Author Topic: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!  (Read 66685 times)

Bendigirl

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #100 on: August 31, 2015, 09:33:59 PM »
I am really enjoying this thread.  I eat gluten free due to severe wheat and gluten allergies.  I used to try to make "bread" but hated every recipe.  Now I just don't bother.  I don't even think to replace bread, I am quite happy without.  I find most gluten free products just nasty.  I bake my breakfast muffins with almond flour.
I do use whey isolate protein powder for smoothies (I eat fruit, yummy fruit).  Do you use this for protein?
Right now at our house it's tomato-a-thon.  Tomato salads, tomato stir fry.....and we only have a few plants.  I have cucumbers growing out of an old compost pile and lots of herbs.  My spaghetti squash sucked this year but I have a few.  They will also be on sale soon and I will stock up as they keep very well.
Our Walmart has a clearance section for produce.  $1 a bag.  I have been grabbing these when I see them....often a pineapple, pounds of nectarines, plums, peaches, apples....I would say each bag would retail for 15-20 dollars and I have never had to toss any of it and often wonder why they are clearing it.  My freezer if full of frozen pineapple and papaya.  I have spent very little on food for weeks as I plan my meals around these dollar bags.  They have veggie ones too.
Our local university has a meat cutting program and a retail store that opens once a week during the school season.  They sell only antibiotic free, hormone free, grass fed meat at decent prices.  I stock up when they are open.
I have great friends who gift me peppers from their gardens....a fridge full!
Every year our costco has a great sale on organics.  I buy cases of coconut milk, coconut oil....anything that will keep and enough for a year, until the next sale.

I am very interested in following your story.

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #101 on: August 31, 2015, 09:41:37 PM »
1.  I bought less alcohol.  Not only do I love wine and my husband loves beer, but we were having friends and/or family over weekly.  I would always insist they didn't bring anything and would load up on beer and white and red wine, so I had options.  This was unnecessary and now I have no problem responding to "what can we bring?" with "how about some beer/wine/other?"  Additionally, we quit drinking (mostly) on weekdays.   

Minimal alcohol here. Less than $50/year.

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2.  I became completely price conscious.  I started really looking and internalizing what things actually cost so that I was better able to notice when things were actually a good deal.  When they are, I stack up!
We're going to do this.
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3.  I bought a dozen glass containers and started buying all my staples in bulk - lentils, rice, beans, panko, noodles, etc.
We got into buying this stuff a few years back, but did not make the time to do it. Too busy with the little kids and other ventures. Now that life has settled a bit, we've started doing this much more often and plan to do it even more.
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4.  I quit buying ALL my produce organic.  Instead, I stick to the dirty dozen list.  Also, I always make sure I am USING the produce by making either fried rice or stir fry once a week.  This way, the tiny bit of broccoli, green onions, etc that are on their way out are used in a meal that is a weekly family favorite. 
This is one of the big take-aways. Not everything needs to be organic. Dirty dozen is our new guide.
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10.  If I am over budget, I quit buying things and rummage through the pantry and freezer, period. 
This is our plan. Also plan to institute 1 week a month of no grocery shopping. We have to shop our pantry.
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Hope this helps!  I think just being conscious of what you are spending your money on is the first step!
Sure does! Thanks!!

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #102 on: August 31, 2015, 09:43:37 PM »
I've found my Instant Pot to be my best friend

We're going to look into finding one used, or doing a cost-benefit analysis on buying new. Looks like a cool device that eliminates the need for the two crock pots and pressure cooker we currently have.

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #103 on: August 31, 2015, 09:56:44 PM »
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You cannot have it all. At least one thing has to give. Either you accept that you food bill is high because of the way you like to eat and feed your family and there is not time. Or you change the way you eat and spend more time getting and making food. I do not believe you can have it both ways.

Basic truth right there.

I'm going to politely disagree. My take away from reading this slew of amazing responses is that what you're saying may not be the case. By making a few changes that I am typing up tonight, I think we can save money, continue to eat the way we want, and not hemorrhage away a ton of time.

Time will tell. :)

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #104 on: August 31, 2015, 10:03:22 PM »
This is awesome PFHC!  I for one would love to see your plan and your next month's results.  As this is a perennial topic on these forums, I think other future readers would benefit too.  And the twist of seeing realistically what your very busy wife can manage is important to see too.  I do agree with the earlier poster who said it is ok to cut yourselves some slack when life circumstances are not ideal.  Try out some strategies and find a balance that you and your family will be comfortable with.

That said, I hope you and your wife can really see the difference between shopping for quinoa, sushi rice, pancake mix, and avocadoes, vs your prices on healthy, seasonal basics like apples and eggs.  I'm hoping that your wife will find what I did, which is that my stress levels about both healthy eating AND budget came way down when I went from being a foodie who wanted to follow every health trend to going back to basic, healthy, fairly simply prepared food.  Like someone said earlier, find maybe 10 meals that are simple, cheap, easy to adapt, and that everyone likes.  There's a reason our grandparents had meatloaf mondays, pork chop tuesdays, etc! :) 

We definitely have a rotation: eggs + potatoes + veg, pasta with veg (and maybe a can of tuna added), stir-fry, soup/stew, pizza, burritos, pork roast... any of these can be made with whatever variety of ingredients are priced well that week, and those differences make up the variety in the diet.  All will provide tasty lunch leftovers, and all take the pressure off your wife worrying about what to make for dinner each day.

BTW--I hear people getting great deals on the bulk baking supplies online.  Pancake mix is a bit silly, IMHO.  It's just flour, baking powder/soda, sugar and salt; you still have to add the milk, eggs, and oil...Find a reliable recipe and make up a batch yourselves for the cupboard if it's that much of a hassle to do each time.

