Author Topic: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided  (Read 12068 times)

BK

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Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« on: March 27, 2014, 10:43:20 AM »
Hey Mustachians -

This is my first-ever MMM forum post. I'm a relatively new reader, and while I realize this is a common question, I've scoured the forum for weeks looking for help, to no avail. Can you guys help me lower my grocery bill? I'm providing exact costs and the exact meals I eat.

I'm a single male with no kids. I'm very active and I eat quite a bit, but follow a similar diet to MMM himself. Current protein intake is around 140-150 grams per day with only one serving of meat, and I'd like to keep it about at that level to support weightlifting and activity, if at all possible. But my monthly total cost is over $300.

I live in a semi-rural area with no access to Costco/Sam's Club, and food prices/taxes are quite high (mountainous Carbondale CO... there is a 3.5% sales tax here for groceries). I'm going to include my actual barebones grocery list below with real prices. All of this is unfortunately for non-organic, conventional produce and mass-produced meat.  I've split it up into items I buy weekly, and items I just need about once a month. Any thoughts how can I reduce it?

Here are the meals I'm eating, almost the same everyday:

Breakfast: 3 eggs, 1 oz cheese, 1 cup frozen peppers/onions, 1 scoop peanut butter, 1-2 tablespoons oil
Lunch - Basic salad: 1/3 bag spinach, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup lentils, 1 hardboiled egg, 1 tomato, 1 carrot, 1 stick celery, dressing
Snack 1: 1 banana, 2 scoops PB, 1 scoop protein powder
Snack 2: 1/3 cup oatmeal, 1-2 scoops PB, 1 scoop protein powder
Dinner: 4 oz chicken or ground beef, 2 cups frozen veggies, 1 cup marina sauce or 1/4 cup salsa, 1-2 tablesoons oil, and sometimes about 1/4 cup rice

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

I'm moving in August to a different city that is larger, less rural, lower sales tax (my town taxes groceries), and has a Sam's Club, so hoping that will help. But in the meantime, any ideas?

Thanks!

BK


Weekly Shopping List (Cost w/Tax Included)
30 eggs   $5.88
2 lb cheese   $5.18
4 bags pepper/onion   $5.34
2 bags frozen brocolli/cauliflower   $2.67
1 jar peanut butter   $3.11
7 Bananas    $2.07
2 bags spinach   $4.14
7 roma tomatos   $3.00
4 cucumbers   $2.00
1 bunch celery   $2.00
1 bunch carrots    $2.00
1 bag dry lentils    $3.00
16oz chicken   $3.26
16oz ground beef   $4.65
1 jar sauce   $2.50
1 jar salsa (for eggs/burger)   $3.09
Weekly Total   $53.88
4 Week Total   $215.53
   
Items bought monthly:   
2xOlive Oil (for dressing)   $16.00
2xSalad dressing packets   $4.00
Oatmeal   $3.00
2xCoffee   $13.00
2xRice   $4.00
5lb Protein Powder   $55.00
   
Total   for Monthly Items $95.00

Grand Total   $310.53

CommonCents

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 10:53:44 AM »
A few ideas:

Buy on sale and freeze: chicken, cheese, salsa, etc. 
Find alternate meals when produce is not on sale
Find cheaper protein sources than the proten powder, or decrease usage.  (Without it you'd immediately lower your bill 18%)
Cut back on the coffee

ETA: Here's my longer post on cutting grocery expenses:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/welcome-to-the-forum/new-stay-at-home-mom-needs-advice-on-being-mustachian-with-groceries/msg189120/#msg189120
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 11:00:36 AM by CommonCents »

BK

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2014, 11:00:59 AM »
Thanks for the thoughts!

I've looked into cutting protein powder, but it comes out to about 0.60-0.80 per serving, compared to about $1.00 per serving for the cheapest chicken/ground beef I can find. I'm hesitant to sub in more cheese to to lactose concerns, adding more eggs would put be upwards of 6-8 eggs/ day, and I haven't found a way to get an equal amount of protein with beans/lentils...

Will definitely try to make a better effort at hitting the sales. And can try to drop to 1 bag of coffee/month rather than 2... that'll help a bit.

CommonCents

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2014, 11:06:05 AM »
I'm not a nutrionist expert, so google tells me adding in more beans is probably your best best: http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-highest-in-protein.php

If you buy them in a bag and soak them, you'll get a better value than buying in a can.  If you sub it for the ground meat, you'll actually (according to that list) be getting more protein, and cutting your grocery bill at the same time.

lackofstache

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 11:14:44 AM »
I say it all the time and may be the only one here who does it, but DUMPSTER. I have gotten 30+lbs of apples this week from one store. I've also gotten strawberries, rasberries, blueberries, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, green onions, bananas, cabbage, sweet peppers etc. this week. We haven't purchased fruit all month and have purchased very few veggies.

