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How to save on groceries?
Old 12-13-2009, 09:34 AM   #1
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How to save on groceries?

We spend about $400 a month on groceries. How does that amount sound for two people? I was thinking about getting ideas about how to save more on groceries. We shop at Aldi for the things they carry that we use.
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Old 12-13-2009, 09:56 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by rec7 View Post
We spend about $400 a month on groceries. How does that amount sound for two people? I was thinking about getting ideas about how to save more on groceries. We shop at Aldi for the things they carry that we use.
You're doing better than we are, we're at $492/mo in 2009 - and that's with wine/liquor in a separate category (at $41/mo) and eating out at about $50-60/week. However, we eat very well, often using somewhat exotic ingredients. I suspect you're already doing all the right things including shopping around, using coupons, stocking up on discounts, etc. I know we could do a lot more with coupons, there's a lot of books and online info on same. We also tailor what we make somewhat by what's available at a good price when we're shopping - ie, buying whatever veggies are at a discount, whatever meat/protein is on sale, etc.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:02 AM   #3
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I think you are doing wonderfully.

I don't have any suggestions at all. So far this year I have been averaging $290/month on groceries for one person and I eat out a lot. I must admit that I don't try to conserve on groceries, though.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:17 AM   #4
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That sounds great. We're $500-600 for 4 (and one kid often away at college). Doesn't include liquor or paid lunches our restaurants.

Best for us:
1. Farmer's market: produce is around 1/2 Acme.
2. Costo: bulk stuff
3. Acme for other

My "focus area" is waste - DW cooks for family, couple people don't eat, not all of leftovers are consumed next day, DW tosses 2nd day............
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:18 AM   #5
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I spend about $300/mo for one and I make no effort to conserve. Top quality organics most of the time. What I do is make most of my meals myself and regularly freeze extra for quick meals later. I also grow a garden and freeze most of my winter produce. The garden costs are tallied separately. So those habits and never buying prepared foods from the center of the store automatically reduce costs. But my motivation is health and the pleasure of better taste from real food - not costs.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:24 AM   #6
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That sounds about right. We don't save a lot on groceries. We do most of our shopping at Walmart. We are in a rural setting and it is the cheapest around. We have found their store brands 'good quality' and we buy many of those. Other than that we do little to save. Being in a rural area, there are few really good restaurants, therefore, we do not dine out as much as we did before we retired and moved. So we actually spend a little more on groceries. More experimental cooking with better cuts of meat, yet, our due to curtailed eating out, our overall food budget has been reduced.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:28 AM   #7
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I was spending just under $400 a month for two which I thought was great . That includes all three meals and snacks plus cleaning supplies . I clip coupons and plan my meals around what is on sale . Since I retired I have started going to a few different supermarkets just for their specials . That has lowered my food shopping budget to about $300 a month . I do cook healthy foods and no we are not eating beans and rice except occasionally with chicken . We usually have fish (salmon ,shrimp ) twice a week . Last week I made chicken marsala, seafood pasta, pot roast , barbecue chicken and stir fried pork . I actually was surprised that just making that change would result in savings but it has . I have also started stocking up when they have the buy one get one free items.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:47 AM   #8
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I try to follow a healthy diet which believe it or not is a cost savings. I use small amounts of meat and seafood(think of it as a condiment) and lots of fresh veggies, fresh fruit and whole grains. I don't buy frozen dinners and convenience foods. I eat a lot of cereal. I shop frequently on my way home so I don't overbuy, hence less waste and spoilage. I eat peanut butter sandwiches or make a small roast and slice it for sandwiches as good cold cuts are not only pricey but also have sodium and preservatives. I don't buy cookies and candy and snack foods.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:59 AM   #9
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Sounds like your doing well. I spend $240 per month for just me.
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:21 PM   #10
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You're doing well. We have spent $5,000 this year for 2 for groceries (food, plus everything else one buys at the grocery store or club -toilet paper, soap, aluminum foil, cleaning products). We shop specials, clip coupons, buy in bulk, and do all our own cooking and baking - eating out is a rarity. We do buy cheaper cuts of beef, because we rather enjoy fussing them up and making them tasty...but all our other food is high quality, topped off with the best cooking spices.
Alcoholic beverages are separate from this amount. They do not come from the grocery store or club.
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:33 PM   #11
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We spend about $400 on groceries per month for 2, eating out most lunches during the week.
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:45 PM   #12
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You could eat out a lot more often.
You can eat less.
You can eat for free at Costco if you like their free samples around lunchtime.
You can reduce intake of expensive things like canned goods, frozen food, ice cream, soft drinks and salty snacks.

I've have a standard breakfast of cereal & milk and a standard lunch of homemade salads which cost about $20 a week for breakfasts and lunches. That leaves enough money to eat out almost every day of the week. If I spend $10 for a meal and eat only half of it, then eat the rest the next day, that is another $35 a week, so $55 a week in food with eating out every day.
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:53 PM   #13
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Agree that your costs are low now, but eating less meat is a healthy and cost saving idea. For me it was just a lifelong habit to plan a meal around meat, but now we eat meat only a few times a week. I don't miss it and it helps me keep my weight down.
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:03 PM   #14
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My budget has creeped up to $140/month+$10/month for loose tea. I think this is mostly due to pasta doubling in price over the past year or so.

