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    Grocery shopping help

    I need help, and I'm probably not the only one. I will try to start posting my grocery bills and I need advice on how to bring the costs down. I will admit part of it might stem from not breaking out everything i buy at costco but I will try to do it moving forward. Tips and tricks appreciated. Maybe others will also learn. And yes I'm ready for harsh critisizm. I know that part of it is family size and where we live, but I'm sure I can get it down. I've spent $25.81 on hotdogs, pizza, and smoothies for 1 lunch this month and that's our "eating" out thus far. I think we'll "eat" out again next Thursday for lunch maybe.

    Last night at costco I spent $145.14
    1. Lactose free milk 9.99
    2. ghee 18.99
    3. guava juice 5.79
    4. jacks salsa 6.49
    5. 1/2 Gallon Cream 7.39
    6. ground beef (not organic) 26.65
    7. carrots 6 lbs 4.79
    8. bella mushrooms 4.99
    9. K/S butter 6.99
    10. BTB Chicken bullion 5.99
    11. parmigiano 15.99
    12. smoked cheese 10.62
    13. bok choy 6.99
    14. cucumbers 3 pack 6.49
    15. broccoli 6.99
    FM trip $28.27
    1. Canned Tomatos 1.29x 5
    2. Pasta $1 x 2
    3. Anchovies $1.99 x 2
    4. Nutmeg $5.49
    5. reese peanut butter $1.89 x 2 =$28.27


    So this is for the next week but I think I'm still missing buns for the pulled pork we're making on sunday that will help us eat for the week and that should pretty much round out the month.

    I froze the butter and 5 lbs of the ground beef. Menu plan for week

    Tonight/thursday - Salmon (from freezer), making dumplings as well

    Friday - bolognese (making it)

    Saturday - (pizza) cousin providing

    sunday - pulled pork (need buns for family)

    Monday - leftover

    Tuesday Tacos from ground beef

    wednesday - salmon from freezer

    Thursday - dumplings

    Friday - Chicken

    Sat - leftovers?

    My goal is to not shop for the next week. I think we're good on fresh veggies and fruits. I have apples from last week and a couple of pears and 6 - 1/2 of milk so I should be able to avoid a costco trip until the 1st of march but I need one more quick trip probably for buns or maybe I can whip some up. But my overall spending is $1027 in groceries for the month thus far. I'm thinking of maybe doing this thread and asking for tips and tricks. I won't cook stuff my family won't eat. They are pretty picky.

    The USDA says family of 4 can be Thrifty $671, Low $883, $1104 moderate, and $1337 Liberal. I think that since we have been eating all meals in if we can get to $883 that would not be the end of the world. I think we are typically around $1100 or moderate. I haven't a clue however if we are in a more expensive COL food place or Low COL. Compared to hawaii? Cheap. Thrifty in hawaii for family of 4 is $1274.

    I still don't get how people only spend $200 for a couple or like $100/month each where people live which is like 50% of the USDA thrifty plan. Unless you grow/raise a lot of your own food.
    Last edited by LivingAlmostLarge; 02-18-2021, 12:00 PM.
    LivingAlmostLarge Blog

    #2
    Well I think one way people really economize is buying cheap/generic brands of everything. I have coworkers who do pretty much all of their shopping at Aldi. Not a name brand product to be found in their kitchens. No fancy stuff. Nothing organic or free range or cage free or anything like that. Very basic stuff. Essentially, the way that folks like me were raised in the 60s and 70s as opposed to today when it seems like the range of options has gotten insane. Nope. Back then it was meat and potatoes 7 days a week. Simple, basic meals.

    Overall, though, the typical family spends a much smaller portion of their income on food than they did decades ago.

