Author Topic: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget  (Read 391258 times)

Chris@TTL

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1000 on: May 22, 2020, 10:39:05 PM »
I might suggest this 3,500+ word guide:
How to Save Money at the Grocery Store: Beyond the Basics

Ultimately, it's $170/month average per person (two people) and doesn't force folks into rice and beans. Instead, it gets creative on changing how we think about food, meals, and ingredients while staying healthy. Technology comes to the rescue with wild stacking discounts, too!

It goes deep, way beyond the common sense basics - I bet you'll find some new ideas!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2020, 12:00:51 AM by Chris@TTL »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1001 on: May 23, 2020, 05:20:45 AM »
I might suggest this 3,500+ word guide:
How to Save Money On Groceries: Our Expert Guide, Beyond the Basics

Ultimately, it's $170/month average per person (two people) and doesn't force folks into rice and beans. Instead, it gets creative on changing how we think about food, meals, and ingredients while staying healthy. Technology comes to the rescue with wild stacking discounts, too!

It goes deep, way beyond the common sense basics - I bet you'll find some new ideas!

I read through it and installed all the Norwegian shop apps that I didn't have yet. Turns out that not all shops have them and that only two of them give coupons. But all in all, I do get cashback from the bonus systems, more cashback from paying with a grocery credit card and some bonus on frequently purchased goods. And I always buy a goods that I usually eat in large quantities when they are on discount. I also shop at different shops (on different times, not driving extra), trying to maximize sales in each shop. I also buy on the monthly dollar market when it appears. But these electronic coupons will be added to all of this.

For years, I have reduced our food waste. I buy fewer fresh vegetables, as our vegetables tend to last for several meals. Like one big cabbage is 3-4 meals. And an iceberg salad 2-3 meals. Earlier I didn't realize that and bought 7 vegetables for a week. I also freeze vegetables if I think they might perish before I can eat it. Like bags of carrots. I usually eat some for 2 meals, but there is still half a bag left. Then I cut them into slices and freeze them. And use those later in a stew or soup. I also make more soups nowadays, using wild plants and leftover vegetables from the freezer, like broccoli stilks or those carrot slices.

Like the article suggests, I have also eaten leftover dinner portions for lunch the next day. Otherwise, the are frozen if possible. Last night I made two portions of fish soup from one leftover single portion of fish soup, leftover rouille, fresh fish and some fresh herbs, as well as some leftover vegetable from a pot. Combined with bread, it was a dinner meal.

What the website didn't mention is baking your own bread. Since a few years I buy cheaper (but still healthy) bread than I used to. But nowadays I bake about 1/3 of our bread myself with sourdough, so not using bought yeast. One bag of flour gives my two breads. And the small (1 kg) bag of flour costs less than one cheap, healthy bread. My bread is also healthy.

I forage a lot of plants. But so far it hasn't made a big impact on replacement of our vegetables. I use it more as an addition. We hope that in a better season, we will be able to fill the freezer drawers with self caught fish. Maybe the coming week when we will go hiking and camping around some forest lakes.

And the other important thing is that I am not affraid of expired best before dates. I just use my nose and otherwise good judgement before I throw anything away. Powdered foods last almost forever.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 06:25:49 AM by Linea_Norway »

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1002 on: May 23, 2020, 07:30:09 AM »
I might suggest this 3,500+ word guide:
How to Save Money On Groceries: Our Expert Guide, Beyond the Basics

Ultimately, it's $170/month average per person (two people) and doesn't force folks into rice and beans. Instead, it gets creative on changing how we think about food, meals, and ingredients while staying healthy. Technology comes to the rescue with wild stacking discounts, too!

It goes deep, way beyond the common sense basics - I bet you'll find some new ideas!

That looks like a great guide, and likely it is stuff I mostly do. But $170/month per person is a HUGE difference from what I've done here, which is ~$190/month for four people. If I were to spend [$170x4=$680] per month on food, of course I wouldn't "be forced into rice and beans"-- I could be eating burgers or pizza or roast beef most nights, with fancy salad on the side.

Chris@TTL

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1003 on: May 23, 2020, 08:40:35 AM »
@APowers ~$48/month per person is crazy, great job bud! Yea, that article goes less LeanFIRE, more FatFIRE for sure - trying to hit the ways to reduce waste/save money without more direct food-specific changes (like shopping manager's specials, eating store brand only, cutting meat, etc).

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1004 on: May 24, 2020, 04:44:23 AM »
And the other important thing is that I am not affraid of expired best before dates. I just use my nose and otherwise good judgement before I throw anything away. Powdered foods last almost forever.

Can confirm. Chocolates are good for well after best before dates :)

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1005 on: May 24, 2020, 06:18:45 AM »
Since this thread is back: I was pretty incredulous that we could get our groceries lower (we were around $600 a month for four). But I was wrong! We have moved entirely to online shopping/curbside pick up during the pandemic and our grocery spending has dropped by over $100! That includes take out once a week - which is way more than we were doing pre-pandemic.

I think this comes down to two things:
 
  • I was doing more impulse buying in the grocery store that I realized
  • and also since we are constantly home I find myself caring about food less. Do kids get a fruit and veggie at every meal? Then great! the rest of it can be toast or a cup of yogurt because I'm done :)


So thanks Apowers - I definitely thought I was doing the best I could (and maybe I was doing the best I could for where we were at the time), but I thought of this thread when I tallied up our April groceries and realized I could do better.

APowers

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1006 on: May 24, 2020, 07:36:28 AM »
Since this thread is back: I was pretty incredulous that we could get our groceries lower (we were around $600 a month for four). But I was wrong! We have moved entirely to online shopping/curbside pick up during the pandemic and our grocery spending has dropped by over $100! That includes take out once a week - which is way more than we were doing pre-pandemic.

I think this comes down to two things:
 
  • I was doing more impulse buying in the grocery store that I realized
  • and also since we are constantly home I find myself caring about food less. Do kids get a fruit and veggie at every meal? Then great! the rest of it can be toast or a cup of yogurt because I'm done :)


So thanks Apowers - I definitely thought I was doing the best I could (and maybe I was doing the best I could for where we were at the time), but I thought of this thread when I tallied up our April groceries and realized I could do better.

Way to go! I'm glad I could be an inspiration.

robartsd

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1007 on: May 27, 2020, 09:16:00 AM »
And the other important thing is that I am not afraid of expired best before dates. I just use my nose and otherwise good judgement before I throw anything away. Powdered foods last almost forever.
Especially true if you have knowledge of the storage conditions for most of the storage life of the item.

Most dry goods that are kept dry, cool, and dark degrade very slowly. Keeping it dry is pretty much all that is required to prevent the growth of dangerous microorganism, but heat and light can degrade the nutritional quality of many foods.

Most frozen foods that are well sealed and never subject to partial thaw have very little degradation over time as well.

Refrigerated foods are the riskiest. Kept below 40 F (2 C) microorganisms that cause bad odor/taste should out compete microorganisms that would be harmful to ingest, but even reaching room temperature for relatively short periods of time can change the risks significantly.

dizzy

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1008 on: June 18, 2020, 04:08:52 PM »
This is next area that I am trying to really pin down.  I've done a little better financially the last year and food is something I splurge on a little.  I am trying to keep better records here.

