 a month on human foodage).
It really depends on the season and the availability of fruits/veggies locally. We go through a massive (and I mean massive) amount of fruits/vegetables with just DW, DD and me. Because we eat organic it adds up. Every morning we make "green shakes" that consist of about 14 bananas, celery, kale/spinach or some other green, ground flax seeds, berries and then something like mangoes or strawberries thrown in. These shakes are actually more expensive than the dinners we make on average. But to answer your question, with everything included, it's between 425-500 and up to 550(rare). Before we moved to the beans/rice and morning shakes we were spending 700, easy, b/c it was all organic. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really don't miss the meat anymore. I still have it two, maybe three times a week. Included in the amount above is foil, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.

We don't drink coffee, so that helps. We buy bulk green tea, which is dirt cheap.

We really try to get in good with local farmers and take whatever deals they have on fruit/veggies at the farmers market. A couple months back we were getting a bushel of oranges a WEEK for twenty bucks and also 60-70 persimmons (the small kind). Right now, there is a small farm from which we buy their rejected tomatoes. They'll have some dark spot or be a little rotten in a little section. Just cut off the bad part and it's fine. I'm not lying, we get about 15-20 POUNDS a week for 5 bucks. 5 bucks! This has been for the past month and will last another three weeks. So, we eat a ton of tomatoes. I'll make huge pots of marinara and then jar in the Mason jars. We grow our own herbs, so really the only cost outside of the five dollar tomatoes is olive oil, onions, garlic, etc. You can pull out a can of that and cut up some tempeh or beef or chicken and pour it all over rice. Or pasta, but we don't eat a lot that. My wife also makes mango/tomato/ basil blended in a food processor and we'll just put that over a big salad with some garbanzo beans and that's our meal.

I actually just got back from our farmers market about twenty minutes ago. Just bought two entire flats of strawberries for fifteen dollars. They are normally between 18-20 dollars a flat. These berries are not as pretty as the 18-20 dollar ones but they are pesticide/fungicide/herbicide and chemical fertilizer free (although not officially organic). If you have a farmers market and don't mind bruised food, you can find unbelievable deals.

I think we spend a lot of money on food, but we eat really healthy food and for what we get I think we do a great job on the price. We eat three meals a day at home b/c we both telecommute, which means no lunches out at work or picking up a pizza on the way home or anything like that. We could substantially cut our bill if we replaced the green shakes with oatmeal or something, but the shakes are so healthy that I don't really want to do it. Pick and choose your battles I guess.

Hope some of this info is helpful.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:20 PM   #49
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OK, back with more. Other things we get at Costco that are pretty good deals are:

Organic, cage-free eggs: 4.79 for 18
Organic peanut butter (Kirkland brand, it's great): 2 28-oz jars for about $5 (and the peanuts are U.S. grown peanuts)
15 lbs organic brown basmati rice for about $8
12 7-oz cans chunk light tuna (I think Chicken of the Sea) for $5.50
8 14-oz cans chopped organic tomatoes for $6
10 lbs pinto beans, dried, for $4
8 pk of canned black, garbanzo, and kidney beans (S&W brand) are $5 or so.
Tillamook cheddar cheese, 2.5 lb block, is $7.95
Bread is 2 large loaves for $3.55 (this is whole-wheat sliced sandwich bread, like Milton's -- and we freeze one of the loaves when we get it home).
Non-organic, regular ol' eggs are $4.50 for 4 dozen.

These are regular prices at Costco, not specials or sale prices.

And yes, we buy the big packages and then freeze them in dinner-sized portions. A couple of days ago I bought chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on, then split them into smaller portions in plastic baggies and froze them in the freezer. Works great for us. We just have the top freezer on our fridge. If we had a garage or mud room you can bet we'd have a big deep-freeze and we'd be buying a lot more at a time, to save on shopping trips.

When we bought our membership eight years ago we figured that our savings on peanut butter alone would more than pay for the membership. That's been true for every year since then. And we don't eat THAT much peanut butter -- it was just an easy way to quantify the savings.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:53 PM   #50
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Gator,
Wow. Your diet is so much healthier than anything I've ever heard of. For a few years, we had a nice vegetable garden going in the summer, until the deer destroyed it. We ate our fill of tomatoes, peppers, string beans, canteloupes, and the health benefits were very noticeable for that 2 month period. We'd like to do the farmer's market thing, but the closest one is 15-20 miles away.
Urchina, our purchases at BJs are much like yours at Costco. Through work, I get a discount on the BJs membership fee, which quickly pays for itself. Without big-box stores, we'd either be spending a lot more, or not eating nearly as well.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:19 PM   #51
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Gator,
Wow. Your diet is so much healthier than anything I've ever heard of. For a few years, we had a nice vegetable garden going in the summer, until the deer destroyed it. We ate our fill of tomatoes, peppers, string beans, canteloupes, and the health benefits were very noticeable for that 2 month period. We'd like to do the farmer's market thing, but the closest one is 15-20 miles away.
Urchina, our purchases at BJs are much like yours at Costco. Through work, I get a discount on the BJs membership fee, which quickly pays for itself. Without big-box stores, we'd either be spending a lot more, or not eating nearly as well.

