Author Topic: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?  (Read 21850 times)

Trebek

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #50 on: March 02, 2013, 07:29:45 PM »
Wow- bananas are expensive there.  I regularly see them at $0.39/lb (~$0.86/kg) in the US.

Jebus... $0.86/kg?? Yeah I have a feeling the repeated cyclones that keep destroying all our banana crops are keeping our prices up a bit lol You know at one point a year or two ago they were $12/kg! Was mental...

Well, about six of the 17 food items you posted are processed foods. Maybe this isn't representative of your eating, but yes, you're eating quite a bit of processed foods! IMO, nothing wrong with that, but I did laugh when I read "avoid processed foods like the plague" and then "shaved ham." :)

Which 6 do you consider processed? I consider Rice Crackers and Soft Drink (this is consumed very minimally maybe 1.25Lt per fortnight) to be highly processed. Gluten Free bread (we have considered making this ourselves) and the Lactose Free Milk is processed but not really that bad I don't think. And the only other two possibilities I can see are maybe the can of corn and the ham you mentioned. The can of corn is exactly that... 100% corn in a can (that's it's ingredients list). It's put into a can but ultimately it's just corn so I consider it the same as just buying corn on a cob. By shaved ham I mean get a whole ham... and shave bits off it. It's not meat in a sealed cryo container or anything processed like that it's just straight from the deli shaved off a giant leg of ham. I assume that leg of ham is just as "non-processed" as a giant slab of mince but you never know, either way I don't consider it processed food.

I'm curious as to where all your calories are coming from. You limit meat, and you seem to opt for low-fat products, so I assume that your diet is skewed towards carbs over protein or fat. Was this a conscious decision? Personally, I tend to overeat when my food options are carb-heavy, but not with fat or protein. Fat is calorie-dense, but incredibly satiating. I'm one of those freaks that thinks fears over dietary fat are way overblown, so if you're up for it, I'd say go regular-fat ground beef and full fat milk and see if that makes any difference in your satiety levels and thus grocery spending.

You are correct that our diet is quite heavily skewed towards the carbs end just purely because we try and replace meats with fruit/veg for the most part. Obviously not ALL meats (hence the ~1kg/week) but aside from the higher costs of meat we've mainly cut it down as a lot of things I've read up on say that anything more than about 300/400g per week isn't really that good for you.

As to expanding your repertoire, if your wife tolerates soy, look into Asian cooking. But even without soy, I happily ate a ton of coconut curries and stir fries, which were cheap, easy, and fructose-free.

That's actually not a bad idea. She can take soy fine and I've been wanting to learn how to make butter chicken for a while now, might see what we can bust out :-D

large snip

Thanks for all of those figures, makes it a lot easier to see how prices compare here vs there. To start off with HOLY CRAP corn over there is cheap lol $0.17/150g!??? That's just ridiculous! All your meats seem to be a good 30%+ less than ours from the looks of it as does the fruits. Your whole chickens are especially good too, a 1.5kg whole chicken here would be around the $10 mark as opposed to your $1.74/kg... BIG difference!

But keep a food journal.  I have a spreadsheet in my Dropbox account that I can open on my iPhone.  I record the prices of all of the foods I buy, location, date, unit cost, etc.  So I now know how much food costs, and which stores have the best prices.  Because of that, I know that I need to buy most of my groceries at Aldi.

I think I might have a month of doing this to see how it goes, sounds like a good system (except with Google Spreadsheets and my Galaxy Nexus :P) Also, thanks for the site, tis indeed good!

Lots of good posts here, but having been in Oz just last year for a few months, and being a champion bargain grocery shopper here in the US, I'd say, quite simply, food costs are very nearly double there.

Yeah? Double?? I'd say they're not double if you're a local and know where to go for what but if you have no idea and just walk into where ever (especially in the city area's) holy crap it could be triple or quadruple even.



After reading through everything I think the common threads seem to be:
- Keep a log book of cost/location/size so I can focus in on what's the best price from where (and stock up when I know it's a true special)
- Start shopping at Aldi for as much stuff as we can
- Buy more veg/meat/carbs in bulk and start utilizing our freezer more
- Realise that USA has way cheaper food than stupidly expensive Australia (you seen our house prices BTW?) and maybe aim for $115/week instead of $80/week seeing as most things seem to be around the 30%+ more expensive here

Thanks everyone! :D

mlipps

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #51 on: March 02, 2013, 09:23:30 PM »
Well, to be fair, the things I know the prices of best are meat and dairy, just because that's where I see the biggest variance in price w/least loss of quality here. Meat was really expensive in Oz to me, but I remember the worst was yogurt. I didn't eat any the entire time I was there bc it was just too expensive. I'm sure you're right though that it seemed worst to me than it would to a local. I still think your food is significantly more expensive than ours though.