Good luck!  Your attitude is awesome and I'd love to see the results!

What great ideas. Hadn't even thought about the pancake mix. We don't eat much, and that makes it even sillier. We have all the staples for making it in our cupboard already... duh!

Thanks for the encouragement. This stuff is fun as all get out to me! :)

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #105 on: August 31, 2015, 11:37:46 PM »
When you are home maybe take a couple hours and make a few freezer recipes wth your wife and kids. 
Great idea! On the action list.
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I would try and cut the budget back slowly.
Thanks. That's the plan. :)

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #106 on: August 31, 2015, 11:48:42 PM »
I am really enjoying this thread.
Me too. :)
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I eat gluten free due to severe wheat and gluten allergies.  I used to try to make "bread" but hated every recipe.  Now I just don't bother.  I don't even think to replace bread, I am quite happy without.  I find most gluten free products just nasty.
We went through this for about 4 years. Finally, 4 years ago, we decided to scrap any gluten free bread all together. Our only GF thing we have somewhat often is pancakes, which we will now be making from on our own. Aside from that, we now eat bread maybe 5 times per year. Since it's a treat, we get it from an awesome hip little local sandwich shop in the form of one of their epic sandwiches. :)
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I do use whey isolate protein powder for smoothies (I eat fruit, yummy fruit).  Do you use this for protein?
My wife used a protein supplement for a while when she was getting into weights. But she is very allergic to anything that is milk based, so she has always avoided whey. She used a raw veggie based protein supplement. No longer though. We find we get more than enough with nuts, beans, and the occasional meat.
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Our local university has a meat cutting program and a retail store that opens once a week during the school season.  They sell only antibiotic free, hormone free, grass fed meat at decent prices.  I stock up when they are open.
JEALOUS.
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Every year our costco has a great sale on organics.  I buy cases of coconut milk, coconut oil....anything that will keep and enough for a year, until the next sale.
Jealous, again. The nearest Costco is 5 hours away!
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I am very interested in following your story.
Thanks, it fun to collaborate with all of you on how to make it better. :)
« Last Edit: September 01, 2015, 08:50:59 PM by PFHC »

Monkey Uncle

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #107 on: September 01, 2015, 04:36:45 AM »
Then drop in 5-6 raspberry bushes (I like Heritage, if it will grow in Maine, I highly suggest it for raspberries) and a couple of blackberry bushes. Maybe drop in some asparagus.

Just quit maintaining a patch of your garden and see what comes in.  There is bound to be at least one wild species of Rubus (blackberry and raspberry genus) that grows well in your area.  Wild Rubus are very prolific in taking over cleared areas, and they require no maintenance outside of controlling tree seedlings that try to invade.  Less work than planting cultivars, and more likely to succeed.  The downside is that it will take a few years for the berry production to really get going.  If you're lucky, you might also get a species of wild blueberry or huckleberry coming in, too.  Blueberries and huckleberries love crappy soil.  I have a section of my yard that I've let go wild like this.  This year we had several raspberry and blackberry pies during the season, and we froze multiple gallons of both berries.  The berries will require time to harvest on a daily or every other day basis, but you'd have that same time investment with planted cultivars.

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #108 on: September 01, 2015, 04:41:45 AM »
OK. Here it is.
The Grocery Game Plan!(rev 1)

Shopping:
  • Shop for price, not product. Go online and get deals for the coming week.
  • Reduce organic purchasing:
    • Rarely buy the dirty dozen
    • Do buy the clean fifteen, if price is good
  • Eat seasonally, get what is the best price: PYO berries and freeze instead of packages frozen berries, see list for seasonal produce
  • If something is cheap, buy tons and preserve
  • Source dry goods online (nuts, beans, grains, baking needs)
  • Shop for bulk needs at Samís, Trader Joes, Whole Paycheck, etc.

Eating tips:
  • Reduce fruit consumption. Carrots, cucumbers, nuts for snacks.
  • Eat every leftover. No exceptions.
  • Add more bulk products to our meals. Let the eggs, grains, legumes, tubers carry the meal, add veggies for micronutrients, and fish or meat for flavor.
  • USE WHAT WE HAVE! Applesauce, canned tomatoes, pickles, dried herbs, dry beans, rice, lentils, soup mixes, frozen meals/soups/stews.

Remove from our diet:
  • Raw milk
  • Sun butter
  • OG red peppers
  • Chips
Cooking plans:
  • Have a weekly preparation/meal planning day.
  • Chopping veggies
  • snack packets
  • stews/soups/chili
  • bulk grains, legumes
  • sushi rolls
  • nut butters
  • potato/sweet potato wedges
  • Once a hitch have a frugal week. Shop the pantry and skip the store.
  • Once a hitch home, have a big frozen dinner day to make quick and easy meals for when Iím gone.
To look into:
  • Research CSAs in the area, do a cost benefit analysis. Learn their techniques, IPM, organic, ethical.
  • Price out farmers markets for comparison.
Garden/yard/foraging:
  • purslane, berries, herbs, greens, garlic, sweet potatoes, beans.
[/list]

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #109 on: September 01, 2015, 04:48:16 AM »
Then drop in 5-6 raspberry bushes (I like Heritage, if it will grow in Maine, I highly suggest it for raspberries) and a couple of blackberry bushes. Maybe drop in some asparagus.

Just quit maintaining a patch of your garden and see what comes in.  There is bound to be at least one wild species of Rubus (blackberry and raspberry genus) that grows well in your area.  Wild Rubus are very prolific in taking over cleared areas, and they require no maintenance outside of controlling tree seedlings that try to invade.  Less work than planting cultivars, and more likely to succeed.  The downside is that it will take a few years for the berry production to really get going.  If you're lucky, you might also get a species of wild blueberry or huckleberry coming in, too.  Blueberries and huckleberries love crappy soil.  I have a section of my yard that I've let go wild like this.  This year we had several raspberry and blackberry pies during the season, and we froze multiple gallons of both berries.  The berries will require time to harvest on a daily or every other day basis, but you'd have that same time investment with planted cultivars.

