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Grocery Store vs Trader Joe's vs Super Target vs Wholesale Club
Old 03-30-2009, 09:49 PM   #1
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Grocery Store vs Trader Joe's vs Super Target vs Wholesale Club

I just added up what my DW and I have spent this year on food and drinks and it's close to $3,000. A major portion of it is on groceries. I'm on a work out / nutrition plan and eat about 3,000 calories a day with a lot of protein so the costs add up quick. The foods that I commonly eat are: egg whites, cottage cheese, string cheese, lean meats, milk, greek yogurt, all-bran cereal, protein shakes and bars

Does anyone have any recommendations for meals that are healthy, high in protein but cheap?

We often go to our grocery store out of convenience but some of their prices are pretty high. There's a Trader Joe's about 15 minutes from us, Super Target 15 minutes from us (in the other direction), BJ's 30 minutes from us, and Sam's Club 30 minutes from us. What do you think would save us the most on groceries?
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:27 PM   #2
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I just added up what my DW and I have spent this year on food and drinks and it's close to $3,000. A major portion of it is on groceries. I'm on a work out / nutrition plan and eat about 3,000 calories a day with a lot of protein so the costs add up quick. The foods that I commonly eat are: egg whites, cottage cheese, string cheese, lean meats, milk, greek yogurt, all-bran cereal, protein shakes and bars

Does anyone have any recommendations for meals that are healthy, high in protein but cheap?

We often go to our grocery store out of convenience but some of their prices are pretty high. There's a Trader Joe's about 15 minutes from us, Super Target 15 minutes from us (in the other direction), BJ's 30 minutes from us, and Sam's Club 30 minutes from us. What do you think would save us the most on groceries?
I can't imagine how you could eat cheaper, unless you move to a mostly grains diet. I am single, shop as carefully as I can, but still spend $4000 or a little more each year on groceries.

And I am 5'-9.5" and 150#, so I am not overeating.

Ha
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:26 AM   #3
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Is that YTD or for a full year

For a year that is not bad... family of four and ours is about $8K to $9K... can't get the wife to buy cheaper as she likes 'fresh' because it is more healthy... and what do I want That 'we' eat unhealthy I lose that argument...
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:39 AM   #4
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Now that I have more time, I'm comparing prices, Chinatown is lowest priced for fruits, veggies and eggs. I find the cheapest tofu at a small supermarket, .89, from a local company. I toss some tofu into blender drinks and soups. What ingredients do you use for your protein shakes?
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Old 03-31-2009, 01:33 AM   #5
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Beans and rice (or beans and any whole grain) will give you a protein-rich dish. We like red beans and rice (vegan), lentils baked with brown rice and mushrooms, and pinto beans and corn tortillas, but the possibilities are endless.

As far as costs: TJs for dairy, Farmer's market or local produce stand for fruits n' veggies, Costco for meats, bulk beans, bulk brown rice, and then back to TJs for the miscellanea. I can't remember the last time I was in a grocery store, and there's not a SuperTarget for miles -- maybe 100 miles?
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Old 03-31-2009, 06:30 AM   #6
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Trader Joes for wine only-3 buck chuck by the case. For protein try brewers yeast mixed in with milk and a couple of eggs. Fish is a great source of protein. When I was five years old we were immigrants and desititute so my mom would mix an egg yolk with a cup of sweet wine and down the hatch. If we could get a banana that rounded up lunch. This was in Madrid in 1962.
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Old 03-31-2009, 06:58 AM   #7
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I think you are doing a great job already in keeping your grocery prices down. $3000/year for two people is very reasonable, especially in these times when inflation seems to be hitting food prices so hard. That would come to just $125/month for each person.

In order to trim your food budget further, I think you are probably going to have to visit more than one grocery store, buying the "specials" at each store. Check the ads before you go and make lists. Get coupons online. Buy non-perishables in bulk. Visit farmers' markets and buy whatever is in season.

