Author Topic: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget  (Read 234198 times)

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #950 on: January 03, 2019, 06:40:02 AM »
Maybe I should add that I have a sensitive bowel and respond badly to eating onions. Therefore unfortunately, I can't eat onions, which are a typical low-price food. I also respond to some other veggies. DH responds badly to eating corn and certain white beans. But luckily not all beans. We can still eat kidney beans, black beans, and linzes.

DH wants to boycott sheep meat, because he doesn't agree with the anti-wolf politics in Norway (that favour the sheep farmers). I want to cut down on eating red meat for health reasons. So there isn't a lot of meat left to choose from: chicken/turkey and pig. Occasionally something more exotic, like reindeer meat, which is also red and very expensive. Occasionally we eat fish, which is slightly more expensive than chicken. Sometimes we eat self-caught fish. which is both healthy and free of cost. I try to eat veggie meals once or twice a week. We do it more often once than twice, though. Maybe something to do better in 2019: twice a week.

In 2018 my average food spending per month was: 4325 Norwegian crowns (roughly 450$) for 2 adults. This includes deodorant and that sort of stuff. It is also only my expenses, as DH doesn't track. But I buy most of the food.

In 2017 it was 3779 Norwegian crowns per month, roughly 400$.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 06:47:10 AM by Linda_Norway »

smileyface

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #951 on: January 03, 2019, 10:50:12 AM »
I've been reading the blog avidly over the past year, but this is my first time commenting on it.  Just want to say a huge THANK YOU to APowers for documenting your shopping/cooking so thoroughly!  There is so much to learn from this thread, I feel like virtually everyone can take something valuable away from it.

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #952 on: January 03, 2019, 02:50:33 PM »
Just wanted to bump this for anyone who was interested-- all my pantry inventory is finally posted in the reserved post.

robartsd

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #953 on: January 03, 2019, 05:37:45 PM »
Just wanted to bump this for anyone who was interested-- all my pantry inventory is finally posted in the reserved post.
Overall it looks like you've used up quite a bit of stored dry goods, but added a lot of meat (~20 lb thanks to the chest freezer); did the freezer take some of your dry goods storage space?

Flour and oatmeal each look about 40 lb short of last year, potatoes are about 15 lb short (you mentioned having difficulty finding good prices), dry beans and lentils are down about 25 lb; but canned beans are up about 12 cans, rice is up by about 25 lb, and pasta is up by about 16 lb (much of that GF).

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #954 on: January 03, 2019, 09:19:03 PM »
Just wanted to bump this for anyone who was interested-- all my pantry inventory is finally posted in the reserved post.
Overall it looks like you've used up quite a bit of stored dry goods, but added a lot of meat (~20 lb thanks to the chest freezer); did the freezer take some of your dry goods storage space?

Flour and oatmeal each look about 40 lb short of last year, potatoes are about 15 lb short (you mentioned having difficulty finding good prices), dry beans and lentils are down about 25 lb; but canned beans are up about 12 cans, rice is up by about 25 lb, and pasta is up by about 16 lb (much of that GF).

Yeah, I'm really happy that my store of meat is way up.

I didn't lose any dry goods space-- actually I have more now, since the basement remodel got finished.

I'm actually only down 12.5lb lentils-- and that's mainly because I ran out about 6 months ago, and simply couldn't find them for a good price since (I like lentils, so I've been looking, too!). I just used the last of my white flour, so it's on my Costco list (that's about $6 for 25lb)-- so it just is at a natural low point in its cycle. Oatmeal, yeah, it's about 30-40lb shy of last year.

Potatoes, yes, prices went up about 50-80% at some point this year, and really haven't come back down. I'm not sure if there was a potato blight or something. I did a couple brief Google searches, but turned up nothing. Am I the only one who pays attention to potato prices?

I'm also actually only down about 16lbs of beans (I have about 8-9lb on hand still, compared to 25 at the start of the year).

Peanut butter is also up, and cake mix is up, and olives are up significantly too.

Thanks for pulling out some real comparison numbers!

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #955 on: January 04, 2019, 12:14:25 AM »
In northern Europe we have had an extremely hot summer and draught. Our potatoes look different this year, more misformed than usual. Maybe there are just less good potatoes for sale on the world market in total, which may drive up the prices. I think they now sell the potatoes that in other years would have been ditched for their bad looks. Good for the environment, though.

Basenji

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #956 on: January 04, 2019, 08:29:46 AM »
We need to sticky this for all time. Amazing thread! Thanks for doing it. @arebelspy @FrugalToque

slappy

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #957 on: January 04, 2019, 09:10:05 AM »
Just wanted to bump this for anyone who was interested-- all my pantry inventory is finally posted in the reserved post.