I have three blackberry bushes, and two blueberries that are on year two. We got 6 blackberries this year, no blueberries, yet. :) Hoping more will come in as time passes. I have a friend with raspberries, so we can get some plants from her. Plan to plant a couple arctic kiwis... supposed to do 50 lbs of fruit a year! Also some apple trees, which I believe can be grown from cuttings... not too sure.

So many plans! :)

kimmarg

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #110 on: September 01, 2015, 05:43:56 AM »
Thanks so much for the pointers for CSA and PYO berries. Unfortunately, both are much too far away to be practical for us. I am looking into something closer. Again, thank you!
Gotcha! maine is a big state, and I'm far south.

My other idea is to try freezer meals. Do one big shop for the month (at SAMs or wherever) and then do a big cooking day. This would fit well with you being at sea for 3-4 weeks. While your home, help shop and cook and then your wife has a lot of easy meals ready to go so no temptation to buy more. This really cut our grocery budget when we did it. In fact I'm headed out to the 'big hannaford' today For a big shop. I use the website www.onceamonthmeals.com and pay for a membership. You can view the recipies for free but I find the grocery lists and chopping instructions are where you really save time and the process overall saves me more than the membership costs. The shopping list and then prep list puts all recipies together. Got three things with onions? Chop once, enough for all of them. They have a 'whole foods' menu as well as paleo options which sounds like what you eat.

fitfrugalfab

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #111 on: September 01, 2015, 06:57:33 AM »
Coupons and Coupon apps are your friends. You can go as far as triple (or if you shop at Target, quadruple) your savings by combing coupons, rebates, and sales. For example. If you need a jar of tomato sauce and you have a coupon for it, check your weekly circulars to see which store has the cheapest and is on sale. You save with your coupon (hopefully your local grocery store doubles coupons that are under $1) and the fact that it's on sale. Then, when you go home, you can take a pic of your coupon to a rebate grocery app such as Checkout 51 or Ibotta if they are offering a rebate for tomato sauce that week. If you shop at Target, you could possible quadruple your savings by downloading the Cartwheel app (completely free) for additional savings. I hope this helps and sorry if this is confusing. I use this method all the time and it's not as time-consuming as it seems.

RelaxedGal

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #112 on: September 01, 2015, 07:05:55 AM »
Lots of good advice so far, and it sounds like you have a great plan.  Especially "have a big frozen dinner day to make quick and easy meals for when Iím gone"

My 2 cents: I'm reading Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half by the Economides.  It is a more in-depth version of the tips so far, plus a few not mentioned.  E.g. buy the bagged apples/carrots/clementines because they're usually cheaper than loose, and the labeled weight is a minimum so you can weight several and buy the heaviest bag (after checking for bruises, of course).  I think it's a good reference and/or additional support for you & your wife.

I'm really impressed that she makes  it work as a single mom while you're away.  I only do that once in a blue moon when my husband goes somewhere and though I only have 1 kid, it's still chaos!

Jakejake

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #113 on: September 01, 2015, 07:10:16 AM »
Remove from our diet:
  • Raw milk
  • Sun butter
  • OG red peppers
  • Chips
Hold up - Chips! If you can make a veggie lentil soup, you can make lentil chips. You just smash the thick soup around in a dehydrator and score it. I'm sure you could do that in an oven too. Mine (attached photo) are ugly, but soooo tasty and high in protein. You can also season vegetable slices of all sorts (zucchinis, beets, etc) and dry into chips.

Also, if you are doing trader joe and whole foods, you should be checking this blog for their weekly coupon/rebate/sales matchups before each trip: http://allnaturalsavings.com/  I don't go to either of those stores very often (longer bike ride), but every now and then I'll cruise over to get free organic sweet potato chips or tempeh, etc. Click on the store matchups link. (I see tempeh is free again today!)

backyardfeast

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #114 on: September 01, 2015, 09:29:10 AM »
Awesome plan, PFHC!  Just a last thought about the gardening, because it really sounds like sun is your issue and you've given this a strong effort with disappointing results.  It sounds like you are really happy with the house, but this is why community garden plots exist!  So people without access to a good sunny plot can still grow some food.  It sounds like you're in a small community, but if there isn't a community garden nearby, find out if anyone is interested in starting one.  Some folks will also pair up with someone nearby that has a free, sunny yard that they're not using--you get a garden plot and share some of the veg.  I know it's a bigger committment when it's not outside your door, and may not work while your kids are small, but might be worth keeping in mind for down the road...

Looking forward to seeing next months results!

mskyle

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #115 on: September 01, 2015, 10:28:23 AM »
Sounds like you are getting a lot of good suggestions! We have a lot of the same issues, though no kids. My boyfriend is celiac and very health-conscious with a very high metabolism (so we need a lot of calories!). He eats a lot of chips, but even that's a lot cheaper than, say, beef jerky (one of his other faves). I buy them when they're on sale, because it's not like chips go bad (at least not until they're open).

But we also have a lot of cheap, tasty, easy snacks that we love, like popcorn, roasted chickpeas, and pan-fried rice cakes. We don't each much fruit, which I think helps a lot with the food bill, but the fruit I do buy I'm pretty price conscious about - cantaloupe is super-cheap this time of year, apples will be dirt cheap in a month or two, orange prices drop over the winter. And apples and oranges keep in the fridge for weeks.