My main spending is for my CSA box.  It's $65 for 2 boxes a month.  One has 3lbs of grassfed ground beef in it
Both boxes have either a cake of tofu or carton of eggs, and 7 to 10 veggies and 1 fruit

I am trying to get back towards paleo ish again.  My boyfriend is used to living frugally but eating things that are instant or out of cans.  He eats a lot of carbs, no bueno.  Beans are a compromise I'm willing to make.  He doesn't like meat but I feel it's important to eat.

Been doing intermittent fasting again the last 2 weeks and it's a big help.  What would people suggest to supplement this for two people, or where you are spending to get a good deal.  Suburban area, can get to all sorts of stores.


Chris@TTL

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1009 on: June 19, 2020, 08:45:11 AM »
@dizzy - that's a tough one since it sounds like it's more dietary concerns than money concerns you're working with.

In terms of money, the most important aspect is probably both of you gaining some more flexibility. There's a lot on flexibility and rethinking your meals, consumption here:

I might suggest this 3,500+ word guide:
How to Save Money at the Grocery Store: Beyond the Basics

Ultimately, it's $170/month average per person (two people) and doesn't force folks into rice and beans. Instead, it gets creative on changing how we think about food, meals, and ingredients while staying healthy. Technology comes to the rescue with wild stacking discounts, too!

It goes deep, way beyond the common sense basics - I bet you'll find some new ideas!

However, that may not work with your ideals or nutritional needs, so you'll have to strike a balance. The CSA sounds like a great place to work from to build your meals around.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2020, 10:35:05 PM by Chris@TTL »

K_in_the_kitchen

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1010 on: June 24, 2020, 04:30:31 PM »
This is next area that I am trying to really pin down.  I've done a little better financially the last year and food is something I splurge on a little.  I am trying to keep better records here.

My main spending is for my CSA box.  It's $65 for 2 boxes a month.  One has 3lbs of grassfed ground beef in it
Both boxes have either a cake of tofu or carton of eggs, and 7 to 10 veggies and 1 fruit

I am trying to get back towards paleo ish again.  My boyfriend is used to living frugally but eating things that are instant or out of cans.  He eats a lot of carbs, no bueno.  Beans are a compromise I'm willing to make.  He doesn't like meat but I feel it's important to eat.

Been doing intermittent fasting again the last 2 weeks and it's a big help.  What would people suggest to supplement this for two people, or where you are spending to get a good deal.  Suburban area, can get to all sorts of stores.

I hear you on the splurging, especially now during Covid-19!  This week my adult sons wanted to come with me to Aldi, and they were tossing in potatoes chips, Frito-type corn chips, candy, ice cream, Aldi brand cola, etc.  I figured out I spent about $30 extra just on the treats they wanted, plus I bought lunch meat and seltzer water because DH wanted them.  I don't feel too badly because we're spending much less overall due to Covid, but at the same time they can't get used to this.

I've done CSA boxes several times, sometimes for a couple of years at a time, and without doubt I end up thinking I'd rather get the produce I want, when I want it, and not full of bugs.  Even shopping at the farmers market ends up costing less.  But even more than this, choosing to eat the less expensive produce will cut major money from the grocery bill.  I feed my family with the inexpensive basics of cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, bananas, and apples (but not in summer when they cost more and aren't as fresh), and then fill in with whatever is on sale that week, at loss leader type prices.  This week we're having zucchini and bell peppers, because they were on sale.  I also buy lettuce and tomatoes regularly, and cucumbers if they're on sale.  Right now we have cantaloupe because they were 99¢ each (I won't buy if they're priced higher), and a pineapple because it was also 99¢.

I don't know where you live, but I buy grass-fed beef for $6.99/# from a small rancher in my state, with free shipping (free shipping is available for CA, WA, and AZ).  Stores such as Sprouts and Aldi often sell it for less than that.  I know some people will suggest not buying grass-fed beef, but 12 years ago we went from not eating meat at all to eating grass-fed, and we really prefer it.

I don't follow a paleo diet, but because of food allergies I also don't eat legumes, so often my meals skew paleo/primal.  For example, tonight I'll be eating pork, potatoes, and zucchini.  I also eat some dairy, and I don't eschew wheat because it would be too limiting with my multiple food allergies (all legumes, all nuts, most fruits, many vegetables, some grains like barley and rye, and many other foods) and also eating to control kidney stones.  I make my own sourdough sandwich/toasting bread.

The good thing for you is that white potatoes are allowed on most paleo diets now, and even Mark's Daily Apple considers white rice a safe starch for most people.  Those are two really inexpensive sources for carbs.  50# of white calrose rice is usually under $25.  Rinse it well to remove any enrichment if you prefer.  Sam's Club sells 50# of long grain rice for $17.  I haven't seen sales on potatoes in months, but they're still inexpensive.  I think I pay $3 for 10#.

Chicken pieces have been hard to find lately, but whole chickens are less expensive most of the time, and you get the bones to make stock with.  Sometimes Aldi puts chicken quarters (leg and thigh) on sale for 49¢/#, in a 10# bag.  I'll do that to make stock, although I prefer Foster Farms chicken and only buy FF for whole chickens and split breasts.  I'm not super picky about b/s chicken breast, as long as I can get it for under $1.50/#.  If I can, I buy as much as possible and freeze it (after salting) in individual portions.  If I can't, we don't eat b/s chicken breast.  For us, it's a cheap convenience food.

Eggs are inexpensive and work for paleo.  Fish does too, but it isn't inexpensive unless you buy canned tuna.

Two years ago we decided we wanted to be FI more than we wanted to buy organic produce or pastured eggs.  This month we paid off our mortgage, the last step in making sure we're FI.  I'm RE, my husband doesn't want to retire yet, but we also want him to be able to walk away at any time.

Despite achieving this, we're not going to change the kinds of food we buy, or up the grocery budget, because it won't be sustainable once we FIRE, and because at the same time I last cut our grocery budget (I've done it many times), I realized I would rather send extra grocery money to hunger relief than spend it on ourselves.

ETA:  I meant to mention bulk cooking of meat to save money while eating paleo.  Today I've been slow cooking pork shoulder (butt) from Costco.  14# of meat was $28.  This makes at least 9 generous meals for our family of four adults, two of whom are highly active young adult males.  If it were just DH and I, I estimate we'd get 20+ meals.  Plus I save the cooking liquid as broth, and skim off the fat for cooking.  You can cook it with a rub of paleo approved spices, along with chicken broth, or even leftover pork broth from the previous batch (frozen and defrosted).  I'm using one slow cooker and one Instant Pot on slow cooker mode (not my favorite, but this week I didn't feel like cooking it on two separate days).  I don't cook it with BBQ sauce because I want it to be versatile for several different meals, including tacos tomorrow night.  But DH and our oldest will mix BBQ sauce into theirs tonight.

I do the same with beef, using brisket or chuck roast.  Basically, I try to find the least expensive cuts of meat, buy them in bulk, slow cook them, and then portion out and freeze.  Then it's basically convenience food, since it only takes about 45 minutes to defrost a bag of cooked pork or beef in a bowl of water.

And finally, check out The Cheapskate Cook on IG and Facebook.  She cooks budget friendly meals with basic ingredients.  I disagree with labeling food "real" or "clean", but if you can get past that she has great ideas and recipes.  We really like her homemade salad dressings, and I make her seasoned ground beef almost weekly.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 06:35:13 PM by K_in_SoCal »

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1011 on: June 24, 2020, 04:34:09 PM »
Before this pandemic hit I had totally been planning to make a weekend out of going to the store, opening the tickets, going back to redeem freebies, and repeating. As is I felt three trips in one week was probably pushing my luck a bit. Next year!

