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Grocery list in recession

Just curious, what items are cut from your grocery list? and if you replaced it for something else(store brand,poorer cuts, etc).

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  1. I haven't yet cut anything - but it's more because I'm "shopping" from my pantry and freezer. I have a tendency to buy things when they're on sale, so the freezer has plenty of stuff for me to work from, and my pantry is chock-full of cans of tomato sauce, beans, etc. The only thing I'm buying is milk, eggs, and fresh vegetables, for the most part.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      I do the same, and I buy my fruits and vegetables from a produce market not far from my office. The prices are much less than at the grocery store.
      I know I'm lucky as it is convenient for me to do that, and I have the luxury of being able to shop at one of two supermarkets less than one mile from my house, so I can look at the weekly sales and hit both places without it being not cost effective to do it.

      1. I'm definitely trying more store-brand (in our case, Harris Teeter) products.

        For example, one of my kids love Froot Loops. I tried the Harris Teeter version; he seems to like them just as much. Name-brand cereal is such a rip anyway.

        Canned veggies is another area where H-T products are saving us $$. If we find something we don't like, no big loss.

        I wish we had a Wegmans a little closer; their store brand products are great and are really cheap. Also, they have a ton of store brand products. On a recent visit I found Wegmans brand canned pumpkin. The consumer -- our dog -- likes it just as much as Libbys.

        1. I find myself cutting back more on non-foods, researching how to make my own laundry and dish washer detergents, transitioning to rags and cloth napkins over paper...

          I already eat a lot of beans and whole grains, with only a little meat (often from the reduced price bin), but I swore off canned beans, and use dried instead. I'm a cook once, eat all week person, so it isn't much more work to soak the beans on Saturday afternoon and cook them on Sunday when I'm doing the rest of the prep.

          I plan my grocery list with great detail (obsessed to some, but very entertaining for me!), using the weekly ads and my own experience with the local stores to find the sweet spot between cheap and good. In total I shop for food and 2-3 grocery stores (Whole Foods, Foodlion, Harris Teeter), but usually only 2 stores/week.

          A lot of these strategies are holdovers from my "poor" years during and immediately after grad school. The economy started getting grim only about 18 months after I started earning a decent amount of money, so I was still in touch with my inner penny-pincher.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mpjmph

            Same here about the cloths and stuff. I also plan my list with great detail and find it very enjoyable like a pass time.

          2. Cheaper bread... no luxury items (cookies, desserts etc.) that we don't really need and that I could probably make better myself. Storebrand icecream as a treat (unless Edys or Breyers are on sale) and as of now, no more impulse buys of expensive meat (ie. steaks...) I was thinking 'it's much cheaper than eating out' and indeed it is, but we can't afford to spend $20 on a dinner for two!
            Also, no more bought stock - it was just laziness to buy it and it's not even that nice, so I've started making it myself.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kajikit

              i'm not yet affected by the recession it hasn't really hit us as badly down in aus (but it might soon as rudd keeps mentioning) but i really like your approach about not buying as much junk to cut down and focusing on real food go you

            2. Cheaper bread for sure - I am all about the whole grain, etc., but my husband and kids are unashamed wonderbread fans. Since I eat about 2 slices of bread a week, my 'good' bread is in the freezer, and I'm buying the store brand white bread for the rest of them. Silly me, trying to feed everyone the good stuff.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jeanmarieok

                Jean, I am with you on the bread...I've been buying and enjoying Arnold's Natural Flax & Fiber bread but, like you, I eat it VERY sparingly...and thus it stays in the freezer. When I'm not eating oatmeal for breakfast, I might have a slice of that bread with natural peanut butter and then a piece of fresh fruit. Stays with me pretty well til lunchtime. What we have given up pretty much is ice cream...$4.99???? Nope, sorry...I might buy it when it's on sale but that's just ridiculous.

