Home Economics

Discussion in 'The Home Front Woman' started by desi_de_lu_lu, May 22, 2008.

  1. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Ladies,

    I would like to stick to my grocery budget of $300 month for 2 people. I know this may seem like a lot.. but with a gallon of milk being almost $4 where I live, it doesn't seem to stretch nearlly as far as it did say, a year ago.

    What are your money saving tips when you go to the grocery? Do you plan a weekly menu? Do you buy certain things in bulk? Do you can? Freeze? Buy dried beans and make your own bread?

    I remember 8th grade Home Economics where we were taught such things as how to plan a meal menu and buy groceries accordingly. I would like to do more of that now, especially with the prices of things skyrocketing.

    Also if you have any weblinks that are valuable...for the thrifty and frugal homekeeper.

    Here is my contribution for a weblink:

    http://www.frugalvillage.com/
     
  2. positivelypinup

    positivelypinup One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    Dallas
    I usually plan my meals. I go to the store with a full stomach too! That seems to help a lot. Never go to the store hungry! $4 for milk is crazy... I use soy milk and I think its cheaper then that.
     
  3. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I plan meals for the week. Not day by day, mind you, but I list out enough meals to last and buy what I need for that.

    I buy less fresh produce now so that I avoid throwing away items I was unable to use before they went bad. If this means walking to the bodega to pick up something I need later in the week, that's OK. I used to waste a lot of money throwing out produce.

    I buy items like onions, garlic and limes in larger quantities at the Cambodian market near my house. There, a bag of 5 heads of garlic costs me only 50 cents and many of the items there are at least half off what they are at the big grocery store.

    I buy spices in the hispanic section of the grocery store where they are much cheaper, or I buy bulk at the organic co-op and refill my spice jars when I can. Spices are very expensive and if you use a lot of them, you can save a tremendous amount of money doing this. A jar of cumin at the store can cost $6. The same amount in bulk usually costs me $2 or less. There are many types of spices I only use a couple of times a year, so buying a very small amount of something like cardamom in bulk, only when I need it, costs me about 10 cents instead of paying a lot for a larger quantity I don't need.

    I have found that I don't save any money buying items like flour, sugar and rice bulk.

    I buy the generic store brand of items like beans and tomatoes. We also make our own tomato sauce using store brand canned tomatoes.

    Avoid frozen and TV dinners. The only exception I make to this is the occasional frozen pizza.

    Buying larger quantities saves money, especially things you use a lot of. For me, that's olive oil.

    If I've splurged to buy a bottle of wine that was sub-par, instead of drinking it or dumping it, I will secure some cheesecloth around the top of the bottle to keep bugs out (fruit flies LOVE wine) and let it sit on the counter until it turns. Homemade wine vinegar has much more flavor and most of a bottle's worth will last you a long time.

    We don't eat meat at home and cook with a lot of meat substitutes. They are healthier and much cheaper than a comparable quantity of meat. You also save yourself cooking time and avoid having to worry about many of the kitchen safety hazards associated with handling raw meat. When wanting to splurge on something special like seafood, I choose local specialties that cost less, such as haddock, pollock or cod, which are plentiful here. Instead of choosing shrimp, which is pricey, I'll choose mussels instead, which are also plentiful locally, support local business and cost about $2.50 for a huge bag.
     
  4. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    I totally forgot about the Asian import and Food City (where they sell 90% Hispanic foods) and how they are considerably LESS EXPENSIVE!

    THat is so true about the garlic and some other vegetables being considerably cheaper than other groceries at the Asian import especially. How is it that they do that?

    I noticed Food City also has much cheaper prices.....on veggies especially.

    My husband told me it is because they probably use lesser quality vegetables, as in recycled. I told him he was nuts.. he was probably joking.

    But nonetheless.. you gave me some good ideas. Thanks KittyT
     
  5. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Yes, and I forgot! I buy things like soy sauce and sesame oil at the asian market as well. They are such a rip off at the grocery store!

    I'm not sure, but those places may have a higher demand for them among their consumers. This means they may be able to get them at lower prices for larger quantities that a regular store may not be able to move as quickly.

    All I know is that the produce sold at the tiny neighborhood Asian market near my house is the same stuff they sell at the outdoor farmer's market downtown - it's all labeled as having come through the huge produce importers at the docks in Chelsea, MA.

    Glad I could be of help!

    I currently am fighting a huge home economics battle of my own - I spend a ton on food because my boyfriend eats like a horse. He never leaves leftovers, which means I end up eating out lunch every day and he eats way more than the half of the food he's [supposed to be] paying for. A dish that might have lasted me 3 days before now lasts me one night.
     
  6. Miss Neecerie

    Miss Neecerie I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,616
    Location:
    The land of Sinatra, Hoboken
    I try and go to the weekly farmers market here for my veggies. They are cheaper -and- fresher. If I don't make it there, I go to Food 4 Less....while they -suck- for a lot of other stuff...their veggies are decent and cheaper.