I remember doing this at Albertsons at about 10 pm on the last night. The key is to camp out in the parking lot and open them all, otherwise you always miss out on that last round!

dizzy

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1012 on: July 18, 2020, 06:56:16 AM »
So I've been going to ACME a lot to experiment since I wrote the last post- what I've been doing is taking advantage of the frequent gift card deals ($10 off a visa or mc gift card, that I buy to earn credit card points- see, "manufactured spend")

Then while I'm there I use the Just4U deals that are relevant.  I got 10lb of potatoes for free the other week, stack other offers mostly in produce section.  They seem to give you lowered prices in the app on things you buy often.  Usually can get a few things of produce (like tomatoes, couple avocados, a fruit or veg) for $5-7 total.  Or other rando free things (the other day it was a carton of oat milk) or discounted things (prosciutto for $3 a package). 

I might get sam's club again if there is a good offer- year and a half ago I had it, since it was a profitable deal when stacked with some sign up codes and an Amex offer.  Or another club like that.  I don't know how many things I'd buy there but there might be a few things I could get cheap if it's there and the membership was free for me- couple things we eat fairly frequently are cauliflower rice and coconut milk, as well as fish.

We do have an Aldi's not far but it's an absolute madhouse, I've tried 3 times to go but no parking.  I like Trader Joe's which is close to my work, it's a little expensive tho.  Hoping to try to do some u-pick fruit soon to freeze, if it's worth it it could save a bit.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1013 on: September 06, 2020, 04:24:18 PM »
Dear  @APowers

Thank you for this thread! You, indeed, are Power at its best. Thanks for the inspiration. My grocery bill spending is obscene. I read the thread during this weekend and came up with a lot of ideas on how to add another store (walking distance from home) so I can save on my spending and I also exercise at the same time.

Curious to know if anyone grocery spending has increased significantly because of the pandemic? Before I only had 2 weeks worth of food and now I feel I have way too much for 2 adults.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1014 on: September 06, 2020, 11:46:02 PM »
Dear  @APowers

Thank you for this thread! You, indeed, are Power at its best. Thanks for the inspiration. My grocery bill spending is obscene. I read the thread during this weekend and came up with a lot of ideas on how to add another store (walking distance from home) so I can save on my spending and I also exercise at the same time.

Curious to know if anyone grocery spending has increased significantly because of the pandemic? Before I only had 2 weeks worth of food and now I feel I have way too much for 2 adults.
YEP!
Teenage son, stuck at home, now working on on-line post secondary classes. 
I did not realize how much fast food he had been eating (on his own dime) between "second lunch" and "dinner".

dizzy

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1015 on: November 11, 2020, 09:37:01 PM »
So to update, I've been doing pretty well around $200/mo grocery budget.
I started with a regional home delivery box in addition to the local CSA.  It's been quite affordable, usually about $40/box, veggies mostly but I can get pantry goods and fresh/frozen proteins too.  They do an income based thing and it's super affordable, $35.90 got me last time:

Organic: 2 cucumbers, 3 lemons, bunch romanesco greens (like collards), 3 avocados, 1lb tempeh, 32 oz carton chicken broth, 1lb lentils
Conventional: 2lbs green beans, 1.5lb broccoli crowns, 8oz spring mix salad
Misc: 2 cans chickpeas, 4 cans black beans, Thai red curry paste, 1lb walnuts, 1 lb salmon, 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes.

They also messed up and gave me 1lb organic free range chicken breast.  They seem to mess something up every order and I luck out with a couple dollar discount and something free, this was the most expensive thing I got free though.

Between the $65 for 2 CSA boxes and the $40 once a month (usually just do 1 box) for this one it sets me up really nicely for the month.  My partner eats some of what I cook but not all.  My CSA will be taking a pause for an uncertain amount of time starting mid December, it will be interesting to see how I do with the other box company only.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1016 on: November 25, 2020, 09:56:01 AM »
This thread is giving me so much to think about. First, I am beyond impressed at how cheaply APowers can acquire groceries (Three pints of ice cream for $2.97? Eight boxes of gluten-free pasta for $6.72? Three dozen eggs for $2.97?). This is definitely the sort of sale-shopping I aspire to.

Second, I'm a bit puzzled: My refrigerator/pantry looks just like that of APowers (except fewer condiments); I avoid processed/prepared foods unless they are deeply discounted; I eschew red meat entirely; I rarely buy organic; I always buy generic; I make my own dressings, breakfast sausage, sauces, etc. STILL my monthly grocery budget averages $500 per month for two people. Compared to the other folks on this thread, that's a shockingly high number and I feel like the reasons should be obvious....but they're not to me. 

I also leverage coupon apps and ibotta, shop on a per-ounce basis, produce almost zero food waste. My wife and I don't eat like Olympic athletes. What gives?

Looking back at my Kroger purchases, I see that I probably spend a bit more on fresh leafy greens (I buy them regardless of whether they are on sale), I spend about $10 per week on meat/proteins, and buy almond milk as opposed to regular milk. But surely these things don't add hundreds of unnecessary dollars to my grocery bill each month. I'm struggling to point to the 1-3 things that are making my grocery budget relatively high.

I see that the meals on this thread are a little simpler than I'm used to. For example, a plate of seasoned rice and a side salad doesn't quite count as a dinner to me. I also NEVER replace a meal with a PB&J or a bowl of cereal (though I sincerely applaud those who can get away with that).

I'm left thinking that I either need to put more effort into buying things on sale or fundamentally change what I consider to be a meal. Keep it up everyone, I'm here to learn!

robartsd

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1017 on: November 25, 2020, 11:30:52 AM »
Second, I'm a bit puzzled: My refrigerator/pantry looks just like that of APowers (except fewer condiments); I avoid processed/prepared foods unless they are deeply discounted; I eschew red meat entirely; I rarely buy organic; I always buy generic; I make my own dressings, breakfast sausage, sauces, etc. STILL my monthly grocery budget averages $500 per month for two people. Compared to the other folks on this thread, that's a shockingly high number and I feel like the reasons should be obvious....but they're not to me. 

...

Looking back at my Kroger purchases, I see that I probably spend a bit more on fresh leafy greens (I buy them regardless of whether they are on sale), I spend about $10 per week on meat/proteins, and buy almond milk as opposed to regular milk. But surely these things don't add hundreds of unnecessary dollars to my grocery bill each month. I'm struggling to point to the 1-3 things that are making my grocery budget relatively high.
To be fair, produce prices can vary greatly by region and season; and APowers family doesn't eat all that much produce. Grocery spending for us (also just two) is much closer to yours than to APowers family (I don't track food spending in enough detail to know how close to $500/month we spend on food).

jim555

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1018 on: November 25, 2020, 12:06:41 PM »
My monthly food bill is around $145 a month for the last few months.  Got rid of a lot of pre-processed food and use base meats, veggies, and rice.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1019 on: November 25, 2020, 04:28:43 PM »
This thread is giving me so much to think about. First, I am beyond impressed at how cheaply APowers can acquire groceries (Three pints of ice cream for $2.97? Eight boxes of gluten-free pasta for $6.72? Three dozen eggs for $2.97?). This is definitely the sort of sale-shopping I aspire to.

Second, I'm a bit puzzled: My refrigerator/pantry looks just like that of APowers (except fewer condiments); I avoid processed/prepared foods unless they are deeply discounted; I eschew red meat entirely; I rarely buy organic; I always buy generic; I make my own dressings, breakfast sausage, sauces, etc. STILL my monthly grocery budget averages $500 per month for two people. Compared to the other folks on this thread, that's a shockingly high number and I feel like the reasons should be obvious....but they're not to me. 