                1. re: Val

                  I've switched to less expensive bread as well. I include a lot of other high fiber, less cost prohibitive grains and legumes in my diet so I really don't think missing whole grains in a sandwich is the end of the world. I think some of the non-whole grain breads are more versatile for sandwich making as a result I use most of the loaf whereas the whole grain stuff would live in my freezer for too long.

              2. Well I'm taking even more time at the grocery store searching for the best buys and taking advantage of sales.
                I am really watching the deli meat prices rise per pound, $8.99 for turkey and roast beef, and that's not on sale. So we're eating more tuna, egg or chicken salad for lunches. Nothing is really disappearing other than the few sweets I did buy before, and jow I'm baking more. Which is not generating any complaints by the way, they are all happy.

                Steak, we were probably eating steak at least once a week if not every two, now I'm really being careful with red meat, unless it is super priced well, then I don't buy it.
                We're eating more chicken.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chef chicklet

                  Nope, no complaints about the extra baking around here either! I make cookies or muffins or brownies once a week and put almost all of them in the freezer so we can pull one out whenever we want it. Then when the bag's empty, I make another batch. It's amazing how long they can last when they're stored out of sight. Leave them on the counter and they'd be gone in an evening, but that little bit of extra required effort makes them last weeks!

                  And lunchmeat has become a luxury too... I loved to buy Dietz and Watson turkey but it's up to nine dollars a pound! I could buy fresh turkey breast and cook it myself for less than that! We're eating more eggs because they're still cheap (I switched from X-large/jumbo to large because they're cheaper...) and cooking more chicken breasts for DIY lunchmeat.

                  1. re: Kajikit

                    I cut lunch meat out at the beginning of the year - I was throwing some out every week. I buy a little swiss cheese every other week (my daughter likes her grilled cheese with swiss). When there aren't leftovers for lunch, there is always PB&J. We are wasting less food this way, forcing ourselves to consider the leftovers.

                2. I stopped indulging in artisan cheeses at Murray's and replaced it with Trader Joes. My Roqueforte which was once over $30./lb is $13.99/lb at T.j's. I taste a slight difference, but that's fine. My supermarket always run a half off sale so I'm not missing out much but If its cheaper, I would buy store brand,

                  1. Deli meat prices are ridiculously high, so I'm crockpotting a turkey breast and cooking a half ham as needed. Freeze them in portions with my Food Saver, works great and tastes great. And have you seen the price of sliced packaged cheese? I will slice my own, thank you.

                    1. As Linds and roro posted, I shop frin my pantry, too. I buy my produce at a farm- prices are a bit higher than the grocery store, but there is no waste. I buy my meats on sale, and have vowed not to buy any more meat until my freezer get emptied- but was at the grocery store this weekend, and there was a sale on rib eye steak ( $3.99 lb), so I did buy four steaks, and will break out the grill this weekend. Tonights supper is a pot roast- bought on sale, with free onions, potatoes and carrots with the purchase of the roast! Seared and seasoned the roast at 6 this am, and it should be wonderful by tonight. Also shop aty Trader Joes every month or so- buy their cereal, soups and oils. Have not cut anything from our grocery list yet.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: macca

                        Actually I added steak(on sale) to my list now and stopped going to restaurants when I'm craving beef. This saves me $100 at a steakhouse.

                      2. Maple syrup
                        Artisan cheeses (she says with a sob)
                        Less wine (can life really be this cruel?????)

                        We are fortunate that we are making cuts not out of dire economic circumstances, but because we are saving for a house downpayment. By far, our biggest change has come from planning our shopping. We now are only going shopping once every two weeks (at Market Basket). The only things we buy in between at the neighborhood store are milk, bread, things we really need that we run out of. We looked at our bills and found that we were dropping probably close to $150-$200 month on our "drop in" visits to Trader Joe's, in addition to our regular shopping trips. These visits were under the pretense of picking up milk or 'something for dinner", but we kept leaving with $30-$40 of various fun items. We plan our shopping now, and the impact on our budget has been immediate and significant. As part of this, I finally am learning what things cost. In just 6-8 weeks of doing this, I can see the differences b/w prices at various stores for the same item, and the variations from week to week. My next goal: coupons!!!!!