I just stop by my local Aldi 3-4 times a week after work and take from their "free bin." Beyond that, we still spend $100+ per person every month, which is insane to most, but we buy quality meat, cheese & eggs. We eat lots of nuts as well.

You eat more than I do, so it makes sense that it costs more, but I usually eat leftovers for lunch + a small salad. We roast a whole chicken every week, we eat that one night then make soup with it, make stock from the carcass, etc. That stretches a small bird into 3-4 meals for 4 people depending on how much rice we add to the soup. We also eat mostly ground pork now as it's about $1/lb less than beef from our local producers.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2014, 11:23:55 AM »
Making the salad as seasonal as possible will help. Use loose spinach instead of pre-bagged is likely cheaper.

I've not priced protein powders, maybe look online to see if you can buy cheaper? Lentils are very high in protein and not as annoying to cook as beans. Lentil tacos in particular are quite tasty.

I believe nutritional yeast is more expensive, but check into comparative price versus protein powder. I also use flax meal a lot to up fat and protein intake.

Also, as far as I know, most protein powders are whey based, so I wouldn't worry about increasing other dairy intake.

Sam's will help with some things, like produce, peanut butter, and other staples. Costco in my area had more, so I switched, but even if you only buy a handful of things, Sam's can save considerably.

Are you buying pre made marinara sauce or making your own? I make my own for dirt cheap.

28oz crushed tomatoes, 6 cloves garlic, 1/4 tsp pepper flakes, 1 tsp dry basil, 1/4 cup of wine. Sautée garlic and red pepper in 1 tbsp olive oil for 30 seconds, add rest of ingredients. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Use some that night and freeze the rest in appropriate size portions.

Metta

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 11:29:45 AM »
We buy soy protein isolate in bulk from Honeyville for $22.95 for 4 pounds. We usually put in a pretty big order with them (bulk oats, bulk wheat, bulk lentils, etc.) because their shipping is just $4.95 per order no matter how much you order.

JPinDC

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 11:54:53 AM »
If they don't already have a pre-marked section of meat that's close to expiration, check with them to see if they'll mark down something you find. Since you eat a lot of the same things, buy as much as you can store when it goes on sale. Be sure to compare sizes and see what's most cost-efficient.

Eric

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2014, 12:12:10 PM »
Is that just a representative list, or is that what you actually buy every single week?  (within reason)

If you're in the habit of buying the same things over and over it will always cost you more than if you can be flexible and follow the sales and seasonal items.

skunkfunk

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2014, 12:15:56 PM »
Make chili. A bag of dried beans and some ground turkey or beef (whatever is on sale middle of the week), freeze some of the leftovers, and it'll last you weeks.

Buy whole chickens and cut them up and freeze it. I don't know what is available in your area, but here, we get them 2 in a package, 4 at a time, at Sam's club. We spend about the same amount as we would for the chicken breasts alone, but we get two entire chickens.

StarryC

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2014, 12:24:09 PM »
In the summer you might be able to garden some of this, if you have the space.  I know that where I am people can grow some peppers, definitely carrots, spinach, and cucumbers. 

If you are fine with this kind of consistency, definitely stock up and use coupons.  When your peppers and onions mix is on sale buy enough for 6 weeks. Same with broccoli, salsa, peanut butter and sauce. For the salsa, peanut butter and tomato sauce you could probably use coupons to get those for very low prices eventually.  There are, almost every week, coupons for pasta sauce.  You can hire someone to do the coupon clipping for you and get multiples of coupons (this is maybe a grey area). https://www.thecouponclippers.com/




 

jpo

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2014, 12:31:50 PM »
Thanks for the thoughts!

I've looked into cutting protein powder, but it comes out to about 0.60-0.80 per serving, compared to about $1.00 per serving for the cheapest chicken/ground beef I can find. I'm hesitant to sub in more cheese to to lactose concerns, adding more eggs would put be upwards of 6-8 eggs/ day, and I haven't found a way to get an equal amount of protein with beans/lentils...

Will definitely try to make a better effort at hitting the sales. And can try to drop to 1 bag of coffee/month rather than 2... that'll help a bit.
+1 for cutting the protein powder.