I also leverage coupon apps and ibotta, shop on a per-ounce basis, produce almost zero food waste. My wife and I don't eat like Olympic athletes. What gives?

Looking back at my Kroger purchases, I see that I probably spend a bit more on fresh leafy greens (I buy them regardless of whether they are on sale), I spend about $10 per week on meat/proteins, and buy almond milk as opposed to regular milk. But surely these things don't add hundreds of unnecessary dollars to my grocery bill each month. I'm struggling to point to the 1-3 things that are making my grocery budget relatively high.

I see that the meals on this thread are a little simpler than I'm used to. For example, a plate of seasoned rice and a side salad doesn't quite count as a dinner to me. I also NEVER replace a meal with a PB&J or a bowl of cereal (though I sincerely applaud those who can get away with that).

I'm left thinking that I either need to put more effort into buying things on sale or fundamentally change what I consider to be a meal. Keep it up everyone, I'm here to learn!

Hm. I mostly just pay attention to the loss-leaders in the weekly sale flyers, with occasional trips to the scratch/dent discount grocery (which is where the ultra cheap GF stuff comes from, otherwise it's cost-prohibitive).

I have found that ibotta doesn't work well for me, since I don't buy things that are on those kind of coupons/rebates. I do however make sure to download the Kroger/Safeway/etc for things that I'd otherwise buy anyway.

I'm not sure what you consider a "meal" -- but if it "must include meat", that probably puts you at a higher budget level than me almost by default. IMO, a PBJ is a perfectly acceptable alternative to a meat/cheese sandwich, and likely half the cost. I did notice that you said you make your own breakfast sausage; I assume that means you're eating sausage for breakfast fairly regularly? That will bump up your cost-basis.

I'd be happy to give advice/opinions on your grocery budget and/or meal plan, if you want to break it down further-- I feel like that deserves it's own thread.

Trifele

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1020 on: November 26, 2020, 03:26:21 AM »
I'd be happy to give advice/opinions on your grocery budget and/or meal plan, if you want to break it down further-- I feel like that deserves it's own thread.

Yes!  You should start a "Grocery Case Study" thread @APowers -- maybe over in Ask a Mustachian, or Case Studies.  So many of the posters asking for help in those threads are trying to optimize grocery shopping.   

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1021 on: November 26, 2020, 06:32:28 AM »
This thread is giving me so much to think about. First, I am beyond impressed at how cheaply APowers can acquire groceries (Three pints of ice cream for $2.97? Eight boxes of gluten-free pasta for $6.72? Three dozen eggs for $2.97?). This is definitely the sort of sale-shopping I aspire to.

Second, I'm a bit puzzled: My refrigerator/pantry looks just like that of APowers (except fewer condiments); I avoid processed/prepared foods unless they are deeply discounted; I eschew red meat entirely; I rarely buy organic; I always buy generic; I make my own dressings, breakfast sausage, sauces, etc. STILL my monthly grocery budget averages $500 per month for two people. Compared to the other folks on this thread, that's a shockingly high number and I feel like the reasons should be obvious....but they're not to me. 

I also leverage coupon apps and ibotta, shop on a per-ounce basis, produce almost zero food waste. My wife and I don't eat like Olympic athletes. What gives?

Looking back at my Kroger purchases, I see that I probably spend a bit more on fresh leafy greens (I buy them regardless of whether they are on sale), I spend about $10 per week on meat/proteins, and buy almond milk as opposed to regular milk. But surely these things don't add hundreds of unnecessary dollars to my grocery bill each month. I'm struggling to point to the 1-3 things that are making my grocery budget relatively high.

I see that the meals on this thread are a little simpler than I'm used to. For example, a plate of seasoned rice and a side salad doesn't quite count as a dinner to me. I also NEVER replace a meal with a PB&J or a bowl of cereal (though I sincerely applaud those who can get away with that).

I'm left thinking that I either need to put more effort into buying things on sale or fundamentally change what I consider to be a meal. Keep it up everyone, I'm here to learn!

Hm. I mostly just pay attention to the loss-leaders in the weekly sale flyers, with occasional trips to the scratch/dent discount grocery (which is where the ultra cheap GF stuff comes from, otherwise it's cost-prohibitive).

I have found that ibotta doesn't work well for me, since I don't buy things that are on those kind of coupons/rebates. I do however make sure to download the Kroger/Safeway/etc for things that I'd otherwise buy anyway.

I'm not sure what you consider a "meal" -- but if it "must include meat", that probably puts you at a higher budget level than me almost by default. IMO, a PBJ is a perfectly acceptable alternative to a meat/cheese sandwich, and likely half the cost. I did notice that you said you make your own breakfast sausage; I assume that means you're eating sausage for breakfast fairly regularly? That will bump up your cost-basis.

I'd be happy to give advice/opinions on your grocery budget and/or meal plan, if you want to break it down further-- I feel like that deserves it's own thread.

Indeed. A normal breakfast or lunch for me is some slices of bread (homemade or storebought cheap, healthy bread) with one of the following topping: slices of Gouda cheese, jam (homemade or storebought), minced chocolate (unfortunately not for sale in this country), nutpaste (storebought or occasionally homemade), or shrimp salad (from store if on sale). Very occasionally a fried egg. And sometimes lunch is a leftover from yesterday's dinner.

For me, dinner should be a "proper" meal, including all food groups. While breakfast or lunch is more just a reasonably frugal stomach fill. Especially as a meat eater, it would be easy to overeat on meat i (based on what a body needs) if you add meat to more meals.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1022 on: November 26, 2020, 07:10:38 AM »
I'd be happy to give advice/opinions on your grocery budget and/or meal plan, if you want to break it down further-- I feel like that deserves it's own thread.

Yes!  You should start a "Grocery Case Study" thread @APowers -- maybe over in Ask a Mustachian, or Case Studies.  So many of the posters asking for help in those threads are trying to optimize grocery shopping.

What I meant was that I'd be happy give advice if @TheGadfly wanted to start their own separate thread. As robartsd pointed out, different people's locales' food supplies are different in terms of cost, availability, and quality. I can't really go more in depth unless they're willing to post more in-depth info.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1023 on: December 11, 2020, 02:48:55 PM »
In addition to the usual suspects that others have named, I noticed a couple of key differences for APowers, but noticed it only after tracking the eating / grocery spend over many months.

Namely -
Reduced snacks (or simply fewer store bought snacks / produce as snack, etc). 
Sandwiches for dinner about every week or two.  Nice, tasty sandwiches with lots of fillings, but not a ton "extras" added to it. 
Costco pizza night for those times when you are worn out and just want to treat yourself / your kid / whatever.   

It was the consistency of eating modestly priced meals that created the edge.  I was already doing a lot (most?) of the same super-saver things, but we also tended to just eat more volume (yes, I could lose a few pounds) or had family members or life exhausting moments where we would buy something more expensive / skip the frugal budget a few times a month.

Of course regionally, my regional pricing looks a lot different, even going to the lowest prices outlet in the region, but the behavioural difference of consistency ^^ was key. 

I really appreciated all the details and the time line duration of this thread.  It helped underscore these behavioural differences in a way nothing else had.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1024 on: December 25, 2020, 07:04:43 AM »
The final tally for 2020 is in, $1457 for one adult.

