Author Topic: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF  (Read 11355 times)

mm1970

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #50 on: November 13, 2017, 03:48:29 PM »
Here's what I'm going to tell you, maybe a little tough love and maybe a little justification.

Main sources of grocery cost:
1.  What you eat
2.  How you shop
3.  Where you live

And where you come out is going to "depend" on all 3.

First, I don't think that $600 for two is terribly horrible, depending on where you live.  We spend $600 a month for 4, in So Cal (which is expensive), and it's really really hard.  I mean, I shop at multiple stores, and I've been doing this (watching my grocery budget) for a long time.  In 2009, I my yearly grocery spend (for 3) was *under* $4000 for the year.  I was badass.

What changed?
1.  Added a second kid
2.  Two growing boys can out eat us.
3.  We eat a lot of produce.  This can be a budget buster when you consider "a lot of produce" is about 7-10 pounds a day.
4.  No more empty carbs.  I was running a lot in 2009 (still am) and ate a lot of pasta, rice, homemade bread.  I can't do that anymore and maintain my weight.  Plus, my body no longer tolerates gluten.  I've gone from 6-7 "servings" of carbs a day down to 2-3.  And carbs are cheap.

This means I am eating more...meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, olive oil.  In general the quality of meat and fat has gone up AND the quantity.

I will never ever get to the uber low grocery budgets that some people manage simply because:
- rents are higher, overhead is higher, the sales prices reported here on this board do not exist in my town
- I cannot eat a lot of cheap carbs
- I prize a certain amount of quality, enjoy local produce (and can afford it)
- I have certain dietary restrictions...and so do you


Now, the tough love part of it:
1.  Shop around and buy stuff only on sale
2.  As someone else mentioned: ONE CHEESE AT A TIME maybe two. I like variety.  But the more variety, the more I eat, the more likely the food will get wasted.  If I buy a nice Gouda, it's delish, and I eat it until it's gone.  I don't need Gouda AND feta AND cheddar AND goat cheese.  I mean, I like them, but I'm much less likely to eat a lot of cheese if there's only one kind of cheese.  This goes for anything.  I recently read "Zero Waste Kitchen" and she actually mentions only having one grain and one bean too.  I'm not there.
3.  Paper towels etc are not food.  My grocery budget is just food.
4.  Calculate the cost per meal and cost per serving, and increase the frequency of the cheaper meals.  This does not mean you never get pomegranates.  It means you do the math, and realize that oranges and apples and bananas are cheaper.  It's not that you never get steak, but chili, or chicken soup, or burrito bowls are cheaper and you make those more often.  I miss bagels like nobody's business, but it's freaking $1.50 for a gluten free bagel, but less than 50 cents for a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and banana.  Guess how often I get bagels?  (once a month)

The goal should be to chip away at it until it is lower, go beyond where it is comfortable, and figure out where it is sustainable.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #51 on: November 13, 2017, 04:35:27 PM »
So if the question is, how do people get so low, THAT I can answer... I just don't do.

-Bulk cheap staples. You can get a LOT of rice for $10 at costco. Add that to a LOT of beans for about $15, and you have the base for meals for weeks.
-Low veggies, frozen veggies, cheap veggies. Buy frozen mixed veg and frozen spinach when they're sub-$1/lb, and only eat that.
-Minimal or no cheese, meat, dairy. No nuts, ever. No processed food. No snacks.
-You work a desk job and don't have hard fitness hobbies.

For example meal plans:
http://www.frugalfarmwife.com/article/20-dollar-meal-plan/
https://www.babble.com/best-recipes/how-to-feed-you-family-for-1-week-on-just-20/

Or during college, when I was stretching money, I would eat: plain oatmeal, winco pasta with shaker parm and margarine; cheapest bread with the cheapest peanut butter and jelly they sold; rice topped with tomato sauce. I had weeks I ate, all meals included, for $15. Was this healthy? Not really, my health worsened a lot, and I wasn't getting nearly enough fruits and veggies. But it was sure cheap.

Everyone has their own point of quality/values/cost/etc as Laura so brilliantly described above. You have to decide where you fall. Just know that very cheap IS possible, but you have to be willing to do those things. I think what sets Boarder42 off is when he perceives people are saying they *CANNOT* do something cheaper. I absolutely know I can. I'm just not willing to make the changes necessary for that.

Anyway, I hope that helps answer the question of "how is this possible". Now you have to figure out where the line between financial goals and other goals (health, ethical, so on) is, and commit to it. (That being said, you can usually reduce substantially within a given set of guidelines- that was my point with sharing how we eat, but that we still reduced our costs substantially.)

lhamo

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #52 on: November 13, 2017, 04:38:28 PM »
One thing that will really help, if you are willing to eat mainstream meat and eat a fair amount of it, is to learn what cuts go on sale regularly at FM.   For example, it has been a few weeks since we indulged in steak, because I have been waiting for their petite sirloin family pack deal -- which arrived in yesterday's circular.   $2.97/lb. which is a great price for steak.   I marinate it using a variation on this recipe -- roughly 6-8 minutes per side under the broiler on high, depending on thickness:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/143809/best-steak-marinade-in-existence/

Other sale prices that come up regularly at FM include:

Chicken thighs/drumsticks at $.79-.99/lb -- I'll buy a big package and either cook two chicken meals that week or cook one and freeze half

Beef chuck roasts at $2.99/lb-- I cook this up in the crockpot with salsa and shred for burrito filling

Pork loin also goes on sale frequently but my son won't eat it :(

I also splurge on things like wild caught frozen salmon and leg of lamb from Costco for variety.

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #53 on: November 13, 2017, 05:04:00 PM »
Here's what I'm going to tell you, maybe a little tough love and maybe a little justification.

Main sources of grocery cost:
1.  What you eat
2.  How you shop
3.  Where you live

And where you come out is going to "depend" on all 3.

First, I don't think that $600 for two is terribly horrible, depending on where you live.  We spend $600 a month for 4, in So Cal (which is expensive), and it's really really hard.  I mean, I shop at multiple stores, and I've been doing this (watching my grocery budget) for a long time.  In 2009, I my yearly grocery spend (for 3) was *under* $4000 for the year.  I was badass.

What changed?
1.  Added a second kid
2.  Two growing boys can out eat us.
3.  We eat a lot of produce.  This can be a budget buster when you consider "a lot of produce" is about 7-10 pounds a day.
4.  No more empty carbs.  I was running a lot in 2009 (still am) and ate a lot of pasta, rice, homemade bread.  I can't do that anymore and maintain my weight.  Plus, my body no longer tolerates gluten.  I've gone from 6-7 "servings" of carbs a day down to 2-3.  And carbs are cheap.

This means I am eating more...meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, olive oil.  In general the quality of meat and fat has gone up AND the quantity.

I will never ever get to the uber low grocery budgets that some people manage simply because:
- rents are higher, overhead is higher, the sales prices reported here on this board do not exist in my town
- I cannot eat a lot of cheap carbs
- I prize a certain amount of quality, enjoy local produce (and can afford it)
- I have certain dietary restrictions...and so do you


Now, the tough love part of it:
1.  Shop around and buy stuff only on sale
2.  As someone else mentioned: ONE CHEESE AT A TIME maybe two. I like variety.  But the more variety, the more I eat, the more likely the food will get wasted.  If I buy a nice Gouda, it's delish, and I eat it until it's gone.  I don't need Gouda AND feta AND cheddar AND goat cheese.  I mean, I like them, but I'm much less likely to eat a lot of cheese if there's only one kind of cheese.  This goes for anything.  I recently read "Zero Waste Kitchen" and she actually mentions only having one grain and one bean too.  I'm not there.
3.  Paper towels etc are not food.  My grocery budget is just food.
4.  Calculate the cost per meal and cost per serving, and increase the frequency of the cheaper meals.  This does not mean you never get pomegranates.  It means you do the math, and realize that oranges and apples and bananas are cheaper.  It's not that you never get steak, but chili, or chicken soup, or burrito bowls are cheaper and you make those more often.  I miss bagels like nobody's business, but it's freaking $1.50 for a gluten free bagel, but less than 50 cents for a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and banana.  Guess how often I get bagels?  (once a month)

The goal should be to chip away at it until it is lower, go beyond where it is comfortable, and figure out where it is sustainable.

