|Berkeley Parents Network|
|Home||Members||Post a Msg||Reviews||Advice||Subscribe||Help/FAQ||What's New|
I've usually shopped for groceries at TJs, with trips to Target for non-food items, but am wondering if it's cheaper to use a combination of Costco,Food Max,Grocery Outlet, Luckys or Safeway, in addition to TJs. I really need to figure out how to save money on food shopping but don't want to make a million trips, run around to different stores with coupons, or buy products that are really mediocre. I've given up the easy stuff for me - buying organic, buying coffee from Peets,lunches out at work. Does anyone have a system that works well for them? Freezing meat from Costco, getting non-perisables from XXX store, etc? My husband just lost his job, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to feed a family of four, including 2 teenage boys, on our suddenly-reduced income. Thanks BPN! Newly-Frugal
A price book allows you to figure out which stores regularly carry items at the lowest prices. You can also then tell whether a sale is really a bargain or not (many of them are not.) You can check the weekly flyers to see where the good bargains are. Many foods are either nonperishable or can be frozen, so you can stock up and not be constantly running from store to store.
I did this for years, and now that I have the basic info in my head I divide my shopping like this:
Weekly shopping for produce, bulk food and some dairy - Monterey Market
Quarterly shopping for canned goods, dry goods and condiments - Trader Joes
Quarterly shopping for household products - Target
Flour, sugar and Goldfish - Safeway
I sometimes go to Walgreens, CVS or Lucky if I spot a good sale. Frugal Mom
I predominantly shop at Safeway and use the weekly mailer (also available for view online) to work out a rough menu based on what I have at home and need to use and what's on sale. When there is a particularly good price on something then I buy a bit more than usual to freeze. Or if the organic milk is on sale, I'll buy the big one, etc. I have cut coupons for there, but you can load them on to your club card online as well...even email yourself a shopping list. I believe that they even have an app now! And quite frankly, the guy in the meat dept is pretty nice and has said that they appreciate my business...nobody has said that to me at Whole Foods or Farmer Joe's.
Farmer Joes and Berkeley Bowl have the best produce prices, but I don't shop there regularly. If I know that my list is mostly fruits and veggies or if I want something special (I.e. from the bulk bins or fancy beer) then I go there though. I still shop at TJs sometimes for the things that I like and it's very close to my house. They generally have great prices on cheeses, sandwich/toast bread, coffee, wine.
I've found that Costco is great for some things (maybe since you have teens), but I often get the same value at regular grocery stores if I shop the sales and I don't have room to freeze 5 lbs of pork loin if I want to make chili verde one night! And forget about buying tortillas there unless you want to share with your whole neighborhood. I may not renew my membership?
Also, slow cooker meals and meals where you can stretch the meat are good to make: chili (serve on pasta w/cheddar for kids), arroz con pollo, stir frys and curries are all meals where I can get away with using a lot less meat and nobody notices. And with braising or slow cooking you can use cheaper cuts of meat and they become tender and don't dry out (I.e. thighs vs breasts or tougher cuts of beef).
Good luck! Frugal Mama2
I shop Costco for meat/fish/lunchbox items (granola bars, deli meat.. etc). I mainly do TJ's and then the local farmer's market for fruit/veg, etc.
I try to incorporate some of the items that I've bought or have been in the fridge for a while into other meals (like scallions or some potatoes that need to be used up). Personally, I don't generally use coupons because I just don't have the time to keep track, but if you're more organized, then even better!
I cook a lot of bean soups and stews...stuff I can freeze. I make a lot of mexican food--beans, corn tortillas, a meat and a salad. These kinds of foods work well for frugality! lisa
I read the post in 2008 about what people spend on groceries, but we're almost in 2012. Food costs are quite high these days and continue to rise (due to farmers planting cotton over food crops and other agricultural issues in Asia). We are curious about how much people spend these days in Berkeley for food. My husband and I have been having discussions about how much we should really spend each month on groceries. I know it's different for everyone, but if you are a family of four with 2 small children and eat very organically and possibly shop mainly at Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods and sometimes Farmers markets, what is the price range you spend each month for just groceries? Thank you in advance... anon
The CSA is $100/month and we spend about $125/week at Trader Joes for a grand total of $600-800/month. This is on groceries only. We eat out maybe 1-2x/month.
I recently have been feeling that this is too high and am considering buying less organic food. I am also trying to grow my own vegetables (failing miserably, but still trying), cook more (with cheaper foods such as pasta, beans, rice, etc.), but it doesn't seem to be making a big difference in the cost. Paying a fortune for food!