Are you continuing this thread or was it a one year thing?

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #958 on: January 04, 2019, 07:51:50 PM »
Just wanted to bump this for anyone who was interested-- all my pantry inventory is finally posted in the reserved post.

Are you continuing this thread or was it a one year thing?

I'm pretty much going to wrap it up. I've got other big priorities this year (remodel the rest of the house + yard), and keeping a detailed blog record of everything I buy and what food I'm making for dinner all the time isn't part of those plans.

I will still be around the forum, though, and it's not like I'm going to stop shopping frugally. I accomplished with this thread what I set out to do-- make a detailed practical journal of what I spent and what kind of food we ate, so that when anyone is complaining at me about "how expensive groceries are these days" or "how no-one can afford healthy food anymore" or "the only cheap food is highly processed junk" or whatever, I can direct them here to substantiate my assertions that it IS possible to eat healthfully for quite little, and that the SNAP challenge (for any person with a relatively stable living situation and a kitchen) is really *not* that hard.

Trifele

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #959 on: January 05, 2019, 04:11:40 AM »
Congrats @APowers!  Your jewel of a thread is now enshrined up on the permanent Badassity shelf where many others can learn from it.  (Thank you mods!)

:)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 06:09:37 AM by Trifele »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #960 on: January 05, 2019, 08:56:03 AM »
During the holidays I received a new cookbook full of delicious looking recipies. The book is called Simpel. It requires a lot of north African ingredients. I went to an etnic shop yesterday, but they only had a few of the ingredients. I now made some myself: lemons in salt, tahin (sesame pasta) and harissa (chili paste). The latter was supposed to contain rose petals which I didn't have access to. I used a wild plant I found in the spring that wad stored in the freezer. It is supposed to be sugary. Nice to finally use it.

Buying some flavors is a good investment to stay motivated to cook at home. The last year I have felt a bit uninspired and found it difficult to make good dishes. Although I didn't fall for the temptation to eat out or order food. We just don't do that.

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #961 on: January 05, 2019, 07:45:50 PM »
Congrats @APowers!  Your jewel of a thread is now enshrined up on the permanent Badassity shelf where many others can learn from it.  (Thank you mods!)

:)

Yay! I'm official now!

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #962 on: January 06, 2019, 12:22:17 PM »
Went grocery shopping today, and had a moment of joyful relief when I remembered that I didn't have to document everything with pictures and prices anymore. LOL! I didn't think I'd be as excited about that as I was, haha!

Trifele

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #963 on: January 06, 2019, 01:45:01 PM »
Went grocery shopping today, and had a moment of joyful relief when I remembered that I didn't have to document everything with pictures and prices anymore. LOL! I didn't think I'd be as excited about that as I was, haha!

You deserve the rest after your work of the past year!  Though all of us will have withdrawal symptoms . . . haha

TexasRunner

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #964 on: January 07, 2019, 11:54:46 AM »
Link to in first post

It would also be great if we edited the first post with the monthly totals and the final yearly average!  That way they can see the results up front when it is opened instead of having to guess at page 19...


Also, I haven't posted here (I think) but this has been a fantastic thread and I'm glad to have followed it.  It has convinced be to be more diligent in tracking each specific catagory (like food, homestuffs, etc) instead of just being lazy and letting mint group all of Walmart into "shopping".  Hope to get our family of 5 down to about 300 a year and just as healthy as this.  Great thread and thanks for the hard work on it!!!

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #965 on: January 07, 2019, 04:14:14 PM »
Link to in first post

It would also be great if we edited the first post with the monthly totals and the final yearly average!  That way they can see the results up front when it is opened instead of having to guess at page 19...


Also, I haven't posted here (I think) but this has been a fantastic thread and I'm glad to have followed it.  It has convinced be to be more diligent in tracking each specific catagory (like food, homestuffs, etc) instead of just being lazy and letting mint group all of Walmart into "shopping".  Hope to get our family of 5 down to about 300 a year and just as healthy as this.  Great thread and thanks for the hard work on it!!!

Done. First post has the overall average posted, and a link to the relevant detail/breakdown post on page 19.

Lews Therin

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #966 on: January 08, 2019, 06:09:25 AM »
Random Canadian data point for those interested.

2018 grocery spending for LT and his partner: 90$/PP.

that`s less than 1.1k on the whole year. So it's not just a US thing.

zee dot

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #967 on: January 10, 2019, 11:38:51 AM »
@APowers  You inspired me to finally use the food scale I've had for a year.  I was shocked at how many ounces of protein I was consuming.  I was also shocked how much longer it lasted when I was eating 4 oz instead of 8 oz...the shockingly simply math should not have been so shocking. 