This does include some alcohol and toiletries.

5 months in the USA
4 months in Poland
3 months in Portugal

Surprisingly very similar costs between the three countries with some local variances on very specific products.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1025 on: October 24, 2021, 11:13:27 AM »
Hey @APowers ,

I've been thinking of this thread and wondering if your shopping habits (and budget) have changed at all in the past year?  I've been noticing higher prices at the grocery store in my area but don't pay so much attention to exact details.  I figured you do and wondered what you have noticed and/or changed?

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1026 on: October 29, 2021, 02:16:47 PM »
Hey @APowers ,

I've been thinking of this thread and wondering if your shopping habits (and budget) have changed at all in the past year?  I've been noticing higher prices at the grocery store in my area but don't pay so much attention to exact details.  I figured you do and wondered what you have noticed and/or changed?

I have noticed a couple changes, but not really much that significantly affects my budget.

I did shift my meal planning the year after this journal, to better streamline the work/school/home balance, and upped my budget about $50/month to do so without the kids complaining too much, but that's a different life goal/story.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1027 on: November 27, 2021, 04:44:48 PM »
We recently slashed our food and takeaway budget from 500€/month to around 200€/month thanks to a popular food waste avoidance app.

Here's a few more somewhat frugal things we do when it comes to food:
- collect walnuts for free and crack them in autumn. We really enjoy this as an activity, and it yields us minor savings.
- bulk buy honey from the old beekeeper near our holiday cottage. a third of the price for quality honey where we live. Great gift. Friends and family love it when we bring them a jar.
- make our own hummus from jarred chickpeas. tasty, fast, cheap.
- for additional high quality fruits and vegetables, we recently discovered a local wholesaler 500m from our place. They are happy to have us as retail customers. Cheap, easily reachable on foot.

I'm soon to start an experiment with fermented carrot juice, inspired by a university project demonstrating its safety and advantages. Press carrot juice, add 2.5% salt, store for 30 days away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Should be a super cheap and tasty probiotic.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1028 on: December 12, 2021, 08:02:50 AM »
We recently slashed our food and takeaway budget from 500€/month to around 200€/month thanks to a popular food waste avoidance app.

Here's a few more somewhat frugal things we do when it comes to food:
- collect walnuts for free and crack them in autumn. We really enjoy this as an activity, and it yields us minor savings.
- bulk buy honey from the old beekeeper near our holiday cottage. a third of the price for quality honey where we live. Great gift. Friends and family love it when we bring them a jar.
- make our own hummus from jarred chickpeas. tasty, fast, cheap.
- for additional high quality fruits and vegetables, we recently discovered a local wholesaler 500m from our place. They are happy to have us as retail customers. Cheap, easily reachable on foot.

I'm soon to start an experiment with fermented carrot juice, inspired by a university project demonstrating its safety and advantages. Press carrot juice, add 2.5% salt, store for 30 days away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Should be a super cheap and tasty probiotic.

That method sounds similar to the method of normally fermenting carrots, which is also healthy. So yes, why not by fermenting juice.
For fermenting vegetables, you need to use salt without jodium.

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1029 on: January 22, 2022, 12:53:28 PM »
This thread is inspiring, but honestly even reading through this I don't know how you all do this in practice. Is anyone consistently eating healthy and vegetarian? We are trying to get our budgets down to around $100/wk for 2 people this month, but we need to buy fresh veggies/fruits every week, veg milk, seeds/nuts, etc. We buy things on sale and buy generics (with a few must have exceptions). I see no path to $50 a week. So I have questions.

#1 healthy vegetarian/vegan eaters, can you tell me more about what you buy/eat? We aren't spending a lot of money on meat replacements because that is generally junk food. We buy whole "clean" foods and ingredients.
#2 we don't have a bulk warehouse membership like Costco because I'm not sure if they have anything for us. We don't buy a lot of junk in general, we don't eat pasta (we do eat bean pasta). Do people with Costco (or similar) memberships find healthy food there?

We are sort of outlier with regards to the typical American diet. Live food is a must and no animals. We do already eat a lot of bean based meals. Anybody else? This is amazing, how do you do this in practice. Some people mentioned an app, what is the name of the app you use that helps with waste?

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1030 on: January 22, 2022, 12:56:13 PM »
I'd be happy to give advice/opinions on your grocery budget and/or meal plan, if you want to break it down further-- I feel like that deserves it's own thread.

Yes!  You should start a "Grocery Case Study" thread @APowers -- maybe over in Ask a Mustachian, or Case Studies.  So many of the posters asking for help in those threads are trying to optimize grocery shopping.

I didn't see this before I posted my questions. My inquiry would fit better in a thread like that, please start one and I will join!

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1031 on: January 22, 2022, 03:24:33 PM »
This thread is inspiring, but honestly even reading through this I don't know how you all do this in practice. Is anyone consistently eating healthy and vegetarian? We are trying to get our budgets down to around $100/wk for 2 people this month, but we need to buy fresh veggies/fruits every week, veg milk, seeds/nuts, etc. We buy things on sale and buy generics (with a few must have exceptions). I see no path to $50 a week. So I have questions.

#1 healthy vegetarian/vegan eaters, can you tell me more about what you buy/eat? We aren't spending a lot of money on meat replacements because that is generally junk food. We buy whole "clean" foods and ingredients.
#2 we don't have a bulk warehouse membership like Costco because I'm not sure if they have anything for us. We don't buy a lot of junk in general, we don't eat pasta (we do eat bean pasta). Do people with Costco (or similar) memberships find healthy food there?

We are sort of outlier with regards to the typical American diet. Live food is a must and no animals. We do already eat a lot of bean based meals. Anybody else? This is amazing, how do you do this in practice. Some people mentioned an app, what is the name of the app you use that helps with waste?

100% whole food plant based here, with an omnivore husband who also eats a lot of plant-based meals. We definitely don't get our grocery costs this low. A good month for us would be under $600, although that does include household goods like toilet paper and some "treat" foods that our dogs eat (carrots, baby food, cream cheese, etc.). I don't think healthy eating needs to be unapproachably expensive, but to me, life is too short to eat boring food (and it will be even shorter if you eat unhealthy food!). I enjoy cooking, trying new recipes, and eating more than the absolute cheapest of the produce options. And a wide variety of plants is healthy for your microbiome! If I want broccolini or mangoes or Japanese sweet potatoes, I buy them. I do go to the local Asian and Hispanic markets occasionally for their lower prices on the more "exotic" produce.

That said, I do eat a lot of whole intact grains, beans, and potatoes (white or sweet), and that helps to keep costs down, especially since I buy the grains and beans in bulk (25 pound bags of oats, for example). Eating in season helps, too. We also grow whatever herbs we can talk into staying alive, and if we're lucky enough to have an abundance, we dry them or make pesto and freeze it. I make everything I can myself rather than buying a bunch of sauces, salad dressings, spice mixes, etc. I buy whole spices, because they last longer, so I can get them in larger quantities at bulk prices, and then I grind them myself. Despite what I said above, I do eat a decent amount of "basic" produce like bananas and spinach. And my freezer helps make sure that nothing goes to waste. If I'm tired of something, or I have a little bit of a sauce left or whatever, into the freezer it goes. Leftover produce also goes in there, to be used later for smoothies, oatmeal, Buddha bowls, or an actual recipe. The freezer is also good for stocking up when something goes on sale. When pineapples were 77 cents each, I bought 5 of them and stored them away for future smoothies. (This makes it sound like I live on smoothies. I really don't! But frozen produce will last for ages!)