Eat food, not nutrients.

carloco

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2014, 12:39:57 PM »
I have been budgeting $450 a month for 2-5 adults and a tweener.  It is difficult.  We already spent that this month so I am delaying another trip to the grocery store until next week to stay in budget.  We have plenty of coffee, flour and beans.  Also, a few oranges.

BK

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2014, 01:00:47 PM »
Some good suggestions, so far, thanks!

I hadn't heard about Honeyville... looks like a good money saver for some dry stables like beans and rice. I also found a cheaper protein powder source (going to stick with it for now, but may try to reduce intake)... 5lbs for below $40, and Supplement Warehouse does a price match. I'm going to order this, and they're going to match the Sam's Club price, which is a few bucks cheaper. http://www.supplementwarehouse.com/viewitem.asp?idproduct=142528.

Also, will start batching chili, and hitting sales/bulk buying harder than I have been.

Any other ideas?

Elaine

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2014, 01:20:06 PM »
Your prices look high to me on just about everything. I think you would benefit from a costco type store. Your lentils and cheese are especially overpriced. Look into ethnic markets for lentils, herbs, eggs, and rice- these items are almost always cheaper at ethnic grocery stores.

Your produce prices also look high to me, look for a designated produce store, they are almost always cheaper than produce sections in grocery stores- shop seasonally. A couple of other things, jarred tomato sauce is a waste of money (just combine one can tomato sauce with one can crushed tomatoes, some garlic, oregano, and basil). Salsa can also be homemade for less money. Never buy bagged greens, loose heads are always cheaper. Salad dressing seasoning? Just buy herbs, it's cheaper.

If you only wanted to make one change I would recommend trying costco or a similar big box store. 

OldDogNewTrick

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2014, 01:59:54 PM »
If I purchase in bulk, my chicken costs $1.49 a lb. You might want to broaden your menu a bit to take advantage of sales and seasonal items. Try veggie meals a couple times a week; beans and rice with a few greens. Stirfry is very economical. Cook larger meals and freeze the leftovers so you can use fresh instead of frozen which tends to be more expensive. Buy seasonal on sale fruit instead of rigidly sticking with one kind. Have food 'themes' to help use up fresh ingredients before spoilage. Kale in your lunch salad, next day added to a chicken soup, next day rice & beans with kale. That keeps the menu interesting and allows you to purchase larger amounts. I'd check out Costco or Sam's Club too. They might have a special on a bag of small green apples that can be diced into your oatmeal, baked for dessert, and crunched on for snacks. Cheese freezes very well too.

TDC

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2014, 02:40:40 PM »
New here too. I also eat a protein heavy diet to support weightlifting 3-4x per week - though I consume fewer calories than you and I spend a little over $300 a month. However, I don't usually use protein powder and I buy a lot of my meat from a local farm that's pastured and grass-fed.

I took a look at Carbondale and it's a pretty small community with not much in the way of even supermarkets much less a club store like Costco or Sams. That's going to make it tough. Do you ever take trips to bigger communities? You could tack a store run onto one of those and save yourself some money. You can freeze meat, and eggs last forever in the fridge. Your produce costs look similar to what they are around here (Baltimore)

Targeting your protein sources is probably the easiest way to lower your costs, since protein is inevitably expensive. You might switch from whey protein concentrate to isolate - if you search around, you can find isolate for well under $10/lb if you buy it in bulk and it has about twice as much protein per 25g scoop as concentrate.

Cheap cuts of meat are competitive or even cheaper than powders on a gram for gram basis. A pound of chicken thighs at $2 is $0.56 per 25g of protein. At $3.26/lb it's $0.92/25g.

One neglected source of protein is greek yogurt. You'd have to make your own to see a cost savings, but a gallon of milk makes half a gallon of strained greek yogurt, which has on the order of 160-180g of protein.  A $3 gallon of milk gets you $0.43 for 25g protein.

You can probably get lentils and rice cheaper online.

Unfortunately, there's a reason that civilizations were built on grains - they're just the least energetically expensive way to get calories and that's still true today. If you cut them out, and I think there are good reasons to do so, you will have to pay for it. If you do some back of the envelope calculations, there's a floor on your food costs - 150g protein per day at $0.75 per 25g is $135 for 30 days.

BK

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2014, 03:20:02 PM »
TDC - Thanks for the input...some great suggestions. Carbondale is a bit of a food desert for sure, but I'm moving to Flagstaff, AZ in a few months. There's a Sams there and a number of grocery stores, so I'll have better options.