I'm echoing everyone's kudos and thanks for keeping this thread going through the year. 

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #968 on: January 10, 2019, 12:52:38 PM »
We are doing quite well eating vegetarian food several times a week, the last 2 weeks. We are also eating all leftover portions.

I have some trouble eating all bread . When I but bread (cheap and healthy), i cut it up in daily portions and freeze those. We take out one every day. I have larger pieces for the days that we don't work. Often the last (thick) stump is left over. Sometimes I can use breadcrumb in a dinner dish. Maybe I should make a ziplock bag of crumbs instead of ditching the stump.

Lews Therin

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #969 on: January 10, 2019, 08:32:07 PM »
Toast the stump, and put something excessive on it (nutella, pb and bananas... Make it a treat!

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #970 on: January 10, 2019, 11:49:30 PM »
@APowers , in one of your early posts I saw bags of self-grated cheese that were in the freezer. Does that work well and can it be used as normal grated cheese later?

I have some stumps of cheese that are in their plastic bag in the fridge waiting to be grated when I need grated cheese. Sometimes they have started to get a bit of fungi on them and I need to cut of the outer part before grating. Would it be smarter to grate them now and store them in the freezer?

robartsd

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #971 on: January 11, 2019, 10:05:22 AM »
@APowers , in one of your early posts I saw bags of self-grated cheese that were in the freezer. Does that work well and can it be used as normal grated cheese later?

I have some stumps of cheese that are in their plastic bag in the fridge waiting to be grated when I need grated cheese. Sometimes they have started to get a bit of fungi on them and I need to cut of the outer part before grating. Would it be smarter to grate them now and store them in the freezer?
Yes, freezing grated cheese works fairly well. Sliced and block cheese don't freeze well (they get crumbly when they thaw), but that's not really an issue for grated cheese.

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #972 on: January 11, 2019, 01:42:59 PM »
@APowers , in one of your early posts I saw bags of self-grated cheese that were in the freezer. Does that work well and can it be used as normal grated cheese later?

I have some stumps of cheese that are in their plastic bag in the fridge waiting to be grated when I need grated cheese. Sometimes they have started to get a bit of fungi on them and I need to cut of the outer part before grating. Would it be smarter to grate them now and store them in the freezer?

I think what you saw was grated mozzarella in ziplocs--- but it wasn't self-grated. I had bought the giant bags from Costco and portioned it into smaller baggies. Self-grated cheese would probably do okay, but you may have a problem with it sticking all together. I know the commercially grated cheese gets a cellulose/starch powder to keep the individual shreds from clumping, where a home-grated cheese wouldn't have that.

galliver

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #973 on: January 11, 2019, 06:03:33 PM »
@APowers , in one of your early posts I saw bags of self-grated cheese that were in the freezer. Does that work well and can it be used as normal grated cheese later?

I have some stumps of cheese that are in their plastic bag in the fridge waiting to be grated when I need grated cheese. Sometimes they have started to get a bit of fungi on them and I need to cut of the outer part before grating. Would it be smarter to grate them now and store them in the freezer?

I think what you saw was grated mozzarella in ziplocs--- but it wasn't self-grated. I had bought the giant bags from Costco and portioned it into smaller baggies. Self-grated cheese would probably do okay, but you may have a problem with it sticking all together. I know the commercially grated cheese gets a cellulose/starch powder to keep the individual shreds from clumping, where a home-grated cheese wouldn't have that.
You can add cornstarch! (1tbsp/lb or thereabouts)

MustacheMom

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #974 on: January 20, 2019, 07:13:00 AM »
I have avidly followed and read every word you have posted, APowers, and I just wanted to add my thanks for the time you put in over the course of 2018 to document everything!  My household also consists of 2 adults and 2 children, and you have inspired me to pay attention and do better! 

This is one of the best threads I've read, anywhere, at any time. 

OtherJen

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #975 on: February 02, 2019, 06:46:46 PM »
FYI for US mustachians: Kroger and affiliates are selling $0.99/lb pork shoulder roasts and $0.59 avocados through Tuesday.

SotI

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #976 on: March 02, 2019, 11:45:28 AM »
Just wanted to say I really enjoy this thread. When I read it last year, it inspired me to reduce  our  grocery bill substantially. So, I got it down to $200. Still, I am aiming to lower it further, to $50 per head.
Still, DH is insisting in some brands, so I compensate by buying less meat and go for special offers.
Mind you, my fridge looks pretty empty,  compared to yours. 

