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Grocery question to CHers

cayjohan Mar 23, 2009 10:17 PM

With the various posts on buying on the cheap, i.e. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/606136, it seems to me that a lot of posters have been spending less on groceries.

My simple question: have you HAD to, or are you choosing to?

If choice, why?

So curious as someone who has been frugal for years.

Cay

  1. j
    jeanmarieok Mar 27, 2009 03:52 AM

    I am spending a lot less. I volunteer at our church, and help distribute 'angelfood boxes' - and I've been picking up their boxes for the last couple of months. It's cut down on a lot of the 'junk' food I usually buy for the kids - the standard box usually has chicken nuggets, fajita meats, etc. All prepared, and not chowish at all. But the bonus to buying the regular box is that you can pick up the vegetable box for about $22 - and it's just chock full of the fruit and vegetable staples i use for the whole month. I'd bet this $55 worth of stuff saves me about $150 a month, because when the kids have friends over and they are looking for a snack, I'll throw in some chichken nuggets or whatever, and skip buying a couple of pizzas.

    Angelfood ministries is not based on need, and no one should be ashamed to participate. My church is in an upper middle class area, and while we get people from all over, quite a few of my neighbors participate. And if you don't find anything on the menu that you like, come back and check it out for May. I think the April menu is weak, personally. But Feb was great.

    www.angelfoodministries.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: jeanmarieok
      LaLa Mar 28, 2009 06:01 PM

      The thing about it is the more people participate the more it helps the people that DO need it.Because it increases their buying power. I have bought for over a year and I have never had a bad product from them.

      Also I want to note in the two different areas I have used this program there was nothing "religious" about buying or getting the product. I know that has been a concern in the past when this wonderful program has been mentioned.

    2. ipsedixit Mar 26, 2009 04:12 PM

      I think the logical thing to do would be to actually spend MORE on groceries.

      I mean, seriously, you can either spend your money on food (which you enjoy) or lose it in the stock market (which you don't enjoy).

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit
        cayjohan Mar 27, 2009 09:32 AM

        ipse, and spending it on the type of grocery product and the type of producer you'd like to see is important.

        Cheers,
        Cay

      2. Boudleaux Mar 26, 2009 11:12 AM

        Well, I've just recently made the decision to spend less at the store but not because of the state of the economy or my own personal financies. I am really tired of frozen dinners for lunch and something that I've thrown together for supper. I really want to get back to the basics and enjoy cooking and eating again and I want to try to eat "cleaner." So I've started buying whole chickens and cooking them and using the meat for various things: chicken salad, soup, gumbo, etc. I have been making my own lunch and taking it to work instead of throwing a frozen dinner (that I didn't really like) in my bag. I also felt like I was wasting so much. I would let half a loaf of bread go bad. Hamburger meat and most of a dozen of eggs would spoil and so on and I would feel guilty about it. All because I was grabbing the "convenience" foods like Pop Tarts and frozen dinners instead of cooking/using the other things.

        So I've been calling my Dad and asking advice on kickin' it old school in the kitchen and I've really learned a lot about cooking in the process. It has been fun, the results taste better than the convenience foods, and I've saved money.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Boudleaux
          MGZ Mar 27, 2009 10:12 AM

          Plus, he who roasts his own chicken gets to snack on the liver first - mmmmm!

        2. s
          Sal Vanilla Mar 26, 2009 11:05 AM

          I have always shopped sales and cooked what was fresh and cheap. BUT now this year since the stock market has taken a dive and taken my money with it... we are planting more veggies (as less a hobby as a necessity), have cut our wine budget in half and seriously stretch out our meat budget. So far no decline in the quality of what we eat, but I am certainly more creative and incorporating more beans.

          1. mcel215 Mar 26, 2009 11:00 AM

            I actually think I am spending the same or a little more.

            I shop at Calereuso's in Reading for fresh fruit and veggies twice a week.

            I make a monthly run to Costco for bulk items.

            And I make a bi-weekly visit to S&S, trying to buy items on sale.

            But, it is more expensive (I feel) to eat lots of fresh produce, which benefits my health. So, if I fee better and have more energy, then I feel it's worth it.

            20 Replies
            1. re: mcel215
              macca Mar 26, 2009 11:12 AM

              I use Calareso's to fill in between my trips to Wilson Farms. Their pizza dough is great, too. Not sure where you are located, but Johnnies Foodmaster in Melrose ( corner of Main St and the Fellwsay, afew blocks from the hospital), has great deals on meat. They also have unadvertised managers specials ( last week was rib eye for $3.99 per pound.) They cut their own meat, which is something lots of supermarkets don't do anymore, so you can get just what you want. I always ask them to cut me a really thick piece of london broil for the grill. If you are not too far away, it may be worth a trip. Starting tomorrow, they have their 5 packages of meat for $19.99- lots of choices. I usually stock up on chicken cutlets, turkey cutlets and pork loin roast. Can't beat the price.

              1. re: macca
                mcel215 Mar 26, 2009 04:26 PM

                Thanks Macca,
                I love Calareso's pizza dough too. Can't beat making two pizza's from their $1.99 dough. I cut them in half, and throw them in my freezer.
                I work in Stoneham, right near W. Wyoming St in Melrose, is it close? I will stop by there tomorrow, that's a great deal on the meat.