    Your list doesn't sound overly exotic and you're cooking most meals from scratch. I'm the wrong person to pick apart your list, but I will make one suggestion. Take a look at if it is cheaper to buy lactose-free milk or cheaper to buy regular milk and lactase tablets. Especially if you buy the generic ones in bulk at Costco, you may find that works out better. You're paying a premium to get the milk already processed.
    Steve

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
      Well I think one way people really economize is buying cheap/generic brands of everything. I have coworkers who do pretty much all of their shopping at Aldi. Not a name brand product to be found in their kitchens. No fancy stuff. Nothing organic or free range or cage free or anything like that. Very basic stuff. Essentially, the way that folks like me were raised in the 60s and 70s as opposed to today when it seems like the range of options has gotten insane. Nope. Back then it was meat and potatoes 7 days a week. Simple, basic meals.

      Overall, though, the typical family spends a much smaller portion of their income on food than they did decades ago.

      Your list doesn't sound overly exotic and you're cooking most meals from scratch. I'm the wrong person to pick apart your list, but I will make one suggestion. Take a look at if it is cheaper to buy lactose-free milk or cheaper to buy regular milk and lactase tablets. Especially if you buy the generic ones in bulk at Costco, you may find that works out better. You're paying a premium to get the milk already processed.
      The Milk doesn't work with tablets. I tried it and maybe the flavor the kids hate and since DK2 is more sensitive than ever I'm not sure it'll work now. I do give her lactase pills if she wants yogurt now and we've been avoiding other stuff. I feel so stupid telling people she's got a lactose sensitivity and trying to explain what she can and cannot eat. The cheese is fine if it's processed but DH and DK1 can eat it. I feel so stupid sometimes.

      Nothing is name brand actually. I love generics of everything. Mostly kirkland brand or whatever they have including their coffee. The FM stuff is all store bought zero coupons unless it's store coupon. I only buy organics if that's what's selling at costco like organic broccoli in big 3 lb bag or carrots for 6lbs. Otherwise it's pass. No aldi, no winco, no grocery outlet nearby. Nothing but safeway and costco, and of course something like whole foods but more expensive.

      Do you find a lot of frozen or canned veggies help? Is it substantially cheaper? Also are these prices in line with where you live? I'm not sure where we stand on pricing compared to what the USDA uses for pricing people's food.
      LivingAlmostLarge Blog

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        #4
        I have found that Costco's prices really aren't always the best. They sell mid-range stuff at prices that you can honestly meet or beat by utilizing sales at local stores. And you have to deal with all the impulse buying factor whenever you go into a Costco. I only mention that because you said you wanted feedback. I canceled my costco card a few years ago after realizing that almost none of their prices were amazing, and I've never looked back. I shop at local markets, Target (where I use my store card to get 5% off at the register and their app to get special deals), and Whole Foods which has surprisingly good prices on some things (and again, use my amazon card which gives me 5% cashback at everything from amazon and whole foods, free grocery delivery, and also gives you access to special deals as a prime member). So that's just a thought, to reconsider if costco is really doing you any favors at all (maybe they are if you have a large family, I dunno, but worth considering).

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by LivingAlmostLarge View Post
          voiding other stuff. I feel so stupid telling people she's got a lactose sensitivity and trying to explain what she can and cannot eat. The cheese is fine if it's processed but DH and DK1 can eat it. I feel so stupid sometimes.
          Don't feel stupid. It's not something most people are aware of. Yes, all dairy products have lactose but to widely varying degrees, and people's sensitivities vary a great deal as well. Full fat products generally have less lactose than reduced fat ones, for example. My wife can eat a fair amount of dairy as long as she takes the pills, and then one day out of the blue it will act up on her, and then she'll be fine the next day.
          Steve

          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by HundredK View Post
            I have found that Costco's prices really aren't always the best.
            It is important to compare prices and factor in the membership fee. It's also important when buying in bulk from the warehouse clubs to focus on limiting waste as much as possible. We've fallen into that trap more than once. Yes, something is a lot cheaper per unit at BJs but if we don't get to use it all before it goes bad, we might not have saved as much as we had thought.