ForeverPoor

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #977 on: March 22, 2019, 05:54:29 PM »
20 pages... time for a nice long read over the weekend! As of last year my grocery bill amounted to ~$7,000... have some work to do. However, I didn't separate actual food from household expenses, which I am doing starting in 2019.

LLVbuckeye

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #978 on: March 30, 2019, 09:49:26 PM »
While living by myself My food bill runs between $50-$70 a month.
I buy eggs  for breakfast i eat a lot of eggs
Coffee, Chicken/pork/beef Whatever on sale and
frozen or fresh veggies depending on sale.
Usually shop once or twice a month
« Last Edit: March 30, 2019, 09:53:18 PM by LLVbuckeye »

seattlecyclone

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #979 on: April 19, 2019, 04:14:58 PM »
Came here to brag about my grocery trip today.

I bought:
* 3 lb clementines
* 2 zucchinis
* 1 orange bell pepper
* 1 lb asparagus
* 5 bananas
* 1/2 lb fennel
* 3/4 lb fresh green beans
* 10 oz salad greens
* 2 15-oz cans of hominy
* 2 15-oz cans of beans
* 10 1-lb packages of pasta
* 4 24-oz containers of pasta sauce
* 5 "large" (14-19 oz) boxes of Kellogg's cereal
* 1 gallon milk
* 1 dozen eggs
* 2 lb butter sticks
* 2 lb yogurt
* 5 1.5 qt. containers of ice cream
* 1 loaf of sourdough bread

I paid: $46.68
I used my Chase Freedom credit card, which in combination with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, is currently giving 7.5% back when redeemed for travel, or $3.50 in this case.
I also should be getting $1.35 back from ibotta.
Net total: $41.83

All of this was purchased from QFC, our local Kroger-owned supermarket. If I had gone into the store and bought the same things without any advance preparation (loyalty card, electronic coupons attached to the loyalty card, paper coupons), I would have paid $127.74.

What "tricks" did I use? Several.

First, I have a loyalty card for the store and use it when checking out. Yes, they're tracking you. No, I don't love that. Am I willing to pay a significant fraction more to avoid this tracking? Nope.

Next, I take a look at the weekly ad before shopping. Mostly I'm looking for the Friday/Saturday only (plus sometimes Thursday and/or Sunday) deal that Kroger stores tend to offer each week. These items are often offered at prices that are too good to pass up, and the store limits you to five of each sale item. This week it was the cereal ($1.49 each) and the ice cream ($1.99 each). I also take a quick look at the other items in the ad to see if any of them stand out price-wise. What caught my eye this time was the pasta (99 but part of the "buy 6 save $3" deal making them 49 each) and the butter (also part of the "buy 6 save $3" and offered for $2.49/lb). All these things I stocked up on are foods that last a while, we use pretty regularly, and we rarely if ever see lower prices for them anywhere (even Costco).

I also make sure to keep my address up to date in the QFC app. This gets us quite a few special store coupons in the mail. Just this week we got a sheet of coupons for $6 off of a $60 purchase, each of the next five weeks, plus a few $2 off $10 of produce and $2 off $10 of meat coupons. I used this week's $6 coupon and one of the produce coupons today.

You might be wondering how I got to use the $6 off $60 coupon when I only spent $46.68. Well, I make sure to hand the cashier that coupon first before any other coupons. As long as your subtotal is over $60 before that coupon is applied, the computer accepts it and you can use more coupons to reduce the total more. In this case I was only a few cents over $60 before coupons. As I am walking through the store with one of these coupons I make tally marks on my shopping list to keep a rough count of the total cost of what I have put in the cart so far. In this case my count was about $7 short after I got everything that was originally on my list, so I picked up an extra six pastas ($2.94) and four pasta sauces ($4.00).

I also used a couple other coupons from previous QFC mailings that I had been holding on to: $1 off three of this brand of pasta, and $1 off the brand of ice cream that was on sale. These coupons usually expire a couple of months out, so there are often opportunities to stack them on top of a discount price as I did here.

For produce, I try to work what's on discount that week into our diet. This creates a nice variety while also keeping things affordable. This week this included asparagus ($1.49/lb), clementines ($1.16/lb), and green beans ($1.49/lb).

For the cereal, I participate in Kellogg's reward program that gives you points for photographing your receipt when you buy their products. I redeemed some of those points for coupons worth $4 off the cereal I bought today. This program is something I'm not 100% convinced is worth my time, but I did get three pairs of socks from them over the holiday season. That puts them in positive territory in my book for a while.