Also I hadn't considered ever considered making greek yogurt before. Looks pretty easy from here... http://www.makegreekyogurt.com/. Even easier with a cheap greek yogurt strainer. I'll look into it... may help the wallet and would probably be beneficial to get some fermented foods into the diet.

Definitely i think the consensus is reducing the amount I spend on protein. My challenge is going to be doing that without adding on too many carbs.

CrochetStache

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2014, 05:47:00 PM »
I struggle with similar concerns cooking for my husband who is an ironman triathlete. He utilizes a avg minimum of 1000 calories a day over the approx need of 2000 for non-athletes. That right there will skew your grocery budget.

So your best bet may be to ensure your grocery dollars have the highest nutritional impact. Kudos on the Spinach but how much nutritional value are you getting from cucumbers and celery? Apples might be better value or an orange.
Cucumber: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2439/2
Celery has even less nutritional value, it's great for flavor in soup bases and as a delivery system for peanut butter but it takes more calories to consume it than it provides.

Adding avocados might be worth the money due to your very high egg/cholesterol intake. Mozzerella cheese has a bit lower fat content than many other cheeses and doesn't usually cost more.

I second other recommendations as to using more beans and baking a whole chicken as less expensive protein sources.


awakenedsoul

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2014, 06:39:38 PM »
I shop at Costco and it really has helped me to cut my grocery bill. You can get twice as much for the same price on things like coffee, butter, flour, etc. I know you said that you don't live near one, though. Can you join a CSA? I belong to a coop for organic produce. I get a box every two weeks. It's fruits and vegetable in season. It costs me $22.00. It's 30% cheaper than prices in the stores. Buying large bags of potatoes, apples, oranges, etc. should help. I also make a lot of casseroles. Like some of the other posters, I'll roast a whole chicken and make several meals out of it. (creamed chicken and noodles, enchiladas, soup, etc...)  Sometimes CVS has tuna on sale for about 70 cents a can. I'll buy ten and use them over time. I get a huge bag of peanuts at Costco for around $6.00. It lasts me for months. That might be cheaper than peanut butter. I have chickens, so they provide eggs. (I noticed you eat a lot of eggs.) You can also water things down: juice half and half with water, espresso coffee with extra milk or soy milk...(I cut my coffee consumption in half this way.) I make things like lasagne and eat it all week. It helps to buy what's on sale, too. If you build a stockpile, you can shop from your cupboards. The two for ones make a difference. I also bake my own bread. It's easy. Sandwiches are cheap. Things like salami last a long time. Granola is easy to make, too. It's very inexpensive, and gives you grains and protein.     

Heart of Tin

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2014, 08:05:00 PM »
You can make about one pound of fresh mozzarella out of a gallon of milk. Then use the leftover whey as a protein supplement in place of the protein powder.

BK

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2014, 08:54:26 PM »
I had never known about mozzarella and yogurt... that's incredible!

spoonman

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2014, 09:00:58 PM »
I wish I could give you advice, but you are way ahead of me when it comes to grocery shopping.  That's a beautiful list you made, thank you! I bookmarked this thread.

BK

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2014, 09:21:16 PM »
Thanks!

Here's a google doc spreadsheets with a meal breakdown and (with carbs/fat/protein/cost) and a shopping list. I haven't calculated unit costs for everything, but you get the idea. Feel free to copy/use/share.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KJBOMDi2ULicmgQtuJnBcK-HIXkvzvYgPll99HOtDXM/edit?usp=sharing

Weedy Acres

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2014, 05:53:47 AM »
Plant a garden.
Stock up on onions and peppers when they're cheap, and chop and freeze them yourself.
There's no Aldi in CO or AZ, but do you ever travel to places that have Aldi?  If so, buy cases of PB, sauce, and salsa there and use them over the course of a year.
Look into zaycon foods for cheap bulk buys on meat.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2014, 04:14:55 PM »
Just a further general piece of advice: even if you don't keep a price book (I don't), establish a "limit order" type mentality. Don't blindly buy something because you're out of it, especially if you shop at a standard supermarket with lots of sales. Only buy items when they fall below a certain price, then stock up within reason.

I'm lucky to have a grocer in my area that uses very few sales, but instead has low and very stable prices on most things. Except produce. I'll go knowing what I'm out of, but I walk the entire section before buying anything.

Gin1984

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2014, 06:20:57 PM »
Have you tried amazon for some of your items?  They might be cheaper.

DollarBill

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2014, 08:08:19 PM »
When I first look at it, it seemed normal but 30 eggs,2 lbs of cheese, 2 lbs of meat + protein shake a week; sounds like a lot... do you really see that much muscle gain? Are you a professional athlete? I'm a big eater and I spend about $280 a month and still throw away food. I think it's harder to cook for one person.

