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How do you save money on your grocery bill?

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    How do you save money on your grocery bill?

    I wanted to get some consensus on what OTHER people are doing. I am a hard-core coupon-er, and I use coupons, shop the Wednesday sales ads for grocery stores (like I will today!), utilize rebates on medicines and some other food items I find at drugstores, etc. I also use other techniques I am discovering to help me save money on groceries, a very big expense for me personally.

    I am also currently in a personal money-spending diet, to see how long I can go without going to the grocery store for supplies. My grocery bills are my biggest indirect expense each week/month, after my other direct bills such as my mortgage, utility, and medical insurance bills, etc. I have made it so far twelve days today without shopping at the major store that seems to be a money vacuum for most of my food dollars. I am also seeing how much I can cook at home with ingredients on hand for dinners for my husband. I made cookies from scratch last night, and tortilla roll-ups using what I had on hand, as well as some boxed rice. It is hard to make things stretch, but I am really starting to enjoy the challenge of seeing how long I can make groceries last, and go without fast food and convenience food.

    How much of your after-tax budget goes towards food each week and month?

    I would especially be interested if anyone has found a way to get their weekly grocery bill down to $50 or less for two or more people.

    Hope to hear from you out there!

    #2
    My weekly grocery budget hasn't been at or below $50 for about 8 years now. I currently spend an average of $150 per week for three people. A lot has to do with the area we live in, our ages, and our special diet needs (diabetic and low carb).

    The only way I am able to keep my spending in check is to buy what I need. I make a list and plan meals ahead of time. I also take a calculator with me and add up my purchases as I pick them off the shelves. If I am over budget (i.e. not enough money to cover the bill) I put things back on the shelf. It takes some self control when I am buying groceries and see items I would like to try but the costs add up quickly. I only use coupons for items that are already on my list.

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      #3
      I avoid the natl chain stores & shop at independent markets and my 5 local fruit/veg markets (all have deli, can goods and fresh meat & fish). The prices are usually MUCH lower.

      I buy my bread/baked goods from the day old rack or at the 2 outlet stores in my area.

      I buy some canned goods & dairy at Aldi because the prices are generally better than store sale prices (cottage cheese is up to $2.50 but $2 at Aldi). Also buy can tomatoes, plain non-fat yougurt, sugar (still 5 lb bag), rice mixes, ..........

      I subscribe to several blogs that highlight the BEST deals on stores in my metro area and usually have the coupon match-ups posted too.

      I buy most of my personal care stuff at CVS or WAG when there is a REALLY good sale + coupon + EB/RR deal.

      I buy most of my cleaning stuff at Dollar Tree - Lime away is $1, at regular stores it is $2.29, Spic n Span is a similar deal. Lemon juice is cheaper than generic/Aldi.

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        #4
        I hadn't tried Aldi till I went with my boyfriend a few weeks ago on his shopping trip. I do like Aldi for their super cheap prices, but a lot of their items aren't things I'd commonly buy. I buy a lot of basic items and cook from scratch, but for quick foods it's great!

        I also buy generic instead of brand name in most cases. I shop at Wegmans a lot and I've found all their generics are great!

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          #5
          The library is a great resource as every family has strong likes and dislikes. A menu plan which is flexible enough to take advantage of sale items is important. Don't let foods in pantry or freezer go past expiry dates and have a plan for leftovers. Home-made soup extends meals, everyone eats less without noticing. Shopping in ethnic grocery stores [if they are on your travel route] are often cheaper than large chains.

          Check the unit price of packaged foods. Store brand is often less expensive than using a coupon. Use famous [huge money spent on advertising] brands when you dislike the quality of store/other, particularly if it's to be cooked with other ingredients. My most noticeable savings come from buying 'real' food and avoiding 'convenience' items.

          I buy a whole chicken and cut it into parts myself. I mix up a marinade and let cheaper cuts marinate overnight. Using a brine makes poultry juicer. Crockpot cooking does wonders for chili, stew, dry beans, front cuts and uses up bits. We eat fruit instead of juice, bake banana bread if they get over ripe, rotate side dish between potato,yams [root vegetables] pasta, rice, kasha, couscous, bread, quinoa. I prefer fresh vegetables but check whether it's cost effective to use frozen veggies.

          I'm fretting over salad makings as we use a lot and they are nearly all imported and expensive. Breakfast cold cereals have become ridiculously expensive, oatmeal or muffins are good substitutes. It was surprising to learn cake mix was cheaper than scratch. Powdered milk is indiscernible in cooking or baking. Ethnic foods take longer to prepare but are less expensive.