Finally, ibotta. It's an app you can use where you again photograph your receipt to get some money back. They tend to give rebates on name-brand stuff, so anything fitting that description that I'm buying anyway will usually get a quick check on the app just to see. This time I'm getting $1 for the pasta. They also have some less-valuable offers that you can get money for non-name-brand items. This time it's 10 for literally buying anything, plus 25 for bread. I would have gotten another $1 back for the Kellogg's cereal if the store hadn't been out of Frosted Mini-Wheats. I instead had to settle for other cereals that weren't eligible for that offer. Oh well. Again, this is something I'm not 100% convinced is worth my time. I've gotten about $100 back from it over the past year. It's not nothing, but it's also probably less than minimum wage.

I hope this gives a few good hints on how to optimize things!
« Last Edit: April 19, 2019, 04:16:29 PM by seattlecyclone »

couponvan

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #980 on: April 19, 2019, 06:29:52 PM »
@seattlecyclone nice score today.  I love using coupons and stacking them on top of one another. 

pegleglolita

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #981 on: May 02, 2019, 10:30:49 AM »
PTF

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #982 on: May 02, 2019, 11:37:00 AM »
Today I made a new dish with cabbage. Roasting in the oven drained with olive oil, garlic, ginger and chili. It tasted quite well. Nice to know a new dish with a cheap ingredient. I have also picked vegetables that grow in nature in the form of edible plants.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 04:44:38 AM by Linea_Norway »

seattlecyclone

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #983 on: May 07, 2019, 11:38:27 PM »
The last couple days of Safeway's annual Monopoly promotion worked out quite nicely for me. The official end date for the game was today. Seems like the stores had a surplus of game pieces and they were directed to pass them all out before the end even if that meant giving customers a whole lot more than they might otherwise have qualified for. I went in last night and got some 200 game pieces for a $15 purchase, where early on in the promotion I might have gotten five. Those game pieces yielded a bunch of freebies that I picked up this morning and I got another pretty fat stack of game pieces in the process. By the time I went to pick up the freebies from those game pieces tonight after work, the cashier said the store had just run out of game pieces an hour previously. If I had been more dedicated I could have probably spent the day opening game pieces, going back to Safeway, taking free food home, and repeating for several iterations. As it was, I got the following for free in the past 48 hours:

* 1 loaf of French bread
* 7 bagels
* 1 lb of macaroni salad
* 25 sq ft aluminum foil
* 2 cans of green beans
* 1 small can of tomato sauce
* 1 jar of salsa
* 1 packet of gravy mix
* 1 lb pasta
* 1 can of diced tomatoes
* 1 bottle of iced tea
* 16 oz sour cream
* 1 dozen ice cream sandwiches
* 1 box of frozen waffles
* 3 bottles of aspirin (100 tablets each)
* 1 lb baby carrots
* 1 package of gum
* 1 package of frozen veggies
* 1 bag of potato chips
* 4 AA batteries
* 1 single-serving Greek yogurt
* 1 package of trail mix
* 90 zip-lock bags
* A $5 gift card for Safeway

Not a bad haul! I'll have to remember this next year.

robartsd

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #984 on: May 13, 2019, 01:32:15 PM »
* 1 loaf of French bread
* 7 bagels
* 1 lb of macaroni salad
* 25 sq ft aluminum foil
* 2 cans of green beans
* 1 small can of tomato sauce
* 1 jar of salsa
* 1 packet of gravy mix
* 1 lb pasta
* 1 can of diced tomatoes
* 1 bottle of iced tea
* 16 oz sour cream
* 1 dozen ice cream sandwiches
* 1 box of frozen waffles
* 3 bottles of aspirin (100 tablets each)
* 1 lb baby carrots
* 1 package of gum
* 1 package of frozen veggies
* 1 bag of potato chips
* 4 AA batteries
* 1 single-serving Greek yogurt
* 1 package of trail mix
* 90 zip-lock bags
* A $5 gift card for Safeway

Not a bad haul! I'll have to remember this next year.
Nice haul. I'm pretty sure I could actually make use of nearly all that stuff. Using 300 Aspirin tablets before expiration would likely be a stretch - I'd likely find a new home for two of the bottles, and I'm not sure AA batteries would provide me with much value (AAA on the other had would be welcome) - I have plenty of AA NiMH cells sitting idle, but very few spare AAA NiMH cells.

Winning Monopoly - it's not about collecting properties for the big prices, it's about getting extra game pieces for a bunch of small freebies at the end of the promotion.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #985 on: May 13, 2019, 03:15:01 PM »
I don't use that much aspirin either. I'll put two of the bottles on Buy Nothing when I get around to it. The winning coupon for batteries was redeemable for AA or AAA batteries, so you would have been good there. :-)

Winning Monopoly - it's not about collecting properties for the big prices, it's about getting extra game pieces for a bunch of small freebies at the end of the promotion.