                BTW, in case you are interested. I make a great pizza. A layer of pesto (Costco), about 3 tablespoons spread on the crust. Slices of fresh mozzarella all over, then topped with 3 roma tomatoes, sliced thin. Sprinkle with lots of good parm, salt, pepper and a capful of olive oil on top. :)

                1. re: mcel215
                  macca Mar 27, 2009 03:41 AM

                  If you work in Stoneham, near W Wyoming, you are almost right up the street! Get on the Fellsway, and go east. Johnnies will be on the Fellwsay, on your left about 1.5 miles past Grimsby's Once you pass the HS/Jr High;, you will take a left into the parking lot, right before you hit the lights at the corner of Main/Fellway. Worth the two mile trek.
                  And Thanks, the pizza sounds great. Our kids have been on a white pizza kick, and I have had good luck using TJ alfredo sauce as a base.

                2. re: macca
                  mcel215 Mar 27, 2009 02:55 PM

                  Hey Macca,

                  I couldn't get to Johnnies tonight. Do they continue their in store sale of 5 packages of meat tomorrow? Or is it just Fridays?

                  Thanks..

                  1. re: mcel215
                    macca Mar 28, 2009 02:42 AM

                    I think the sale is for the entire week. I am going today. Their flier does not specify the sale is for Friday only, so you should be all set

                    1. re: macca
                      mcel215 Mar 28, 2009 07:42 AM

                      Thanks,
                      I got two pork tenderloins that had over 10.00 price tags, two pack of chick breasts, bone in that had over 8.00 price tags, and two packs (they were taped together), with an over $10.00 price tag, for $19.99..... can't beat that!

                      1. re: mcel215
                        macca Mar 28, 2009 10:02 AM

                        Nice! I am off soon, too. I think I will get five cutlets and an assortment of others.

                3. re: mcel215
                  LindaWhit Mar 26, 2009 11:54 AM

                  So Calaruso's is good for veggies/fruit? I see that both you and macca shop there; it's not far from me (and sorta "on the way" if I take Route 28 home from work in Andover). I've been there a few times and thought (at times) their produce looked a bit tired.

                  As for S&S, I refuse to shop at the one in Stoneham after the spoiled fresh turkey debacle from several Thanksgivings ago. I'll stick with Roche Bros. in Burlington or Market Basket in Reading.

                  1. re: LindaWhit
                    macca Mar 26, 2009 11:58 AM

                    I have had pretty good luck there. When strawberries and corn are in season, it is worth the trip. And their pizza dough is really good. I get the bulk of my produce from Wilsons, but do like Calaruso, too. And I admit I am a Harrows chicken pie fan ( white meat, no vegeatables, with their rolls), so I stop there when there is a coupon in the Value Pak coupon package.

                    1. re: macca
                      LindaWhit Mar 26, 2009 12:24 PM

                      LOL on the ValuPak coupons for Harrow's pies. I had gotten two of them the last time they were delivered and pulled out both of them...and never used them.

                      Thanks for the info re: strawbs and corn - will remember with the upcoming season!

                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        macca Mar 26, 2009 12:43 PM

                        Done that, too! But I do try to use them, as we get the large pies, and saving a few bucks is a good thing!! I have never tried their fruit pies, may do that next time. It is such an easy meal- I make mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce ( stocked up on fresh cranberries this fall), green beans and rolls, and everyone is happy with almost not work involved for me!

                        1. re: macca
                          LindaWhit Mar 26, 2009 12:56 PM

                          Let me know the next time you do that? I'll invite myself over. <vbg>

                    2. re: LindaWhit
                      mcel215 Mar 26, 2009 04:31 PM

                      Calareso's veggies and fruits are great, so is the pizza dough. I don't care for MB's produce too much. Stop & Shop in Stoneham is getting sub par too. I think Roche Bros are over-rated. Just me though.

                      Wilson's, although top notch, is a bit out of my league, price wise.

                      1. re: mcel215
                        LindaWhit Mar 26, 2009 06:27 PM

                        I usually only shop MB for meats and basic staples, but rarely produce, unless it's the only place I'm going to that day. But now knowing that Calareso's produce is good I'll stop there on the way home.

                        1. re: LindaWhit
                          mcel215 Mar 28, 2009 07:50 AM

                          Linda,
                          While you are at Calaresos, check out their pizza dough. I cut it in half, and freeze them both. At 1.99 for those two pounds, if you make homemade pizza it's great dough. Also, I have been making Italian food for over 40 years, and have stopped making meatballs. Calaresos sells 13 in a refrigerator pack for 4.99. They are in a little bit of sauce, and I freeze them to add to my own spaghetti sauce to reheat. Can't beat that price either, and they taste really homemade. Their day old breads/pastry is on the bottom shelf, near the check-out, those are good buys too. I haven't bought any of their marinated meats, but people say they are very good. Also, they have a customer appreciation weekend, coming up at the end of April and slash a lot of their prices.