Thank you.  I know you are right.  The cheese is not so necessary of an item.  It should be enjoyed more sparingly. I am going to put that to work.  It's going to need a little re-work of how I do things.  Which is fine.  It's good for my brain.

We've actually reduced the spending on food significantly.  We were closer to 800 a month for a bit.  The $600 is less than it was.  No more fancy Italian dinners, sushi bars, or the like.  I do treat myself to some fantastic local mexican food for $20 though. 

After reading some of these posts, I know I will never get to where some others are for my own personal reasons. 

Thank you for the thoughtful reply, and the tough love wasn't like a complete throat punch.  ;)

Nice point on the paper towels.  I consider grocery spending anything that I buy there.  Sometimes, it is paper towels, TP, shampoo, aspirin, laundry soap, and other items we use to run our house. 

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #54 on: November 13, 2017, 05:29:13 PM »
So if the question is, how do people get so low, THAT I can answer... I just don't do.

-Bulk cheap staples. You can get a LOT of rice for $10 at costco. Add that to a LOT of beans for about $15, and you have the base for meals for weeks.
-Low veggies, frozen veggies, cheap veggies. Buy frozen mixed veg and frozen spinach when they're sub-$1/lb, and only eat that.
-Minimal or no cheese, meat, dairy. No nuts, ever. No processed food. No snacks.
-You work a desk job and don't have hard fitness hobbies.

For example meal plans:
http://www.frugalfarmwife.com/article/20-dollar-meal-plan/
https://www.babble.com/best-recipes/how-to-feed-you-family-for-1-week-on-just-20/

Or during college, when I was stretching money, I would eat: plain oatmeal, winco pasta with shaker parm and margarine; cheapest bread with the cheapest peanut butter and jelly they sold; rice topped with tomato sauce. I had weeks I ate, all meals included, for $15. Was this healthy? Not really, my health worsened a lot, and I wasn't getting nearly enough fruits and veggies. But it was sure cheap.

Everyone has their own point of quality/values/cost/etc as Laura so brilliantly described above. You have to decide where you fall. Just know that very cheap IS possible, but you have to be willing to do those things. I think what sets Boarder42 off is when he perceives people are saying they *CANNOT* do something cheaper. I absolutely know I can. I'm just not willing to make the changes necessary for that.

Anyway, I hope that helps answer the question of "how is this possible". Now you have to figure out where the line between financial goals and other goals (health, ethical, so on) is, and commit to it. (That being said, you can usually reduce substantially within a given set of guidelines- that was my point with sharing how we eat, but that we still reduced our costs substantially.)

One thing that will really help, if you are willing to eat mainstream meat and eat a fair amount of it, is to learn what cuts go on sale regularly at FM.   For example, it has been a few weeks since we indulged in steak, because I have been waiting for their petite sirloin family pack deal -- which arrived in yesterday's circular.   $2.97/lb. which is a great price for steak.   I marinate it using a variation on this recipe -- roughly 6-8 minutes per side under the broiler on high, depending on thickness:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/143809/best-steak-marinade-in-existence/

Other sale prices that come up regularly at FM include:

Chicken thighs/drumsticks at $.79-.99/lb -- I'll buy a big package and either cook two chicken meals that week or cook one and freeze half

Beef chuck roasts at $2.99/lb-- I cook this up in the crockpot with salsa and shred for burrito filling

Pork loin also goes on sale frequently but my son won't eat it :(

I also splurge on things like wild caught frozen salmon and leg of lamb from Costco for variety.

Very helpful.  I have learned from reading these posts. 

I wish costco would open a store here.  They has been rumblings, but so far nothing.  I do eat a ton of nuts.  I've had someone pick me up some before, but that is rare.  I don't like inconveniencing people.   If it weren't too far, I would get a membership.  I am just not sure how often I would go over there.

and don't get me started on the cost of wild salmon.  Sometimes, I can find it on a good sale.  Those times are becoming more rare. 

The good healthy foods are very expensive. The lies and deception in food is scary and wrong.  Case in point: Olive oil.  I buy certified oil, and that costs as well.  I am sure it is anti-mustachian to buy California Olive Ranch.  ;) 

mm1970

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #55 on: November 13, 2017, 05:50:20 PM »
Ah, wild salmon and olive oil.  Though I live in California, I haven't started buying local olive oil (yet).  I did get some as a gift, and it was fantastic!

I buy wild salmon at Costco (sparingly), and we eat two small pieces for a family of 4.  Not even once a week, maybe 2x a month.  But I've thought of increasing it, because honestly the recommendations are to eat wild fish 2-3 times a week.  One thing that stops me is that kid #1 doesn't like it.  I should make it more anyway. 

Olive oil - it's pretty easy to google and realize that most olive oil is not actually olive oil. However, Kirkland Organic (not cheap!) is, and that's what we buy.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #56 on: November 13, 2017, 05:51:37 PM »
Again with the cheaper options while maintaining your same standards: I know you don't have a costco, but *for example*, kirkland organic olive oil passed purity testing as well. https://lifehacker.com/the-most-and-least-fake-extra-virgin-olive-oil-brands-1460894373

Partially it depends on storage space too. I know families (including families of 2!) who drive to costco 1-2 hours every 3 or 6 months and do HUGE stock up trips. Costco membership isn't that expensive compared to grocery spending, it might be worth doing some math and seeing if that's worth it. Otherwise, stalk sale cycles, use coupons, find less expensive brands that meet the same standards, look for expensive brands at Grocery Outlet, that sort of thing. Based on the mention of 2 stores, I'm pretty sure I know what town you live in (hey hi, I have lots of family there! Sorry for being creepy and recognizing that info!), but also don't underestimate walmart's produce selection- they also carry a staggering amount of organic options. Also though, your area (assuming I'm right about where) has a staggering number of options for local grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, and free range eggs, all for cheap. Also, this website is great for local CSA options: https://www.localharvest.org

But reading through it, it sounds like the big issue for you is more WHAT rather than WHERE. Nutrient density and local economy are (IMO) justifiable arguments for choosing to eat a certain way... liking fancy imported fruit isn't. =) So at this stage, maybe take a hard look at what you THINK your values about food are, vs where the biggest costs are ACTUALLY coming from. When we were first bringing our budgets down, we broke food out into meat/eggs, veg/fruit, dairy, pantry staples, and treats. This can be a really eye opening exercise. Maybe join one of the "cut grocery spending" gauntlets if you want to take a really hard look at your spending there.

Laura33

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #57 on: November 13, 2017, 08:15:13 PM »
Pork loin also goes on sale frequently but my son won't eat it :(

This post reminded me that sometimes you also have to be a little creative/flexible.  E.g. I haven’t been able to find ground pork lately, and when I can find it, it’s like $4-5/lb, which is ridiculous for something you know came from scraps.  Then at Aldi this weekend I found entire pork loins on sale for $1.89/lb.  $7 and change later, I had four pounds of pork — I ground two of them in the Kitchen-aid in about 5 minutes for the recipe I am making tomorrow (which will cover 1-2 family meals + multiple lunches for me), and I still have another 2-lb roast in the freezer that I can cook as is, turn into boneless chops, grind, or whatever. 