All of this takes a lot of time and effort, I know.

Oh, and also keep your eyes open for any grocery stores that specialize in low price rather than variety - - I am thinking of one (can't remember the name) called Save-A-Lot (just looked it up), that has cases of cans stacked all around and they just get in whatever is cheap, so they may not have any specific item no matter how common. Their lines are long, their stores are hot in the summer, and their customers are not very classy. But what they have is phenomenally low in price.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:23 AM   #8
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Yes, that 3K is good especially when you consider the percentage of protein. I avg. 2,800/yr - single.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:36 AM   #9
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Yes, that 3K is good especially when you consider the percentage of protein. I avg. 2,800/yr - single.
I don't have my figures here, but I think I average somewhere in that range too, as a single person, though I don't make any attempts to economize on food. I also eat out several times a week and that is not included - - this is just what I spend at the grocery store.

I think that whoever does the shopping in the OP's family should pat himself or herself on the back for a job well done.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:47 AM   #10
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Is that YTD or for a full year

For a year that is not bad... family of four and ours is about $8K to $9K... can't get the wife to buy cheaper as she likes 'fresh' because it is more healthy... and what do I want That 'we' eat unhealthy I lose that argument...
I should have been more specific. We've spent ~$3,000 on food since 1/1/09 but it also includes eating out at lunch, dining out, and going out for drinks. We don't dine out that frequently but it really adds up. Just on groceries we've been spending $500-$600 / month. Part of the reason it's so high is I'm working out a lot which makes me constantly hungry, protein is expensive but a big part of my diet, and we eat mostly healthy food.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:52 AM   #11
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I can't imagine how you could eat cheaper, unless you move to a mostly grains diet. I am single, shop as carefully as I can, but still spend $4000 or a little more each year on groceries.

And I am 5'-9.5" and 150#, so I am not overeating.

Ha
I thought that was a little on the high side but when I add up eating out, food at the club, and weekly groceries........I'm not much under your number. And when I add in med's........

No Trader Joe's, Super Target, but we do have a Super Walmart. I can certainly save more there but there is a small grocery store on the way home from the golf course so I find myself going there a lot, even though it is a little higher. I doubt if I would save anything signficant at discount store. If I had a family, I would certainly seek out a Sam's store.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:54 AM   #12
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Eat more legumes and less meat. Good for you, high protein, high fiber, good carbs, and cheap, if you cook them yourself.

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Old 03-31-2009, 07:55 AM   #13
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I should have been more specific. We've spent ~$3,000 on food since 1/1/09 but it also includes eating out at lunch, dining out, and going out for drinks. We don't dine out that frequently but it really adds up. Just on groceries we've been spending $500-$600 / month. Part of the reason it's so high is I'm working out a lot which makes me constantly hungry, protein is expensive but a big part of my diet, and we eat mostly healthy food.
That is high. I would head to Sam's once a month and stock up.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:56 AM   #14
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Beans and rice (or beans and any whole grain) will give you a protein-rich dish. We like red beans and rice (vegan), lentils baked with brown rice and mushrooms, and pinto beans and corn tortillas, but the possibilities are endless.

As far as costs: TJs for dairy, Farmer's market or local produce stand for fruits n' veggies, Costco for meats, bulk beans, bulk brown rice, and then back to TJs for the miscellanea. I can't remember the last time I was in a grocery store, and there's not a SuperTarget for miles -- maybe 100 miles?
Thanks for the reply. What kind of meats do you get from Costco and do you freeze them? I'm trying to decide on getting a membership to a wholesale club. If there was one closer or more than 2 of us, I would definitely do it.