It sounds like you're in a pretty rural area, which can make groceries very expensive, so definitely think about making a few stock-up trips a year. Head down to Portland or wherever is easy for you, and stock up on things that won't go bad. You might even be in the range where keeping a chest freezer makes sense (my uninformed impression is that a lot of people end up spending more on electricity than they save on food, but YMMV).

NeverLost

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #116 on: September 01, 2015, 10:33:55 AM »
Your plan looks great and I think you'll see a huge difference to your grocery bills!  I personally think you will have a difficult time with a complete non-shopping week. You are very fruit and veggie centric with your spending and (at least in my house) most produce won't make it a second week.  I think you may have more luck dividing your spending into 2 week segments.  This works best for us.  So I give us $250/2 weeks.  This week is a great example, I spent a whopping $200 of our budget.  I did get a ton of overdue staples and food for a birthday party we are hosting but I know that when I go shopping again on Sunday I have only $50 left.  A huge portion of that will be spent on filling our fruit basket.

mm1970

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #117 on: September 01, 2015, 10:43:29 AM »
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King Arthur GF Pancake mix   15 oz    $4.89
Bananas   2.68 lbs    $1.31 ($0.49/lb)
Watermelon   1    $4.99
Avacados   6    $5.94
OG Bananas   2.4 lbs    $1.90 ($0.79/lb)
OG peaches   1.87 lbs    $7.46 ($4/lb)
Red grapefruit   5 lbs    $4.99 ($1/lb)
Italia lime juice   4.2 oz    $1.29
OG Red bell peppers   2    $4.49 ($2.25 EACH)
OG greens mix   11 oz    $5.99 ($8.71/lb)
Free range eggs   12    $5.00
Apples - non-organic   2.3 lbs    $1.49 (0.65/lb)

You've probably figured it out already, but I've highlighted some things, like the cost per pound of some of your stuff.  More bananas, fewer peaches.  And the greens mix, yikes!

mm1970

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #118 on: September 01, 2015, 10:49:21 AM »
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You cannot have it all. At least one thing has to give. Either you accept that you food bill is high because of the way you like to eat and feed your family and there is not time. Or you change the way you eat and spend more time getting and making food. I do not believe you can have it both ways.

Basic truth right there.

I'm going to politely disagree. My take away from reading this slew of amazing responses is that what you're saying may not be the case. By making a few changes that I am typing up tonight, I think we can save money, continue to eat the way we want, and not hemorrhage away a ton of time.

Time will tell. :)
You can save *some* money for sure.  I don't think anyone is necessarily saying that.  With a little bit of work, you can save money by substituting some things for other things, and increasing the frequency of the cheaper foods.

However, time will always be a factor if you want to make major savings.  For me, I am cutting our bill in half this year, but time is a HUGE factor.  I have to wash and prep every vegetable to do this.  It is an incredible amount of time.  And also shop at more than one store.

For example: your greens cost from the earlier post.  There are at least three ways to fix this:
1.  Don't eat greens, that's $8.71/lb saved right there
2.  Don't buy organic, save half
3.  Buy organic (or not), and wash and spin them yourself.  (This is what I do, because I have a CSA, but that means I wash and spin 2-3 very large heads of organic lettuce/ greens a week, and each head fills the salad spinner 2x.)
So for #3, I'm getting about 2 to 3 lb of greens for about $3 (or about $1 to $1.50 a pound), but at the expense of about 50-60 minutes of work.

mm1970

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #119 on: September 01, 2015, 10:54:32 AM »
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Aside from that, we now eat bread maybe 5 times per year. Since it's a treat, we get it from an awesome hip little local sandwich shop in the form of one of their epid sandwiches. :)

This is a very solid plan.

Ah, sunbutter.  I stopped buying that too.  But it's so good.

I still treat myself to local fresh almond butter 2x a year.  (I mean, you need SOME treats.)

Organic red peppers do go on sale, can you stock up and freeze?  Really depends on if you are cooking them or eating them fresh.

kimmarg

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #120 on: September 01, 2015, 11:32:46 AM »
You might even be in the range where keeping a chest freezer makes sense (my uninformed impression is that a lot of people end up spending more on electricity than they save on food, but YMMV).

My chest freezer has paid for itself many times over. Initial cost $150. Yearly cost in electricity $25. (Estimated from tag, the difference in electric in the month after I turned it on was too small to notice). Say today, chicken was $1.50/lb cheaper. I buy 10lbs and freeze and have already made up for 2/3 the operating cost this year. Plus I freeze lots of things I grow or get for free. Totally worth it!

Alenzia

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #121 on: September 01, 2015, 12:27:55 PM »
Many people have been referencing the Dirty Dozen - the pesticides tested for were primarily the synthetic ones allowed in conventional farming and not allowed in organic farming. The pesticides allowed in organic farming were not tested for, so it is unclear whether your overall pesticide exposure would be lower or not if you buy organic for those. Organic production, especially on the large scale uses pesticides, they just have to be naturally derived instead of synthetically derived.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/06/18/137249264/organic-pesticides-not-an-oxymoron

Giro

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #122 on: September 01, 2015, 12:29:03 PM »
The organic marketing ploy was an amazing idea.  The gluten-free fad was equally genius  I wish I had thought of either of those.

I saw gluten-free corn meal the other day.  tee hee hee  It was 2.25 times more expensive than the 100% corn meal bag next to it. 

Just wow.








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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #123 on: September 01, 2015, 12:52:22 PM »
The organic marketing ploy was an amazing idea.  The gluten-free fad was equally genius  I wish I had thought of either of those.

I saw gluten-free corn meal the other day.  tee hee hee  It was 2.25 times more expensive than the 100% corn meal bag next to it. 

Just wow.

Perhaps instead of being derisive of the nutritional paradigms on many on this board, you contribute to the discussion at hand in a constructive and inclusive way? Thanks!