I think our two best "spend money to save money" purchases, as far as food goes, were our Vitamix and our garage freezer. I know the Vitamix is very controversial among Mustachians, and to each their own, but we use ours multiple times a day, and it keeps us from buying expensive pre-made things.

We have a Costco membership through my husband's job, but I don't think I'd pay for it if we didn't already get it free. I do get frozen berries there, as well as a lot of fresh produce -- especially things I can freeze. I'll get a ton of bananas and freeze them when ripe so I can use them in smoothies and baking. Or lemons/limes -- I juice them all and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Their nut butters also tend to be good, and some Costcos have good plant milks (to me, a good one is just the soy bean or the nut plus water -- no additives). I usually just make my own soy milk, though, with soy beans from Amazon. Super cheap! Costco's price for Medjool dates is one of the best I've found, although you can get the same/similar price on Amazon for Ugglies (link below). If you eat canned beans, I think they have several types of those. For some reason, in 3 different states, I've only ever seen dry pinto beans. Never dry black beans or any other type of dry bean, so I get those online. I've also gotten a big bag of brown rice at Costco. Canned tomato paste can usually be found there, too.

https://www.amazon.com/Joolies-Organic-Medjool-California-Occasion/dp/B08BH6NBN8/ref=sr_1_5?crid=751A884MSGUC&keywords=ugglies&qid=1642888736&sprefix=ugglies%2Caps%2C307&sr=8-5

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1032 on: January 22, 2022, 05:30:50 PM »
This thread is inspiring, but honestly even reading through this I don't know how you all do this in practice. Is anyone consistently eating healthy and vegetarian? We are trying to get our budgets down to around $100/wk for 2 people this month, but we need to buy fresh veggies/fruits every week, veg milk, seeds/nuts, etc. We buy things on sale and buy generics (with a few must have exceptions). I see no path to $50 a week. So I have questions.

#1 healthy vegetarian/vegan eaters, can you tell me more about what you buy/eat? We aren't spending a lot of money on meat replacements because that is generally junk food. We buy whole "clean" foods and ingredients.
#2 we don't have a bulk warehouse membership like Costco because I'm not sure if they have anything for us. We don't buy a lot of junk in general, we don't eat pasta (we do eat bean pasta). Do people with Costco (or similar) memberships find healthy food there?

We are sort of outlier with regards to the typical American diet. Live food is a must and no animals. We do already eat a lot of bean based meals. Anybody else? This is amazing, how do you do this in practice. Some people mentioned an app, what is the name of the app you use that helps with waste?

100% whole food plant based here, with an omnivore husband who also eats a lot of plant-based meals. We definitely don't get our grocery costs this low. A good month for us would be under $600, although that does include household goods like toilet paper and some "treat" foods that our dogs eat (carrots, baby food, cream cheese, etc.). I don't think healthy eating needs to be unapproachably expensive, but to me, life is too short to eat boring food (and it will be even shorter if you eat unhealthy food!). I enjoy cooking, trying new recipes, and eating more than the absolute cheapest of the produce options. And a wide variety of plants is healthy for your microbiome! If I want broccolini or mangoes or Japanese sweet potatoes, I buy them. I do go to the local Asian and Hispanic markets occasionally for their lower prices on the more "exotic" produce.

That said, I do eat a lot of whole intact grains, beans, and potatoes (white or sweet), and that helps to keep costs down, especially since I buy the grains and beans in bulk (25 pound bags of oats, for example). Eating in season helps, too. We also grow whatever herbs we can talk into staying alive, and if we're lucky enough to have an abundance, we dry them or make pesto and freeze it. I make everything I can myself rather than buying a bunch of sauces, salad dressings, spice mixes, etc. I buy whole spices, because they last longer, so I can get them in larger quantities at bulk prices, and then I grind them myself. Despite what I said above, I do eat a decent amount of "basic" produce like bananas and spinach. And my freezer helps make sure that nothing goes to waste. If I'm tired of something, or I have a little bit of a sauce left or whatever, into the freezer it goes. Leftover produce also goes in there, to be used later for smoothies, oatmeal, Buddha bowls, or an actual recipe. The freezer is also good for stocking up when something goes on sale. When pineapples were 77 cents each, I bought 5 of them and stored them away for future smoothies. (This makes it sound like I live on smoothies. I really don't! But frozen produce will last for ages!)

I think our two best "spend money to save money" purchases, as far as food goes, were our Vitamix and our garage freezer. I know the Vitamix is very controversial among Mustachians, and to each their own, but we use ours multiple times a day, and it keeps us from buying expensive pre-made things.

We have a Costco membership through my husband's job, but I don't think I'd pay for it if we didn't already get it free. I do get frozen berries there, as well as a lot of fresh produce -- especially things I can freeze. I'll get a ton of bananas and freeze them when ripe so I can use them in smoothies and baking. Or lemons/limes -- I juice them all and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Their nut butters also tend to be good, and some Costcos have good plant milks (to me, a good one is just the soy bean or the nut plus water -- no additives). I usually just make my own soy milk, though, with soy beans from Amazon. Super cheap! Costco's price for Medjool dates is one of the best I've found, although you can get the same/similar price on Amazon for Ugglies (link below). If you eat canned beans, I think they have several types of those. For some reason, in 3 different states, I've only ever seen dry pinto beans. Never dry black beans or any other type of dry bean, so I get those online. I've also gotten a big bag of brown rice at Costco. Canned tomato paste can usually be found there, too.

https://www.amazon.com/Joolies-Organic-Medjool-California-Occasion/dp/B08BH6NBN8/ref=sr_1_5?crid=751A884MSGUC&keywords=ugglies&qid=1642888736&sprefix=ugglies%2Caps%2C307&sr=8-5

Thank you. It sound sounds like we eat in a similar fashion. I didn't know the Viatamix was anti-Mustachian, I bought mine about 10 years ago and it is a fine machine that gets used weekly, sometimes daily. It is way less expensive to make hummus than buy it. I make vegan cheeses in it too (the recipe's from Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner), smoothies, gravy, sauces, pesto, puree soup etc. I haven't done the math, but from a purely food enjoyment point of view I think it's worth it. My Vitamix and my Ankarsrum mixer (I make sourdough bread every week and fancy bread and bagels every now and then) are the two items that will need to be pried out of my cold, dead, hands!

Thank you, $600 is absolutely doable. We are going to still shoot for $400 but I won't feel like a crazy person that I can't make my grocery bill $200/month without feeling a serious sense of lack. Thanks for the Costsco information too, I suspected it wouldn't be worth it for us. We buy dried fruit from Amazon (found the lowest prices there) and seeds and nuts at a local store here. I did a price check today and found we are already getting the best bulk price (for instance, almonds are 5.99 lb). I forgot that I used to go to an Asian market here when I was first making vegan cheeses and needed tons of cashews, the cashew prices there may be cheaper thanks for the reminder, I'll check that out again.

Our freezer is fairly small, but I have thought about getting another one for the make ahead meals, bread etc. I'll just have to balance the price of the freezer and electric usage to see if it's worth it. Thank you, you gave me some things to think about. If there is not already a thread here for vegetarian/vegans I may start one. My partner and I are both vegetarian and we love food so much, our lives would feel so much less rich if we couldn't have a beautiful salad every day (and Ripple and tea are my drug of choice). But as a balance, we don't drink alcohol (so no wasted money there) and it is fairly easy to cut restaurants out (except the occasional social reason to do that). Our ingredients and cooking are so much healthier and better than any restaurant here. Perhaps our big money saving will come in future healthcare.   

