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Old 07-18-2010, 11:57 AM   #61
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Groceries really do vary drastically by locale, the metro areas are usually particularly bad. Certain stores charge 2x as much for just about everything. But that is just because many people don't really care about blowing money.

That aside, it is quite easy having a pretty low budget per person if you can avoid alcohol, choice meats, chic high-end pre-prepared meals, and expensive VAT-taxed imported food. Just about everything else I can think of does not have astronomical prices (obviously a few odd items, like cherry juice, but not whole categories). Plenty of healthy and tasty options left. That can take the pleasure out of food for many people though.

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Old 07-18-2010, 12:29 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by crispus View Post
Myself, I was wondering how you keep you grocery expenses so low? Does the amount of participants keep your per person costs lower? We don't clip coupons, but our typical week of groceries consists of eggs, lots of fresh fruit and veg., some lunch meat and cheese for sandwiches, a pasta night, a farm raised salmon night, usually hamburger night, maybe a slow cooked brisket or pork roast, and sometimes eggs and bacon for dinner. The only way I know to lower costs is to eat more junk food. If you have any ideas we would be very appreciative.
This is a little long-winded, so please accept my apologies.

We shop MOSTLY at our local ACME. We don't drive to a lot of different stores to get their sale items. ACME usually will have the products that we eat on sale every 2-6 months. We also shop at BJ's wholesale 3-4 times a year.

We buy very little soda (about 6-8 twelve packs for the entire year), and a little juice (for the kiddos), although we only buy that on sale. We drink mostly water and/or milk. I drink close to 1 gallon every day during the week. And I also drink tea to change up drinking so much water.

Added: We look at the per unit price that ACME posts on their products (at least ours does). If it's an item that we'll use for some time, and the per unit price is smaller on the larger sized item, we'll buy that one even if the same smaller item is on sale but costs more per unit. A perfect example of this is ice cream, and also paper products. The larger items are often less expensive than the smaller size items.

We also receive some rewards from their coupon dispenser for money off of the products they sell. However, we try to buy mostly the items that are on sale. If they are something that we'll use for quite some time (paper products, cereal, or some meats), we'll purchase extra and store it in a cabinet (or freezer for the meats). So, if it's 2 for $5, we'll buy 4 of them (I just picked up some really good cantaloupe this morning). Or in the case of cereal, I'll pick it up when it's on sale for 4 for $10, or 5 for $10. As I mentioned, we're a large family (2 adults, 4 kids), so it's easier to buy a lot of these items and them not going bad.
Incidentally, we mostly eat turkey bacon. It's leaner and isn't as greasy as regular bacon. We do occasionally eat that, but it may be 3-4 time a year.

Like you, we also buy fresh fruit, vegetables with at least every meal (sometimes for lunch too). We eat Salmon at least 2 times a month, and we'll buy it fresh or farm raised (and frozen in the latter case). I need the Omega-3 to keep my good cholesterol up. I had a problem with both of my cholesterol measurements being too low. We also eat mostly chicken and/or turkey. This includes us having turkey burgers, and occasionally beef burgers. We also eat "rabbit food", you know salads. I add wheat germ to mine, and so does my wife and our youngest. It adds a little different taste and texture. We'll purchase shrimp and/or lobster (on rare occasion), when they are on sale. We usually get the shrimp with the skin on, since you can throw them into boiling water and it breaks the skin and deveins them almost instantly.
We jar our own tomatoes once a year (literally about 160-180 jars), but that helps to feed our family, and our in-laws for the entire year. They are 100% Italian (including my wife), so trust me I'm not a stranger to pasta (which we also buy on sale).
We do get other snacks though. Tubs of ice cream (it's a lot cheaper), cookies (Chips Ahoy are my favorite), chocolate (my biggest downfall), and yogurt.
Added: We eat ice cream about every 3-4 days. We have cookies about 2 times a week. I eat quite a bit of chocolate myself (about 8-10 pieces of chocolate every day).