    I also do a fair amount of food shopping at the 99 cent store. Before you all start ick-ing and so forth, they have a decent selection of things, and as long as one reads labels, it can be a great place for things like canned goods and heck, I even buy my milk there. Cookies and that sort of stuff are also very there and bread for 99 cents as well.

    And sure I -should- be buying organic...but right now, thats just well past my budget, plain and simple.
     
  7. MissMissy

    MissMissy One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    101
    Location:
    The sticks
    I hear ya. We are a family of five on one income since I stay home. I like to buy things in bulk at costco that we eat a lot of like peanut butter and bread (which I put in the freezer in our garage) I also buy or meat in bulk and freeze. I plan meals as well, that way I know what to shop for and stick to it. When my husband is in town he brings lunches to work, when he's out of town the company pays for all his meals, this helps alot.

    I also like to make up a gagillion pankakes and waffles and freeze them, that way I can pull them out and microwave them for the kids very quickly, no eggo waffles in our freezer. Sometimes they use maple syrup, sometimes jelly or fresh fruit and whipped cream. I also make up 30 or 40 breakfast burritos at a time to freeze as well. Just a tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese and whatever else you like. I wrap it in parchment paper and freeze, when frozen I put them in freezer bags (which I re-use), if you put them in hot they will form condensation.

    The other biggie is not eating out as much as we used to :( We went out for mother's day and will again for father's day but that's pretty much it for awhile.

    Oh, and I have a small veggie garden planted!

    Missy
     
  8. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    OMG, WORD.

    My (new) husband eats me out of house and home. He goes through a gallon of milk in less than a week, and he doesn't nibble on salads like I do so I spend money buying meat and chicken and tons of cereal and gatorades and ugh.. so much! But he is a hard working man so I am happy to oblige. He has a physically demanding job.

    On the bright side, I now have two incomes, but it never seems like enough.
     
  9. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    You gave me a great idea! The 99c stores do have things that are cheaper.. like canned items for example.. or staples.

    I grow tomatoes and peppers in my garden. THat is as organic as I can get for now. (oh, and the citrus that falls from the trees around here.. if my neighbors don't care.. I get all the grapefruits/organges/lemons I want.)
     
  10. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona

    I have to buy a freezer. It is getting to be a necessity...!

    As a matter of fact, I am turning every usuable space I can in the kitchen for pantry space. I just want to stock pile, er...stock up.
     
  11. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    And other household items like laundry detergent, dish soap and sponges!!! I've been writing off the dollar stores. I live in a pretty poor neighborhood and there are a lot of them. I went in the other day looking for something and noticed how cheap Oxyclean and other cleaners I use, like Simple Green, were compared to the grocery store, so I will be looking to get items like that there from now on.
     
  12. The Shirt

    The Shirt Practically Family

    Messages:
    852
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    It's getting tough to stick to a budget on food lately. Some other ideas in addition to Kitty's great ones. I buy olive oil at my local greek restarant/grocer (huge half gallons for next to nothing). I try to go to farmers market for local produce and will take a friend. We'll generally split the bounty because the quantities are huge. I also will buy the giant package of chicken at Sam's or Costco (though I hate it there) and will package them up in smaller portions for the freezer. Meats - I buy what is on sale. Venturing into the local butcher shop I was surprised that some items were actually less expensive than the standard big grocer. I also found that I spent about the same amount of money whether I was a vegatarian or a carnivore honestly - but then again I have a thing for good cheese (i ate more of it as a veg). :)

    I try to plan at least one big meal a week that the main dish can be "remodeled". Cooking light usually has a few of these ideas in the back. You make one dish one night and use the leftovers to creat a slightly different meal. I hate leftovers but this gets me thru.

    Think of meals that go a long way and try and plan those for at least a couple nights a week. Chilis, soups and pastas work well for me.

    Grow your own veggies. I had at least 100 tomatoes off one $3.00 plant last year. You can't beat fresh salsa or pasta sauce. Freeze it up when you start to get sick of it!
     
  13. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Tsk. It just makes me think that the grocery stores are hazing us! I mean, you can get almost everything cheaper somewhere else.

    (Although I am not sure how Super Wal-Mart compares to all of this)
     
  14. sixsexsix

    sixsexsix Practically Family

    Messages:
    870
    Location:
    toronto
    - buy things in bulk/in season on sale and freeze or stash them away
    - clip coupons/look for promotions
    - buy food at fruit stands, farmers markets, or ethnic grocery stores, they are much cheaper than the big grocery stores (i have found the same to be true with toiletries, unless things are on sale at a chain pharmacy, i will buy the same products at independent owned pharmas for much less)
    - buy spices and dry goods in bulk. pasta is a mega-saver!
    - look into smaller milk companies. we started buying organic milk that comes in a returnable glass bottle - because you return the packaging the product is cheaper (about $.10 cheaper than non-organic)
    - buy meat directly from a butcher (on sale!) and freeze it
    - bring your own bags (a lot of grocery stores are now charging for plastic bags, and the ones that aren't usually give you a little money off your final bill for bringing your own)
     
  15. fortworthgal

    fortworthgal Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,646
    Location:
    Panther City
    A thread after my own heart! I'm a frugality nut, especially with the way prices are skyrocketing these days. We do not create a weekly menu. I keep our pantry, fridges, and freezers stocked so that we can create a meal any night of the week without having to run out and buy anything. I keep a lot of "ingredients" on hand, and just buy items that I know we will typically use - ground beef, chicken breasts, onions, garlic, tomatoes, pasta, rices, etc., and keep them in stock at home.