Anyways, the reason my costs are so low, is that food simply costs less in some areas of the country than others, I shop at Meijer. 95%+ of what I buy is on sale, and I will usually buy the healthiest version of store brand (which isn't always the cheapest). I don't buy any store brand food that doesn't taste good obviously (orange juice/waffles). I never buy red meats, but chicken and wild caught fish is usually on sale, I bulk up on it if it is a particular type I like a lot. I eat rice/pasta a lot, usually 2 or 3 times a week. I make my own sauces, a week's worth of sauces costs 25 cents, and they are very good with the pasta/rice/chicken. I buy frozen vegetables, unshredded romaine lettuce, and melon. I go through a gallon of milk every 1.5 weeks and drink tea 2-4 times a day (citron green/oolong #18/jasmine/coconut black). I buy in bulk when possible, but rarely have useful coupons.

I only buy convenience food for work, and chalk that up as a work expense. I also very rarely eat out, unless it is for purely work related reasons. I don't like drinking alcohol except socially.

Not all frozen food is bad, just watch what it says on the back. There is a type of frozen store brand french fries I get that are pretty healthy (no salt, low fat). Most frozen vegetables are just fine as well. But, probably half the other stuff is bad, especially the pizza and frozen deserts. Some of the frozen dinner's are pretty ridiculous too, like hearty man meal or whatever it is called (150% of the fat+cholesterol+salt you are supposed to have, all in one meal!)
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:23 PM   #15
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I'm at $350/month for 3 of us - 44 y.o. female, a 9 y.o. and a 21 y.o. This also includes costs for a 100 pound dog and a cat and any kind of thing that is usually bought with groceries (paper products, cleaning supplies etc.) but does not include alcohol. Our eating out runs less than $100/month.

I found "The Tightwad Gazette" to be a really good resource for thinking about ways of saving on food costs. Particularly the notion of a price book. I don't keep an actual price book, but it's like counting calories, once you get the basics down to be able to track, you shouldn't have to keep the book anymore. (Plus I'm an accountant and numbers are fun.)
Here's a couple of sites that provide further explanation of price books:
Use a Grocery Price Book to Slash Your Food Spending * Get Rich Slowly
Creating Your Own Price Book:

I could get it down to $250/month pretty easily if the 9 y.o. was less fussy (doesn't eat bread)!

Generally though, I think that $4/day per person is reasonable as it works out to just over $1 per meal per person.
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:26 PM   #16
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I think we're around $400 for two as well, but that's NOT including eating out which is mostly during lunch at work.

Biggest savings tip = on food porn day (when the newspaper has the weekly sales pages for all the local grocery stores) find any amazing deals on meat and throw in the freezer and use as needed. I mean throw the meat in the freezer, not the sales pages.

Also = farmers market type stores for fruits/veggies, here in Phoenix we have Sprouts.
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:34 PM   #17
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How to save on groceries?

Don't take your husband to the store with you....
There's no need to complicate, our time is short..
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:35 PM   #18
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It's kind of a meaningless number unless we know whether you eat lunches out or in the cafeteria at work, grab Starbucks many mornings, eat dinner out a lot or pick up pizza or fast food, etc. Many people can save a lot of money by increasing their grocery bill, i.e., eating at home or brown bagging your lunch. I try not to go too cheap on groceries because I'm already saving by eating at home and feel if I reward myself I'll keep doing it.

I do watch for specials closely. If there's something I buy regularly and it's 25% off, why not buy a few if there's no freshness issue. If you can save 5% of your total bill over the year just by stocking up on specials, that's $240 on $400/month.

Cutting back on junk food helps too. Don't go to the grocery store when you're hungry, everything looks good and lots of things wind up in the cart that don't need to.
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:27 PM   #19
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I've saved gobs of money stocking up on sales, sales, sales. Luckily, where I am there are 3 good grocery stores pretty close (within a mile of each other). WalMart is a little out of the way, but not much. I shop WalMart for basics, and the other stores for sales. Just keep shopping sales and stock up, and pretty soon you have a cabinet filled with foods.
We don't buy much prepackaged/premade foods at all either, which really lowers your cost. This, to me, is your biggest expense to buy.
We do eat alot of fresh foods in fruits, tho, and veggies.

Probably spent $350 a month for 3, but one eats like a child would and two are good eaters. The $350 includes cleaning supplies and lunch supplies for one who takes their lunch to work.
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:33 PM   #20
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I started buying produce at local produce stores instead of buying them at supermarkets. Vegetables and fruit are really expensive at supermarkets although a couple of items may be on sale, but their sale prices are still higher than at my local produce stores.

Just yesterday, I bought yellow onions ($.24/lb), two medium size celery heads bunched up ($.49). a huge bag of romaine lettuce hearts (total of 6 hearts) for $3.99, $.39/lb for small navel oranges.

I usually pay around $.69/lb for yellow onions, celery heads about $1-$1.50, 3 romaine lettuce heads for $4.99 at supermarkets here, so the produce store prices are much better and usually more fresh.
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