Author Topic: Dagnab this Grocery Bill  (Read 22483 times)

Katnina

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #50 on: July 25, 2013, 10:42:34 PM »
Thank you for those suggestions for what to do for my sister!


--Food that can be eaten with one hand.
--Little towels (to clean up spit up, etc).
--If she's cloth diapering, then diaper covers and/or Chinese prefolds or diaper service.

Newborns really don't need much besides breasts and some clothes, so I don't have much more to add than that! I'd focus on the mom and making sure she has time to take a shower and to eat. =-)

oldtoyota's got great tips. I will add that it's best to freeze the casseroles in 2-portion sizes so they don't have to thaw a huge casserole for just the 2 of them. Bring over tons of healthy snacks and you will be their hero ;)

Something random that was super useful when I was nursing was a camelbak -- I hung it on the back of the glider and chugged water while my son nursed. It's a great hands-free way to stay hydrated (and at first, I needed both hands to nurse). If you have one of those, she might really appreciate the loaner.

You guys are geniuses!

oldtoyota

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #51 on: July 27, 2013, 08:06:36 PM »
Guess what?! I did it. I have 76 cents left in my budget, and I am going to make it through July on a tiny bit less than my goal of $425.

I was thinking about how some people told me not to worry about how much I spend. I both agree and disagree. I agree that cases exist when it makes sense not to freak out about the small stuff. I am also happy I challenged myself because I love challenges, and I was forced to learn a few things.

The most important thing I learned was that we go to the store every week partly out of habit as opposed to need. We do need and want fresh veggies. However, we often have many items in the pantry that we could use. What happened before is that we would buy new food and still have pantry food left, so we were always buying a bit more than we really needed.


Katnina

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #52 on: July 28, 2013, 02:43:40 AM »
Yay! Well done!

Another thing to consider is it's okay for your grocery bill to fluctuate every month, as long as you are averaging out to your target.
For example: we got 4 $10 off a $75 purchase coupons at my favorite grocery store for the month of June.  One could be used per week.  So I spent $75-80 (less the coupon) every week in June, stocking up on staples, and this month, we've spent about $40 on groceries.  We have our CSA for produce, but we had that in June too-I just bought a TON of pasta, flour, dried beans, canned tomatoes, and tofu every week in June to use for the next few months.
So, if there is ever a really good sale at your grocery store, take advantage even if it puts you over budget in the current month (provided, of course, you have the cash to spend, don't do it if you're broke) because you'll have a stocked pantry or freezer which you can use up in the coming months, and you'll be spending less in those months while using up your food 'stash.

CanuckStache

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #53 on: July 28, 2013, 07:48:37 AM »
Generally, I soak the beans overnight, then I use the 'bean water' in my garden.

Then, instead of using water in the slow cooker..I use a 50/50 water/homemade chicken stock mix. Adds SOOO much flavour to the beans, not to mention the nutritional value.

Then I'll also add a diced onion, and whatever spices I feel like. Lately since my garden is producing loads of hot habenero peppers, I'll dice up a pepper or two and put that in. Then, I just let it cook on low for about 8 hours.

Provides several meals through out the week and it's just SO cheap - and I love combining it with the chicken stock (homemade!!! never buy the crap you see in the store. Night and day difference).


I would just echo some of the others and see if you can work in beans once a week.  We generally make a big pot of black beans in the crock pot (or on a weekend) and have beans and rice a few times a week.  A bag of beans costs about $1 and can provide several meals when put over rice or into tacos.  Super healthy, easy, and delicious!

I realize it sounds like it should be simple, but how do you all make beans in the crockpot?

I've tried this so many times, because I eat a lot of beans and it would be more economical that way (vs. canned, which we eat now). But whenever I try to make them in the crockpot, they come out crunchy or mushy or just really bland.

I can make pretty good beans on the stove, but ain't nobody got time for that.

MrsPete

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #54 on: July 28, 2013, 09:37:00 PM »
Your grocery bill is one of the easiest bills to control, but learning how to obtain food for less is an ever-evolving skill.  You won't succeed if you set out to feed yourself for $50/person/month right now!  That's just not feasible.  However, if you pick out 1-2 problem spots and work on them, you'll find ways to lower those portions of your food bill . . . then you can attack a couple more problem spots. 

Some suggestions:

- Start with beverages.  Years ago I read that 30% of the average grocery bill goes to buy beverages, most of which add little nutrition to the family's diet.  I believe it:  12-oz sodas, juice boxes, energy drinks, even milk -- these things cost a fortune, and let's not even talk about alcohol!  Iced tea and powdered lemonade are much cheaper than most other drinks, and water (tap water, I mean) is free. 

- The supermarket is convenient, but you pay for that convenience.  Look around for alternative sources.  I shop at the farmer's market (in season), a beef co-op, a health food store (most items are super-expensive, but a few things are wonderful bargains), several ethnic grocery stores, the day-old bread store, Aldis, and a couple online sources.  No, I don't hit up each one every week; rather, over the years I've kept records, and I know which stores sell which items cheapest -- so when I go to the Asian grocery store, which is a long drive for me, I buy plenty of won-ton wrappers, and freeze them; when I'm going towards the health food store, I take time to check all my spices because I know they're super-cheap there.  I do not buy food at the Dollar Store or Big Lots because often that food is outdated.  Except for baby formula, it is legal to sell outdated food, but I personally choose not to buy it. 