I bring the left-overs to work for lunch. That works for now, but won't as the kids get older and start eating more because they'll be growing so quickly when they hit puberty.

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Old 07-18-2010, 04:14 PM   #63
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Since everyone must eat every day, saving money on food is always a hot topic - there are many good tips in various threads.

We live in a high-cost suburb and spend about $5,000 a year on groceries, but our food cost is less than that because "groceries" includes everything from the grocery store: napkins, toilet paper, cat food, aspirin, soap, shampoo, cleansers, coffee, you name it. We shop once a week at the grocery store and once every 2 weeks at BJ's. We always carry a list and stick to it. We follow sales and use coupons (husband's job to keep track, since he's retired and I work).

We don't eat out, or eat pre-prepared meals, a conscious choice to save $$.

We don't eat junk food (I don't consider chocolate, ice cream,or pretzels junk food - life without chocolate would not be worth living) or drink soda. I make baked goods from scratch. We do not buy prepared cakes, cookies, pastries, etc.

During winter, we use a lot of frozen vegetables (which are often on sale); broccoli is a favorite. During summer, we revel in fresh vegetables and fruit. You can never eat too much of those and it is worth it to spend the extra $$. I would give up many things, before skimping on fruit and vegetables.

We have simple meals (often pasta based) and salads during the work week, and team-cook a fancy meal on weekends, making enough to reheat for one leftover meal, sometimes 2. (It is quite expensive to throw away leftovers). Salmon is a favorite: Two pounds of farm salmon ($6.99 a pound) will feed us for 3 meals, with asparagus and new potatoes. We do a lot of stir-frying, which is delicious, and stretches meat a long way.

My daily work provisions are: Two generous PBJ sandwiches on wholegrain bread; an orange, and another piece of fruit or carrots; some sliced almonds and raisins, and cookies, if I baked any. I'm like a cat: I don't mind eating the same thing day after day. I refuse to eat in the employee cafeteria, and I spend my 30 minutes of lunch break walking around.

If there is a cheaper way to eat healthy in our high-cost area, we haven't figured it out. As always, wishing you luck in your transition to retirement!

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Old 07-18-2010, 04:32 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by plex View Post
That aside, it is quite easy having a pretty low budget per person if you can avoid alcohol, choice meats, chic high-end pre-prepared meals, and expensive VAT-taxed imported food.
I'm not arguing that imported food can be, and often is, expensive, firstly because of shipping, second because of import duties in some cases, and thirdly because the imported stuff tends to be high end (although many exceptions apply). But if you believe that when you buy, say, French wine, you are paying French VAT, you're not.
Age 56, retired July 1, 2012; DW is 60 and working for 2 more years. Current portfolio is 2000K split 50 stocks/20 bonds/30 cash. Renting house, no debts.
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Old 07-18-2010, 05:38 PM   #65
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Groceries really do vary drastically by locale, the metro areas are usually particularly bad. Certain stores charge 2x as much for just about everything. But that is just because many people don't really care about blowing money.
We have 4 grocery stores within about 15 min. driving distance. The closest is, of course, the most expensive. Sigh. However, it has a few things that are store brands that I can't find anywhere else. For that store I also follow their sales. Otherwise I avoid it.

Next closest is a little less expensive and has a good selection but doesn't have a few things I really like.

The next is the cheapest overall and has a good selection but again doesn't have some things. DH doesn't like it since it is very large.

Finally, there is the Super Target. It is also very inexpensive (somewhat surprisingly). It is much cheapest for some things and has some things that I can't find anywhere else at all. Yet it annoys me mostly because they don't have sackers to put your bags in your cart (let alone help you outside). I don't mind taking out my things to the car but it annoys me to have to put the bags in the cart. The other annoyance is that their selection is more limited. So they have some things no one else has, but they also don't have many things that everyone else has. I find that I tend to alternate between a couple of different stores.

We have 5 in our house (3 teenagers) and our grocery bill (just for food, not including dining out) ranges between $700 and $850 a month.

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