It’s about both focusing daily food choices on less fancy ingredients and then working your recipes around whatever is on sale (or what is in your freezer that you previously found on sale).

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #58 on: November 13, 2017, 09:17:24 PM »
Again with the cheaper options while maintaining your same standards: I know you don't have a costco, but *for example*, kirkland organic olive oil passed purity testing as well. https://lifehacker.com/the-most-and-least-fake-extra-virgin-olive-oil-brands-1460894373

Partially it depends on storage space too. I know families (including families of 2!) who drive to costco 1-2 hours every 3 or 6 months and do HUGE stock up trips. Costco membership isn't that expensive compared to grocery spending, it might be worth doing some math and seeing if that's worth it. Otherwise, stalk sale cycles, use coupons, find less expensive brands that meet the same standards, look for expensive brands at Grocery Outlet, that sort of thing. Based on the mention of 2 stores, I'm pretty sure I know what town you live in (hey hi, I have lots of family there! Sorry for being creepy and recognizing that info!), but also don't underestimate walmart's produce selection- they also carry a staggering amount of organic options. Also though, your area (assuming I'm right about where) has a staggering number of options for local grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, and free range eggs, all for cheap. Also, this website is great for local CSA options: https://www.localharvest.org

But reading through it, it sounds like the big issue for you is more WHAT rather than WHERE. Nutrient density and local economy are (IMO) justifiable arguments for choosing to eat a certain way... liking fancy imported fruit isn't. =) So at this stage, maybe take a hard look at what you THINK your values about food are, vs where the biggest costs are ACTUALLY coming from. When we were first bringing our budgets down, we broke food out into meat/eggs, veg/fruit, dairy, pantry staples, and treats. This can be a really eye opening exercise. Maybe join one of the "cut grocery spending" gauntlets if you want to take a really hard look at your spending there.

<waving hi back>

We do have some nice options for eggs and beef and lamb.  I need to learn more about what things are supposed to cost.  I've been very spoiled and I just buy what I like.  I am going to work a lot harder on the food budget.  I might be able to cut another $100, if I try harder.   

Before I posted here, I lurked for a long while.  I read about ways to expect less and save more.  We have made major changes. 

Dumped my Xfit
Stopped eating at nice places (only eat out twice a month $40 total)
I didn't buy a new bike this year.  My husband didn't buy a new bike this year.
Increased our savings to 55% a year.  I think it may be even more than that.  Joining mint was a new addition as well, so my numbers are in infancy stage. 

Thanks to everyone for being so welcoming.  I am not perfect and there is much to learn.

 

Goldielocks

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #59 on: November 13, 2017, 10:17:30 PM »

I started it because I read on the site somewhere how people were spending tiny amounts.  Just wondered how the heck they are doing that.

One way that has not been mentioned yet -- some people eat less food.  period.  

When I did a deep dive the four areas that were driving my costs up:
1) Location (CDN dollars, not in Ontario, dairy / produce / eggs are more, etc)
2) I eat more.    I eat nearly 1.5 times the portions that some of the other people are eating.
3) Teenagers in the house -->  essentially they don't cook for themselves so any food they eat that I did not make costs more... a boy that demolishes anything packaged in an instant .... and a daughter that feeds her boyfriend a huge deli /cheese meat sandwich about 2x per week, and he stays for dinner 1x per week, too.    I also buy some packaged food for their lunches, and cereal.   They eat cereal every day.  That alone adds $40 per month.
4) Husband grocery shopping is a problem.   I have had to take over this chore 100%.   A "milk and eggs" run for him seems to cost $75 due to impulse purchases (Grapes! Salami! fancy energy soda in single serve can! a cake!).  He loves drinking his calories as juice, etc.

I can't digest beans, lentils or chickpeas very well, so we don't have full portion meals of those any more -- but this is a minor cost compared to the above.

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #60 on: November 13, 2017, 10:45:59 PM »

I started it because I read on the site somewhere how people were spending tiny amounts.  Just wondered how the heck they are doing that.

One way that has not been mentioned yet -- some people eat less food.  period.  

When I did a deep dive the four areas that were driving my costs up:
1) Location (CDN dollars, not in Ontario, dairy / produce / eggs are more, etc)
2) I eat more.    I eat nearly 1.5 times the portions that some of the other people are eating.
3) Teenagers in the house -->  essentially they don't cook for themselves so any food they eat that I did not make costs more... a boy that demolishes anything packaged in an instant .... and a daughter that feeds her boyfriend a huge deli /cheese meat sandwich about 2x per week, and he stays for dinner 1x per week, too.    I also buy some packaged food for their lunches, and cereal.   They eat cereal every day.  That alone adds $40 per month.
4) Husband grocery shopping is a problem.   I have had to take over this chore 100%.   A "milk and eggs" run for him seems to cost $75 due to impulse purchases (Grapes! Salami! fancy energy soda in single serve can! a cake!).  He loves drinking his calories as juice, etc.

I can't digest beans, lentils or chickpeas very well, so we don't have full portion meals of those any more -- but this is a minor cost compared to the above.

Sadly, I am the bad one with the grocery.  My husband is so much better than I am.  He buys less impulse things, and is much better at knowing what things cost.  He reads the ads, and plans around them.  He doesn't always pick the nicest looking produce, but his options are often less expensive.  He is a gem that way. 

We don't usually drink calories, except for some powdered sports drink, which is really needed on an intense all day ride.  The only thing we buy to drink is milk, coffee and half and half for the coffee.  The milk is a glass a day, and to cook with.  I used to love getting those Pellegrino sodas.  Then the deposit price went up to ten cents a can and I realized this was nuts.  Cut that habit out. 

I used to always buy fresh limes and fresh lemons to cook with.  It does taste best.  But, recently I cut that fresh habit to replace it with this brand that is very clean and tastes pretty decent considering it is a squeeze lemon or lime.

I look forward to seeing how much I spend at the end of this month, compared to last month's $640.

boarder42

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #61 on: November 14, 2017, 03:38:05 AM »
Sounds like your husband should shop. I think we've got your true answer here.

Imma

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #62 on: November 14, 2017, 07:37:50 AM »
I'm one of those people with a low grocery spend. First of all, a lot depends on where you live. When I see the grocery list Tass posted, I know I can get a lot of those things for much cheaper around here. Someone else might live somewhere where things are even more expensive. Second, portions vary. I have an office job, so even though I cycle to work and train with weights twice a week, I don't need a lot of calories. I used to have a roommate who was into body building and the amounts of food he ate were incredible. His diet also included lots of animal protein, which is expensive. He would easily go through a gallon of milk and two dozen eggs a week and would also consume large amounts of expensive protein powders. He ate a lot of expensive cuts of meat that are high in protein and low in fat. He chose more expensive fruits like bananas and avocado, instead of cheaper fruits like apples. Certain dietary choices really impact the food budget. Third, my partner often gets to eat at his work place, that's a perk of the job.

What makes a big difference for us, is that we choose to only use our grocery budget (in our joint checking account) for actual food. Not for snacks. When we go to the store together to get groceries, we pay from the grocery budget. When my partner buys expensive craft beers, or I buy chocolate, we pay from our own accounts. It really helps us to make that distinction between essentials and luxuries. We don't just throw snacks into our cart at the store, we consciously make the decision to go to the store to buy a snack and pay them from our personal accounts. Very often, we're not even bothered to go outside when we feel like snacking, thus avoiding that cost completely.