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #124 on: September 01, 2015, 01:14:00 PM »
The organic marketing ploy was an amazing idea.  The gluten-free fad was equally genius  I wish I had thought of either of those.

I saw gluten-free corn meal the other day.  tee hee hee  It was 2.25 times more expensive than the 100% corn meal bag next to it. 

Just wow.

Perhaps instead of being derisive of the nutritional paradigms on many on this board, you contribute to the discussion at hand in a constructive and inclusive way? Thanks!

Sorry, I thought that was obvious.  I'll be more direct.  Don't fall for the organic marketing ploy and just buy in season, cheap, local fruits and veggies and wash them in the sink.



 

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #125 on: September 01, 2015, 01:16:02 PM »
The organic marketing ploy was an amazing idea.  The gluten-free fad was equally genius  I wish I had thought of either of those.

I saw gluten-free corn meal the other day.  tee hee hee  It was 2.25 times more expensive than the 100% corn meal bag next to it. 

Just wow.

This type of option and labeling is extremely important for people with Celiac disease. It's too bad that the prices are so much higher, but I'm sure my sister would rather pay more than get cancer and/or continue starving to death as she was before her diagnosis.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #126 on: September 01, 2015, 01:18:26 PM »
KMMK, I understand what you're saying. I think Giro's comment was probably directed at the 99% of the population that does not have celiac.

Cornmeal is gluten-free. Buying special gluten-free cornmeal means you are paying a massive premium for the guarantee that no accidental gluten from all the other stuff processed in the same facility made it into the cornmeal. Instead, you could:

1. buy ordinary cornmeal and accept the negligible possibility of a negligible amount of gluten making it into the serving you will eat at a sitting
2. buy cornmeal from a place that never mills anything else (I get cornmeal at my regular grocery store that comes from a local-ish mill that only does corn. It's not "gluten-free," except that it is, but not everyone has this option)
3. eat corn. or rice. or millet. or some other gluten-free grain else that's cheap and easy to prepare and fills the same dietary needs.
4. stop buying grain and flour altogether and eat potatoes because they're cheap and easy to prepare and have minimal environmental impact
5. ask serious questions about the reasons so many people who are not gluten-intolerant so strenuously avoid gluten - i.e. why be religious about it if it's not a very serious health issue for you, which for most people, it isn't.

I support folks who want to avoid gluten, but it borders on religion for some to the point that they must maintain absolute gluten-free purity, and outside of celiac cases, total purity simply isn't necessary. If it is necessary for you, well, you have options besides a 225% markup on cornmeal.

TRBeck

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #127 on: September 01, 2015, 01:24:48 PM »
Oh yeah, to the OP: lots of good stuff here.

I have a family of 4. Two kids, 3 and 6 years old. Here's what we do:

1. Make everything from scratch. Pancake mix, pasta sauce, everything.
2. Eat beans. Dry beans are 25lbs./$13 at Costco.
3. Shop at Costco. $50 lbs. basmati rice for $32. 50 lbs. of long-grain rice for $15.
4. Shop loss-leader sales. I have dozens of red peppers cut into strips in my freezer, purchased for 33 cents/ea. over the summer. Lots of other fruits and veggies we stock up on this way and then freeze or process and freeze.
5. Make frequent grocery store trips (1 a week) and infrequent Costco trips (4-6/year) to take advantage of loss leaders and avoid overbuying stuff we won't eat quickly.
6. Get grass-fed meat directly from the farm in quantity.
7. Accept compromises occasionally w/r/t organics, knowing that we will reach a point financially where we won't have to.
8. Use exercise, strenuous living, and consumption of large amounts of veggies and fruits as insurance, even if not everything is organic.

We spend $125/week for groceries, and that's all-in including toilet paper, tissues, etc. We did $100 when we were paying down debt.

KMMK

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #128 on: September 01, 2015, 01:29:54 PM »
KMMK, I understand what you're saying. I think Giro's comment was probably directed at the 99% of the population that does not have celiac.

Cornmeal is gluten-free. Buying special gluten-free cornmeal means you are paying a massive premium for the guarantee that no accidental gluten from all the other stuff processed in the same facility made it into the cornmeal. Instead, you could:

1. buy ordinary cornmeal and accept the negligible possibility of a negligible amount of gluten making it into the serving you will eat at a sitting
2. buy cornmeal from a place that never mills anything else (I get cornmeal at my regular grocery store that comes from a local-ish mill that only does corn. It's not "gluten-free," except that it is, but not everyone has this option)
3. eat corn. or rice. or millet. or some other gluten-free grain else that's cheap and easy to prepare and fills the same dietary needs.
4. stop buying grain and flour altogether and eat potatoes because they're cheap and easy to prepare and have minimal environmental impact
5. ask serious questions about the reasons so many people who are not gluten-intolerant so strenuously avoid gluten - i.e. why be religious about it if it's not a very serious health issue for you, which for most people, it isn't.

I support folks who want to avoid gluten, but it borders on religion for some to the point that they must maintain absolute gluten-free purity, and outside of celiac cases, total purity simply isn't necessary. If it is necessary for you, well, you have options besides a 225% markup on cornmeal.

I get what you're saying, but personally I haven't met anyone who avoids gluten just for the hell of it. It's super annoying to do so. I do know such people exist. But I'm also happy that safe options are available for people who really need them. I'm just sensitive to something being mocked as a "fad" or marketing gimmick, when there is a legitimate, albeit small, need for such products. I guess the drug manufacturers are used to making money off of people's illnesses so why shouldn't food manufacturers do the same? Lots of reasons for annoyance with this whole topic that's for sure.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #129 on: September 01, 2015, 01:34:32 PM »
KMMK, I understand what you're saying. I think Giro's comment was probably directed at the 99% of the population that does not have celiac.