                          1. re: mcel215
                            LindaWhit Mar 28, 2009 08:17 AM

                            Thanks mcel - I usually get my pizza dough from Trader Joe's (and just used a half package last night for a spinach, goat cheese and caramelized onion pizza for dinner <g>). But very good news for the meatballs as well at Calareso's. I tend not to buy pre-marinated meats, as I like to make my own marinades. Hmmm...I have to go to CVS today to use up some Extra Care dollars, so perhaps a stop up the street at Calareso's is also in order.

                            1. re: LindaWhit
                              LindaWhit Mar 28, 2009 12:30 PM

                              Well, I did stop at Calareso's and I'm not sure what store I was thinking of when I said the produce was "tired" the last time I was there - most definitely not this place! Very nice stuff - stocked back up on sweet onions, red potatoes, got some green beans and some Granny Smiths, and also picked up some strawberries on sale (FL grown). Yes, I know they're not local, but they looked very good (and having just had a few, they taste pretty good.

                              I did see the packages of pizza dough - at 2 lbs./package, these would have been cut in 1/2 lb. portions before freezing, as cutting it in half would still make a pizza WAY too big for just me. What I made last night was just right - half for dinner, half for lunch today. :-)

                              Thanks to macca and mcel215 for the reminder about Calareso's -good prices.

                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                mcel215 Mar 28, 2009 05:54 PM

                                Linda,

                                I cut the dough in half, and make a large pizza. Then I freeze the leftovers, in a ziplock freezer bags. I watched Tyler Florence's tip on reheating pizza to have a crisp crust. You turn on a skillet, let it heat to med-high, for 2 minutes. Put a thawed piece of pizza down, let sit for 2 minutes. Then lower to med-low, cover and heat for 3 minutes. This is my favorite way to have leftover pizza, that once would have tasted like cardboard. On a busy Friday night, coming in from work, it's a five minute delicious dinner.

                                Oh, did you see the bag of baby mescalin greens for about $2.00? At Wilson Farms, they have the same weight bag, selling for double the price.

                                I was at Calareso's today also, love that place! BTW, you don't have to take my word for all of the great things here, lol! You'll discover your own great deals soon enough. ;)

                                1. re: mcel215
                                  LindaWhit Mar 28, 2009 08:14 PM

                                  I enjoy the process of making the pizza, so making a smaller pie is good for me. I enjoy trying different things on my pizzas every single time, and I'm not sure if I froze it if I'd want to have that same one again (i.e., two more dinners from a larger pie). Two is usually good for me.

                                  But thanks for the tip - while at work, I just usually slip the foil-wrapped pizza into the toaster oven, but I like the idea of the skillet heating method!

                                  And I'm looking forward to hitting up Calareso's for produce....while there are still some things I'll buy at Roche Bros. (I like being able to choose a certain # of carrots or celery stalks, like at Wilson Farms), it definitely will be a regular stop for me!

                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                    macca Mar 29, 2009 03:51 AM

                                    glad you had good luck at Calaruso's. Try a smal monkey bread with the extra pizza dough! My neice made one with their dough a few weeks ago. Their dough IS large, as she could not use the entire dough to make the bread.

                  2. l
                    lcool Mar 26, 2009 10:58 AM

                    No change,I have always been a very frugal shopper and a keen menu planner.If you can keep the waste to zero or nearly so there is real $$$ benefit.Also while prepared and so called "short cut" food is going up faster than anything else may basics are holding steady or decreasing in price.We are a from scratch,no processed or convenience food household.
                    I have been very detailed recently as we are moving,not far,but to an all new kitchen.I have a 5 day overlap to move "the pantry" (frig,freezers,wine cellar) and intend to turn key 100%
                    Spending the past 5 weeks working things down with A PLAN has been worth the time,for
                    both peace of mind and $$

                    1. free sample addict aka Tracy L Mar 25, 2009 11:20 PM

                      Yes and yes. I had to because I am single now and have only my income to rely on. By choice as well because I am saving for a pricey vacation. I also choose to spend less because I like the challenge. I have turned what I once thought of as a chore into a pastime.

                      1. Boccone Dolce Mar 25, 2009 06:19 PM

                        I always look for ways to spend less on groceries- and we go out to eat significantly less often than we EVER did.

                        I'd like to think I'm choosing to spend less because I don't like being told I HAVE to do stuff. Seriously, what kind of moron finds joy in paying too much?

                        1. Sam Fujisaka Mar 25, 2009 10:16 AM

                          No change. I've always been a frugal / careful shopper. I buy little meat and no processed foods (unless you count cheeses and dried pasta as "processed"). A concurrent thread on snack foods surprised me in that I haven't even tried any of the snacks mentioned other than some candies as a kid. Actually, I'm a really bad consumer - other than of food. I don't buy much else because I don't really want anything. No longer have costly hobbies like building and racing cars or running a full darkroom. I now do more free diving than scuba; and can't go hunting here. I fish for the pleasure and to eat the fish. My only real shopping is for groceries.

                          18 Replies
                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                            rockandroller1 Mar 25, 2009 10:39 AM

                            " My only real shopping is for groceries." I think this could be a t-shirt that chowhounds could get made up and wear as part of our crazy club. :)

                            1. re: rockandroller1
                              Sam Fujisaka Mar 25, 2009 11:31 AM

                              I'm in!