    I clip coupons and use them. Only clip coupons that you know you will use - don't buy something you normally would not just because you have a coupon. The best way to use coupons is at stores that offer double and triple coupons, and when items are on sale. For example, if you have a coupon for 25 cents off a box of granola that is $2, it'd be $1.75, right? Say you hit a store that triples coupons, making your coupon worth 75 cents instead of a quarter, and then the granola is on sale for $1.50 - that brings your price down to only 75 cents!

    I also shop at dollar stores for some items such as cat litter, cleaning supplies, bleach, etc. My husband loves Hawaiian punch, and I get large jugs there for $1 that are $3 at the grocery store. Occasionally I go to places like Big Lots that sell closeout items - they frequently have higher-end food and drink items for practically nothing. Check the clearance racks at stores!

    For produce, fresh herbs, and eggs, we buy at the local farmer's market. Cheaper, fresher, and supports local farmers. I also have a small vegetable and herb garden at home.

    Buy store brands or generics when possible.

    I look for sales and stock up and freeze or store it. If canned tuna is on sale for 50 cents, I'll buy 4 cans instead of 2, and save them. I recently bought and froze 8 bags of brazil nuts because Target had them marked down to 50 cents each! I've found great sales on meat, and I buy a bunch and freeze it. Check your grocery store meat section for "last day" or "last chance" clearance sales, where they mark the meat down before it passes the "sell by" date. You can freeze the meat and it will be just fine. Two weeks ago I picked up $16 packages of ribs for $2 each out of that bin!

    Stocking up like this does cost more at the outset, but it ends up saving money in the long run because you keep your pantry stocked, and only have to buy fill-in items. You can also freeze breads, milk, nuts, and cheeses.

    The other thing I have found that saves us quite a bit of money is avoiding convenience foods. We used to buy things like brownie mixes, canned beans, rice mixes, but not anymore. A bag of dry beans is much less expensive than a can, and you control what you put into them. Steamed rice is much cheaper than a boxed Rice-a-Roni mix. Baking your own cakes, brownies, and breads from scratch is less expensive than purchasing mixes or pre-made items, and again, you control the ingredients. We do buy the occasional frozen pizza, but we try to avoid frozen dinners and entrees as much as possible. I find that you can produce higher-quality items for less money if you just stay away from the "mixes" and pre-made items.

    One site I think is really fun is www.hillbillyhousewife.com - although it is really intended for those who are on an extremely tight budget, but it still has lots of interesting ideas and recipes.
     
  16. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    These are great ideas Jen, I think I need a freezer and a trip to the Italian import store. (Olive Oil) I have found as inexpensively as $14 a gallon. If I could do cheaper than that.. that would be great.

    As far as a farmer's market.. the only one I know of is nearly in the foothills...where all the Richy McRichertons live... and a 30 min drive away. I wish there was one closer.

    I have some veggies in my veggie garden.. but honestly, here in the desert.. during the month of May and June the sun kills everything unless you are standing there watering it. (even the cactus are like "HELP") What I gain in veggies I lose in water bill. Although I think I am going to build a canopy over my garden.. to shade it a bit.

    HAHA ..cheese IS a vegetable.. :rolleyes:
     
  17. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Thank you Fortworthgal!

    I am loving all these responses. I am printing them out and going to refer back to them when i get tempted and lazy to just roll into Safeway and buy a tub of hummus and store prepared crudites for dinner like I did in my single days.

    I love this thread!
     
  18. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I would love to regularly hit the farmer's market here, but Haymarket is in downtown Boston and has no parking. That means taking the train, schlepping everything on the train and then up the steep hill to my house. I'm just not convinced that the money saved would be enough to cover the extra time and effort of such an undertaking.

    It's funny how fine the line is when it comes to saving money. Some things for me are just not worth it - I'm willing to run to a few different stores to get better prices on some items, but not if those stores are far away and it costs me gas and time to get there. I'm also not willing to do things like clip coupons because the time and effort to me are not worth the few pennies saved. Everyone has a different tolerance for this stuff, of course.
     
  19. The Shirt

    The Shirt Practically Family

    Messages:
    852
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Woohoo! Minnesota beats Arizona for once! It rains all the time and we can grow veggies for 2 months before we freeze again.

    Isn't yucca edible? Maybe you just need to give up on Tomatoes.
     
  20. desi_de_lu_lu

    desi_de_lu_lu Practically Family

    Messages:
    871
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    YES! 39c a bag in some groceries. I am bringing my own from now on.
     

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