Very much this. I think the way they were handing out the game pieces those last couple days I honestly could have gone back over and over and increased my game piece haul each time. The cash registers were set up to calculate 8x the normal amount of game pieces on the printed receipts, but the cashiers would invariably hand out more than this because they couldn't be bothered to count out that many while people were waiting.

The official rules mention that there's a free product in 1 out of every 18 game pieces, which seems in the right ballpark given my experience opening a few hundred of these things. You ordinarily get a game piece just for buying anything, plus one more per product that was marked on the shelves as being worth a bonus game piece. If you get a freebie that is thus marked, when they're giving away 8x game pieces, you get 16 just for redeeming one free product: basically enough to get another free product. Add a few game pieces since the cashiers overestimate, plus all the freebies from the online side of the game, and you can see how this can escalate quickly...at least until you run your local store out of game pieces and/or free products.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #986 on: May 15, 2019, 01:55:28 PM »
Always buy spices from the bulk section. If your store doesn't have a bulk spice section, find one that does.

My wife requested I buy some cinnamon sticks. In the jarred spice aisle, four different brands offered cinnamon sticks for prices ranging from $9-12 per ounce. I went to the bulk spice section and found cinnamon sticks for $15 per pound. Huge difference! I don't know what they make those little spice jars out of, but there must be some gold in there or something.

couponvan

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #987 on: May 15, 2019, 06:48:25 PM »
Always buy spices from the bulk section. If your store doesn't have a bulk spice section, find one that does.

My wife requested I buy some cinnamon sticks. In the jarred spice aisle, four different brands offered cinnamon sticks for prices ranging from $9-12 per ounce. I went to the bulk spice section and found cinnamon sticks for $15 per pound. Huge difference! I don't know what they make those little spice jars out of, but there must be some gold in there or something.

Oh no - not gold - platinum. I get so annoyed with the spice aisle.

Solomon960

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #988 on: January 15, 2020, 05:02:16 AM »
Please forgive me, but this is the easiest challenge a single Mustachian can be given. Always desiring to improve personal efficiency, my challenge to all is how can I improve the nutritional value of my meals that follow while maintaining or reducing financial costs AND lack of effort in preparation:

Breakfast: Roasted peanuts and tap water 
Lunch: Peanut butter-whole wheat sandwich, granola bar, two bananas, bottled water
Dinner: Depends on day:
  Option 1: Canned corn, peas, or green beans; whole wheat cereal (soy milk), granola bar, tap water 
  Option 2: Canned soup or a Tina's Bean & Cheese frozen taco, plain baked potato, granola bar, tap water

(Note: The above meals were originally shared at https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/meal-planning-2018/msg2517832/#msg2517832 and have been modified to reflect recent changes in my purchasing/consumption habits.)

My monthly food budget does not exceed $100. Having removed fruit juice from my diet, I take a daily multi-vitamin.

Suggestions are welcomed. Thank you.

couponvan

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #989 on: January 15, 2020, 06:24:36 AM »
Please forgive me, but this is the easiest challenge a single Mustachian can be given. Always desiring to improve personal efficiency, my challenge to all is how can I improve the nutritional value of my meals that follow while maintaining or reducing financial costs AND lack of effort in preparation:

Breakfast: Roasted peanuts and tap water 
Lunch: Peanut butter-whole wheat sandwich, granola bar, two bananas, bottled water
Dinner: Depends on day:
  Option 1: Canned corn, peas, or green beans; whole wheat cereal (soy milk), granola bar, tap water 
  Option 2: Canned soup or a Tina's Bean & Cheese frozen taco, plain baked potato, granola bar, tap water

(Note: The above meals were originally shared at https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/meal-planning-2018/msg2517832/#msg2517832 and have been modified to reflect recent changes in my purchasing/consumption habits.)

My monthly food budget does not exceed $100. Having removed fruit juice from my diet, I take a daily multi-vitamin.

Suggestions are welcomed. Thank you.