For breakfast, I eat basic oatmeal (€0,40/pound) with water when I'm at work, with milk when we have it, and a piece of fruit. my partner eats cheap yoghurt (€0,60/liter) with basic muesli (€2,00/kg). For lunch, I often eat two fried eggs (€0,25/each) with fruit or vegetables or leftovers from last night's dinner while my partner has another bowl of muesli (he really love that stuff) or simple bread (€1/loaf) with peanut butter which in our country is normally just ground nuts with no additives (€1,80/jar). For dinner we love simple things like potatoes / seasonal vegetables / meat stew (traditional dish from cheap cut of meat) or potatoes / seasonal vegetables / alternative for meat , vegetarian nasi goreng, vegetarian curry, chili con or sin carne or pasta dishes with a vegetable-based sauce. When we crave fast food we make homemade pizza or homemade fries. I try to can certain seasonal items as well.

As you can see, we eat little meat, we eat few snacks, we eat filling and cheap dishes. As you can see, our evening meal is normally carb-heavy but we also eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. We don't eat a lot of animal proteins, but we believe we get enough protein through other sources. We drink coffee once a day, otherwise we drink tea.

On top of that, we buy staples in bulk. The olive oil we buy costs €2,60/0,5 liter glass bottle, but the same brand is also available in 5 liter cans that cost €10,00. We buy a can, store it in the pantry and refill our 0,5 liter bottle 20 times from one can. I buy 5 kgs of apples or pears for €5 when they're in season and can them to use later when they're more expensive. I buy rice, potatoes and onions in large quantities and keep them in the pantry. We often buy meat and bread when they're marked down because they will be tossed out the next day, then freeze them. We don't waste leftovers. We don't use paper towels, but regular old fashioned dish cloths. We buy 5-kg boxes of washing powder for €10 and use half of the recommended amount, without noticing any difference. A small box of washing powder from the same brand costs €5/1 kg. I use regular cheap vinegar (€0,30/liter) as a fabric softener.

We feel happy with this way of eating, we have been eating like this since our student days, we don't do it to save on money but because we genuinely like it. I can imagine this doesn't fit your diet, but this is how we keep a low grocery budget.

Laura33

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #63 on: November 14, 2017, 09:49:16 AM »

I started it because I read on the site somewhere how people were spending tiny amounts.  Just wondered how the heck they are doing that.

. . . .

4) Husband grocery shopping is a problem.   I have had to take over this chore 100%.   A "milk and eggs" run for him seems to cost $75 due to impulse purchases (Grapes! Salami! fancy energy soda in single serve can! a cake!).  He loves drinking his calories as juice, etc.

IIRC, we have previously established that we married the same man.  I still remember the literal "loaf of bread and OJ" run that ended up with $64 of bratwurst, tortilla chips, and a whole variety of other stuff that was nowhere near our actual grocery list.

boarder42

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #64 on: November 14, 2017, 09:58:19 AM »

I started it because I read on the site somewhere how people were spending tiny amounts.  Just wondered how the heck they are doing that.

. . . .

4) Husband grocery shopping is a problem.   I have had to take over this chore 100%.   A "milk and eggs" run for him seems to cost $75 due to impulse purchases (Grapes! Salami! fancy energy soda in single serve can! a cake!).  He loves drinking his calories as juice, etc.

IIRC, we have previously established that we married the same man.  I still remember the literal "loaf of bread and OJ" run that ended up with $64 of bratwurst, tortilla chips, and a whole variety of other stuff that was nowhere near our actual grocery list.

sounds like OP is in the inverse situation like i have... my wife does what your husbands do ... thats why i shop.  OP should forfeit shopping rights and let the husband do it for a month or 2 and see if there is any real difference.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #65 on: November 14, 2017, 10:29:24 AM »
What makes a big difference for us, is that we choose to only use our grocery budget (in our joint checking account) for actual food. Not for snacks. When we go to the store together to get groceries, we pay from the grocery budget. When my partner buys expensive craft beers, or I buy chocolate, we pay from our own accounts. It really helps us to make that distinction between essentials and luxuries. We don't just throw snacks into our cart at the store, we consciously make the decision to go to the store to buy a snack and pay them from our personal accounts. Very often, we're not even bothered to go outside when we feel like snacking, thus avoiding that cost completely.
This is such an amazing idea! I don't have a partner and therefore only my own bank account in the first place, but I think I could do a similar thing just NOT buying any snacks during my regular supermarket visit and forcing myself to go another time if I want something else.

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #66 on: November 14, 2017, 11:12:41 AM »

I started it because I read on the site somewhere how people were spending tiny amounts.  Just wondered how the heck they are doing that.

. . . .

4) Husband grocery shopping is a problem.   I have had to take over this chore 100%.   A "milk and eggs" run for him seems to cost $75 due to impulse purchases (Grapes! Salami! fancy energy soda in single serve can! a cake!).  He loves drinking his calories as juice, etc.

IIRC, we have previously established that we married the same man.  I still remember the literal "loaf of bread and OJ" run that ended up with $64 of bratwurst, tortilla chips, and a whole variety of other stuff that was nowhere near our actual grocery list.

sounds like OP is in the inverse situation like i have... my wife does what your husbands do ... thats why i shop.  OP should forfeit shopping rights and let the husband do it for a month or 2 and see if there is any real difference.

Hey now, let's not get all crazy.   :)


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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #67 on: November 14, 2017, 11:23:28 AM »
What makes a big difference for us, is that we choose to only use our grocery budget (in our joint checking account) for actual food. Not for snacks. When we go to the store together to get groceries, we pay from the grocery budget. When my partner buys expensive craft beers, or I buy chocolate, we pay from our own accounts. It really helps us to make that distinction between essentials and luxuries. We don't just throw snacks into our cart at the store, we consciously make the decision to go to the store to buy a snack and pay them from our personal accounts. Very often, we're not even bothered to go outside when we feel like snacking, thus avoiding that cost completely.
This is such an amazing idea! I don't have a partner and therefore only my own bank account in the first place, but I think I could do a similar thing just NOT buying any snacks during my regular supermarket visit and forcing myself to go another time if I want something else.

When I was working hard to reduce grocery spend habits, and with kids in the house, I did something similar but different from the above, because kids can't go buy their own snacks...

I would process the groceries in two orders.  The first section was the "food" as described above.  The second section was the "snacks" or branded foods or semi-optional splurge items like expensive grapes, vanilla for baking... all items we did not have to buy THAT DAY.  ($6 of grapes can be eaten by us in one sitting).   I used cash only for the second order, and when the cash was gone in the month, no more snacks until it replenished.

Separating out the "wants" from the "needs" on the grocery line up worked very well to reduce costs.   I should start that again.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #68 on: November 14, 2017, 02:07:41 PM »
Gallon of organic milk $5.99.  I go through a gallon of milk a week.

I go through at least that much milk by myself, but like I said: I buy the cheap kind at $2.30 a gallon. (Skim is usually the cheapest, but a little fat in your milk is probably an allowable luxury if you so choose.) Lots of people have been suggesting cutting down on milk, which is probably a good idea that would reduce my own grocery budget, but it's where I draw the line, personally and currently. I love milk.

Try an experiment: take the week's menu you listed above, and replicate it for a week. Except this time, no organic, no free-range, and you find the cheapest version possible. See how it tastes and what it costs.

Worthwhile experiment. I always assumed free-range eggs is more about the chicken's welfare than about the egg quality; is that not the case? I suppose the two can reasonably be expected to be interrelated.

(Incidentally, exclusively grain-fed chickens and their eggs are not worth paying extra for. Chickens are omnivores. Forcing them to be vegetarians is not in their best interest.)

I don't eat the organic veg because I believe the veg is somehow different.  What I hope is that it isn't hosed down with pesticides.

Unfortunately organic produce has rules about WHICH pesticides they use, but they don't necessarily use LESS. They often have to use more, because the more efficient products are against their rules. And those rules aren't necessarily... logical.