meadow lark

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #52 on: March 02, 2013, 10:29:48 PM »
Thank you for posting your prices in Oz.  It is a good reminder how easy we actually have it in the US, at least in terms of food prices.  I won't buy cucumbers for more than 3/$1, or grapes for more than $1/lb.  I buy milk for $2.29 a gallon, which pisses me off b/c it was $1.69/gallon 2 yrs ago (in NM.)  I don't see much hunger in the US, although people say it is a big issue.  I, and my friends, have experienced trying to give panhandlers food, only to be told by them, "I don't want food!  I need money!"

happy

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #53 on: March 02, 2013, 10:54:20 PM »
If you have not already seen it:

http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/

She saves quite a lot on her groceries by making most things from scratch, growing a garden, raising chooks, and I believe she shops at IGA and Aldi.  It is the most well written and informative website I have ever seen when it comes down to the mechanics of "how to" simple living.

She lives in Australia too.


Rhonda and her website are wonderful: I read it every day.In fact it was a chance mention in a comment about ERE, that lead me first to ERE and then MMM. The thing is though, that Rhonda and her husband are retired and spend time growing their own food and living frugally by making things and fixing things themselves. They are an inspiration and live on an Aussie pension for a couple which is about $30kAUD. It was a great relief to me to see you could live well on a pension. Much of what they do meshes with MMM.

The problem I have is that fundamentally they spend a lot of time doing things that save money....so to live that way you need to retired i.e. have an income of about 30k a year without working much.  If you are still working you can do some things,  but not the whole package.  In fact I had been searching for ways of generating a $30k income that left me a lot of time free to live a simple life since that is what I aspire to. Part of my decision to become semi-retired was too see if I could spend a bit more time SAVING money rather than spending it.

Eureka! I got moustached! Suddenly I could see a way to retire sooner rather than later...MMM fills in the practical "how to  plan" of the finances.

I've used Rhonda's tips and techniques to save heaps.....but it doesn't really solve the issue of the cost of Aussie food (unless you don't buy it).

Trebek

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #54 on: March 03, 2013, 02:04:35 PM »
Thank you for posting your prices in Oz.  It is a good reminder how easy we actually have it in the US, at least in terms of food prices.  I won't buy cucumbers for more than 3/$1, or grapes for more than $1/lb.  I buy milk for $2.29 a gallon, which pisses me off b/c it was $1.69/gallon 2 yrs ago (in NM.)  I don't see much hunger in the US, although people say it is a big issue.  I, and my friends, have experienced trying to give panhandlers food, only to be told by them, "I don't want food!  I need money!"

No worries :-) I actually went around yesterday and put the vast majority of the foods we mostly buy into an online spreadsheet price book, now I don't have to "estimate" these are real figures as of yesterday:
Cucumber      Aldi      $0.79/each   
Cucumber      Coles   $0.80/each
Grapes      Coles   $2.80/kg (special)
Milk         Coles   $1.00/litre

After crunching the numbers it does seem like Aldi is anywhere from about 30-350% off Coles prices (haven't entered Woolworths yet) which could be a massive saving. From looking through Aldi most of their veg section was quite good quality and yet still decently cheaper. Some where about the same price but there was also things like Lettuce which was $0.99/each vs. $1.98/each.

The big savers are like Deodorant ($4.41/100g vs. $2.39/100g), Wholemeal Bread ($0.39/100g vs. $0.59/100g), Brown Sugar ($0.26/100g vs. $0.34/100g), Glad Wrap ($0.02/metre vs $0.07/metre), Paper Towel ($0.68/100 sheets vs. $0.95/100 sheets), Razors ($0.25/each vs. $0.77/each) and Colgate Toothpaste ($1.37/100g vs. $1.70/100g).

happy

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #55 on: March 04, 2013, 05:06:32 AM »
Yes I would agree Aldi is mostly better than either Coles or Woollies. A few traps so you need to keep checking eg 2 litres cheap white vinegar for cleaning at Aldis $1.08 and at Bilo (my local supermarket, owned by Coles) its $1.09. Bicarb same price at Aldis and Bilo. Sometimes some items of Aldi fruit/vege are not cheaper than the others. Most of the Aldi products I've used I've liked. Most of the meat and vege at Aldis is reasonable quality. Aldis has a good line of organic nonperishables at good prices.

The things I make a trip to Aldis (usually on the way somewhere else since its about 10km away) are tissues/papertowels/toilet paper, (although recently our Bilo has run serial 50% specials on toilet paper so I'm stocked)/organic canned tomatoes/ organic pasta sauce/organic tomato paste, organic honey/dishwashing detergent and I used to get laundry detergent there but now I make my own. Whilst I'm there I get any other good deals on veges/fruit etc. If that Aldi stocked a complete line of food and groceries I'd probably go there regularly because I would probably save more than the petrol money.