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                bayoucook Mar 25, 2009 11:39 AM

                                me too!

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                  rockandroller1 Mar 25, 2009 11:46 AM

                                  It just struck such a familiar chord with me, I too am like the worst consumer. I don't buy $800 purses or $300 shoes like other women, or get mani-pedis or any number of other wasteful expenses, I just spend it on food.

                                  1. re: rockandroller1
                                    j
                                    jlafler Mar 25, 2009 05:28 PM

                                    Yes, I have never gotten the "shopping as entertainment and/or therapy" thing. I hate shopping for just about everything except food and books. It's easy to be frugal if you don't enjoy shopping.

                                    1. re: jlafler
                                      alliedawn_98 Mar 26, 2009 09:54 AM

                                      You just described me to a "T"! I've never gotten into shopping therapy or whatever you want to call it. Give me some cash and take me to the grocery stores!

                                2. re: rockandroller1
                                  LindaWhit Mar 25, 2009 12:26 PM

                                  Oh, this *so* works for me! :-)

                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                    bayoucook Mar 28, 2009 07:36 AM

                                    Me too.

                                  2. re: rockandroller1
                                    cayjohan Mar 25, 2009 05:47 PM

                                    So funny...my husband and I joke about our "dates "on the weekend - they're really grocery-shopping outings. In fact, we're finally taking a vacation this year and it's...yep, essentially grocery shopping (I'll post for ideas at a later date).

                                    I'm finding I am actually spending more on groceries than in the past. And doing it with some purpose. I love the single shop ethnic markets and want to support them. I love the farmers I know at the market (please, spring?!)and want to support them as well When I have excess, well...College Son is always there to accept.

                                    I'm relieved that I haven't had to cut down, and will continue my frugal ways, but with the purposeful supporting of those food purveyors that matter to me.

                                    Best,

                                    Cay

                                    1. re: cayjohan
                                      bayoucook Mar 28, 2009 07:39 AM

                                      We have never been on vacations where I didn't scout out the local grocery stores.
                                      Have done so on six continents so far and always always even more so on driving trips (load the car up ya'll!). Husband plays golf, I go to grocery stores.

                                      1. re: bayoucook
                                        Passadumkeg Mar 28, 2009 10:38 AM

                                        We both go to grocery stores!!! Ford porn shopping is sexy.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg
                                          bayoucook Mar 28, 2009 12:45 PM

                                          Yes, Do you know how many people don't "get" us? haha

                                          1. re: bayoucook
                                            Passadumkeg Mar 28, 2009 02:28 PM

                                            Buying sensuous food and wine, going home and cooking and eating it by candle light a major part of our marriage. I'll leave the rest to the imagination.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg
                                              Sam Fujisaka Mar 28, 2009 04:28 PM

                                              Burping, belching, and farting with pleasure?

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                Passadumkeg Mar 28, 2009 04:37 PM

                                                Hell, we do that in the grocery store. You don't know downeast Maine.

                                        2. re: bayoucook
                                          Sam Fujisaka Mar 28, 2009 04:57 PM

                                          In the places I work, I visit spend time in the open air markets. Most places where I work do not have grocery stores. But where there are grocery stores, I spend time in those as well. A few:

                                          Kuta Beach, Bali; Nairobi; Cape Town; Mexico City; Managua and Matagalpa; Panama City; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Bangkok; Antigua, Guatemala; Manaus; Berlin; Jakarta; ...

                                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                      s
                                      Sherri Mar 26, 2009 10:55 AM

                                      "My only real shopping is for groceries."
                                      Sam, are you my mother?

                                      She used to despair, plaintively asking me "when are you going to buy something you can't eat?" I know she wanted me spiffed up in new clothes but I am happier eating something delicious. My money, my decisions.

                                      1. re: Sherri
                                        MGZ Mar 26, 2009 12:17 PM

                                        In a similar vein, whenever anyone asks my wife what might make a good present for me, she has learned to tell them, "Anything that he won't still have in six months." It confuses the hell out of most.

                                    3. Morganna Mar 25, 2009 05:36 AM

                                      My husband and I have always practiced frugality when we shopped. Well, a form of frugality. When money is actually tight, we buy cheaper cuts of meat on sale, we don't buy fancier versions of things, and we make do. When we're not so tight, I'll spend more on better cuts of meat, and some treats. But for the most part, it's a trade off for us. We have a set budget, and we stick within that budget. Sometimes we go over, sometimes under, but usually we're right around the budget mark.

                                      Sometimes that means I'm getting less food overall, because it's a "meat restocking" trip or there were some great sale prices on several cuts at a particular store. But that works fine for us. I have two freezers (a 20 cuft and an 8 cuft), and a 13X6 pantry completely lined with shelves. So I buy things on sale, in bulk, and stock up.

                                      I like having options, and we could survive at least two full months on the food supplies that we keep on hand. So if one of us was out of work, we could go with just "milk and veg" trips if we had to.

                                      And "central Vermont" is all I'll say. ;D You can't come to my place when the entire economy fully collapses and we're reduced to bartering! ;)

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: Morganna
                                        greygarious Mar 25, 2009 12:15 PM

                                        I read an article not long ago about how supermarkets use their preferred customar cards to track consumers' buying habits. There was a rather derogatory term for people like me, who shop just the sale items - I think it was "barnacle". Does anyone remember if that's the word?

