Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Sep 26, 2008 07:56 PM

So now that money is tight for us (and many others)...

My bf has lost his job and we are being supported on my salary (not so much considering our expenses, debt, etc.) So question is-

How can we make the most of grocery shopping? I am not looking for major cheap factor here - I am looking for ways to be smarter with a dollar and make the most of ingredients and buying the right ingredients (which I never seem to do!)

However...we are picky. Won't buy-

anything hydrogenated
anything seriously proccessed-

And to note I don't own a crockpot and can't buy one right now (would blow the circuit in our very old apt.)

Just our preferences - I am in the tri-state area and have access to TJ's, Whole Foods, and obviously lots of supermarkets. But there's so many choices! And I want to make the most of them! Typical meal for us might be chicken breasts with some pasta and veggies on the side. So simple, healthy - looking for more of the same, but not the same thing every night!

Any thoughts would be great! Thank you so much! :-)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Our very own 'rworange' a frequent poster on this site, did a very comprehensive project on eating with $3 per day and NOT eating any really junky foods! You might find it a good start with this thread:

    1. I am married to the world's most frugal shopper. She buys the stuff and we trade off on who gets to do the cooking. She has a list of five stores that she shops regularly. Her shipping day, each week, coincides with the day after the sale ads appear in our local paper. The inspects the cupboards to determine what we need; never what we want. Then she looks to see where she can obtain what we need at the best price. If the best price isn't what she expects it to be, she either removes it from her list or finds an alternative. She buys herbs and spices in little plastic bags - never in those expensive boxes. We also grow about a dozen herbs and spice in our garden. She prepares a route so that, when she visits the stores, she drives to them in parade fashion to save fuel. When she visits the meat counter she looks to see what they have "marked down" and if it's a good buy she includes it - provided she has enough money (she limits herself to fifty dollars per week) and she does the same thing at the baked goods counter. We make bulk purchases at COSTCO (we have an upright freezer in the garage) and that's our source for items such as coffee, bread, and some of our meat products. Our wine is "two buck chuck" and, believe it or not, we eat quite well using that formula. Of course there's lots of chicken, pork ribs, ground beet in our diet. But there are hundreds of exciting recipes using those ingredients. We avoid chicken breasts (unless they're a steal) and focus on package leg/thigh combinations or whole chickens which we store in the freezer. We get more for our money buying fresh veggies and rarely purchase anything like that frozen or canned. Inexpensive meals include soups, stews, stratas (strata recipes abound) recipes from south of the border (tacos, enchiladas, etc.) far eastern recipes (where you don't have to buy an expensive sauce or spice that you wouldn't typically have in the cupboard) and anything I can roll into phyllo dough.

      4 Replies
      1. re: todao

        $3.00 a Not sure we can manage that, nor do I have any time at all to cook bkfast and lunch - we tend to just pick on leftovers from the night before. But definitely some great ideas! Todao the world's most frugal shopper does indeed sound frugal! Very impressive! We actually do a lot of the things you mention your wife does so perhaps we're not so far off the mark. Definitely need to start looking more on what's on sale more and different kinds of recipies that I might not normally have made before-

        1. re: lovessushi

          You are definately on the right track; a cook after my own heart. Nothing I'd rather do than get an assignment that it's my turn to cook dinner and be forced to create something from the accumulated leftovers in the frig. If you're doing that, you've got the right idea. I had a small amount of sour cream left over tonight from another recipe earlier in the week. Found a couple of carrots and made up a pretty good side dish to go with the casserole. The casserole? It was created using leftovers too.
          Best of luck to ya ...

          1. re: lovessushi

            Checking the circulars for sale items before shopping is huge...but the other thing I do is if something non-perishable that I know I'll use is a really good price, I'll buy it and put it away. That goes for non-food items too. The other thing that can save money is cut back on the amount of animal protein you eat. Many times when I make a stir fry I'll use half tofu and half meat. Makes it more acceptable for my carnivore hubby. If there are any ethnic markets on your regular route, check them out. I found an Asian market that not only has has fantastic prices on produce, but the quality/freshness is twice that of the local supermarket.

            1. re: BeeZee

              Yes, beezee is right about cutting back on meat protein...try eating one or two bean or legume-centered dinners each week. Lentils are awesome...very cheap and very filling--a nutritional super-food too. Ma Po Tofu is a great dish that calls for only 1/4 pound of either ground pork or ground turkey with the tofu...over brown rice, it's pretty healthy though it might be a little high in sodium.

        2. Buy only produce and fruit that are in season. For example, in the summer buy melons and berries. Fall? Apples.

          Buy from the bulk bins

          Selectively buy certain types of frozen seafood. Most of the seafood from the monger is previously frozen anyway.

          If you like chicken, buy whole chicken and quarter the bird yourself. Reserve the wings, feet, neck, head (yes, head) for stock. And chicken liver is not only delicious with some bacon fat and onions and peppers, but very healthy. Buy one bird, make three different dishes.

          1. We try to eat frugally as well. We buy our produce from the local farmer's market for much cheaper than the local grocery store. I've cut back on how much meat I serve. Now that the weather is turning, we're eating more soups and stews, which are a great way to use up odds and ends of veggies.

            1 Reply
            1. re: northside food

              I just realized I blogged a few weeks ago about how I do my grocery shopping. If you're interested, here's my tips.


            2. I would think in terms of dishes combining a small to moderate amount of protein, vegetables and a tasty sauce with (or over) a starch. Examples include Asian stir-fry and New Orleans dishes such as jambalaya. These are not economy meals to me, but excellent chow.