Author Topic: Good resource to reduce food bill  (Read 9569 times)

FastStache

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Good resource to reduce food bill
« on: April 25, 2014, 03:24:23 PM »
I'm looking for websites or books (free through prime, safari or library) to help my family reduce our food bill.

We know of the major things but it doens't seem to really reduce our bill.

1. Shop in bulk
2. Make a list of prices to identify deals
3. Less meat
4. Buy what's on sale and not particular ingredients.
5. Shop Aldi's

Looking for any suggestion. 

greatreader

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2014, 03:52:37 PM »
Google the Hillbilly Housewife. Some of the pricing might be outdated, but her ideas are still good.

deborah

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 05:27:53 PM »
http://120dollarsfoodchallenge.com/

She lost her job, and decided that she had to live on $120 a week food in Australia (where food is more expensive). Lots and lots of recipes.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 08:18:46 PM »
Learning a few master recipes that can take inexpensive but varied ingredients based on what is in season can help a lot.

I'm bad about writing up my cooking, but I really like this blog by a fellow Mustachian:

http://smallthingsgood.com/

Her food prices are NYC, so your actual cost may be lower.

wtjbatman

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2014, 09:29:27 PM »
http://120dollarsfoodchallenge.com/

She lost her job, and decided that she had to live on $120 a week food in Australia (where food is more expensive). Lots and lots of recipes.

Yikes, how much more expensive? I live in America (midwest) and I spend about $30 a week. Not including the occasional meal out, so if it was all home cooked food, maybe closer to $40 a week I guess.

Zikoris

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2014, 11:34:28 PM »
Track and categorize every penny you spend on groceries for a month, and keep a food journal to see exactly what you're eating. Everyone has their weak points that they overspend on, so identify those. Common overspending that showed up in the grocery tracking thread were convenience foods, snacks, and beverages.

nikki

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2014, 11:43:59 PM »
http://www.budgetbytes.com/ is another good website for cheap and awesome meal ideas.

This might be painfully obvious, but don't forget to actually eat the food you already have. I build meals around what's in my pantry and fridge, using up things that are approaching expiration first, and I try to avoid buying new things if at all possible (substitutions ahoy!).

mxt0133

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2014, 11:47:56 PM »
Yikes, how much more expensive? I live in America (midwest) and I spend about $30 a week. Not including the occasional meal out, so if it was all home cooked food, maybe closer to $40 a week I guess.

Could you please give me a sample of your grocery list for the week, I really want to know how you get it down to $30 a week?  Please let me know if you also grow or get food for other sources without spending money.

Argyle

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2014, 11:53:52 PM »
The blog of "A Girl Called Jack" (Jack Monroe), which has the lowest-cost recipes I've ever seen.

http://agirlcalledjack.com/category/recipes-food/

agent_clone

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2014, 12:09:42 AM »
http://120dollarsfoodchallenge.com/

She lost her job, and decided that she had to live on $120 a week food in Australia (where food is more expensive). Lots and lots of recipes.

Yikes, how much more expensive? I live in America (midwest) and I spend about $30 a week. Not including the occasional meal out, so if it was all home cooked food, maybe closer to $40 a week I guess.

It depends on what your eating.  I spent $135 at supermarkets the last fortnight (two weeks), of which $46 was unecessary junk which I am trying to cut back on.  I also had lunch out about 6 times (for various reasons).  This is for one person.  If I ate a lot of meat I would expect it to be a bit more.  I did ok on $35 a week of food when I was in university ending 2006.  For a single person $50-60 is doable as long as your cooking your own food (i.e. not buying a lot of prepackaged stuff) and depending on how much food you consume.

That $120 is for her entire family, of who knows how many people.

If you want to compare our largest supermarket retailers are Coles and Woolworths both have websites, the woolworths one doesn't require a post code to view the shop online section.

jbow808

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2014, 12:12:15 AM »
If you're looking for best buys based on nutritional value check out the attached spread sheet.
Basically the best bang for your buck when it comes to protein is offal and gizzards, with ground turkey rounding out the top ten.
For fruits and veg, your best bets are - Watermelon, bananas, and apples, for fruits and cabbage, potatoes, and carrots for veggies.

wtjbatman

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2014, 12:15:44 AM »
Yikes, how much more expensive? I live in America (midwest) and I spend about $30 a week. Not including the occasional meal out, so if it was all home cooked food, maybe closer to $40 a week I guess.

Could you please give me a sample of your grocery list for the week, I really want to know how you get it down to $30 a week?  Please let me know if you also grow or get food for other sources without spending money.

I don't have my latest receipt in front of me, but when I go shopping I buy things like:

Chicken breast
Beans
Rice
Frozen Vegetables
Whole Wheat Pasta
Jar sauces
Milk
Cereal/Oatmeal
Coffee

That's only around $30, but keep in mind that it doesn't include things I buy only once every couple months (spices, olive oil, etc), but then again milk, oatmeal, beans, and coffee frequently last me longer than a week.