                        1. Cheaper cuts of meat.

                          Taking advantage of items that are on sale and stocking up, if they are items we use regularly.

                          Menu planning -- better to know what you need than buy something you don't.

                          Store brands.

                          1. coupons but only for items I would buy anyway, not trying new items that I might not like to save on waste, buying smaller quantities such as single yoghurts so I stop throwing out the last 2 of an 8 pack, 2 for 1s, sale items, produce markets, price comparisons between the supermarkets and shopping in different ones weekly to see who is cheaper for which products, asking myself 'do I really want that?', homemade cookies and cakes to use up products in the pantry, very little stored goods in the pantry which is good because we have used up most old things.

                            1. Wine. I've started buying Gallo in 4-packs of small bottles for cooking, so I can use a cup without having to spend $10 for it and drink the rest every time. I'm only eating meat and poultry intensive meals 3 or 4 days a week, and the rest of the time serving pasta or beans/veg on rice or other such semi-vegetarian dishes. I am a devoted fan of store brands, especially for things like flour and sugar that are ingredients more than foods you'd eat on their own.

                              1. I bought a water filter and no longer buy bottled water. I buy club soda instead of pepsi or San Pelligrino. i no longer buy wine on the weeknights to go with dinner. I shop at the dollar store first. Trader Joe's is now my special occasion grocery store because the savings is usually negated because I buy too many treats. I buy less expensive bread. I no longer buy/make desserts. I use what I have on hand rather than buy new food. I've learned that eating leftovers two nights in a row won't kill me.

                                1. I look for sales and stock up, also lots of fresh veggies and fruit. I haven't bought any lump crab recently! I don't buy starbucks coffee or bottled H2O, sodas et al.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cstr

                                    Every week jfood's grocer places something on sale and jfood takes it as a challenge to make it work for dinners. Likewise he has his stash of foods in the freezer in the basememt. With now being empty nesters, shopping for two is a great salad and a protein, or some short ribs, canelloni, bolgnese or lasagne from the freezer.

                                    Likewise they now bake cakes and pies on the weekend for jfood's sweet tooth during the week.

                                    Believe it or not they seem to be eating better with a better variety over the last 6 months. Maybe they were forced out of a rut a bit.

                                  2. I'm kinda bummed because everything people do to save money is pretty much my M.O. anyhow. I'm a little more hardcore about using up everything and not letting it rot in the fridge, a little more ruthless about sticking with whole foods, not prepared fancies. The garden will be a little bigger this year and I'm looking a little harder for co-ops, like buying a share of an organic, butchered steer, fish from the fishermen, etc. I'm making a lot of broth with scraps and making and freezing soups for homemade instant food on nights when we're slammed.

                                    1. We are installing raised garden beds..and growing our own produce. I am also composting for the first time. The initial cost isn't cheap..but it will pay off! We buy cheaper cuts of meat and braise it. Actually, we are eating less meat.

                                      1. I already had a tough row to hoe because for health reasons, I don't eat starches and I prefer to eat grass fed meats and dairy and wild fish. For me, that's meant skipping the luxury cuts of steak and buying other cuts, buying more produce in season, and getting a lot of my fish from the freezer at Trader Joe's where there's a good selection of wild caught. I switched to cloth napkins years ago, and buy Costco brand cleaners and dishwasher soap now. My organic salad greens are MUCH cheaper there, as are shrimp, scallops and some fishes we like. They also have quite a few good cheeses (some artisanal) for a fraction of what they cost elsewhere. Our finances haven't changed, but this dicey economy was a good reminder not to take anything for granted and to save where we can.