                                        1. re: greygarious
                                          Morganna Mar 25, 2009 12:56 PM

                                          Of all the bloody cheek! They can kiss my frugal bum!

                                          1. re: Morganna
                                            Ruth Lafler Mar 25, 2009 03:44 PM

                                            Who cares! They offer the deals, we take them up on them. If we don't fall for the rest of the marketing ploy, then so be it!

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                              Morganna Mar 26, 2009 03:33 AM

                                              I suppose that's fair enough. :) I do like those loss leader sales they have. ;D

                                              1. re: Morganna
                                                Ruth Lafler Mar 26, 2009 08:56 AM

                                                It's kind of like the coupon discussion. It's not like we walked into the store and persuaded them to give us a deal, then didn't hold up our end of it. Putting the items on sale was their choice. If it didn't have the effect they were hoping for, that's not the customer's problem.

                                          2. re: greygarious
                                            j
                                            janeh Mar 25, 2009 01:59 PM

                                            I usually use the names of Disney characters on supermarket "preferred customer" cards. How dare they refer to C. Deville or S. White or M. Mouse as a "barnacle"!

                                            1. re: janeh
                                              alliedawn_98 Mar 26, 2009 09:52 AM

                                              I know that Kroger-owned stores do track your buying habits on the cards. I get coupons in the mail and the letter that comes with them, says something about trying to help me save on the items I buy most. I do try to stick to their loss leader sales but usually end up buying a few other items at the same time. If they want to call me a barnacle, go ahead! If you don't want me to shop your sales, don't advertise them!

                                              1. re: alliedawn_98
                                                coney with everything Mar 27, 2009 06:15 AM

                                                Love those Kroger coupons, especially the ones for a free quart of Haagen Dazs!

                                                They also used the tracking to call me about the peanut recall affecting a box of cereal I had bought (and already consumed!).

                                                1. re: coney with everything
                                                  alliedawn_98 Mar 27, 2009 11:23 AM

                                                  I love the coupons, too! I get so excited when they come in the mail. I look at it as every little bit I can save using those and I usually use them along with a sale on the item, means that I can splurge on something else!

                                                  1. re: alliedawn_98
                                                    Ruth Lafler Mar 27, 2009 03:21 PM

                                                    That's how I look at it as well -- sometimes it might seem odd to be buying expensive cheese while clutching a handful of coupons, but if you save money somewhere it doesn't matter, you can spend it where it does!

                                            2. re: greygarious
                                              coll Mar 30, 2009 08:53 AM

                                              I read recently that credit card companies call customers that pay off their balance every month "dead beats". I guess our world is opposite to theirs.

                                              1. re: coll
                                                Ruth Lafler Mar 30, 2009 09:38 AM

                                                LOL. Well, we're using their service and not paying for it, so I guess that's a form of being a dead beat. They probably don't like that when I have a balance I transfer it between cards using their zero percent balance transfer offers until it's paid down. But I'm just taking advantage of what they're offering!

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                  coll Mar 30, 2009 10:45 AM

                                                  I did that many times myself. They can call me whatever they want, I'm crying all the way to the bank!

                                                2. re: coll
                                                  j
                                                  jlafler Apr 1, 2009 12:21 PM

                                                  And they still make money off every transaction, since the merchant has to pay a fee.

                                            3. alliedawn_98 Mar 24, 2009 05:32 PM

                                              I've always tried to be a smart shopper. For several years, I've made menus based on sales or what was in the freezer or pantry and made a list so I have everything I need for the week. My significant other's work has been cut back a lot...2-3 days a week for a few months now so I've tried to cut back even more. Changing our eating habits back in mid-January helped a lot. Of course, I'm spending a lot of what used to be the meat budget (eating smaller portions now, not cutting completely) on more vegetables but I have been able to decrease my spending by $25-75 a week (depends on the sales, some weeks are better than others). I do use some store bought condiments but mostly cook everything from scratch. We garden in summer so that has helped a lot but I am down to one quart of chopped peppers, one quart of green beans, and maybe 10 quarts of tomatoes now.

                                              1. w
                                                wolfmonk Mar 24, 2009 02:35 PM

                                                I've run into a little bit of a financial bump and have started being much more economical than before. Before (as in before last month) I still watched for sales etc., as money was still tight, but now I've begun eating more in the way of rice and beans etc. If nothing else it's a good challenge to come up with things that are tasty, relatively healthy, and still cheap. I have also started baking more - cornbread, cookies etc, which I rarely did before. I'm much better at cooking than baking - the precision required of baking eludes me - antithetical to my personality almost. I've been doing okay, though and am learning.

                                                1. kchurchill5 Mar 24, 2009 11:14 AM

                                                  Both, was married for 20 years so I cooked most nights and we entertained on weekends or BBQ or neighborhood parties. Not fancy but always cooked good. Now single and working 2x as much I eat differently. I don't have time to spend 2 hrs cooking and usually only 30 minutes at 9, 10 or 11 at night when I'm home. So yes, that with the economy I have changed a lot of what I used to make. Economy by far has influenced me. But I still try to cook good.