Come hunting season. Those deer seem to be organic.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:22 PM   #52
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One of the clues to saving money on grocery shopping is plan your meals around what is on sale . I get the food circulars and circle the things I want and decide on several meals and go shop .My food budget is $400 a month for two people but we usually come in under that amount . That includes food, paper products , cleaning supplies , shampoo ,and wine . Clue number two is never ever shop when hungry . You'll end up with bizarre things in your cart .
Ditto on what Moemg said. We have two grocery stores near us, and I get thier sale flyers each week in the mail around tues/wed.. I go through them both, make a shopping list for each place based on the items on sale that we can use, and then hit both stores on sat. morning, lists in hand (and I rarely buy anything that is not on the sale list). We are a family of 3, eat very well, and I rarely exceed $65 total in groceries from both places combined (and I only shop once per week). Of course, a portion of our meat comes from the 2-3 deer that we harvest every year (we have a big chest freezer), so that does help cut down on the meat bill.
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Old 04-05-2009, 11:27 PM   #53
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I go to 3 of the 4 on the list, try to avoid regular supermarkets, except for emergencies. Most of their food is sooo marked up, except for the "specials" and I find it offensive! haha they spend way too much on tv AND radio, mailers, coupons etc no wonder the food is expensive - and they are having a hard time staying above water...

I go to target for household stuff anyway and can pick up any commercial item we want/need that is not at trader joe's or don't need in bulk at costco, so this includes bread (if we don't buy bulk at costco) and the Target brand is good, organic milk, and target brand frozen pizza (it's also really good!).

At costco i get juice for the kiddos (fresh OJ and regular apple/cranberry), lunch meat, cheese (shredded, string, blocks), honey, cereal, soy milk and other household stuff.

Then at tj's we get fruits and veggies, yogurt, eggs (organic, free range etc) some of their frozen foods, frozen fruits, grains (flax, oatmeal, rice), some meat/sausages, and wine/beer. I find most of tj's prices to be lower and you don't have to try to find the deals. plus the kids get a balloon, scribble on the chalk wall and coloring pages...they love it!

We go to tj's and target weekly, costco about every 3 weeks.
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:37 PM   #54
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I didn't see this really mentioned, but check out Super Walmart. I'm not sure exactly where you live, but I know there are a few supercenters within 30 minutes of your general location. Pretty good deals on produce and most staples. Ex: eggs $1/dozen, apples at $1/lb or some other fruit at $1/lb like grapes or strawberries. And good quality stuff too. Green peppers at $0.68 each (these are usually 2-3x this much at local grocery stores). The Teeter is ridiculously expensive and I wouldn't shop there if you like saving money unless you are really in a pinch.

Another idea for protein: ethnic grocery stores. We have one near us that is a full size, full service grocery store (around 30,000 sf) targeted towards latinos. The meat is good quality based on personal experience, and dirt cheap. $5/lb is the most I've seen any meat that most americans would consume (ribeye, tbone, sirloin, london broil, etc), and some cuts are $2-3/lb. Trimmed neat with very little fat on it generally (depends on cut though).
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Old 04-06-2009, 04:28 PM   #55
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Trader Joes for wine only-3 buck chuck by the case.
My wife and I would kill for a TJ's here in Vermont (and not only because of Mr. Shaw, although we like him.) When we lived in MD we used to go to the one in Towson fairly often. Every time we visit either of our daughters in MA, we hit a TJ's. We especially like the one at Coolidge Corner in Brookline because it sells Chuck.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:12 PM   #56
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The May issue of Consumer Reports rates 59 supermarkets in four categories: Service, Perishables, Price and Cleanliness.

Those scoring best on price were Trader Joe's, Costco, Market Basket, WinCo Foods, Aldi, and Sav-a-lot.

The overall score had Wegman's #1, Trader Joe #2, Costco #7, Super Target #20, Sam's Club #38, and Walmart Supercenters #56.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:24 PM   #57
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REWahoo,

Thank you for listing this.

Good to know.

tmm
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:37 PM   #58
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Trader Joe's is not that good. I swear that place must have cult magic going on. I should expect a knock at my door anytime now.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:41 PM   #59
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The May issue of Consumer Reports rates 59 supermarkets in four categories: Service, Perishables, Price and Cleanliness.

Those scoring best on price were Trader Joe's, Costco, Market Basket, WinCo Foods, Aldi, and Sav-a-lot.

The overall score had Wegman's #1, Trader Joe #2, Costco #7, Super Target #20, Sam's Club #38, and Walmart Supercenters #56.
Wow. I'm surprised by these ratings. I LOVE Trader Joe's and find most of their prices lower than supermarkets. But Aldi's is, by far, much less expensive. Then again, I don't have any experience with Sav-Alot or Super Target or Walmart supercenter.

On another note, my organic buying has gone out the window when my bank stocks stopped paying dividends and I've got a lot less to spend on food!
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:48 PM   #60
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Trader Joe's is not that good.
You don't think so? I've always liked their products and their return policy (just bring it in if you don't like it, no receipt required, and they'll refund your $$). I think that their veggie juice is much better quality and about $.79 cheaper per 64 oz. than veggie juice at the supermarket. I was buying organic chicken at TJ's for $2.69 per lb. (Whole Foods organic chix is $3.99 per lb.)

But, my organic buying is no more (Aldi's frozen whole chix $.79/lb.)
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