E.g. Bt soy is your absolute best bet for minimizing pesticides in your soy, because the plant produces a popular organic pesticide in its own leaves - no spraying necessary, minimizes off-target effects, doesn't need to be reapplied after every rainfall - but it's GMO. And that's the opposite of organic, right?? My point is mostly that there isn't really an easy label for which foods are most natural, most ethical, cleanest. Organic wants to be that label, but standards vary from item to item. If you have a specific reason for buying a certain more expensive item - e.g. free range is a more humane way to keep chickens - then that's a decision you can make logically and decide how much money it's worth to you. But if it's just because organic feels safer, it might be a good time to reexamine your assumptions and the ways your beliefs are influenced by marketing.

MMM is also about applying ruthless logic to things other people don't bother thinking about. :)



For the record, my $150 1-person budget is also in expensive SoCal. I don't have a Costco membership. I still eat a lot of dairy. I like to cook new stuff that is pricier than rice and beans.

You can choose to follow some but not all of the cheapness rules and still make a LOT of progress. You just need to really commit to the rules that WILL work for you.

Sounds like your husband should shop. I think we've got your true answer here.

+1!

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #69 on: November 14, 2017, 02:31:41 PM »
for as concerned as you are about eating organic.  drinking another animals milk by the gallon a week ... a substance that is meant to nurture a baby animal that is supposed to grow into a 300lb beast really doesnt add up for me organic or not.  I mean just mull that over for a minute.  what other species drinks the milk of another thats intended to feed their youth.  none ...

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #70 on: November 14, 2017, 02:54:27 PM »
My diet is probably not nutrient deficient.  I look at the vitamins as an insurance policy.

You could always ask your doctor whether they think it's a worthwhile investment? Imo multivitamins in particular are pretty pointless. Some people have deficiencies in iron or calcium or what have you and need to supplement something specific, but if you eat reasonably well-rounded meals you're probably getting most of what you need. Caveat that I am not a medical doctor.

I was joking about the receipts, but I'm sure you'd get genuine feedback if you posted them. :)

I wouldn't ask a Doctor (MD).  They get next to no training in nutrition.  (I work in the health care field.  And my brother is a Family Physician MD).
You'd be better off asking a Registered Dietitian (preferred) or Nutrionist. 

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #71 on: November 14, 2017, 03:05:15 PM »
My diet is probably not nutrient deficient.  I look at the vitamins as an insurance policy.

You could always ask your doctor whether they think it's a worthwhile investment? Imo multivitamins in particular are pretty pointless. Some people have deficiencies in iron or calcium or what have you and need to supplement something specific, but if you eat reasonably well-rounded meals you're probably getting most of what you need. Caveat that I am not a medical doctor.

I was joking about the receipts, but I'm sure you'd get genuine feedback if you posted them. :)

I wouldn't ask a Doctor (MD).  They get next to no training in nutrition.  (I work in the health care field.  And my brother is a Family Physician MD).
You'd be better off asking a Registered Dietitian (preferred) or Nutrionist.

If OP sees a specialist about their chronic illness, the doctor might still be the most knowledgeable resource. An opinion from each probably wouldn't hurt, though.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #72 on: November 14, 2017, 03:10:07 PM »
Re: Chicken eggs.

The quality of eggs is highly dependent on what the chicken eats, and maybe the breed of chicken.   
 
Because of Free Range habitat for the farm raised / outdoor ones, they get a tremendous variety including insects and such.   Many are different breeds than the battery cage / indoor hens.   Many commercial free range advertised egg farmers provide a better feed as well (but not all do).   Some free range is still kept indoors, tightly packed, with similar feed quality to the standard cheap egg.

It is possible to get a better quality / tasting egg from a caged hen, with limited movements, because of the feed used, but it won't be the same taste quality as the small-farm ones.

If you are looking for improved egg quality rather than hen welfare, experiment with some of the different brands to see which you like the taste of.   Currently, I am a proponent of buying Omega-3 marketed eggs for eating and use cheap eggs for baking, because of taste.   I will pay 10% more for caged hens that have perches and more room.  I jump in purchasing practice to paying a local farmer a few times a year for their extra special eggs, which taste wonderful and cost $5 per dozen (cheap because he sells them illegally to friends only).   

Note - I am definitely not compassionate when it comes to hens; IMO the battery-raised white ones are barely above "fish" on the intelligence scale... very unlike a typical backyard hen.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #73 on: November 14, 2017, 03:35:02 PM »
for as concerned as you are about eating organic.  drinking another animals milk by the gallon a week ... a substance that is meant to nurture a baby animal that is supposed to grow into a 300lb beast really doesnt add up for me organic or not.  I mean just mull that over for a minute.  what other species drinks the milk of another thats intended to feed their youth.  none ...

You've proposed an interesting thought experiment boarder42.  It doesn't make good logic though. 
Should we eat our own vomit because that is what dogs do?
How about eating dung because that is what dung beetles do?
No other mammal cooks with fire - does that mean all foods baked or cooked are not intended for our use?
I could use many more examples similar to what you and I have given thus far.  Do we need to mull this over for a few more minutes yet?

(Now, if you are going make the case that milk is bad because our bodies, when fully developed, cannot process it in a healthy way - that's a whole different conversation.)

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #74 on: November 14, 2017, 04:47:30 PM »
for as concerned as you are about eating organic.  drinking another animals milk by the gallon a week ... a substance that is meant to nurture a baby animal that is supposed to grow into a 300lb beast really doesnt add up for me organic or not.  I mean just mull that over for a minute.  what other species drinks the milk of another thats intended to feed their youth.  none ...

Boarder42, the thread was about asking how people spend so little.  That has little to do with what I do or do not choose to eat or drink.

I tolerate milk well.  I enjoy one glass of milk a day.   I don't drink the entire gallon myself. 

My doctor has said that I am one of his best patients.  My weight is perfect.  My cholesterol is always really low.  He said whatever I am doing to keep doing it.  Not quite sure why you want to give me a bad time about my dietary habits.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #75 on: November 14, 2017, 05:57:37 PM »
Milk is expensive. Organic milk more so

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #76 on: November 14, 2017, 06:58:54 PM »
I don't drink the entire gallon myself. 

I do!

I think boarder42's point was to point out logical inconsistencies rather than to specifically give you a hard time. But idk maybe he does have a secret grudge against milk. ;)

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #77 on: November 14, 2017, 07:30:06 PM »

I started it because I read on the site somewhere how people were spending tiny amounts.  Just wondered how the heck they are doing that.

As Laura mentioned, the engineers "square" of food. We pick cost as our top priority and then something else as our second.

We go with $200/mo grocery (including toiletries and household things) and $100/restaurants for two adults. Lots of what we eat is what was on sale that week, sandwiches and salads for lunch, pasta, chicken (and chicken, and chicken...), fish, rice, beans, pasta, etc.

We have no dietary restrictions, have low caloric needs, and don't get into the ethical/GMO/organic movement at all. We manage our budget despite living in a HCOL due to a balance between planning, shopping at Aldi, and shopping at Sam's or the local store with coupons as to what we need the most at the best price.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #78 on: November 14, 2017, 08:30:06 PM »
Milk is expensive. Organic milk more so

Not budging on this one.  Although, I will skip the re-up on the good balsamic. 
I don't drink the entire gallon myself. 

I do!

I think boarder42's point was to point out logical inconsistencies rather than to specifically give you a hard time. But idk maybe he does have a secret grudge against milk. ;)

Yes, There are many messed up things about the cow industry too. I see the point.  <blush>

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #79 on: November 14, 2017, 08:34:49 PM »
Far less purchases of 100% grape must balsamic.  This tiny bottle was quite the splurge. 

Best damn balsamic I have ever had. 

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #80 on: November 14, 2017, 10:56:09 PM »
Far less purchases of 100% grape must balsamic.  This tiny bottle was quite the splurge. 