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1033 on: January 23, 2022, 05:36:47 AM »
My partner and I are both vegetarian and we love food so much, our lives would feel so much less rich if we couldn't have a beautiful salad every day (and Ripple and tea are my drug of choice). But as a balance, we don't drink alcohol (so no wasted money there) and it is fairly easy to cut restaurants out (except the occasional social reason to do that). Our ingredients and cooking are so much healthier and better than any restaurant here. Perhaps our big money saving will come in future healthcare.

Isn't that the funny thing about eating the way we do? People think I'm depriving myself, but LOVE my food! And although I'm no chef, I hate going to restaurants because they just can't make healthy food as well as I can at home -- except on the very rare occasion that you find a place with a chef who "secretly" eats this way, too. As for the cost, Julie Piatt (Rich Roll's wife) has said that when friends asked her "Isn't that expensive?" when she brought home loads of fancy produce, she replied, "It's cheaper than cancer." And heart disease, diabetes, etc. And so much more fun!

(Editing to add... Before anyone jumps on me for proclaiming whole food plant-based eating to be a cure-all or "prevent-all," I know that it's most certainly not. It just seems to me that based on the available evidence at the moment, it provides the best chance at avoiding a lot of the common chronic illnesses, although nothing is perfect.)
« Last Edit: January 23, 2022, 05:45:11 AM by GreenSheep »

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1034 on: January 23, 2022, 08:43:26 AM »
My partner and I are both vegetarian and we love food so much, our lives would feel so much less rich if we couldn't have a beautiful salad every day (and Ripple and tea are my drug of choice). But as a balance, we don't drink alcohol (so no wasted money there) and it is fairly easy to cut restaurants out (except the occasional social reason to do that). Our ingredients and cooking are so much healthier and better than any restaurant here. Perhaps our big money saving will come in future healthcare.

Isn't that the funny thing about eating the way we do? People think I'm depriving myself, but LOVE my food! And although I'm no chef, I hate going to restaurants because they just can't make healthy food as well as I can at home -- except on the very rare occasion that you find a place with a chef who "secretly" eats this way, too. As for the cost, Julie Piatt (Rich Roll's wife) has said that when friends asked her "Isn't that expensive?" when she brought home loads of fancy produce, she replied, "It's cheaper than cancer." And heart disease, diabetes, etc. And so much more fun!

(Editing to add... Before anyone jumps on me for proclaiming whole food plant-based eating to be a cure-all or "prevent-all," I know that it's most certainly not. It just seems to me that based on the available evidence at the moment, it provides the best chance at avoiding a lot of the common chronic illnesses, although nothing is perfect.)

Yes the key is healthy regardless of what you decide to eat. I stayed with some fellow vegetarian friends over the holidays and we ate a lot of processed junk, and I felt like garbage. I find eating the rainbow makes me feel really good. I'm on zero medications at almost 50, but of course that's just my personal anecdote. It's not hard for me to skip meat, I ditched it at 12 yo and have never craved it. I'm sensitive towards animals and the whole factory farm thing makes me sick to my stomach. But if someone is a hunter or raising their own in a more "humane" way that's certainly better than factory farm. Heck even eating less meat is better for the animals and the environment (and probably the body). I've heard it's expensive too, but I've never bought it so I don't know. Anyway, I feel you GreenSheep.   

GreenSheep

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1035 on: January 23, 2022, 09:54:45 AM »
Yes the key is healthy regardless of what you decide to eat. I stayed with some fellow vegetarian friends over the holidays and we ate a lot of processed junk, and I felt like garbage. I find eating the rainbow makes me feel really good. I'm on zero medications at almost 50, but of course that's just my personal anecdote. It's not hard for me to skip meat, I ditched it at 12 yo and have never craved it. I'm sensitive towards animals and the whole factory farm thing makes me sick to my stomach. But if someone is a hunter or raising their own in a more "humane" way that's certainly better than factory farm. Heck even eating less meat is better for the animals and the environment (and probably the body). I've heard it's expensive too, but I've never bought it so I don't know. Anyway, I feel you GreenSheep.   

Exactly. I know people are most likely to understand the terms "vegetarian" or "vegan" when it comes up in conversation, but I try to avoid using them to describe myself because, especially now, there's so much vegan/vegetarian junk food out there. And I agree... any step in the right direction, for one's own health and/or for the animals, is a good one!

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1036 on: January 24, 2022, 10:55:32 AM »
My partner and I are both vegetarian and we love food so much, our lives would feel so much less rich if we couldn't have a beautiful salad every day (and Ripple and tea are my drug of choice). But as a balance, we don't drink alcohol (so no wasted money there) and it is fairly easy to cut restaurants out (except the occasional social reason to do that). Our ingredients and cooking are so much healthier and better than any restaurant here. Perhaps our big money saving will come in future healthcare.

Isn't that the funny thing about eating the way we do? People think I'm depriving myself, but LOVE my food! And although I'm no chef, I hate going to restaurants because they just can't make healthy food as well as I can at home -- except on the very rare occasion that you find a place with a chef who "secretly" eats this way, too. As for the cost, Julie Piatt (Rich Roll's wife) has said that when friends asked her "Isn't that expensive?" when she brought home loads of fancy produce, she replied, "It's cheaper than cancer." And heart disease, diabetes, etc. And so much more fun!

(Editing to add... Before anyone jumps on me for proclaiming whole food plant-based eating to be a cure-all or "prevent-all," I know that it's most certainly not. It just seems to me that based on the available evidence at the moment, it provides the best chance at avoiding a lot of the common chronic illnesses, although nothing is perfect.)

The same is true for non vegetarians. The food you cook from scratch at home is in general more healthy amd tastes better than the food in any restaurant, if you make an effort.

When that is said, I am cooking more and more vegetarian, as I now find it less hassle than cooking meat. I do this a couple of times a week. And no, it doesn't taste deprived of anything.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2022, 01:16:19 AM by Linea_Norway »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1037 on: January 24, 2022, 11:01:31 AM »
Has any of you (vegans/vegetarians) thought of growing your own beans and other vegetables? You can even grow food in pots if you don't have a garden.

GreenSheep

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1038 on: January 24, 2022, 11:27:25 AM »
I completely agree with you -- ANY food can be made fresher, healthier, etc. at home. Sadly, so many people don't know how and aren't willing to learn. Or they enjoy the greasy, salty fare at restaurants and it's a case of "out of sight, out of mind" -- if you don't see all the butter, oil, etc. dumped into your food, you can sort of pretend it's not there.

Yes, we have a huge garden! I haven't done the math on it, and it will obviously provide a better return on investment as the years go by (we're not rebuilding the fence every year, etc.), but I did read "The $64 Tomato" and got a bit worried! But my husband enjoys it as a hobby, and I'm all for any hobby that gets him out in the sunlight, moving around, and produces delicious healthy food! It's so fun to try varieties of things that you can't find in the grocery store, too.

You're right about smaller gardens, too. Even someone who doesn't have a yard can often grow tomatoes, herbs, etc. in pots, or maybe there's a community garden nearby.