            Personally, we dropped our Costco membership after one year. We like BJs a lot better. It just matches our buying habits better.
            Steve

            * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
            * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
            * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by HundredK View Post
              I have found that Costco's prices really aren't always the best. They sell mid-range stuff at prices that you can honestly meet or beat by utilizing sales at local stores. And you have to deal with all the impulse buying factor whenever you go into a Costco. I only mention that because you said you wanted feedback. I canceled my costco card a few years ago after realizing that almost none of their prices were amazing, and I've never looked back. I shop at local markets, Target (where I use my store card to get 5% off at the register and their app to get special deals), and Whole Foods which has surprisingly good prices on some things (and again, use my amazon card which gives me 5% cashback at everything from amazon and whole foods, free grocery delivery, and also gives you access to special deals as a prime member). So that's just a thought, to reconsider if costco is really doing you any favors at all (maybe they are if you have a large family, I dunno, but worth considering).
              Absolutely. I don't find I impulse shop at costco probably because I live too close and unless I'm looking for something specific I just go straight to the food. What are your local markets? I do not have access to the ones people seem to suggest are cheaper. If so I'd love people who do a price book and maybe I can start to hunt for cheaper prices of things. I'm open to figuring out deals. I've got safeway and fred meyer. No aldis, no grocery outlet, no winco. Any other places known to be cheaper? I'm open to hearing. I'm willing to switch my shopping if I can definitely save. No farmer's markets except during May-September and the deals aren't that good, mostly organic. Whole foods is much more expensive than costco for sure about organic stuff. I've looked online at the prices and in store. I've done the prime deals as well. What do you buy at Whole foods and I'll look into buying them and price compare. Target as well. Although there isn't a target nearby i'm willing to do a weekly run if it's worth. Also no walmart or target superstore nearby.

              I once did a calculation on Costco Membership. The lactose free milk is 9.99 per 1.5 Gallon (3 1/2 gallon boxes) is cheaper than I've ever found at any store I go to. My kids don't like soy or almond milk. I've considered doing a walmart trip but I don't know if it's worth it.

              Target is $3.89 per half gallon Lactaid (20 minute drive 9.8 miles not super store)
              Walmart $3.12 per half (30 minute drive 8.5 miles not super store)
              WF $3.99 per half (3.3 miles)
              safeway $4.69 per half (1.4 miles)
              costco $3.33 (1.4 miles)

              No waste of bulk from costco. We eat all the veggies and fruits and meat. I usually make 2-3 meals per meat or freeze to use within a month. 1 package of brussel sprouts we eat in dinner. We are pretty hearty veggie eaters and I usually waste nothing. Very very unusual including leftovers from kids. Sometimes I wait to eat to eat their stuff. Bad habit. I'm curious about people who keep a price book and how they reconcile what good prices are.

              has anyone noticed an increase in food prices this year? I swear I have but I haven't been able to put a finger on it because I didn't track it until just now it's just my gut feeling that prices are more.


              LivingAlmostLarge Blog

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by LivingAlmostLarge View Post

                Any other places known to be cheaper? I'm open to hearing.

                Walmart $3.12 per half (30 minute drive 8.5 miles not super store)

                has anyone noticed an increase in food prices this year?
                I was going to say Walmart, but if it's not nearby and it's not a super store with a complete grocery store, it's probably not worth it. Still, it can't hurt to start a price book and take a trip over there to compare. If you can find enough savings to make the trip worth it to stock up, do it.