                                                  I always try to be frugal but still offer good food. I love organic and fresh and the best of the best but to be honest ... most of my friends will NOT know the difference and honestly, I can taste the difference with somethings but not all. I made a great salmon grilled on a cedar plank with a light chipolte glaze. I used grocery store bought salmon and a friend also bought great salmon from a fish market ... top of the line. Well I served her the cheap and I tasted 1 piece of each, so did my friend who is a local chef. Neither one of us could tell the difference and my friend who bought the $$ stuff can't praising how much better hers was. She even tasted some of our (which was the same) And she still raved how much better hers was. So... many times ... a good steak maybe some good pork, who knows. But I learned that the name or $$ doesn't always mean better ...

                                                  I made scallops, just store bought with a orange and grapefruit butter, over sauteed spinach, pine nuts, grilled sweet potato, a nice wine and desert. Under 8 per person. Not bad. Is frugal or just smart or is that the same. It was grocery store bought shrimp (very nice), average wine, pre crumbled gorgonzola cheese, and pre bagged lettuce too. They didn't haven't any fresh and I wasn't going to pay a fortune at Mortons for fresh when this looked great and very fresh.

                                                  So frugal, maybe, but still love good food. My dinner was awesome and I would use it for catering but I choose to eat SMART but still healthy and still have fun. I think you can use a great combo.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: kchurchill5
                                                    cayjohan Mar 24, 2009 01:46 PM

                                                    >Is frugal or just smart or is that the same.<

                                                    Great point.

                                                    Cay

                                                    1. re: cayjohan
                                                      kchurchill5 Mar 24, 2009 03:14 PM

                                                      Myabe 2 points ... who knows

                                                      How about you can be smart and splurge now and then, but you can't splurge when you are trying to be frugal. Or maybe I'm just rambling :)

                                                  2. jfood Mar 24, 2009 11:07 AM

                                                    The jfoods went empty nesters a few months ago and cooking for two is a breeze. They buy in one supermarket and one produce market. And they like the challenge of preparing around the specials fromthe store. But in fairness this week is easy with strip steaks at $6/lb. and whole B&E chickens at <$2. Produce they go to a store on the way home from jfood's office that buys in smaller quantities, are less expensive and have great quality.

                                                    And BTW with my two legged sisters out of the house there seems to be a few more scraps coming my way.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                      Passadumkeg Mar 26, 2009 06:38 PM

                                                      Yes, after 5 kids, we too are usually empty nesters. Although we still have kids in college, I find I splurge on better cheeses and cuts of meat.

                                                    2. bayoucook Mar 24, 2009 10:30 AM

                                                      Not cutting back, always been common-sensible(?) about groceries. Always been just the two of us and we love good food. Retired now, so plenty of time to cook from scratch.

                                                      1. cassoulady Mar 24, 2009 10:13 AM

                                                        I am spending the same amount as always but making a real effort not to waste food. This is because I felt I was tossing a lot of food because of poor planning. Now, I am planning my shopping and meals more and being more creative with leftovers.One recent thing I havebeen doing with leftover baguette is slicing it thin and freezing the slices then using the slices for crostini. With a little Olive oil and a few min under the broiler they are great. Previously, this is an item I would have tossed, so I happy to put it to use.

                                                        1. rockandroller1 Mar 24, 2009 09:53 AM

                                                          We have always been frugal, but are now moreso, for choice, for 2 reasons. 1) we have had layoffs at both my job and mr. rockandroller's job, and have been told there will be more layoffs this year. 2) we are hoping to buy a house and have been trying to save more. If we make it through the next layoffs, we may go ahead with the house which will necessitate probably even more food cost cuts. Third, even though it wasn't originally mentioned, speaks to both points - food is the only place in our budget we can cut. We can't get our credit card or loan bills any lower, or our utilities. We don't have "extra" expenses to cut (we don't drink lattes or anything like that, I've never had a pedicure and only had a manicure once for my wedding 6 years ago, we don't get clothes dry cleaned, we don't buy fresh flowers, we don't go to the movies, etc, etc, etc).

                                                          1. b
                                                            beachmouse Mar 24, 2009 09:38 AM

                                                            A little bit less. We aren't so much cutting back on quality but trying to be better about food waste. I used to be rather hit or miss about looking through the fridge and cupboards before going to the store and seeing current inventory. There days, I always do so we don't buy what we don't need.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: beachmouse
                                                              cayjohan Mar 24, 2009 01:43 PM

                                                              beachmouse, the waste issue is one I relate to! Not that I was ever cavalier about food, but I wasn't thinking *enough* about the leftovers and what was front and center in the fridge and pantry. Our food waste, while never much to begin with, has gone done (and thank you to my guinea pigs for eating my peelings! :-) )

                                                              I don't want to moralize too much, but I find food waste to be an ethical issue.