SotI

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1039 on: January 28, 2022, 11:48:34 PM »
We only have a small garden and greenhouse, but we have been trying out various types of veggies and fruit.
Tomatoes, pumpkin and capsicum are hit and miss here; some years are great and we get them until Nov., other years it's meagre picking. Potatoes, not worth it; roots (beets, carrots, ...) not worth it. Herbs: great - works for a large variety, both for infusions and home-cooking. Salads are also great if we can keep the slugs under control. We don't have much fruit, mostly berries and a few hazelnuts.

Does it help with grocery bills? Not really, but it's nice to always have something fresh at hand, without having to leave the house. Great during pandemic phases.

Still don't manage a sub-200$/month grocery bill though. More like 250-300 bucks as of last year, and prices even for staples and fresh produce are rising. We buy dairy products, as well (strong price increases), not much meat (mostly specials for DH and kitten treats). So I am planning on more legumes this year. We'll see how this turns out. 

K_in_the_kitchen

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1040 on: March 17, 2022, 06:17:14 PM »
This thread is inspiring, but honestly even reading through this I don't know how you all do this in practice. Is anyone consistently eating healthy and vegetarian? We are trying to get our budgets down to around $100/wk for 2 people this month, but we need to buy fresh veggies/fruits every week, veg milk, seeds/nuts, etc. We buy things on sale and buy generics (with a few must have exceptions). I see no path to $50 a week. So I have questions.

#1 healthy vegetarian/vegan eaters, can you tell me more about what you buy/eat? We aren't spending a lot of money on meat replacements because that is generally junk food. We buy whole "clean" foods and ingredients.
#2 we don't have a bulk warehouse membership like Costco because I'm not sure if they have anything for us. We don't buy a lot of junk in general, we don't eat pasta (we do eat bean pasta). Do people with Costco (or similar) memberships find healthy food there?

We are sort of outlier with regards to the typical American diet. Live food is a must and no animals. We do already eat a lot of bean based meals. Anybody else? This is amazing, how do you do this in practice. Some people mentioned an app, what is the name of the app you use that helps with waste?

I'm late to this, but will comment anyway.

We are no longer following a whole food plant based diet, having added animal products back in after my health and my son's health both tanked.  I still think it's the best way to eat, however, and I think most people don't have the multiple food allergies that I have (or as has been suggested by my GP, a systemic nickel allergy).  I can't eat any nuts, most legumes, and have to be careful with many whole grains, plus I have all sorts of produce allergies.

We've been vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, and whole food plant based eaters, and of our 36 years as adults we've eaten meat in 12 of them, with a focus on 100% grass-fed/finished and other pastured meats.  But I'm going to write about our whole food plant based years of 2013 - 2016.  For reference, we were feeding four people -- 1 male adult, 1 female adult, and 2 growing, athletic teen boys.  One boy has celiac disease.

I figured out that we were spending $300 a month on smoothie ingredients, and that was buying frozen fruit for cheap from Costco (more on Costco later).  We typically used frozen fruit, bananas, hemp hearts, flax seed, and dates in the smoothies.  That was $10 a day on smoothies!  I decided to limit the smoothies to pre-race and long practices only, and increased the amount of cheap fresh fruit I bought.  I made more porridges in the hot months, like oats and cornmeal mush.

We also made large fresh green salads nightly.  The way to bring down the cost on these was to eliminate avocados and other fancy add-ins, like orange bell peppers (a favorite of my kid).  These days the salads contain lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers, and then loss leader produce as available.  You can grow arugula which adds nice flavor to salads.  Sometimes we get free avocados from the neighbor or buy them super cheap, but other than that adding avocado to each salad can easily add $50 to the grocery spending.

My oldest had to track protein intake for an assignment, which quickly showed us that a whole food plant based diet has plenty of protein without fake meats.  So we focused on beans and lentils, whole wheat, brown rice, tofu, etc.

I baked all of our bread and other baked goods, like muffins, cookies, etc.  I made vegan waffles, vegan cinnamon rolls, etc.

I make use of basic, cheap produce combined with loss leader produce.  We eat a lot of cabbage, as it's a cheap, nutritious green that doesn't bother my body.  We eat it as salad and also sautéed.  Carrots get used in salads, for snacking, in soups, and as a side vegetable.  In winter we eat more broccoli, in summer more zucchini and peppers.  In winter we buy 25# bags of local oranges for $15, in summer I look for cantaloupes at $1 each and watermelon under 30¢ per pound (I'll probably have to adjust those prices up this year).

So here's where I talk about Costco:

Costco can be great for a whole food plant based diet.  As I mentioned, the frozen fruit is incredibly well priced, as are some of the frozen vegetables (I have a kid who loves edamame).  5# or organic mango chunks is about $10.  Bananas are typically priced well.  Organic carrots are priced well.  Onions and potatoes are priced well, although potatoes go on sale for less other places.  Romaine hearts and on-the-vine tomatoes are priced very well, which is great if you eat a lot of salads.  The rest of the produce varies and you need to know your prices.  I think the 1.5# bag of super greens is a good price.

EVOO is priced incredibly well at Costco, and we used it for so many things.  My kids put it on baked potatoes, rice, etc. -- almost any place another person would use butter.  They also have avocado oil at a good price.  If you eat tofu, it's priced well.  So is natural peanut butter and other nut butters.  Mine also has brown rice and quinoa, priced well.  They usually sell rolled oats at about 50¢ per pound.  Maple syrup is priced better than any other store I've been to.  Dates, also.  They sell coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and many other specialty foods.  They also sell all sorts of nuts.  Mine, oddly, no longer carries dried beans of any kind.

If DH and I were to pursue a vegetarian or plant based diet again, I would probably set the budget at $300 per month, based on current inflation.  But that would be once we don't have young adults living with us (one FT, one during university breaks).

fpjeepy

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1041 on: March 21, 2022, 08:31:02 AM »
I've been full keto for about three years now. Makes things more expensive, and I'm probably more FatFIRE. But a few of my favorites...

Aldi
-1lb frozen ground turkey $1.89
-lettuce, zucchini, cabbage, avocado, onion
-Dill dip $3 (definitely a splurge for convenience)
-Eggs
-Greek Olives
-Grass fed butter (much cheaper than Kerrygold)
-Columbian coffee ($ for $ best coffee available in my opinion)

Amazon
-Dried mushrooms
-Vitamins
-Coconut flour, Almond flour
-Chia seed, Flax seed, Hemp hearts
-Stevia, monkfruit
-Almonds, walnuts, pecans (whatever is cheapest)

Walmart
-Olive Oil
-1lb whole fat mozzarella (*1.99 at some stores. *3.99 at others)
-Heavy cream
-Bake Believe Chocolate Chips (Stevia sweetened)
-Chicken thighs (when on sale)

Dollar Tree
-Riced cauliflower
-5oz salmon pack
-Pork rinds
-Olives
-Sardines

Supplementhunt.com
-Protein (usually expired or close to it. Doesn't affect me) 

Ebay
-Nuun tablets

netrition.com
-Wheat protein isolate 8000
-Lupin Flour

Hmart
-Bok Choy
-Monkfish (Sometimes $3/lb)
-Maesri Thai red curry paste



JoJo

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1042 on: April 11, 2022, 05:17:33 PM »
Holy cow.  The canned chicken I buy at Costco has gone from sub $9 last year to nearly $15 now. 

fpjeepy

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Re: Have a sub-$200/month Grocery Budget
« Reply #1043 on: May 17, 2022, 11:21:22 AM »
Holy cow.  The canned chicken I buy at Costco has gone from sub $9 last year to nearly $15 now.

Fresh or frozen chicken is almost always a better deal.