Best damn balsamic I have ever had.

Early this year, I found an unopened bottle of real Italian certified balsamic vinegar in a house I was remodelling. Nobody else wanted it, it was "out of date", but I figured hey, it's vinegar-- grape juice already gone bad twice, what more can happen to it-- the seal's still good, it's fine. My wife was VERY happy about that find.

Imma

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #81 on: November 15, 2017, 02:48:36 AM »
What makes a big difference for us, is that we choose to only use our grocery budget (in our joint checking account) for actual food. Not for snacks. When we go to the store together to get groceries, we pay from the grocery budget. When my partner buys expensive craft beers, or I buy chocolate, we pay from our own accounts. It really helps us to make that distinction between essentials and luxuries. We don't just throw snacks into our cart at the store, we consciously make the decision to go to the store to buy a snack and pay them from our personal accounts. Very often, we're not even bothered to go outside when we feel like snacking, thus avoiding that cost completely.
This is such an amazing idea! I don't have a partner and therefore only my own bank account in the first place, but I think I could do a similar thing just NOT buying any snacks during my regular supermarket visit and forcing myself to go another time if I want something else.

When I was working hard to reduce grocery spend habits, and with kids in the house, I did something similar but different from the above, because kids can't go buy their own snacks...

I would process the groceries in two orders.  The first section was the "food" as described above.  The second section was the "snacks" or branded foods or semi-optional splurge items like expensive grapes, vanilla for baking... all items we did not have to buy THAT DAY.  ($6 of grapes can be eaten by us in one sitting).   I used cash only for the second order, and when the cash was gone in the month, no more snacks until it replenished.

Separating out the "wants" from the "needs" on the grocery line up worked very well to reduce costs.   I should start that again.

You know you're a Mustachian when ... you read this and think 'hey, I do this too' or 'hey, I should try this' instead of 'this lady must be insane'.

I have told very few people about this IRL, and they were all good friends and pretty frugal themselves, and they still think we're out of our minds to put ourselves through this torture.

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #82 on: November 15, 2017, 08:06:43 AM »
Far less purchases of 100% grape must balsamic.  This tiny bottle was quite the splurge. 

Best damn balsamic I have ever had.

Early this year, I found an unopened bottle of real Italian certified balsamic vinegar in a house I was remodelling. Nobody else wanted it, it was "out of date", but I figured hey, it's vinegar-- grape juice already gone bad twice, what more can happen to it-- the seal's still good, it's fine. My wife was VERY happy about that find.
Oh heck yeah!  That doesn't go bad.

I made my dinner last night and looked in my pantry and fridge.  Yes, lots of higher quality ingredients.  Kerry gold butter.  Muir glen tomatoes in a can, and artisana tahini.  Although, I did get the tahini at Gross out, so it was a deep discount. 

Last month we spent 640, but it looks that we are on track to spend about $100 less this month.  Baby steps.  HAHA

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #83 on: November 15, 2017, 08:53:13 AM »
(Incidentally, exclusively grain-fed chickens and their eggs are not worth paying extra for. Chickens are omnivores. Forcing them to be vegetarians is not in their best interest.)

I keep a chicken pen with spoiled-rotten pets that produce garden fertilizer and eggs. I guarantee you that any chicken that has access to the outdoors is *not* vegetarian.

The finances for chickens are rough; you have to DIY a lot and balance the number of birds you have with the availability of garden scraps and other things to feed them. It can't be made to work with just two or three birds. I generally try to have about half a dozen at a time so that I can sell my surplus eggs. Because I did that for a few years, it gradually paid for what I'd spent on the secondhand coop, the Chicken Fort Knox run I had to build after the chupacabra incident, and the cost of the birds themselves and the kibble they eat when there aren't enough chicken scraps or weeds from the yard. I briefly crossed the threshold into "free eggs" then and was actually making a few bucks. It took me about five years to reach that point, though. Presently, I'm down to five birds, one of whom is special needs. A bag of kibble costs me about $15 and lasts two to three months. The fingerbiters (as I affectionately call them) are closer to retirement age and they average one and a half dozen eggs per week with seasonal fluctuations. I can't buy eggs that cheaply, especially in a bunch of bizarre colors like blue, green, or chocolate brown.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #84 on: November 15, 2017, 09:02:30 AM »
Note - I am definitely not compassionate when it comes to hens; IMO the battery-raised white ones are barely above "fish" on the intelligence scale... very unlike a typical backyard hen.

The breed used for battery hens (generally leghorns or production reds) is just as intelligent as any Ameraucana or Rhode Island Red if you raise them the same way. They make decent backyard pets although I don't favor white birds because they attract too much attention from predators.

Now if you want a truly idiotic bird-shaped object, the Cornish Rock (meat production bird) is the stupidest thing on the planet that actually has feathers. The breed has deteriorated since my grandmother and aunts and uncles raised them on the farm in what would now be called a pastured, relatively free-range fashion. I raised a few of these "freezer bait" objects for a few weeks and they do nothing but eat and poop. They have been selectively bred to eat, gain weight, and do nothing else. Compared to the normal chickens their age they are dumber than a bag of hammers. They are not curious, they don't interact with each other, they don't really experience pain or discomfort, and all they think about is food. One of them even got caught in its own food dispenser at the age of six weeks. After raising some once, I'm overcome with revulsion and have a strong desire to just kill every Cornish Rock bird I see. Seriously: eradicating the subspecies would probably improve the planet. I've got no guilt about eating factory-farmed Cornish Rock because those aren't animals. If you were growing chicken breast in a jar in a lab somehow, it would probably have more intelligence, perception, and self-awareness.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #85 on: November 15, 2017, 09:16:27 AM »
Note - I am definitely not compassionate when it comes to hens; IMO the battery-raised white ones are barely above "fish" on the intelligence scale... very unlike a typical backyard hen.

The breed used for battery hens (generally leghorns or production reds) is just as intelligent as any Ameraucana or Rhode Island Red if you raise them the same way. They make decent backyard pets although I don't favor white birds because they attract too much attention from predators.

Now if you want a truly idiotic bird-shaped object, the Cornish Rock (meat production bird) is the stupidest thing on the planet that actually has feathers. The breed has deteriorated since my grandmother and aunts and uncles raised them on the farm in what would now be called a pastured, relatively free-range fashion. I raised a few of these "freezer bait" objects for a few weeks and they do nothing but eat and poop. They have been selectively bred to eat, gain weight, and do nothing else. Compared to the normal chickens their age they are dumber than a bag of hammers. They are not curious, they don't interact with each other, they don't really experience pain or discomfort, and all they think about is food. One of them even got caught in its own food dispenser at the age of six weeks. After raising some once, I'm overcome with revulsion and have a strong desire to just kill every Cornish Rock bird I see. Seriously: eradicating the subspecies would probably improve the planet. I've got no guilt about eating factory-farmed Cornish Rock because those aren't animals. If you were growing chicken breast in a jar in a lab somehow, it would probably have more intelligence, perception, and self-awareness.

100% there with you on Leghorns vs Cornish. The only thing dumber I've raised than the Cornish are production turkeys. People aren't exaggerating when they talk about them drowning in 1/2" deep water dishes because they just... don't take their faces out. (Never saw the 'looking up drowining in the rain' thing though). But yeah, one year my brother left his Cornish too long before we killed them- "green muscle disease" and all (ie, they grow so big so fast they can't supply their muscle with enough hemoglobin, causing discoloration. Their legs bow and start not supporting them too. When the legs started bowing is when Husband and I told my brother to let us help him process them that weekend, otherwise we were going to do a mass mercy killing without his help and keep the meat ourselves. One way or another, it was cruel to keep them alive any longer). Since then, I've also had a deep combination of pity and revulsion for those poor freaks of the bird world.