If I get a chance I'll drive around today, compare some of the prices, and respond back the best savings
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:22 AM   #15
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Quinoa is a very high protein gain (not exactly a grain). You can have it as a breakfast cereal in place of oatmeal, or it can work as a side dish with you main meals. It's a nice ingredient in a bean salad too.
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:03 AM   #16
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Oh, and also keep your eyes open for any grocery stores that specialize in low price rather than variety - - I am thinking of one (can't remember the name), that has cases of cans stacked all around and they just get in whatever is cheap, so they may not have any specific item no matter how common. Their lines are long, their stores are hot in the summer, and their customers are not very classy. But what they have is phenomenally low in price.
I believe that may be Aldi's. I go out of my way to go there. Cheeses, meats and produce are very good quality and very low priced. They claim that their products are the same or better quality than top name brands. I think that is true. They have a double your money back guarantee if you don't like their product (keep the receipt).

I notice that every time the local Stop n Shop has eggs for, say, $1.35 a dozen, Aldi's now has them for $.99. When Big Y had 1 lb. butter for $1.67, Aldi's now has a pound for $1.49. You have to pack your own stuff in your own bags and pay $.25 for a cart (which you then get back when you return it).

The staff are mostly relentlessly cheerful, even when some customers look a bit down-and-out.

It's the difference between depressingly buying dented cans and day-old bread at the Stop n Shop and, hey, look at us, (this is their sign) "our customers are BRILLIANT!"
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:41 AM   #17
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As I mentioned elsewhere, I can't figure out how we are spending as much as $450/month on food. When I get to it, I'm going to make note of everything we eat for one day and determine the cost/meal. There must be something I'm missing (the caviar??).

We buy a big bag of dried beans and use them for baked beans and chili. If you use a pressure cooker, you do not need to soak them overnight.
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:47 AM   #18
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I believe that may be Aldi's.
We don't have Aldi's, but from what I have read here it is more or less the same type of store. (?) The one here is called something that gets the idea across, like Food4Less, or CheapAzzFood, or BargainFood Market, or some such thing Save-A-Lot. Someone I know used to run a daycare and got some phenomenal bargains there, basing their lunch menu off of whatever was cheap. This store has virtually no staff that I could see and their other customers are a step down from those you see in lines at the welfare office, and prone to wrangle over the prices at the checkout, but the savings are phenomenal.

I went there once and was very impressed by the prices, but I pass my A&P equivalent chain grocery store every day on my way home from work so I always end up there instead. Snooty ol' me.

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As I mentioned elsewhere, I can't figure out how we are spending as much as $450/month on food.
T-Al, the price of food has gone up a lot in the past year or two!! Really, it's not all just talk. That might be the reason your spending seems high to you. It doesn't seem high to me, though.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:16 PM   #19
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We've cut our grocery bill down a lot just by shopping Sprouts and the Asian market for all fruits/veggies/nuts/meats.

One thing I'm always weighing is how much buying a small freezer would save me, as in how long would it pay for itself being able to buy more meats when they're on sale. Like when I see babyback ribs for $1.99/lb I'm tempted to buy five of 'em but no room in the top freezer for that many, or when turkeys are about $5-$6 each in November I'm always wanting to buy 3-4 extras.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:34 PM   #20
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Egg whites in cartons from Trader Joe's (cheapest I've seen). I would probably eat tons of chicken (you can find $.69/lb for the whole chicken on sale or even better at chain supermarkets) and some pork (they are cheap to start with and go down more on sale). For beef, I would go to Costco and buy the slab of sirloin or London Broil or something like that.

Veggie-wise, find an ethnic produce market (asian, russian/european, mexican, etc)- their prices are always much better than chains and they tend to have more local and fresh produce and their prices are considerably better.

For fish, you are on your own, unless you live in a big city close to the ocean. You could go to a big seafood market (chinese markets here are the cheapest).

Then freeze all the proteins in portion sizes. Cut up chicken, take skin off, put in marinade and freeze, etc, if you like.

...well, these above are actually how I buy my protein.. except I buy Filet slab instead of sirloin (only $9/lb for filet where I am at) and lasts me forever, but you could save more money if you guy sirloin or round.
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