That weekly figure might be throwing you off. Think that $30-40 a week is $120-160 a month. I think for one person following mustachian ways, that's very doable. My grocery budget wasn't always this low, I can thank this website for that. My mint budget for groceries is $150 a month, I've gone over and I've gone under. But it's not entirely accurate because I don't break down my receipts from grocery stores to exclude non-food items. So if I buy a new belt at Wal-Mart or Target at the same time as I buy food, it usually ends up under my food budget. I don't care, I'm not that anal about tracking my spending ;)

Edit: And I could be reaching here, but I see that you live in San Francisco. It's possible that some items, especially staple foods, could be cheaper here in the midwest where I live.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2014, 12:17:26 AM by wtjbatman »

wtjbatman

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2014, 12:19:45 AM »
That $120 is for her entire family, of who knows how many people.

There you go. I have enough fun trying to encourage my girlfriend to keep her grocery spending down, she loves buying more expensive food since "it tastes better". If I had to pay for her plus kids, well my budget would be a pipe dream :)

1967mama

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2014, 12:39:30 AM »
Just returned "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half" by Steve and Annette Economides to the the library today. It was excellent. I took notes!

They also have a website:

http://www.moneysmartfamily.com

And if you google them, there are quite a few videos, and interviews online.

Primm

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2014, 05:17:43 AM »
http://120dollarsfoodchallenge.com/

She lost her job, and decided that she had to live on $120 a week food in Australia (where food is more expensive). Lots and lots of recipes.

Yikes, how much more expensive? I live in America (midwest) and I spend about $30 a week. Not including the occasional meal out, so if it was all home cooked food, maybe closer to $40 a week I guess.

That $120 is for her entire family, of who knows how many people.

I follow her blog, actually it's $120 a fortnight for a family of 4. So $60 per week.

Bbqmustache

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2014, 05:40:34 AM »
Two ideas from my blog:

One, Buy your lunch meat in chubs!  http://wp.me/p3Ktae-3I

Two, look for a bakery outlet!  http://wp.me/p3Ktae-3O

I own Financial Literacy Conversationshttp://financialliteracyconversations.wordpress.com/, and with a family of five, we look for grocery savings EVERYWHERE!

Beckyemerson

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2014, 07:10:48 AM »
We greatly reduced our food bill by eating less. It was hard at first but we got used to it.

ch12

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2014, 07:32:03 AM »
http://www.budgetbytes.com/ is another good website for cheap and awesome meal ideas.

I love budgetbytes. Beth makes delicious food that doesn't cost much, which is pretty much the holy grail of every family cook ever.

lexie2000

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2014, 08:22:54 AM »
I'm looking for websites or books (free through prime, safari or library) to help my family reduce our food bill.

We know of the major things but it doens't seem to really reduce our bill.

1. Shop in bulk
2. Make a list of prices to identify deals
3. Less meat
4. Buy what's on sale and not particular ingredients.
5. Shop Aldi's

Looking for any suggestion.

I would imagine that the above list would be a great start.  Do you have a grocery clearance type store - one that takes overstock from the chain grocery stores?  If you do, don't hesitate to check it out.  I get some pretty great prices at one that is on our town. 

For decades, we have been able to lower our grocery bill by looking for the foods that we eat on a regular basis at bargain basement prices and stocking up when we find them:  condiments, pantry staples like pasta, meats and cheeses that can be put in the freezer, etc.  Then we do our meal planning based on what we already have in the pantry and freezer adding whatever fresh produce/dairy that we may need in any given week.

The only problem with shopping like this is that it is hard to budget for because depending on what we find that is a good price, some weeks we may spend a lot and other weeks we'll spend very little.

horsepoor

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2014, 08:51:53 AM »
Yikes, how much more expensive? I live in America (midwest) and I spend about $30 a week. Not including the occasional meal out, so if it was all home cooked food, maybe closer to $40 a week I guess.

Could you please give me a sample of your grocery list for the week, I really want to know how you get it down to $30 a week?  Please let me know if you also grow or get food for other sources without spending money.

You might check out the "Categorize all your grocery spending" thread in the Throw Down the Gauntlet forum.  Many single people posting ~$100 monthly food budgets with detailed spending.  It seems they are mostly vegetarian or at least very low meat.

Rezdent

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2014, 10:58:46 AM »
"Independence Days" by Sharon Astyk.  Although her focus is on teaching people food security (and why it matters on a personal level), every principle in that book will lower your costs and help the planet.  Our food costs were eventually cut in half after I read that book (and we're eating better).
Also, I noticed that buying staples in bulk at the best prices didn't reduce my food costs at first.  It took almost 6 months for the bulk buying to start paying off but it is now saving me the most money. Not just food costs but also saves numerous trips to the store.

Davids

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2014, 02:10:51 PM »
I am totally big on your #5, shop at Aldi, I love Aldi. It is usually very cheap, plenty of selection and in my opinion the quality is just as good (except for their mayo, I do not like Aldi Mayo).