I am curious about how much other families spend on groceries every month. We are a family of 4 (kids are 7 and 4) and we don't eat out a lot (2-3x month) and we pack lunches for the kids and sometimes for ourselves. We spend about $700 a month on groceries. We do try to buy quality foods (organic produce, dairy and meat) but we avoid a lot of packaged foods. So is this what others spend? Are we a lot higher or just a little bit higher? curious
We're a family of 3, with a growing 8-year-old boy. We spend about $600/month. But that doesn't include ANY HABA (health and beauty aids i.e. tp, pt's, etc.) anon
I try hard not to buy ''junky'' food - no mac n cheese, no basic/white bread, no frozen kids meals/etc. Organic eggs cost 3x regular eggs, but I want the organic ones. Same with milk, cheese, yogurt. I might buy store brand on some chips or crackers occasionally, but otherwise I don't.
I know you can definitely get away with much lower food bills if you are willing to cook from scratch all of the time (I just don't have time) or eat the highly processed stuff, but it's a choice. Laura
It's a budget calculator that takes into account location and family size. It lists the MINIMUM food bill cost that meets a family's minimal nutritional needs. For me (a single parent) and my child that is $320/month. My budget is $75-80 each week for groceries and then I eat out about 1-2 times each month for under $30. We eat grass-fed, pastured, and/or organic meat; wild-caught fish (usually canned); organic or pesticide-free fruits and vegetables; yogurt and cheese; nut butters; lots of whole grains; legumes. I generally prepare my own beans and make my own hummus, refried beans, etc. We eat well, but it involves foregoing most prepared foods and cooking more from scratch. I personally find a $400/month budget and another $100/month for eating out preferable. I get a few more prepared foods for easy meals and can indulge in a couple of expensive items. Hopefully you'll get some families the same size as yours helping out with info about their costs. frugal but well fed shopper
I truly wish I could figure out how people get by on less. We do not buy alcohol and stay away from most processed and convenience foods, keep expensive meats to a minimum, etc. I plan meals in advance and cook/prepare 6 out of 7 meals per week at home, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I buy in bulk at Costco when I can (bread, fruit, etc.) I also have a home garden and can/pickle etc. although this really doesn't put a dent in the food budget.
So I want to learn how you spend so much LESS than I do! Heather
I am in a constant dilemma on how to save money on our grocery
bill. We are a family of 3 and my toddler no longer needs diapers
except at night. We generally spend about $1000-1200 a month on
groceries and eating out about once every 10 days. I know this is
much more than average, and larger families are able to spend
less. Please help me understand your strategies, what you buy,
where you buy it, etc. We have a second child on the way and I
really want to get this under control before he arrives. Thank You!
drowning in grocery bills
Plan your meals weekly and create shopping lists. Then when you are in the store you are more likely to buy stuff that you actually need.( Now since I plan our meals, I stop overbuying and throwing a lot of food).
Make at least one day a week a vegetarian meal, it's a lot heathier and cheaper too!
Shop at Monterey Market weekly for your fresh vegetables and fruit, Ranch in Albany for sea food, its a lot cheaper than Safeway or Andronico's. Lola
I'm a strictly organic consumer, and they have TONS of organic stuff at half the price of whole foods - but the stock turns over fast and they never have the same thing twice.
Here's my strategy - go to the Grocery Outlet and see what they have, after that I fill in from Costco, and Trader Joe's - both of whom carry organic meats now! Then the Farmer's Market, then for those last few items - Whole Foods.
Going to the Farmer's Markets can be dangerous - as everything looks good. To avoid buying produce that will just go bad, I plan the vegetable meals ahead of time. Love to Grocery Shop!
*I assume much of your cost goes to meat. Eat less meat-work with alternatives like tofu, beans, eggs, etc. and dishes that use meat more as a condiment-stir frys, salads, etc. *Buy more whole foods-ie bulk couscous instead of boxed seasoned rice, for example. Bulk is in general a good option. *Meal plan and only buy what you intend to cook/prepare for the week. *Make a list and stick to it-however-if something you intended to buy that week is pricey that week, substitute with something on sale. *You can, of course, limit the amount you eat out, eat at less expensive places, or limit what you get when you go out. *Stay away from bottled water, soda, etc. *Stay away from prepared foods. *If you're buying lunch out at work, this is a big money-suck. Eat leftovers, sandwiches, veggies/fruit/cheese/rice cake, etc.Thrifty Mama
My strongest suggestion would be to make a price list/book. For each item you buy, track the price per unit of that item at each of the stores you shop at. Make notes about whether or not the item was on sale, etc. You may be very surprised to find that you can save quite a bit by shuffling where you buy what. Also, if you favor brands, try store brands instead. Bulk buy on items you use a lot. Do limit eating out if you can. Perhaps try an Entertainment book for coupons for restaurants if you do keep eating out. We are a family of 4 that spends ~$400/month for food,toiletries, and such. This includes some organics. I am trying to make this an average of $300 and know I can do it. econo-miser
1) meal plan. I just figure out what we'll want for the next two weeks. First week is firm, next week is a bit more flexible, but at least I have something down. And I just write down seven meals, so if it is Tuesday and we don't want XYZ, but ABC, it is flexible.