                                                              Cay

                                                              1. re: cayjohan
                                                                Ruth Lafler Mar 24, 2009 05:07 PM

                                                                I agree with both of you! I've been trying to cut down on food waste for a while now (long before the current "crisis"). Since I'm single, that means I often find it more economical to shop in full-service specialty stores where I can buy only as much (or as little) as I need, instead of a prepackaged amount meant for more people. Yesterday, for example, I went to my local market hall and bought one organic Yukon gold potato, one shallot, about three ounces of wild boar bacon, three macarons, etc. I got delicious, high quality food and didn't spend a lot of money. I've also been trying to use up some of the backlog of food in my pantry. Food that you've bought that just sits on a shelf is another form of waste.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                  kchurchill5 Mar 24, 2009 05:27 PM

                                                                  It is amazing what you can make out of a pantry. I love to buy a large quantity, cook and bag, but sometimes space forbids that. I Just bought 3 lbs of ground turkey and froze it is 5 pouches. 5 dinner with pantry, stuff. The same with chicken thighs bonless skinless. But you are right, I can go to the market on Sat am and get a couple of squash, tomatoes, peppers (3 for a dollar), onions, kale, spinach, anything, fruits, you name if for like 10.00. It makes an entire week of food. I love the fresh criminis, asparagus, squash, greens, brussel sprouts, and eggplants. I wouldn't know what to do without the market.

                                                                  Some beans, diced tomatoes and pasta or rice and dinner is made ... I guess Frugal but also smart

                                                            2. BobB Mar 24, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                              No change, and not frugal at all where food is concerned.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: BobB
                                                                BobB Mar 25, 2009 10:21 AM

                                                                By which I mean to say, I'm not wasteful, just very self-indulgent. ;-)

                                                              2. greygarious Mar 24, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                                I've always been a frugal shopper, basing my shopping list on the sales flyer. In general, whenever there's something on TV about how to cut your grocery costs, utility bills, etc., it's stuff I've done all my life.

                                                                This past winter, of necessity, I used online grocery shopping and delivery several times. The chain has no minimum order, the same prices as in-store, and a $10 delivery charge that is usually negated by some form of promotional offer for online shopping. Not everything on their shelves is listed on their site, but most of it is, and I found it was economical in the sense that it saves gas and precludes impulse purchases. Ordering online makes comparison shopping very easy. Initially I was hesitant because of not being able to select produce and meats, but the site allows very specific requests. e.g., I like small Granny Smiths that are deep green with white spotting, and I have been completely satisfied with the quality I've received. For families with children, where having to take them on grocery shopping trips means being nagged into buying all the junk food on the lower shelves, home delivery could be a money-saver.

                                                                1. r
                                                                  RosemaryHoney Mar 24, 2009 07:13 AM

                                                                  We've always been very frugal in all aspects of our lives except groceries! Well, at least I feel like we're not frugal with food. We buy a lot of organic meats, dairy, and produce, but also a lot of bulk grains, beans, and virtually no processed foods, so I'd say we come in around what the average family spends.

                                                                  But we haven't changed our habits since the economy has slipped, though I have noticed prices have increased in the last year or two, as queencru mentioned. I used to be able to get out of the store for less than $100, and now it's around $135-$150, and I haven't changed what I buy.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: RosemaryHoney
                                                                    KayceeK Mar 24, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                                    I'm similar to RosemaryHoney, in that I've been cutting back in other areas specifically to have a little extra wiggle room for at the grocery store! That said, I do pay more attention to proteins that are on sale...so if I set out wanting to have steaks and notice a particular cut on sale, I'll go for it. Or if I feel like stir-fry and chicken breasts are on the cheap, it's chinese chicken night.

                                                                  2. macca Mar 24, 2009 06:52 AM

                                                                    Not cutting back- I have always been one to shop carefully- produce from the farm, stock up on meats when they are on sale, trips to Trader Joes and BJ's, etc.

                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                    1. re: macca
                                                                      LindaWhit Mar 24, 2009 09:46 AM

                                                                      Same here. No real change, and I try to check sale flyers from the stupidmarkets and buy on sale. Veggies are probably the only thing I buy at whatever price they are, but do try and *not* buy something like asparagus in February. (And I rarely buy veggies at Trader Joe's, although some broccoli I got there last week was very good.) Otherwise, I still use coupons (mostly for non-food items), still shop the supermarket flyers, and make my choices of what to buy that way.

                                                                      I still, on occasion, buy a specialty item - a few weeks ago, it was Greek thyme honey and a jar of ajvar at a Greek market in Arlington, MA. Should I have spent the money? Perhaps not - especially when I have 4 types of honey in my pantry...just not Greek thyme honey. My justification is that I'm saving elsewhere on my food purchases, so I can still afford to indulge like this once in awhile.

                                                                      However, as I said in the other thread, I'm currently "shopping from my freezer" as I've got a good stockpile in the chest freezer in the basement and in my pie safe pantry and the space below the stairs.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        macca Mar 24, 2009 10:56 AM

                                                                        I dont get my vegetables at TJ's either- we make the trek to Wilson Farms. I wish I could get a freezer in my basement- but we would have to remove the stairs to get a freezer down there. We do splurge every now and then- love the prepared scalloped potatoes from Wilsons- they are pricey, but we get them every once in a while.