Davids

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2014, 02:13:30 PM »
Also another one (if you have them in your area) is shopping at Produce Junction for your fruits and veggies. Way cheaper than grocery stores.

momo5

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2014, 04:23:57 PM »
http://www.budgetbytes.com/ is another good website for cheap and awesome meal ideas.



thanks for posting this link. her recipes look absolutely delicious. I'll be trying some of them this week.

happyfeet

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2014, 05:38:41 PM »
I will get face punched, but before I started reading this website our food bill for two people was in excess of $1000 a month.  We just bought what we wanted.  It was nuts. And that is not even shopping at fancypants stores like Whole paycheck.

With a little planning, shopping at Aldi, buying loss leaders and keeping to the exterior of the store we have halved that to under $500.  Still not great at all.  But better.  My goal is under $400.  After that maybe under $300 and that goal is by Nov 2014.

It takes time and planning.  I would say we are eating better now and less waste. 




sunnyca

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2014, 08:24:48 PM »
As mentioned in another thread, ethnic stores are a great place to get deals. I also do a lot of bulk buying online for staples- if you time it right, it can be significantly cheaper and it's delivered to your door.

Does your family follow a particular way of eating (gluten free, vegetarian, paleo, etc)?  Family size?  That would also help to figure out a more cost-effective way for you to grocery shop.

whiskeyjack

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2014, 11:08:24 PM »
I couldn't keep up to her standard, but this woman is the real deal:  she went to the docks where the container ships were coming in to haggle for food alongside the major suppliers, cooks in bulk, streamlines her recipes to do all the prep work at once, and freezes everything.

She also has lots of ideas about making use of ends and pieces, how to effectively use a dehydrator and other food preservation methods.

http://www.amazon.com/Mega-Cooking-Revolutionary-Plan-Quantity/dp/1581820968/ref=la_B000AQ6YHW_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398661417&sr=1-2

It's been a while since I read it, and I don't think she keeps up that level of organization all the time, but if you want to see the pro-version of how to eat on the cheap, this is it.

MayDay

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2014, 06:34:32 PM »
I would add in gardening, meal planning, and cooking from scratch (ie don't buy boxed snacks or individual portion anything).


Bbqmustache

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2014, 04:50:47 AM »
We love Aldi, sometimes Save A Lot and our local bakery outlet.  Thanks to the poster about mega cooking, we are going to explore this option as frugal choice for both time and money.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2014, 06:17:50 PM »
I'm hear to back up the person with a $30 per week grocery spending. When i moved in with my boyfriend, we eventually fell into a rhythm of fundamental foods we like to eat. We pay ~$60 a week for the two of us for (minimum ever spent was $30, maximum was $80):

7-8 Apples
5 Bananas
Lettuce
Mushrooms (every two weeks)
Broccoli (every two weeks)
Red or white Onion (we occasionally get these free from his parents' garden)
"Special Veggie" (carrots, zucchini, potatoes, this rotates week to week)
1 loaf of bread
1 gallon Milk
Yogurt
Cheese (once a month)
Eggs (once a month)
Meat for him will add about $10, bought from the bargain bin every few weeks.
Tofu for me every other week
Dry pasta
Pasta sauce

We also buy nuts in bulk for snacks and keep stocked on staples like flour, rice, spices, canned veggies and giant bags of cereal that we always have in the house. We don't buy dried beans and only go to Costco a few times a year for a small amount of items (usually things like canned veggies, total ~$400 a year). We avoid name brands about 75% of the time. We sometimes eat boxed Mac and cheese and convenience foods without changing the weekly cost. My boyfriend drinks an expensive green shake mix, but that is not part of our grocery bill. The grocery bill DOES include toothpaste and similar non-food items bought on an irregular

Our weekly recipes are usually:
Lunches-
Sandwiches brought to work every day, with apples, yogurt and nuts as snacks
Leftover of choice with apples, yogurt and nuts
Dinner-
A veggie (sautéed with onion and garlic, broiled with spices, store fried or a salad)
A protein (meat or tofu or beans or just veggies and cheese)
A side (rice, potatoes, pasta, this is often mixed with veggies)
Special recipes when I feel like it: Channa Masala, Phad Thai, pasta puttanesca, homemade pizzas)

Hopefully that is inspiring? We really don't have any tricks other than to buy store brand if it makes sense, avoid food with packaging and don't buy shit we don't need. We don't even plan for loss-leaders in produce but we do say Fuck You to out of season avocados and the like

Offal

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2014, 02:00:53 PM »
Just saw these. They look like useful recipe books for people on a budget:

http://www.leannebrown.ca/cookbooks/

homeymomma

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Re: Good resource to reduce food bill
« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2014, 02:12:45 PM »
This is less helpful perhaps than previous posts, which all look awesome, but I have a cautionary tale. Yes, buying in bulk is great. But beware places like costco! It's so easy for a couple of impulse purchases there to completely negate what you'd be saving by going there at all. We had an impossible time cutting our grocery bill below 500 for months, until we stopped going to costco for a while. Now we are staying under 500 easily every month. Things like goldfish or cheese that might be a small splurge on a regular shopping trip are magnified by 10 at costco.