- Don't feel the need to put out a huge spread every night.  Every dinner doesn't have to include a meat, starch and vegetable.  It's fine to have pinto beans and cornbread or other very simple but satisfying meals a couple nights per week.  Even if you have company, a really good soup or chili along with a loaf of homemade bread or a pan of cornbread is a delicious dinner.

- Have soup for free every couple weeks:  When you finish up your dinner each evening, and you find that you have 1/2 a serving of beans left, don't toss them.  Instead, put them into a ziplock bag in your freezer.  Keep adding your leftover veggies and that last bit of meat . . . and after a week or so, cook them up with a can of tomatoes or some chicken broth, and you'll have soup . . . for free!  Okay, not quite free, but mostly from those last couple spoonfuls that would've gone into the trash.  This soup is sometimes wonderful, other times not so great . . . but I've never had it come out really badly.   

- Have one cup of chili or 1/2 a steak left over?  Tomorrow night cook up a couple big fat baked potatoes, and serve them with those leftovers spooned over the top.  Add a bit of vegetable and a some cheese, and it's a great meal.  Similarly, add that little bit of leftover to a pasta salad. 

- Instead of serving everyone a steak or a chicken breast, slice them thinly before serving -- do fan the meat out in an attractive way.  Lots of time we eat what's put in front of us, even if half that much would've been satisfying. 

- Cooking from scratch can be very cheap . . . or very expensive.  Let's talk about cookies as an example:  I can make a recipe of sugar cookies or oatmeal cookies for about $1.50; however, if I make something that includes add-ins, the price goes up fast.  Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Scotchies will run about $2.50, and if I make white-chocolate-chip-cherry-cookies, it'll be more like $5 for a similar-sized batch. 

- Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be very cheap . . . or very expensive.  Red Delicious apples in a bag are cheap.  Individually chosen HoneyCrisp apples do taste better (and I am going to plant a HoneyCrisp apple tree this fall), but they offer no additional nutrition and cost much more.  And pre-sliced apples in a Mickey-mouse shaped package are so ridiculously over-priced that I can't believe they're actually sold. 

- Learn to preserve food when it's cheap.  For example, bell peppers are rather expensive, so when you find them cheap at the farmer's market, buy a bunch, flash-freeze them, and enjoy them for several months.  In contrast, unless you have unlimited storage space, do not waste your freezer space on bulky items like microwave pancakes. 

- Invest in good, classic kitchen equipment.  If you're going to cook, it's a worthwhile investment.  It makes much more sense than buying an expensive power tool that you'll use twice and never touch again.  I love my KitchenAid mixer, my crock pots, my good knives, and my Lodge Dutch oven.  Lots more too.

The ways to save on your food bill are near-endless.  Pick a couple ideas and start using them.  Pretty soon you'll see a difference in your grocery bill. 


Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #55 on: July 29, 2013, 07:39:49 AM »

- Have soup for free every couple weeks:  When you finish up your dinner each evening, and you find that you have 1/2 a serving of beans left, don't toss them.  Instead, put them into a ziplock bag in your freezer.  Keep adding your leftover veggies and that last bit of meat . . . and after a week or so, cook them up with a can of tomatoes or some chicken broth, and you'll have soup . . . for free!  Okay, not quite free, but mostly from those last couple spoonfuls that would've gone into the trash.  This soup is sometimes wonderful, other times not so great . . . but I've never had it come out really badly.   


This is a great idea! I currently make our own stock from scraps of veggies (carrot peelings, bell pepper stems and seeds, onion husks, etc.) and chicken bones by adding them to a ziploc bag in the freezer. I never thought of freezing the actual soup components. We invariably throw out 1/3 can of beans every other week or so and occasionally have cooked chicken, pasta, couscous, or rice that doesn't get eaten. Just be sure to label the Ziplocs so you know what's scraps and what's stew! This is going to be some fabulous soup :)

oldtoyota

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #56 on: July 30, 2013, 09:02:51 PM »
Great ideas! Thank you.

swick

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Re: Dagnab this Grocery Bill
« Reply #57 on: July 30, 2013, 09:44:02 PM »
This is our favorite recipe for crockpot "re-fried" beans.
http://www.alaskafromscratch.com/2013/01/08/crockpot-refried-beans/

Lately we have been making a big pot every couple of weeks. Crockpot a chicken and make a pot of rice at the same time and you have the building blocks for a lot of quick and healthy meals. You are responsible for adding your own veggies, we usually do a side of salad or coleslaw.

Rice bowls with beans, chicken, salsa and cheese,
Bean soup (save the leftover cooking liquid)
Burritos
Enchiladas
Quesadillas
Nachos....
The rice bowl idea also makes some awesome freezer meals. I layer rice, chicken and beans in yogurt tubs and freeze them. Let thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat at work. Hubby loves these and adds his own salsa and cheese and hot sauce. He said they don't taste like they were frozen at all.

You don't need too much chicken to flavor everything, so we usually get about 5 meals for the two of us and a few lunches out of one bird, I separate the meat as soon as it cooks (way easier with a crock pot bird) and the trun the crock back on and make stock with the bones and whatever scraps I happen to have been saving.