2) Save your receipts for a month. Look at what you buy, and how much it costs. Make a spreadsheet with the prices, add them up.
3) I'll take out the cash for groceries. This way, unless there is like a mega sale on something, I will not overspend my budget. If I have something left over, then we can get a coffee :) so I have incentive to underspend.
4) It is just as easy to spend $90 dollars on groceries as it is to spend $100, so look at your spreadsheet, and add the stuff up for the meals you've planned before you go to the store. This way you will not be surprised.
It really helps to eat meatless meals at least 4 X a week. We are on such a strict budget, and this has worked really well for us. Yes, some nights it is beans and rice, but I really like beans and rice.
I shop at trader joe's for grocery items, berkeley bowl for bulk stuff, and Alameda Marketplace or farmer's market for produce. We are a family of 5! Happy are ye poor.
I have been reading the recent posts and responses about cutting costs and have a question about food budgets. We are a family of 3 (my husband and I have a 16 month old daughter) that like to eat well but find that we are spending TOO MUCH money on food each month. We generally try to eat all organic products, grass fed meat, pastured eggs, raw milk, etc. but are finding that we cannot make ends meet each month and it always seems to be traced to our food buying. How much do all of you out there think is a reasonible amount to spend on food (not including eating out) per month? $600? $800? $1000? $1200 HELP! anon
Maybe we shouldn't look to skimp on quality, but reframe it in our minds to be ''This is an appropriate use of money''. I frequently struggle financially, but I made the choice to buy the best quality, and I will only skimp if I truly don't have the moolah.
If you want to keep the quality but not go broke, heavily shop bulk aisles and prepare from scratch as much as you can make the time to do so. Decrease packaged foods. From scratch saves a ton of money, but is time-consuming. Preparing a good portion of the week's meals over the weekend makes it easier to accomplish this.
As a single person, I'm spending between $200-300 on organic food per month. This is with some convenience items but mostly thigns from scratch. I work to pay for my food! ;-)
My philosophy is that you are what you eat, so we try to eat well and we save on other things but not on food. But there is shopping wisely too. We buy what's on sale, and we only buy what we are going to cook immediately that day. That is, no stockpiling because it just goes bad if we don't find the time to cook later. We try to buy organic, but not everything. We weigh the added cost versus the benefit. For example, for fruit that we will peel, we don't buy organic. For milk, we buy milk that is hormone and antibiotic free instead of organic. Once it is labeled ''organic'' the price goes up. I buy in bulk at Costco for things we consume quickly and a lot of such as organic yogurt which comes out to $0.79 each cup as opposed to $1.59/cup at the supermarket, and bread. I also make my own baby food, so I don't have to pay the high prices of baby food. Cut out the snack, the cups of coffee, the soft drinks; you'll be amazed at how much these things add up. anon
we avoid wheat, so it gets more expensive. stores don't put grass fed meats (etc.) on sale. organic fruit is $3/# or more at farmers markets. i could save more if i never bought prepared foods (eg $4 for 6oz of organic millet-rice crackers, but at least she eats them!), but then it's a time/money trade off. we grow some foods that aren't space hogs, like pole beans, basil (for frozen pesto), cucumbers, lettuce, and sungold tomatoes ($3/basket, and i get ?100 baskets from my one humongous plant).
i figure i save money on dr. bills and am investing in my family's future health, so i budget for high food bills, and cheap clothes/cars/vacations... anon
We only buy certified organic food (except for eating out) b/c this is the only kind of food where we can know exactly what we're putting in our body (no Safeway tomatoes containing pig genes or strawberies containing fish genes!). We never bought any junk food.
To stay within our budget (we do!) we comparison shop between Trader Joe's & Farmer Joe's, and buy the cheapest organic there is. We usually cook from scratch. maria.k
There's a strategy to healthful foraging, though. If you are shopping for everything at Whole Foods, you are going to pay a premium for most items. A CSA subscription to a local farm will bring you a bounty of fresh produce every week at a fraction of Whole Food's price. It's also coming to you directly from the farm, with almost everything picked that day or the day before, so quality is unparalleled. Things taste infinitely fresher and more flavorful from a CSA box than from a grocery store. Farmer's markets are another good way to go.