Cornmeal is gluten-free. Buying special gluten-free cornmeal means you are paying a massive premium for the guarantee that no accidental gluten from all the other stuff processed in the same facility made it into the cornmeal. Instead, you could:

1. buy ordinary cornmeal and accept the negligible possibility of a negligible amount of gluten making it into the serving you will eat at a sitting
2. buy cornmeal from a place that never mills anything else (I get cornmeal at my regular grocery store that comes from a local-ish mill that only does corn. It's not "gluten-free," except that it is, but not everyone has this option)
3. eat corn. or rice. or millet. or some other gluten-free grain else that's cheap and easy to prepare and fills the same dietary needs.
4. stop buying grain and flour altogether and eat potatoes because they're cheap and easy to prepare and have minimal environmental impact
5. ask serious questions about the reasons so many people who are not gluten-intolerant so strenuously avoid gluten - i.e. why be religious about it if it's not a very serious health issue for you, which for most people, it isn't.

I support folks who want to avoid gluten, but it borders on religion for some to the point that they must maintain absolute gluten-free purity, and outside of celiac cases, total purity simply isn't necessary. If it is necessary for you, well, you have options besides a 225% markup on cornmeal.

I get what you're saying, but personally I haven't met anyone who avoids gluten just for the hell of it. It's super annoying to do so. I do know such people exist.
Ah, I see you're in Canada. Land of common sense. Come down to Texas and you'll meet plenty of people avoiding gluten for the hell of it, or because Crossfit told them to, or because it's hip, at least in urban and suburban areas. I hear you on the health issues, and I'm sensitive to the fact that people have specific dietary needs. I was vegan for a while, which was not medically necessary, and I still got very annoyed when my options were taken away.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #130 on: September 01, 2015, 02:09:25 PM »


Oh yeah, to the OP: lots of good stuff here.

I have a family of 4. Two kids, 3 and 6 years old. Here's what we do:

1. Make everything from scratch. Pancake mix, pasta sauce, everything.
2. Eat beans. Dry beans are 25lbs./$13 at Costco.
3. Shop at Costco. $50 lbs. basmati rice for $32. 50 lbs. of long-grain rice for $15.
4. Shop loss-leader sales. I have dozens of red peppers cut into strips in my freezer, purchased for 33 cents/ea. over the summer. Lots of other fruits and veggies we stock up on this way and then freeze or process and freeze.
5. Make frequent grocery store trips (1 a week) and infrequent Costco trips (4-6/year) to take advantage of loss leaders and avoid overbuying stuff we won't eat quickly.
6. Get grass-fed meat directly from the farm in quantity.
7. Accept compromises occasionally w/r/t organics, knowing that we will reach a point financially where we won't have to.
8. Use exercise, strenuous living, and consumption of large amounts of veggies and fruits as insurance, even if not everything is organic.

We spend $125/week for groceries, and that's all-in including toilet paper, tissues, etc. We did $100 when we were paying down debt.
Great tips TRBeck. :) Unfortunately, as mentioned before, the nearest Costco is 5 hours away. We have shopped at a Costco before and they definitely have the best deals on bulk items. That said, Sam's does pretty well, and that's what we've got.

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #131 on: September 01, 2015, 02:28:58 PM »


Quote
You cannot have it all. At least one thing has to give. Either you accept that you food bill is high because of the way you like to eat and feed your family and there is not time. Or you change the way you eat and spend more time getting and making food. I do not believe you can have it both ways.

Basic truth right there.

I'm going to politely disagree. My take away from reading this slew of amazing responses is that what you're saying may not be the case. By making a few changes that I am typing up tonight, I think we can save money, continue to eat the way we want, and not hemorrhage away a ton of time.

Time will tell. :)
You can save *some* money for sure.  I don't think anyone is necessarily saying that.  With a little bit of work, you can save money by substituting some things for other things, and increasing the frequency of the cheaper foods.

Our plan is to make significant savings, not major. We're starting with a goal of 10% in six months and a final goal of $1000/mo adjusted for inflation. I know to many here, this sounds like luxury -- and it is -- our only one.

We live in a small house bought at 75% of my salary, we have no debt, and we currently save 40-60% of my salary. We can financially support this luxury and still hit FI in my early 40s.

As I have mentioned above, health is our ultimate concern, and time is a premium with my wife being a single mom while I'm away from home for 6 months of the year. I think our plan optimizes the above; i.e. the maximum savings with the minimum time invested. That's exactly what we're looking to do... and that's exciting! :)

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #132 on: September 01, 2015, 02:34:33 PM »
All I can say, is I am so glad there is at least 1 other family out there that spends more money on groceries than we do. But I feel I learned a lot from this thread. Maybe I will make another go out of trimming the grocery budget. I haven't done this in a long time, but might be time again to collect the grocery receipts and see what I am spending on for a month or so.
We try to buy organic milk and butter and in a haphazard way organic (primarily organic greens, not paying so much attention to all the other produce). I don't think they even sell organic potatoes at the store we go to.
Will be interested in hearing your progress.

relena

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #133 on: September 01, 2015, 02:52:18 PM »
Have you tried making your own kefir and yogurt?

I used to buy tons of yogurt since my husband and kids love yogurt. They would go through almost 2 quarts a week! A lot of it was single containers. I have since bought a machine and make it once or twice a week now. I put it in some small 6 oz jars that i had laying around.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #134 on: September 01, 2015, 03:05:48 PM »
All I can say, is I am so glad there is at least 1 other family out there that spends more money on groceries than we do. But I feel I learned a lot from this thread. Maybe I will make another go out of trimming the grocery budget. I haven't done this in a long time, but might be time again to collect the grocery receipts and see what I am spending on for a month or so.
We try to buy organic milk and butter and in a haphazard way organic (primarily organic greens, not paying so much attention to all the other produce). I don't think they even sell organic potatoes at the store we go to.
Will be interested in hearing your progress.
Ha-ha! Well, glad our irresponsible spending had an upside. :)

I'm stoked to see the results. I know they are going to be good. I'm so charged up about this... it's awesome.