          There are more than 80 types or shapes of pasta so I rotate through the shapes but make the appropriate sauce mostly from scratch. Casseroles are cheap, healthy and frugal. Bread is easy to make from scratch and w-aaay cheaper. If you have a breadmaker, it is super easy to have a fresh loaf every other day. [breadmakers are often available @ charity shops]

          Buy non food items at discount or Dollar stores. Cleaning products, paper goods and personal hygiene items are the biggest profit items for large food chains.

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            #6
            I love to buy stuff I need - garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc. in bulk. If you have room to store it it saves a lot of money. Also, going vegetarian and getting protein from things like beans and tofu is a lot less expensive than eating meat. Good luck!

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              #7
              Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everybody. I also try to use coupons only after I make a list of meals I will make that week, and then I match the coupons to the ingredients. I have not yet mastered using a bread machine, because I can't find one in the ads in my local area. I made homemade Irish Soda Bread two weeks ago, and it was delicious with my homemade buttermilk.

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                #8
                $60/week for 2 of us in a HCOLA. Mostly shopping sales, costco, etc. usually buy and freeze meat and make large portions. Also cook lots of ethnic foods and meats. Best way to stretch money for food.
                LivingAlmostLarge Blog

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                  #9
                  I have a bit of a problem with store brands. I work for Kroger, and I don't necessarily think they are using their research and development to create better or innovative products, but to just make money and copy other existing products. Taking away from the companies that strictly create food products may not be the best in the long run.

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                    #10
                    Our family plans meals and sometimes even snacks and special treats a week in advance and often base those decisions on what is on sale at the stores. Sticking to the plan helps you see how much it will cost before you even go to the store and you can make modifications beforehand to save some money.

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                      #11
                      i can easily feed 3 people in my house for $50 a month. i only buy what is on sale and keep alot of food on hand. all the meat in my freezer was bought on sale, the only things that we dont eat that were not bought on sale is fresh veggies and even then i do not shop at the local supermarkets. i go to the mexican and chinese grocery stores where they are not unionized = much cheaper produce.
                      retired in 2009 at the age of 39 with less than 300K total net worth

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                        #12
                        97guns, how about some detail on prices and content of your shopping basket?

                        I could only feed three people totally off of grocery store foods for $50 a month if we ate little else but high carbohydrate foods such as beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, & homemade flour tortillas or collected-yeast breads. At one time a super cheap diet might have used lots of cornmeal, but now that is surprisingly expensive.

                        Are you in an agricultural area where much produce is available very cheaply? My area is highly agricultural, but overwhelmingly dominated by soybeans, field corn, and milo, none of which even turn up at farmer's markets except once in a blue moon.

                        How do you do it on $50 per month?
                        "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

                        "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass

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                          #13
                          i just got back from smart and final, i stopped by to pick up 2 jugs of irish cream for coffee and i saw 3# of beef hotdogs marked down for $1.99. thats .66/lb so i bought 30 pounds of the stuff. now we are not going to eat nothing but hotdogs but i now have a bunch of .66 meat to go along with the .79 chicken breasts and theighs, $1/lb ham and alot of ground turkey that goes on sale for $2 a pound every couple of weeks and of course i have the carbs covered like you. im in california where produce is pretty cheap but there will be a price spike on most of the stuff. i bought 20 pounds of frozen peas, they were not on sale but i figure once all the fresh stuff gets high then i can bust out my .99/lb frozen peas. the motto i live by is - when its cheap stack it deep.
                          retired in 2009 at the age of 39 with less than 300K total net worth

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                            #14
                            My wife clips coupons for stuff that we need anyways and I carry a calculator as we go to keep us on budget. I look around and seem to be the only one with a calculator in the grocery store...guess I'm a nerd.

                            I also do a lot of liquid or weight calculations at work so it is easy for me in my head to price out an item per oz for the best value when comparing container sizes.
                            Gunga galunga...gunga -- gunga galunga.

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                              #15
                              greenskeeper

                              Like you, I have TONS of experience w/liquid & weight calcs at work. I even have a 'sensitive' hand that I can tell which pkg of pre-packaged produce is heavier.

                              Unlike you, I do NOT need a calculator in the store(s). I can track in my head, inc tax & reduction for coupons, and if it is more than 0.25 off I KNOW there is an error somewhere - usually an incorrect scan, a coupon that did not scan or a coupon I forgot to give.

                              Of course, it took me 20-25 years to be able to do all that.

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