My suggestions would depend on all the other factors in your life - are you getting enough protein? Peanuts are not that high in protein. If you really are eating that much roasted peanuts, Costco has the big jars of planters peanuts for BOGO right now - $6 for 2 52 oz cans. How about oatmeal? You also look to be low in fiber/fruits and veggies. How's your #2 world?  Maybe make some yogurt? That being said, I'm the person who WAY overspends on groceries, so I am not fit to overly critique a sub $100 grocery bill on costs.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #990 on: January 15, 2020, 06:25:55 AM »
Please forgive me, but this is the easiest challenge a single Mustachian can be given. Always desiring to improve personal efficiency, my challenge to all is how can I improve the nutritional value of my meals that follow while maintaining or reducing financial costs AND lack of effort in preparation:

Breakfast: Roasted peanuts and tap water 
Lunch: Peanut butter-whole wheat sandwich, granola bar, two bananas, bottled water
Dinner: Depends on day:
  Option 1: Canned corn, peas, or green beans; whole wheat cereal (soy milk), granola bar, tap water 
  Option 2: Canned soup or a Tina's Bean & Cheese frozen taco, plain baked potato, granola bar, tap water

(Note: The above meals were originally shared at https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/meal-planning-2018/msg2517832/#msg2517832 and have been modified to reflect recent changes in my purchasing/consumption habits.)

My monthly food budget does not exceed $100. Having removed fruit juice from my diet, I take a daily multi-vitamin.

Suggestions are welcomed. Thank you.

It is good to be frugal but I would rethink your diet. I am not a nutritionist by any means but I think you need to add a bit more variety. Have you ever eaten Kippers? Dollar Tree has canned kippers for $1 a can: https://www.dollartree.com/search/go?w=kippers They also have sardines and tuna.

Dollar tree also has canned beans and bags of dried beans each for a dollar. Canned fruit like pineapples. You could probably blend up the pineapples and make a juice out of it.

You could also buy tomatoes and make soup. Buy vegetables that are marked down at the grocery store and make soup with diced canned tomatoes and canned beans. You can make a huge pot of soup that will last all week. Buy canned refried beans and make sandwiches out of it after you spice it up.

Baked potatoes are a good idea. You can doctor them up in many ways. Chili beans, broccoli and cheese, sour cream.

Think about using TVP as a meat substitute: https://www.iherb.com/pr/Bob-s-Red-Mill-TVP-Textured-Vegetable-Protein-10-oz-283-g/9508?msclkid=d1b943666cde1e84543d1d797ec13181&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=*Product+Listing+Ads+%3E+United+States+%3E+Acquisition&utm_term=4580359289046801&utm_content=All+Products&gclid=CKWzo9bZhecCFU78swod0V8Lrw&gclsrc=ds

Davnasty

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #991 on: January 15, 2020, 07:58:01 AM »
how can I improve the nutritional value of my meals that follow while maintaining or reducing financial costs AND lack of effort in preparation:

Breakfast: Roasted peanuts and tap water 
Lunch: Peanut butter-whole wheat sandwich, granola bar, two bananas, bottled water
Dinner: Depends on day:
  Option 1: Canned corn, peas, or green beans; whole wheat cereal (soy milk), granola bar, tap water 
  Option 2: Canned soup or a Tina's Bean & Cheese frozen taco, plain baked potato, granola bar, tap water


Adding nutrition without adding effort to this meal plan is going to be tough. It's already about as simple as it gets.

One thought that comes to mind is fermented vegetables. They are some work to prepare but they can be done in big batches and once they're ready they can sit refrigerated for weeks, months, or even years. Rather than preparing vegetables each time you eat you can do all the work at once and have nutritious vegetables ready to eat out of your refrigerator.

Some of the best vegetables for fermenting are cabbage and cheap root vegetables, price should work out as good or better than canned. If you don't have jars you can use recycled glass jars as a tight seal is not important. Airlocks and weights can make things easier but they really aren't necessary. The only other ingredient you need is salt. Non-iodized is recommended, I get generic for under $0.50/lb at any grocery store in my area. If you're interested in fermentation and want anymore information, just ask.

If you don't go this route, I would still recommend adding more vegetables. Cabbage, carrots, onions, celery, radishes, potatoes, or anything that goes on sale would be good. I like APowers rule of anything that's $1/lb or less. There are lots of ways to cook vegetables but making a large stew on the weekend is the most efficient in my experience. You can also add dry lentils, grains, beans (I cook these separately), or TVP to make a complete meal.

I noticed your plan above contained no meat so I'm not sure if you're vegetarian or just too cheap to buy meat but you could certainly add chicken, sausage, or other meats that you find on sale to add calories and protein.

Lastly, eggs. You can hard boil them in batches for efficiency but even if you scramble them one meal at a time they can be very easy, almost as easy as tossing something in the microwave. I usually cook them in butter in a non-stick pan with a splash of milk but if you want the easiest possible way to cook them, add a little oil, crack them into the pan, and stir.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #992 on: January 15, 2020, 09:19:59 AM »
Also, you can buy big bags of rice. Oatmeal can be bought at the dollar store. Or just buy some store brand.