                Food prices have absolutely gone up. There have been numerous reports of this. Of course, even though we are all spending more on groceries, that has been greatly offset by the fact that we're spending dramatically less on restaurants since dining out has become a rarity. We haven't eaten inside a restaurant since March 6, 2020.
                Steve

                * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                Comment


                  #9
                  So, for example, Target sells the Good & Gather brand of lactose free milk for $2.99 per half gallon.. that beats Costco's price for Lactaid, especially if you're using the Target card to get 5% off at the register. Target also sells Lactaid brand in a 3/4 gallon size for $5.69, which when you include the 5% discount and consider that you're paying costco a fee to shop there, works out to be comparable to what you're paying at Costco. That said, convenience is key, so if it's just that Costco is closer and more convenient and you really prefer name brand, then that counts for something too!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Regarding organic, I know some folks insist on it, but I don't buy into all the hype. Getting organic certifications is very expensive and many small farms cannot afford it even though they try their best to run sustainable farms. And some organic farms have terrible practices anyway. I don't know if it's still true, but at Costco and other markets too, at least some of their organic stuff is grown in China. I'm all for international trade, but not when it comes to my veggies. So if I'm in a store, I often take a look at both the organic and non-organic veggies, and if the non-organic looks better/fresher and is grown locally or in the US, I will buy that instead. Try to eat what's in season and it's cheaper and fresher. It's a bummer you don't have ready access to farmers markets year-round, that's a great way to really know your farmer and decide whether buying their non-organic goods would feel ok to you.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Truth be told I have NO IDEA how much we spend on groceries per month

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I know a lot of you budget down to the penny. But, I have never have. I have, however, always lived BELOW my means. So, while I could do better in the actual budget category, I have always had a sense of living within or below my means and prioritizing savings, investing and staying out of debt.. I was one of the few who paid off my home very early while others were saying to never pay off your home. My thinking is a bit different. To me, I want to OWN an asset outright. Made more sense to finance a depreciating car at a very low interest rate instead. As for groceries. I try to eat fairly healthy. I do not eat organics necessarily but I try to buy quality foods.. Honestly frozen veggies, rice and things like that make for very healthy meals and reasonable cost. People who say they "cannot afford to eat healthy" just have'nt' tried very hard. A bag of apples is less expensive than a bag of doritos. 2lbs of carrots, very cheap. It's simply a choice.

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by Snicks View Post
                          I know a lot of you budget down to the penny. But, I have never have. I have, however, always lived BELOW my means. So, while I could do better in the actual budget category, I have always had a sense of living within or below my means and prioritizing savings, investing and staying out of debt.
                          Same here. I have a general idea of our grocery spending since I do most of the shopping, but I couldn't give you an exact number. But we're saving 40% of our income. How much we spend on groceries really doesn't matter to me.

                          People who say they "cannot afford to eat healthy" just have'nt' tried very hard. A bag of apples is less expensive than a bag of doritos. 2lbs of carrots, very cheap. It's simply a choice.
                          You're missing an important point though. There are far more calories in that bag of Doritos than in that bag of apples. Our system has made poor quality calories a lot cheaper than nutritious ones. Sure, an apple is better for you, but the Doritos are going to keep you full longer and give you more energy. If money is tight, you focus on calorie-dense food that you can buy cheaply. Processed carbs and fat are super cheap.
                          Last edited by disneysteve; 02-26-2021, 05:18 PM.
                          Steve

                          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Snicks View Post
                            People who say they "cannot afford to eat healthy" just have'nt' tried very hard. A bag of apples is less expensive than a bag of doritos. 2lbs of carrots, very cheap. It's simply a choice.
                            No, people who have led privileged lives like to tell poor people they're not trying hard enough.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              We live off the land a bit. Grow a big garden and put up lots of produce, plus eat a ton of it while it's fresh. If you don't grow it yourself, produce is super cheap at the local farmer markets when it's fresh and you can freeze or can this stuff easily, and it's so much better than out of season, commercially canned or frozen stuff. We typically put up 6-10 dozen ears of sweet corn for the freezer.

                              Also put 4-5 deer in the freezer every year as well as a pig, plenty of fish, etc.
                              About the only beef we ever buy is an occasional steak, venison is our red meat and burger. We do buy some chicken.

                              Also get fresh eggs from my nephew cheap and take advantage of seasonal foraging; berries, mushrooms, etc.

                              Amazes me how much food we can get out our small garden.

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