Adore backyard chickens though. I'd say the Leghorns are usually more skittish than the other varieties, but they have sense enough to keep themselves alive fairly well, find food, participate in the social structure, that sort of thing.
...man, now I really want chickens again. Friggin neighborhood rules. Increasingly tempted to ignore them and see who complains...

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #86 on: November 15, 2017, 10:35:35 AM »
For snacks, we've started a thought experiment.  I pointed out to my daughter a few weeks ago that for the same price we spent on utterly scrumptious cake pops at a new bakery, we could have bought an entire bag of Oreos.  She's still talking about how good and pretty the cake pops are.  The Oreos would have been forgotten as soon as they'd been swallowed.

Now, when we grocery shop, we think about whether we're really getting our money's worth out of those snacks.  The cake pops are the standard - if it's not as much enjoyment as those, we probably don't want to waste our money today.  The kids are mostly on board with this.

I'm still working on whittling our grocery budget down, but avoiding snack foods is helping.

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #87 on: November 15, 2017, 10:41:11 AM »
(Incidentally, exclusively grain-fed chickens and their eggs are not worth paying extra for. Chickens are omnivores. Forcing them to be vegetarians is not in their best interest.)
I keep a chicken pen with spoiled-rotten pets that produce garden fertilizer and eggs. I guarantee you that any chicken that has access to the outdoors is *not* vegetarian.

That was part of my point. :)

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #88 on: November 15, 2017, 12:11:37 PM »
For snacks, we've started a thought experiment.  I pointed out to my daughter a few weeks ago that for the same price we spent on utterly scrumptious cake pops at a new bakery, we could have bought an entire bag of Oreos.  She's still talking about how good and pretty the cake pops are.  The Oreos would have been forgotten as soon as they'd been swallowed.

Now, when we grocery shop, we think about whether we're really getting our money's worth out of those snacks.  The cake pops are the standard - if it's not as much enjoyment as those, we probably don't want to waste our money today.  The kids are mostly on board with this.

I'm still working on whittling our grocery budget down, but avoiding snack foods is helping.

We don't buy any snack foods much at all, besides the cheese bagels...which should be eliminated from my diet.  It's my cheat. 

The only snack really is our habit of buying an exercise bar that I buy from my friend's bakery.  They are high quality, but they are $3 a piece.  Yes, anti-mustachian for sure.

I do buy nuts and eat them regularly.  They are expensive.  Don't want to cut them out, because they are so nutritious and I need the protein, if I don't eat meat on certain days.  Beans are good, but I can't eat them every day. 

My menu today tells the tale of my bad grocery habits:

oatmeal for breakfast with milk poured over it, and currants for added nicety
pecans
raw carrots
pomegranate arils (one pom will be three servings of snacks)
one avocado with lime juice squeezed over it
green salad
scalloped potatoes
chicken breast (bought an organic chicken on markdown.  It was as cheap as the foster farms.  Cut most of the meat off the bones.  Made the meat into different dishes.  Cooked the bones for soup.  We had the soup for lunches last week)

Tass

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #89 on: November 15, 2017, 01:42:00 PM »
How much of your nut intake can you switch to peanuts? Around here they're half the price of almost anything else, so I've been learning to really appreciate them. (They don't work in banana bread, though.)

marielle

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #90 on: November 15, 2017, 01:48:00 PM »
I don't think the nuts are the problem unless they're really expensive there. Usually when I do the math they're $5 or cheaper for 2000 calories, meaning nuts themselves won't throw your budget out of whack and are actually pretty cheap when you look at it. Pomegranates and avocados might be a problem though. If avocados are $1.50-$2.00 and you're having one a day, that's more than what one entire meal could cost. Salad may be expensive too if you're buying pre-cut/pre-washed fancy artisan organic lettuce. That could easily be $2 worth of lettuce just for one meal. Cut romaine or cheap iceberg lettuce yourself. And so on.

katscratch

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #91 on: November 15, 2017, 03:03:41 PM »
Bracken_Joy your linky post upthread is a keeper! Tons of good ideas in those!

There are a lot of great posts here!


I'm chronically fighting grocery spend creep. I think my tastes are similar to yours, ACyclist. I average about double the calories of my peers in my age and height range. I have endocrine issues that prefer very little carbs, so no delicious bagels for me ;) Cheese - from a cheese shop or counter in the co-op or directly from a farm - was and is my soft spot. I had a cheese-only CSA share from a sheep farm for a while. Bread from the bakery first thing in the morning also used to be a weekly thing (my body took care of this habit, ha).

Things I've done in the past year:
* Limited my fancy cheese to one item per month. Something that was a habit is now a ridiculously luxurious treat that I look forward to with great pleasure!
* Started meal planning and batch cooking for the week - and it took me a good six months to get this truly figured out. I still struggle if anything happens to throw me off my routine.
* Put breakfast on auto pilot! I eat 3 eggs, yogurt, and steel cut oats with bulk purchase pecans for breakfast.
* Love leftovers - I now cook bigger portions of a dish and divvy it up for my lunches all week. Same for dinner most weeks. This time of year it's usually a casserole-type of dish or chicken/rice or squash/veggies.
* Scale down salads - I eat salad every day but instead of local greens and imported fruit and really really really damn good balsamic, I buy bags of spinach and mixed greens and skip the arugula (sob), use bulk pecans, feta cheese, dried fruit, balsamic-style vinegar with a bit of oil, a bunch of spices to suit my mood for the day instead of fresh herbs, and either squash or potato tossed in the mix (can do beans only rarely).
* no snacks - which you already do
* jar of nut butter stashed at work just in case I have an adrenal episode; same in my bike bag du jour on longer rides w/packages of honey - no bar pr gel purchases ever, but then I'm a randonneuse rather than racer so slow and steady is my jam and is easy to do with food I make myself
* I eat on repeat for several weeks, then change up my recipes. This helps me use up food when I'm still adapting to batch cooking. And I get bored, except for breakfast. But not so bored that I have to make dinner from scratch every night ;)
* I am a total snob and have flash frozen fresh caught salmon from a friend in my deep freeze. Otherwise I just do canned salmon and make spicy fish cakes.
* I stick to localish and seasonal produce over organic, partly for my personal ethics and partly for price. I prefer to buy produce that hasn't been sprayed and the farms here that don't spray are not certified organic, because that would be detrimental to animal husbandry. All the certified organic farms I've visited use just as much pesticide as the non-organic farms, it's just an approved pesticide (as was mentioned upthread). I don't buy bananas or avocadoes anymore, or pomegranate etc. I can get the same nutrition from squash and berries at a fraction of the price and I stay true to my personal values relating to industrial agriculture.

Basically I simplified my diet to the basic ingredients - I get the same nutritive value but dumbed down my flavor profile. The funny part is that now, a year in, I look forward to my simple butternut soup and salad just as much as I previously did my elaborate meals with garnishes and embellishments. I truly savor the taste of the actual food I am preparing rather than relying on the interplay of different flavors.

I've used Eat This Much and Cronometer (this was my fave) to track micronutrients, especially when I first had to drastically change my diet. I can see that eating on repeat with biweekly changeups is getting me adequate nutrition over a month.

I do need to go back to tracking grocery spending separate from household spending, though! I wonder how much of my upward shift lately is buying toilet paper for three women instead of just me :)

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #92 on: November 15, 2017, 03:36:38 PM »
How much of your nut intake can you switch to peanuts? Around here they're half the price of almost anything else, so I've been learning to really appreciate them. (They don't work in banana bread, though.)

I do eat peanuts, but not too much of them.  Last night, I was eating Adams peanut butter off the spoon.  HAHA

Peanuts are in my diet, but just not the only nuts in my diet.  My favorite is almonds.

