Cutting grocery costs

@tklich (391)
United States
December 2, 2008 4:33pm CST
Times are tough for everyone around the world right now. Times have never been so tough on me and my family right now. Not only are prices still up in grocery stores, but my husband has been out of work for over 6 weeks now. He got laid off in October and can't find work. I bring home about $1600 a month which isn't to bad, in fact, the most I've ever made in my life. But when you take into account that we have a mortgage payment of $960/month, on top of that we have utilities and misc expenses, groceries, and two kids to support. And with Christmas coming up, our wallets are stretched to the max. One area I've noticed that hurts us is our grocery bill. You can't buy as many meals with $100 like you used to. I always buy store brand foods in order to save money. Does anyone have tips on how to cut back on grocery costs? What kinds of foods do you buy for your family when you're on a tight budget? I bought a package of steaks for my family the other night that cost about $6 or so. They looked great in the package, but boy were they not! I can't afford to buy the steaks that cost $6 EACH, but these were not good! Any tips you can provide me with to help my family save money would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.
3 people like this
14 responses
@celticeagle (121039)
• Boise, Idaho
3 Dec 08
I have to live frugally with only one paycheck coming in. I fix pinto beans alot. Cheap and you can add onions and a bay leaf and they are very tasty. Also, make soups go further by adding rice or pasta. Potatoes are great and filling as well. I make potatoe soup and oven fries and hashed- double cooked potatoes and add what ever I might have to it. Corned beef, spam or hamburger. You can usually buy a turkey leg or chicken parts relatively cheaply. Roast or bake this however your family likes it and add it to rice with vegetables. Now I know alot of these sound bland but if you add herbs and spices you might be surprised at how good these dishes can be. Hope that helps.
• Canada
3 Dec 08
Those are some really good ideas! I wish I could cook better so I could make meals at home taste good.
@kykidd (6819)
• United States
2 Dec 08
Right now a lot of stores have been having buy one get one free sales on cake mixes and stuff like that for the holidays. I think baking a cake and having it around the house to snack on is a lot cheaper than buying other kinds of snacks. The Duncan Hines were $1.69, so I got each cake mix for about 85 cents. That's pretty inexpensive for something that will go as far as a cake will. I also have been eating a lot of Ramen Noodles. They are only 20 cents a pack, and I can get 2 meals out of one pack. For a salty snack, I make popcorn on the stove. It is a lot cheaper than potato chips, and really a lot cheaper than microwave popcorn. I just make up a big bowl, and put it in a tupperware bowl with a lid. It doesn't go stale like the microwave kind does. Hope that these tips are at least a bit helpful. Have a great day!
@tklich (391)
• United States
3 Dec 08
Thank you so much for the response. These are exactly the kinds of tips I was looking for! I guess when it comes down to it, we just have to change what foods we are buying for a while. What really kills me sometimes is buying poptarts - my kids like the different kinds that the Kelloggs brand has that the store brands don't make, but when I went to the grocery store last night they were $2.25/box!! I said no way and bought the store brand for $1.19! But I buy them like crazy when they go on sale, my kids love them for breakfast - quick and easy before school. I will definitely make use of your tips - thanks!
@peavey (16876)
• United States
20 Dec 08
I know it's hard to do when you work, but cooking as much from scratch as you can will cut costs. (I'm thinking of those pop tarts you mentioned - you can make your own for much less.) Be very careful of wasted food. Keep all leftovers and reuse them in new dishes. I have a container in the freezer where I put dibs and dabs of leftover vegetables and meat. When that gets full, I put it in a pot along with some seasonings and maybe a thickener and presto! - "Free" soup. Saving money on food isn't always about how or what to buy, but it's about what you do with it once you get it home.
• United States
3 Dec 08
The hardest thing about making changes to your grocer bill is the fact that you end up having to consider different types of food. A few helpful hints-- 1. Ground turkey--it is generally cheaper than ground beef (and healthier too). It can be used in spaghetti, hamburger helper, chilli, tacos---all inexpensive meals that your family will still enjoy. 2. Chicken legs/wings--these inexpensive items are more versatile than people give them credit for. 3. Potatos and rice. These two items are filling, and help to stretch any meal. 4. Bisquick--pancakes for breakfast, biscuits to go with dinner and you can even make a low-cost desert out of it. 5. One of my other favorites if we can spre a couple of extra dollars is buying skillet meals, and then getting a bag of salad shrimp to add to it. they don't put enough meat in those things, so adding the shrimp helps, plus (if you are a seafood lover) it is an inexpensive way to splurge a little.
• United States
3 Dec 08
I make a ton of our stuff from scratch and eat eat a lot of soups. They are so easy to make and cheap. Beans are cheap and good. biscuits and gravy is a cheap and filling meal. I have had to sometimes feed a family of 5 on just 30 or 40 dollars a week. It can be done.
@cher913 (25890)
• Canada
3 Dec 08
well i make soup quite a bit during the winter (with a bread that we make with a bread maker that we got for free from friends) for meals and shop the sales. we also have made friends with a butcher as the meat is so much cheaper there. we eat quite a bit of pasta as well (with chicken, its great!)