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PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #135 on: September 01, 2015, 03:23:24 PM »
Have you tried making your own kefir and yogurt?

I used to buy tons of yogurt since my husband and kids love yogurt. They would go through almost 2 quarts a week! A lot of it was single containers. I have since bought a machine and make it once or twice a week now. I put it in some small 6 oz jars that i had laying around.
Yes! It is awesome. We didn't use a machine, just good old ambient heat in the house. But, nobody in my family reacts well to processed milk, whether organic or not. The only milk we've found the kids and wife can tolerate is raw.

As mentioned in some of my previous comments, we went 7 years without milk and were in supreme health. Since raw milk is $14/gallon here, we've decided to forgo.

When FI is reached, maybe we'll get a goat or cow and do it ourselves! I would love that more than anything. :)

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #136 on: September 01, 2015, 03:59:48 PM »
All I can say, is I am so glad there is at least 1 other family out there that spends more money on groceries than we do. But I feel I learned a lot from this thread. Maybe I will make another go out of trimming the grocery budget. I haven't done this in a long time, but might be time again to collect the grocery receipts and see what I am spending on for a month or so.
We try to buy organic milk and butter and in a haphazard way organic (primarily organic greens, not paying so much attention to all the other produce). I don't think they even sell organic potatoes at the store we go to.
Will be interested in hearing your progress.

I'm pretty sure my household wins the grocery spending/person contest, but I am also making incremental progress and it's encouraging enough that I want to keep plugging along.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #137 on: September 01, 2015, 04:12:57 PM »
Just wanted to chime in a wee bit on the gluten thing.  It's not only celiac, but allergies that can be a huge issue.  I never used to be allergic to wheat.  I was a great baker and bread was my favourite food group.  When I was around 48 I got itchy, really itchy.  No one knew why.  It went on for years, I saw so many doctors, and even the allergy doctors didn't find it. They sucked btw.
It was not until I moved and found the most amazing doctor that believed me.  First we did the celiac tests, all negative.  I then did some research and saw that there were blood tests for allergies and they were now covered by our medical coverage ( in Canada not everything is covered).  Met with the doctor and she ordered the tests.  Came back highly allergic to,wheat and to gluten(along with mild allergies to eggs and corn)
I cried for days...both sad and happy.  The thought of not having my beloved bread again...so sad, losing the itchy and overall malaise mad me happy.

Since then I really did cry at a restaurant when the bread basket came out (true story), I can no longer bake (if you have cat allergies it's like that with the itchy eyes, sneezing....), but I feel amazing!  I lied, I do bake now but with a full face mask and allergy pills in me....for my sweet hubby, but rarely.

Why would anyone go gluten free on purpose?  I keep hoping I grow out of this;)

Even though corn and oats are gluten free they can be cross contaminated with wheat.  For those who get really sick the gluten free guarantee is a must.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #138 on: September 01, 2015, 04:33:31 PM »
Beans, rice, carrots, spinach, repeat. :)

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #139 on: September 01, 2015, 06:10:59 PM »
Just wanted to chime in a wee bit on the gluten thing. 
...
really sick the gluten free guarantee is a must.

WTF, people here think "gluten free" is an effing fad? I have one buddy (and his daughter is worse), who can die if he ingested enough wheat, he's that sensitive to it. He and his daughter are gluten-free as a matter of survival.

I went gluten-free as a side-effect of going keto and it's been a godsend for me. I'm not gluten intolerant but you ought to see how wheat-based breads make my belly inflamed and swollen. You can literally see it happen in a 24 hour time span, and it takes days or weeks for me to get rid of it.

On the other hand, I can now bake one hell of an awesome low-carb gluten-free pizza. Make the crust out of mozzarella, cream cheese, almond flour and one egg. Got the recipe off ruled.me, the most awesome foods website in the world. 

KMMK

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #140 on: September 01, 2015, 06:22:07 PM »
Just wanted to chime in a wee bit on the gluten thing. 
...
really sick the gluten free guarantee is a must.

WTF, people here think "gluten free" is an effing fad? I have one buddy (and his daughter is worse), who can die if he ingested enough wheat, he's that sensitive to it. He and his daughter are gluten-free as a matter of survival.

I went gluten-free as a side-effect of going keto and it's been a godsend for me. I'm not gluten intolerant but you ought to see how wheat-based breads make my belly inflamed and swollen. You can literally see it happen in a 24 hour time span, and it takes days or weeks for me to get rid of it.

On the other hand, I can now bake one hell of an awesome low-carb gluten-free pizza. Make the crust out of mozzarella, cream cheese, almond flour and one egg. Got the recipe off ruled.me, the most awesome foods website in the world.

Yes, it's hard to read. I know it's a fad for some people, but when you are gluten-intolerant (such as I am), finally figured it out, finally have your life and health back, and have significant and obvious reactions to small amounts, reading others dismissing that as "just a fad" makes me cranky.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #141 on: September 01, 2015, 07:04:34 PM »
Make your own sunbutter
http://detoxinista.com/2015/07/how-to-make-sunflower-seed-butter-oil-free/

I have not tried it but remembered seeing this posted a few weeks ago.  I think hulled sunflowers are pretty inexpensive.

And I really hate when people question my wheat free ways....