Chicken on sale is pretty cheap. You can take a whole family pack of boneless breasts, cook them up then cut them up in small chunks then freeze them. Add the chicken to things. Chicken and rice with broccoli or green beans. Make a chicken vegetable soup and toss in some diced up chicken. Chicken salad sandwich with celery, mayo. You could bag up the chicken in sandwich baggies to portion it out in 3, 4, 5 oz. portions then freeze.

As Davnasty mentioned, eggs are cheap, very nutritional, filling and can be used in many ways. Fried egg sandwiches, boiled eggs, pickled eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs on toast. Some people make little egg quiches using a muffin pan so you can grab and go.

Barley is filling and nutritious Can be added to soups, stews, as a side dish.

robartsd

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #993 on: January 15, 2020, 10:19:23 AM »
Please forgive me, but this is the easiest challenge a single Mustachian can be given. Always desiring to improve personal efficiency, my challenge to all is how can I improve the nutritional value of my meals that follow while maintaining or reducing financial costs AND lack of effort in preparation:
Engineers all know that you can only optimize for 2 of 3: Quality, Cost, Time. If you want to limit cost and time, so you have to accept poor quality. I'd say you should decide to drop the lack of preparation effort requirement in exchange for quality on a regular basis. Perhaps one day a week you go to the grocery store and shop for bargains in the produce department then figure out a meal or two using them. Even if your daily plan remains unchanged, the boost from freshly prepared produce once a week could be a big quality difference for you in the long run.

I regularly make smoothies from greens (spinach, chard, kale), and fruit. It is very easy, but not cheap (our typical cost is $1.50-2.00/day for about 48 fl. oz. using organic produce from Costco).

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #994 on: January 15, 2020, 11:00:42 AM »
Please forgive me, but this is the easiest challenge a single Mustachian can be given. Always desiring to improve personal efficiency, my challenge to all is how can I improve the nutritional value of my meals that follow while maintaining or reducing financial costs AND lack of effort in preparation:

Breakfast: Roasted peanuts and tap water 
Lunch: Peanut butter-whole wheat sandwich, granola bar, two bananas, bottled water
Dinner: Depends on day:
  Option 1: Canned corn, peas, or green beans; whole wheat cereal (soy milk), granola bar, tap water 
  Option 2: Canned soup or a Tina's Bean & Cheese frozen taco, plain baked potato, granola bar, tap water

(Note: The above meals were originally shared at https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/meal-planning-2018/msg2517832/#msg2517832 and have been modified to reflect recent changes in my purchasing/consumption habits.)

My monthly food budget does not exceed $100. Having removed fruit juice from my diet, I take a daily multi-vitamin.

Suggestions are welcomed. Thank you.

I forgive you. But did you read the post at the very beginning of the thread? This is a challenge for a family of four. Is your food budget under $50/month, including that daily multivitamin (since it seems that you're using it to replace food-source nutrients)?

I submit that you could almost certainly improve your meal quality (nutritionally, cost, AND effort) by planning a bit and creating more balanced meals that leave you with easy leftovers. For instance--

Breakfast.....peanuts aren't nuts (they're legumes)-- so substitute them with another legume that is loads cheaper: beans (or lentils). Beans can be cooked from dry with almost zero effort in a crockpot while you're at work. Beans for breakfast.

Lunch..... You know what's almost certainly cheaper and as nutritious as a granola bar? A second pb&j. Also, bottled water? Fill your water bottle from the tap.

Dinner..... Canned soup? Cereal? More granola bars? Ditch the granola bars for raisins or something. Instead of pre-made breakfast cereal, get you some rolled oats and a bit of brown sugar (or just toss the raisins in). Instead of canned soup or pre-made frozen tacos, make your own soup (you have a crockpot from cooking beans for breakfast, remember?); split pea soup is almost literally as easy as cooking plain beans. Take some of these savings and buy yourself a breadmaker, and watch your food costs drop even more.

OR! Ditch the "3-different meals" idea altogether, and just make a bean/lentil+veg stew and eat that with homemade bread (you'll save enough to buy a $10 breadmaker at goodwill, and a crockpot to make the stew in) at each meal. Keep the pot in the fridge. Slop into a bowl and reheat in the microwave-- no prepacked food to open, leftovers ready in about 90 seconds from "I think I should eat" to "Yum, this lentil soup is delicious!".

With the money you save by eating healthier, splurge on some better varieties of fruits and veg. Or maybe even some $1/lb chicken for a special occasion. Or zazz up your beans for breakfast by picking up some salsa to splash on them.