With IGA, it depends on the store since they are independent store owners. My local IGA is more expensive than my local Bilo(coles) averaged over a shop. Its worth noting that only Aldi has a national pricing policy. All the other chains price according to the perceived socioeconomic status of the store location: so if you live in a "nice area"  Aldi will be even more of a bargain.

I have to say that I think my $200 per week is still too high, although I'm Primal as of this year, which adds a bit to the cost ( although I'm eating less since I'm not so hungry).

kiwibeach

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #56 on: March 05, 2013, 05:43:23 PM »
Also have a look at the simplesavings website - it's Australian.
(and for any other kiwis -  also has some relevant NZ information)

There are some people on there who are freakily badass at reducing their food (and other) spend.
they also have lots of good local knowledge.

Also you have to remember that New Zealand and Australian food prices are way higher than the US, and NZ is higher than Australia, when I was in Sydney last year, I was amazed at some of the prices I saw at the supermarket.

stripey

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #57 on: January 23, 2014, 06:35:26 AM »
I second Down To Earth. Also, Stonesoup, which occasionally has some good ideas: http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2011/11/could-you-feed-yourself-for-5-a-day/

netskyblue

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #58 on: January 23, 2014, 09:08:18 AM »
Get "into" food preservation!  Out of season fruits & vegetables are expensive, not to mention shipped great distances.  Buy in-season at the lowest prices of the season, IN BULK, and can/freeze/dry. 

We care about quality meat, and get our beef a 1/4 beef at a time (from my sister & her husband, who raise a couple beef a year).  We pay a little on the low side for farm-raised beef.  I think through most of the beef farms in our local co-op, prices are $5-$6/lb on a quarter or half a beef.  More if you buy single expensive cuts, less for ground beef.  We're getting ours around $4.50/lb, and that includes some of all the cuts.  Bones & tallow, too!  Supermarket average is around $3.60 for the ground beef in the "chubs" and $7-$8 for premium grass fed ground beef.  But we don't eat large portions of meat.  1/4 beef lasts us over a year (2 people).

And when supermarket shopping, only buy what's on a deep, deep sale, and make it work.  We don't go to the store with a plan of meals we intend to make, we see what's on sale, and make up meals based on those things, plus what we have on hand.  If it's non perishable & on sale, stock up enough to last you to the next sale.

Grow what you can, or get what you can from someone who does.  If you live in the midwest, people are always giving away yellow squash, zucchini, or tomatoes.  Take it, can it, freeze it.  Work out a deal with someone who gardens - if you have skills they could use, trade those skills for fresh produce.  Build them a website, snowblow their driveway, whatever.

Le0

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #59 on: January 23, 2014, 09:20:24 AM »
The meal planning method is very helpful. We only have two to feed at the moment because our baby is only 5 months, but we often make larger portions and eat the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night.

My top tip for saving money on food is don't waste anything. If you find yourself throwing out ANYfood, that is food you didn't eat and therefore extra money that didn't need to be spent.

Other than that the rest is obvious. You could try cutting food categories out as a temporary experiment. For example my wife loves to bake, so the only bread we by are baguettes. She bakes buns, and loaves. Since she doesn't always get to it, I have found that we eat a lot less bread than we use to.

Greg

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #60 on: January 23, 2014, 09:28:08 AM »
Have you considered a backyard chicken or two?  This only applies if you have a yard of course.  1-2 eggs a day (hens not roosters) and they eat a lot of scrap food.

greaper007

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Re: How Do I Cut Our Food Budget?
« Reply #61 on: January 23, 2014, 09:28:25 AM »
Where do you live?    I found my food costs were about 30%-40% higher when I lived in CT compared to Denver.   It was so expensive that whole foods was just about on par with lower priced grocery chains.

I spend about $120 a week for a family of four.   I do pay extra for organic items like milk and eggs but I find the cheapest deals I can on those.    I also try to buy fruits and vegetables in season and pay attention to the dirty dozen list (and clean 15).    And I include a weekly box of wine in the price at 18.95.

Other things I do.    My son eats tons of peanut butter and jelly so I make my own peanut butter in the food processor and I started baking bread again.   I also try to make condiments like mayo or bbq sauce, cheaper and tastier than pre-prepared and you actually know what it's made out of.

For me, Costco makes a lot of sense for a few things.   Coffee is 3.95 a lbs for whole bean arabica, not the greatest I've ever had but very good and half the price of coffee anywhere else.    Organic "free range" eggs are $7ish dollars for 24, a great price, vinegar is super cheap, their organic chicken is about the same price as conventional chicken elsewhere, and cheese and tortillas are high quality and cheap.

I'm with you though, I don't know how I could drop my spending down to $80 a week and not drop the quality of food we eat.    I really don't want to up the carbs or switch back to more pesticide laden food options.