• United States
3 Dec 08
i knwo the feeling...ive been out of work since july.( was preg and couldnt get a job..now im waiting for my six weeks to be up so i can begin this new job i just got) and i know how frustratign it must be for my fiance. he pays all the bills on hhis own. works and still has to help with the kids. i do all i can to get a little extra money from the sites i ahve joined.
@ladynetz (968)
• Canada
3 Dec 08
I'm doing too, everything in my power to feed my family on a low budget. There are online sites that can mail, email or print coupons. Also, you can get weekly flyers that tell you exactly how much costs everything in a certain store. No name brands, are cheaper, and you don't pay difference to the quality. Sites like mysavings.com send you free sample by request, freebies and much more. Some stores, have bread or meat half price, when the expiry date is the next day.Look for the bins, or ask where they have them.The same goes for fruits and veggies. I buy lots of things at half price and cook or use them the day I bought them and the next one. Bread and meat you can freeze and use whenever you need. A cheap deish is meatballs.Simple and fast, with $2 you feed your whole family and have some leftovers too.
@kiran8 (15398)
• Mangalore, India
3 Dec 08
I dont live in the USA, but i suppose things are pretty much the same everywhere in the world.I have realised that packaged food costs much more than Fresh food like vegetables and even meat.At least thats how it is here in India.One can save 50-60% while buying fresh veggies, fish and meat.I cook in a large quantity when i have free time and refrigerate it in small packs and use it as and when needed.
@Random28 (158)
3 Dec 08
I know someone who used to work in a factory and they say that they do one lot of the tesco value stuff, one lot of the finest and one lot of the branded type and they put the sasme ingriedients in each time
@Monkeyrose (2850)
• Canada
3 Dec 08
I am the Queeen of Grocery shopping! I worked at a grocery store for 8 years and have a nack for getting the best deals. It just requires a lot of planning. 1. Know your grocery stores and what you can get where for what price. Safeway: Every first tuesday of the month they have 10% off if you spend over $35. Watch out though. Their prices are usually really high. During the month get rainchecks for really good deals there. Save all your coupons and rain-checks and use them on the 10% off day. Costco: Watch the prices here. Sometimes they aren't that good. However you can save a lot by buying bulk. If you don't already have a membership then see if you know someone who has one who will use it for you. Produce: Always buy produce from the local produce stores unless a big chain has a specific deal on. It is usually way cheaper from these stores. Coupons: Never pass by a good coupon. Collect them and take a bunch if its a product you use a lot of. Check online too. Tons of web sites have coupons. I live in Canada so I don't know many american coupon sites but mypoints.com has some. Meat: Find a really good deal on meat and freeze it. My parents have been freezing meat for years. It tastes just as good as it does fresh. Club cards/POints: JOin every club card program and points program. You might as well be getting points and discounts. Many large chains you can collect points and then redeem them for gift certificates for that store.
@di1159 (1580)
• United States
3 Dec 08
I know what you mean! Grocery prices are out of control! One thing I've cut down on is convenience packaging items. Snacks that the kids like the come in individual packs are very expensive. I try to buy bulk and seperate things myself. I also try to plan the menu for a week and check first to see what is on sale that week, whether its chicken, pork or meat and work with that. Herbs are very expensive so my neighbor is teaching me how to grow my own. I try to prepare meals in advance on the weekends so the kids can have something when they come home from school. I also use the barbeque a lot, as burgers and hot dogs taste better and I can get everyone to eat them. I pick up a lot of items at the 99 cent store (where the prices have gone up too) and I've cut back on things which I used to splurge on before. It's tough, but you can do it!
@deebomb (15322)
• United States
3 Dec 08
Hello tklich and welcome to myLots. Groceries are a big expense these days. For starters I would plan for meatless meals part of the time. Do meat dishes that like shepherd's pie and put about half the meat called for, adding frozen vegetable to make up the difference. Do stir fries with half the meat. Buy those cheaper cuts and cook them in the crockpot or very slow on the stove to make them tender. Also it is much cheaper to cook from scratch. Stay away from those boxed meals. Dry legumes are very economical and are very healthy. There is a great variety of them too. I use a lot of herbs and spices but getting them from the grocery can be expensive too. so I get mine at a health food store in bulk for pennies compared to the grocery store. check out vegetarian recipes. They are both healthy and economical if you stay away from the fake meats. When I find hamburger on sale I fix an all purpose ground meat mix like the one on this web site. http://www.recipezaar.com/All-Purpose-Ground-Meat-Mix-31008 Heres another site that I like for getting cheaper. mealshttp://www.thriftyfun.com/tf000892.tip.html
@sudalunts (5526)
• United States
3 Dec 08
I know exactly where you are coming from. I have been laid off for five months and have not been able to find a job. My apartment rental is more than your mortgage for you house. I have run out of all savings and my husband has only been able to get commission work, which is not a stable source of income. I have started going to discount supermarkets, instead of the big major ones. I am not sure which state you live in, but if there is an Aldi's store there, try it. I have started going to it and the prices are so much cheaper. There are no name brand food there, but food is food. I would like to be able to go to one of the warehouse discount stores, but I have not had the money at one time to go. Check your phone book, or check on the internet to see if there is an Aldi's in your area, you would be able to save money there. Good luck, and hope your husband finds work soon.