Cashews are in there too, but I am out.  :(

I don't think the nuts are the problem unless they're really expensive there. Usually when I do the math they're $5 or cheaper for 2000 calories, meaning nuts themselves won't throw your budget out of whack and are actually pretty cheap when you look at it. Pomegranates and avocados might be a problem though. If avocados are $1.50-$2.00 and you're having one a day, that's more than what one entire meal could cost. Salad may be expensive too if you're buying pre-cut/pre-washed fancy artisan organic lettuce. That could easily be $2 worth of lettuce just for one meal. Cut romaine or cheap iceberg lettuce yourself. And so on.

I buy head lettuce, and process it myself.  It is organic tho  <blush> .  Red leaf lettuce is my thing.  :)  Nothing in my cart is ever pre-washed, pre-grated, sliced, etc.  Raw and whole only.

The avocado is about 2-3 a week.  Last time I got them for .88 each.

ACyclist

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #93 on: November 15, 2017, 03:42:00 PM »
Bracken_Joy your linky post upthread is a keeper! Tons of good ideas in those!

There are a lot of great posts here!


I'm chronically fighting grocery spend creep. I think my tastes are similar to yours, ACyclist. I average about double the calories of my peers in my age and height range. I have endocrine issues that prefer very little carbs, so no delicious bagels for me ;) Cheese - from a cheese shop or counter in the co-op or directly from a farm - was and is my soft spot. I had a cheese-only CSA share from a sheep farm for a while. Bread from the bakery first thing in the morning also used to be a weekly thing (my body took care of this habit, ha).

Things I've done in the past year:
* Limited my fancy cheese to one item per month. Something that was a habit is now a ridiculously luxurious treat that I look forward to with great pleasure!
* Started meal planning and batch cooking for the week - and it took me a good six months to get this truly figured out. I still struggle if anything happens to throw me off my routine.
* Put breakfast on auto pilot! I eat 3 eggs, yogurt, and steel cut oats with bulk purchase pecans for breakfast.
* Love leftovers - I now cook bigger portions of a dish and divvy it up for my lunches all week. Same for dinner most weeks. This time of year it's usually a casserole-type of dish or chicken/rice or squash/veggies.
* Scale down salads - I eat salad every day but instead of local greens and imported fruit and really really really damn good balsamic, I buy bags of spinach and mixed greens and skip the arugula (sob), use bulk pecans, feta cheese, dried fruit, balsamic-style vinegar with a bit of oil, a bunch of spices to suit my mood for the day instead of fresh herbs, and either squash or potato tossed in the mix (can do beans only rarely).
* no snacks - which you already do
* jar of nut butter stashed at work just in case I have an adrenal episode; same in my bike bag du jour on longer rides w/packages of honey - no bar pr gel purchases ever, but then I'm a randonneuse rather than racer so slow and steady is my jam and is easy to do with food I make myself
* I eat on repeat for several weeks, then change up my recipes. This helps me use up food when I'm still adapting to batch cooking. And I get bored, except for breakfast. But not so bored that I have to make dinner from scratch every night ;)
* I am a total snob and have flash frozen fresh caught salmon from a friend in my deep freeze. Otherwise I just do canned salmon and make spicy fish cakes.
* I stick to localish and seasonal produce over organic, partly for my personal ethics and partly for price. I prefer to buy produce that hasn't been sprayed and the farms here that don't spray are not certified organic, because that would be detrimental to animal husbandry. All the certified organic farms I've visited use just as much pesticide as the non-organic farms, it's just an approved pesticide (as was mentioned upthread). I don't buy bananas or avocadoes anymore, or pomegranate etc. I can get the same nutrition from squash and berries at a fraction of the price and I stay true to my personal values relating to industrial agriculture.

Basically I simplified my diet to the basic ingredients - I get the same nutritive value but dumbed down my flavor profile. The funny part is that now, a year in, I look forward to my simple butternut soup and salad just as much as I previously did my elaborate meals with garnishes and embellishments. I truly savor the taste of the actual food I am preparing rather than relying on the interplay of different flavors.

I've used Eat This Much and Cronometer (this was my fave) to track micronutrients, especially when I first had to drastically change my diet. I can see that eating on repeat with biweekly changeups is getting me adequate nutrition over a month.

I do need to go back to tracking grocery spending separate from household spending, though! I wonder how much of my upward shift lately is buying toilet paper for three women instead of just me :)

You are awesome.  Very inspiring.

I admit to being very spoiled in regards to fee. The MS thing made me "throw down the gauntlet."  Although, I became sort of a food snob in the process.  My grocery spending reflects that.  Like, the ridiculous pure Modena balsamic. 

We don't drink alcohol at all, so I had always justified fine olive oil and balsamic to my fine wine.

katscratch

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #94 on: November 15, 2017, 03:49:17 PM »
That balsamic is so, so good.....I used to make a strawberry rhubarb balsamic vanilla sauce for canning with it. Yum.

Well then I won't admit I had a coffee subscription last year for fresh-roasted and delivered-by-bike beans that was $18 for half a pound :D

....I have since come back to my money-saving senses on that one; the AeroPress tends to make subpar roasts taste better than they are, and I've come to like Bustelo pre-ground coffee just fine :)

Goldielocks

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #95 on: November 15, 2017, 09:13:20 PM »
Note - I am definitely not compassionate when it comes to hens; IMO the battery-raised white ones are barely above "fish" on the intelligence scale... very unlike a typical backyard hen.

The breed used for battery hens (generally leghorns or production reds) is just as intelligent as any Ameraucana or Rhode Island Red if you raise them the same way. They make decent backyard pets although I don't favor white birds because they attract too much attention from predators.

Now if you want a truly idiotic bird-shaped object, the Cornish Rock (meat production bird) is the stupidest thing on the planet that actually has feathers. The breed has deteriorated since my grandmother and aunts and uncles raised them on the farm in what would now be called a pastured, relatively free-range fashion. I raised a few of these "freezer bait" objects for a few weeks and they do nothing but eat and poop. They have been selectively bred to eat, gain weight, and do nothing else. Compared to the normal chickens their age they are dumber than a bag of hammers. They are not curious, they don't interact with each other, they don't really experience pain or discomfort, and all they think about is food. One of them even got caught in its own food dispenser at the age of six weeks. After raising some once, I'm overcome with revulsion and have a strong desire to just kill every Cornish Rock bird I see. Seriously: eradicating the subspecies would probably improve the planet. I've got no guilt about eating factory-farmed Cornish Rock because those aren't animals. If you were growing chicken breast in a jar in a lab somehow, it would probably have more intelligence, perception, and self-awareness.

That's it!  those are the chickens I saw.   !   I take back what I said about the egg layers, then... obviously white chicken =/= white hen.

Imma

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Re: I'm trying really I am, but the grocery spend...OOF
« Reply #96 on: November 16, 2017, 02:27:14 AM »


My menu today tells the tale of my bad grocery habits:

oatmeal for breakfast with milk poured over it, and currants for added nicety
pecans
raw carrots

pomegranate arils (one pom will be three servings of snacks)
one avocado with lime juice squeezed over it
green salad

scalloped potatoes

chicken breast (bought an organic chicken on markdown.  It was as cheap as the foster farms.  Cut most of the meat off the bones.  Made the meat into different dishes.  Cooked the bones for soup.  We had the soup for lunches last week)

Actually you're doing pretty well already! Unless grocery prices are extremely different over there, everything I've made bold is super cheap. A head of lettuce is cheap, salad is only expensive if you buy the pre-bagged variety. Potatoes, carrots and oatmeal are dirt cheap. Of course, pomegranates, avocados and organic chicken are expensive, but it there are quite a few cheap staples in your diet already.