Some people will split a side of beef or whole cow. I buy Pollock fish, it's like $2.50 a pound and it's the same thing they make fake crab meat. I make fish tacos or crab cakes out of them. They taste like crab meat! I've had people over for crab cakes and they thought it was the real thing.

Canned Tuna fish is cheap.

I've started making sprouts from different beans and it's been a good experience.

Also, cottage cheese is good. I like to eat it with celery.

thef0x

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2015, 12:01:47 PM »
You should be able to find the following cheaper if you buy in bulk:

-- carrots (<$.75/lb)
-- lentils  (<$1.50/bag)
-- salsa  (costco salsa = deal)
-- protein powder (buy in 10lb bags if you want to keep it)
-- rice (buy 50lb bag at ethnic store)

Also:

-- Find alternative protein sources that are all <$3/lb and stock up
    -- ethnic stores!
    -- manager specials
-- Make your own homemade salad dressing, healthier and much cheaper (super easy and will impress the ladies that you can put together a vinaigrette)


In terms of health / nutrients per serving, I would recommend:

-- replace cucumber with leafy greens (kale, chard)
-- replace celery with cheaper starch (potatoes, yams)


I think you can maintain your level of protein intake while cutting costs but you'll probably need to add fattier meats into your diet -- and you might also feel a whole lot better getting more than 2 fat sources in your diet!  Fat it critical!  This forum is about 10 years behind the science here.  Adding fat for calories will help with cognitive performance for sure!  And it can be super cheap :)

Cheers!!!

Unique User

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2015, 02:33:51 PM »
The suggestions are good, but you just don't have many choices in Carbondale and you are paying a premium for everything you get locally.  I lived nearby for a number of years and had reverse sticker shock when we moved away.  Grand Junction has a Sam's, but no Costco and it's way too far to go more than a couple times a year.  Are you shopping in Glenwood Springs or just the City Market in Carbondale?  The only thing that worked for us was picking up sale items and mark down items at City Market and Safeway and building our meals that way.  We had a garden, but with the very short growing season it didn't produce much.  So if chicken was  a great sale we ate chicken, but if pork loin was on sale, we'd eat that instead, also if something was a great sale we'd stock up enough for a 4-5 months.  Grocery shopping is such an effort in the mountains that we tried to only go once or twice every two months anyway, it was a 40 mile trip each way to a reasonably priced grocery store for us.  Flagstaff will be a little better, I think it is a bit bigger than Grand Junction.  Good luck. 

mm1970

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Re: Lowering Grocery Bill - Real Costs Provided
« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2015, 03:55:40 PM »
Quote
Weekly Shopping List (Cost w/Tax Included)
30 eggs   $5.88
2 lb cheese   $5.18
4 bags pepper/onion   $5.34
2 bags frozen brocolli/cauliflower   $2.67
1 jar peanut butter   $3.11
7 Bananas    $2.07
2 bags spinach   $4.14
7 roma tomatos   $3.00
4 cucumbers   $2.00
1 bunch celery   $2.00
1 bunch carrots    $2.00
1 bag dry lentils    $3.00
16oz chicken   $3.26
16oz ground beef   $4.65
1 jar sauce   $2.50
1 jar salsa (for eggs/burger)   $3.09
Weekly Total   $53.88
4 Week Total   $215.53
   
Items bought monthly:   
2xOlive Oil (for dressing)   $16.00
2xSalad dressing packets   $4.00
Oatmeal   $3.00
2xCoffee   $13.00
2xRice   $4.00
5lb Protein Powder   $55.00
   
Total   for Monthly Items $95.00

Grand Total   $310.53
My recommendations:
1. Get what you do eat cheaper
2. Make what you buy
3. Substitute cheaper foods

1. Get what you do eat cheaper - look for cheaper protein powder on-line.  Lentils - $3?  Look for a 5 or 10 lb bag (can be found on sale, much cheaper per pound).  Rice: same thing.  Chicken: wait till it goes on sale for $2 and buy a bunch.  (Is it worth going to a bigger city quarterly?)  Olive oil by the gallon.

2.  Make what you buy - buy peppers and onions when on loss leaders, slice and freeze yourself.  Way cheaper, though work.  Make your own dressing with dried herbs.

3. Substitute cheaper foods - are there cheaper veggies?  Cheaper sources of protein?  Instead of always buying broccoli/ cauli, are there other loss leaders on sale?