Grassfed meat can also be sourced directly from the farm and if you buy a share of a cow, you will pay just dollars per pound for your meat. You'll need freezer space and you'll have to get over any prejudice you might have against frozen meat. It's really just fine. Also, using left over bones from roast chickens, beef, etc... for stock is a big money saver. You can throw them in the freezer, then do a huge batch at once to save time. Stock goes back in the freezer in portion-sized containers for when you need it.
If you are getting pasture-raised eggs, which fetch a premium price, think about using them as a nice evening supper. The French do it, and no one eats better, right? We do: omelets, frittatas, quiche, and chopped hard-boiled eggs in salads. The cooked egg dishes are a wonderful way to use up left-over produce. It's also a fast-food meal for hurried evenings. Vegetable soups make a great, low-cost evening meal and provide left-overs for lunch. They too can be made in large batches and frozen for future use. It's a simple process of sautiing onions/shallots in oil, adding vegetables stock and seasoning, cooking until soft and either pureeing or eating chunky. Dried beans, which can be put to soak in the fridge the night before, are an incredibly cheap source of protein. If prepared properly, no one will feel as if they are budget food.
On that note, our big splurge is on high quality condiments; a little bit goes far to making humble foods taste fantastic. Simple bean salads taste like high-end deli food. A drizzle of nice oil over pasta with some sautied vegetables makes a great meal. Good mustards, oil and acids make for great vinaigrettes.
You can grow some of your own basics, too, even with very little outdoor space. A reasonable herb garden can be done in planters and a small lemon tree in a container can keep you going for several months of the year. Prepared breakfast cereals are an almost obscenely priced, budget breaker. If you read the contents of even the "healthy" breakfast cereals you'll find that they are mostly corn, soy by-products and sweeteners; things we all need much less of in our diets. Find other, more healthful alternatives for breakfast like: yogurt, oatmeal, fruits, even whole grain French toast.
And yes, it sounds like this takes a lot of time. It does take some planning, organizing and dedication. But it sounds to me like you already believe this way of eating to be worthwhile. Doing more of your own cooking can become a whole family project. Even little ones can get in on the action, and teaching children how to cook resourcefully seems like an invaluable lesson. Many things can be prepared in advance. It's easy to build up a cache of frozen items you can heat on busy nights. We're still new to this process, too!
Greetings. My husband and I are trying to develop a food budget for our household of two adults and two elementary school kids and - surprise, surprise - we have a substantial difference of opinion (by a couple of hundred dollars) on what it costs to feed this brood per month. I'm hoping other families might weigh in with what you spend, per month, on groceries and, if possible, on dining out. Thanks in advance for your input.
We're worked really hard to keep the eating out expenses lower which increases the grocery store expenses. We buy lots of organic stuff and other health-type foods which are a bit more expensive. -Allison
You probably can't spend less than the USDA says you need to stay alive and healthy. I randomly picked a site that had the Maximum Monthly Food Stamp Benefits by Family Size for 2000 (so, lower than what you'll need in 2002!), which says that a family of 4 needs $428. This, obviously, wouldn't include any meals in restaurants. (http://www.cbpp.org/3-23-99fs.htm)
We have four kids and found that our food bills went up significantly when the kids (1) left childcare programs that fed them breakfast or lunch (2) got bigger. So you can reduce your budget if a school or employer feeds one of you.
You really have to figure this out for your own family. My advice is to spend several months buying all your groceries on a credit card, and tot up what you actually spend. I stick my grocery receipts on a nail so I can remember to deduct cleaning supplies, toiletries, paper goods, beer or wine, etc. If you are a giver of dinner parties or a houser of guests, note how much entertaining costs(!).
One way to wake up the chronic lowballer is to build your budget meal by meal. Your family eats more than 360 individual meals in the average month!
What you spend depends very much on where you shop. We stick to Safeway (but never buy their lousy overpriced produce) and the Berkeley Bowl (and don't buy anything but their lovely underpriced produce and bulk cereals and nuts), and keep a very well organized list so that we know what Safeway items we are low on and pounce on sales to stock up. If you eat meat, freeze it when it's cheap. Your bills depend immmensely on whether you buy any prepared foods (even frozen ones), cold cuts, boutique breads, nice cheeses, and brand name cereals (or non-store brands in general). We drink only tapwater, milk, and the occasional pitcher of reconstituted juice.
I just added up my Safeway and Berkeley Bowl credit card bills from October and November for a family of 6 (one is an infant) and got $430 for one month and $651 for another. Those bills include diapers and paper goods, and were reduced by six happy days when my visiting father bought the groceries or fed us in restaurants. We eat one hell of a lot of oatmeal, rice, beans, and pasta, and are so glad one of us grew up in a family that cooked. We throw nothing away. It helps that my husband can eat month-old leftovers without getting sick. Please keep this anonymous. Too embarassing!
|Home | Post a Message | Subscribe | Help | Search | Contact Us|