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #142 on: September 01, 2015, 07:48:37 PM »

On the other hand, I can now bake one hell of an awesome low-carb gluten-free pizza. Make the crust out of mozzarella, cream cheese, almond flour and one egg. Got the recipe off ruled.me, the most awesome foods website in the world.
]


Thanks for the website.....I just may give the crust a try.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #143 on: September 01, 2015, 08:26:12 PM »
I'm really impressed that she makes  it work as a single mom while you're away.  I only do that once in a blue moon when my husband goes somewhere and though I only have 1 kid, it's still chaos!
I passed your comment along to her. She really appreciates the recognition. :)

She's an awesome gal and is the only reason our life works as well as it does. I got lucky when I met her. :)

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #144 on: September 01, 2015, 08:28:45 PM »
Awesome plan, PFHC!  Just a last thought about the gardening, because it really sounds like sun is your issue and you've given this a strong effort with disappointing results.  It sounds like you are really happy with the house, but this is why community garden plots exist!  So people without access to a good sunny plot can still grow some food.  It sounds like you're in a small community, but if there isn't a community garden nearby, find out if anyone is interested in starting one.  Some folks will also pair up with someone nearby that has a free, sunny yard that they're not using--you get a garden plot and share some of the veg.  I know it's a bigger committment when it's not outside your door, and may not work while your kids are small, but might be worth keeping in mind for down the road...
I have daydreamed about starting one myself. It would be awesome. We have some friends with a wonderful sunny yard, but the drive is a bit too much. Definitely in the ol' thinker. :)
Quote
Looking forward to seeing next months results!
Thanks! Me too!
« Last Edit: September 01, 2015, 11:56:39 PM by PFHC »

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #145 on: September 01, 2015, 08:33:20 PM »
He eats a lot of chips...
We're just cutting store bought chips and using home made potato wedges instead. The kids love them and they are about a billion times cheaper.
Quote
But we also have a lot of cheap, tasty, easy snacks that we love, like popcorn, roasted chickpeas, and pan-fried rice cakes.
These sound amazing!
Quote
It sounds like you're in a pretty rural area, which can make groceries very expensive, so definitely think about making a few stock-up trips a year. Head down to Portland or wherever is easy for you, and stock up on things that won't go bad. You might even be in the range where keeping a chest freezer makes sense.
We got an awesome upright chest freezer from my parents when they sold their house. We have it stocked with soups, frozen blueberries, re-fried beans, baked beans, broth, and haddock. We love the big stock up idea. When my wife picks me up or drops me off at the jetport, we plan to do it then.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #146 on: September 01, 2015, 08:45:49 PM »
Your plan looks great and I think you'll see a huge difference to your grocery bills!  I personally think you will have a difficult time with a complete non-shopping week. You are very fruit and veggie centric with your spending and (at least in my house) most produce won't make it a second week.  I think you may have more luck dividing your spending into 2 week segments.  This works best for us.  So I give us $250/2 weeks.  This week is a great example, I spent a whopping $200 of our budget.  I did get a ton of overdue staples and food for a birthday party we are hosting but I know that when I go shopping again on Sunday I have only $50 left.  A huge portion of that will be spent on filling our fruit basket.
This is a great point and wonderful idea as an alternative! I added it to the GGP and will talk it over with my wife.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #147 on: September 01, 2015, 08:47:22 PM »
Quote
King Arthur GF Pancake mix   15 oz    $4.89
Bananas   2.68 lbs    $1.31 ($0.49/lb)
Watermelon   1    $4.99
Avacados   6    $5.94
OG Bananas   2.4 lbs    $1.90 ($0.79/lb)
OG peaches   1.87 lbs    $7.46 ($4/lb)
Red grapefruit   5 lbs    $4.99 ($1/lb)
Italia lime juice   4.2 oz    $1.29
OG Red bell peppers   2    $4.49 ($2.25 EACH)
OG greens mix   11 oz    $5.99 ($8.71/lb)
Free range eggs   12    $5.00
Apples - non-organic   2.3 lbs    $1.49 (0.65/lb)

You've probably figured it out already, but I've highlighted some things, like the cost per pound of some of your stuff.  More bananas, fewer peaches.  And the greens mix, yikes!
Ya, after reading through all of your comments, it was almost embarrassing to post this receipt. But, it is true to how we used to shop, so I went with it. It is very apparent to me now the problems with it.

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #148 on: September 01, 2015, 08:54:31 PM »
I still treat myself to local fresh almond butter 2x a year.  (I mean, you need SOME treats.)

Organic red peppers do go on sale, can you stock up and freeze?  Really depends on if you are cooking them or eating them fresh.
That would be a good option. Both our kids absolutely love fresh red peppers, so that's why we get them. But, they love them cooked as well, so getting them bulk, freezing, and vacuum sealing them would work well. but, most likely, we're going to skip the OG red peppers. The price is too damn high! :)

PFHC

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Re: I need help from fellow frugal healthy eaters. Groceries are killing us!
« Reply #149 on: September 01, 2015, 09:08:36 PM »
...I got itchy, really itchy.  No one knew why.  It went on for years, I saw so many doctors, and even the allergy doctors didn't find it. They sucked btw.
This is exactly what my wife went through 8 years ago. Nights without end where she was crying and couldn't sleep because of the body wide itching. Trips to the emergency room because 90% of her body was covered in a raw bleeding rash. It was horrid. Got the tests, cut dairy and gluten, got her life back. I was 220 lbs and had chronic sinus infections. Followed her diet, and guess what? Lost 40 lbs and the sinus infections disappeared.

I don't want this fun positive thread to dive into whineypants land, so I'll say this, let the naysayers say nay, that's their right. No need to argue with them, we're not here to address that. There's a forum post for that somewhere else. :) Let those of us who have benefited from the lifestyle change carry on.

NOW, back to kicking the shit out of the high cost of eating healthy!