                                                                        1. re: macca
                                                                          LindaWhit Mar 24, 2009 01:48 PM

                                                                          I also try and go to Wilson Farms - took my sister (lives on the South Shore) there a few weeks ago, and she said "this place is CRAZY, but they have lots of good....OOOH! Apple cider donuts - *get* them!" LOL So there's an impulse buy I ended up making in addition to the honey and ajvar - although she she did pay me for half of the apple cider doughnuts. :-)

                                                                          As for my splurges at Wilson's - I haven't bought any of their prepared foods (although the case is inviting!), but that's where I usually buy my duck breasts. That's usually the most expensive thing I buy there...and then, only about 3x a year.

                                                                          I do love that place, tho. T'would be very dangerous if I lived any closer. :-)

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                            macca Mar 24, 2009 01:52 PM

                                                                            We live in Melrose, and make the trip about 9 am on Saturdays. No traffic on the way, and no crowds once we get there. Maybe I will splurge on their duck breasts soon- so good on the grill.

                                                                            1. re: macca
                                                                              LindaWhit Mar 24, 2009 01:55 PM

                                                                              You actually live a bit further away than I do - I'm in Woburn, and I always forget about going there until noontime on a Sat/Sunday. ::::smacking my forehead:::: It's a *major* DUH! moment every single time I pull into that horrible parking lot (unless I go to the upper lot).

                                                                              But their veggies are worth it - especially when it comes from their farm in the summer!

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                macca Mar 24, 2009 02:19 PM

                                                                                First thing Sturday am- we can get in and out of there in less than an hour. If I am not stopping anywhere else ( lots of times we stop at TJ's in Burlington) I can leave my house and be home in an hour! And if I go to my local Shaw's, it takes me almost as long, as it is so poorly run. But- to stay OT, I find that even with higher prices at Wilsons, we still save money on our produce, as they waste is almost zero.

                                                                          2. re: macca
                                                                            Will Owen Mar 24, 2009 05:49 PM

                                                                            macca, when we were in Nashville and had the '30s monitor-top as our only fridge, we HAD to have a freezer. I found a little chest freezer of about 5 cu ft at Circuit City for less than $200 - in fact it had a tiny dent, so it was not much more than half that. It had about the same footprint as a dorm fridge (I know, because we got one of those as a backup too!) and was light enough for two people to carry down the very narrow stairs to the basement. You couldn't put a side of beef in there, but it would hold a good supply of vegetables, containers of homemade juice and broth and leftovers, plus a bag of ice for drinks. My next appliance purchase is going to be another one of those for the garage, since we no longer have a basement.

                                                                            To answer the OP, I've actually gotten a bit more extravagant, as I'm just too busy to do the long forays out to the dirt-cheap Asian and Latino markets that I used to. We are eating fewer big meals, though, and very easy on the potatoes and pasta, so a typical supper is some frozen fish from Trader Joe's and a leafy veg or green salad. Not dirt cheap but cheapish.

                                                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                                                              macca Mar 25, 2009 05:04 AM

                                                                              Will have to check out the small ones ( not at Circuit City of course!),. My cellar entrance is odd- you come in the door, then have to make an immediate right onto a small platform, and then an immediate left to get onto the cellar stairs. Nothing fits! It was a pain when we had to get a new furnace a few years ago!
                                                                              To keep on topic, have not tried the Asian or LAtino markets, but that may be fun to check out.

                                                                              1. re: macca
                                                                                LindaWhit Mar 25, 2009 06:11 AM

                                                                                macca, check out Gray's Appliance website. They have several small chest freezers that *might* work for you. (They have a separate scroll bar on that page - look for the "Next" link in the bottom right for for additional freezers.)

                                                                                Several small 5 cubic foot ones that are I think what Will is talking about. Of course, I don't know what Gray's prices are like - but at least they're close to you. :-)

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                  macca Mar 25, 2009 06:30 AM

                                                                                  Thanks for the heads up. Actually, we buy all of our appliances at Grays- the servie is wonderful. Will check it out, as I would really love a freezer.

                                                                                  1. re: macca
                                                                                    LindaWhit Mar 25, 2009 07:06 AM

                                                                                    Very soon, macca buying a few chickens on sale to store in that freezer...and probably making lots of homemade chicken stock to store in same said freezer. :-)

                                                                                    1. re: macca
                                                                                      Ruth Lafler Mar 25, 2009 09:50 AM

                                                                                      You might want to look at upright freezers as well -- there are some smallish models. Unless you're very organized, chest freezers are hard to find stuff in.

                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                        macca Mar 25, 2009 10:03 AM

                                                                                        You are right- except I can only get a freezer that will fit thru the three doorways into my cellar. It is a sharp right and immediate sharp left to get to my cellar stairs, and so far, we have not found anything that will go through without removing the stairs!

                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                          mcel215 Mar 26, 2009 09:20 AM

                                                                                          I have a small Avanti 3.0 cf upright freezer. It has four basket/shelves and fits a ton of stuff in it. I had to go with certain dimensions because it had to fit into my kitchen closet.
                                                                                          I have been so happy with it and it's energy saver tag, says it cost $25.00 dollars to run yearly!
                                                                                          I love it.

                                                                                          1. re: mcel215
                                                                                            kchurchill5 Mar 26, 2009 04:58 PM

                                                                                            I use a friends chest freezer which he doesn't use. He travels 90% of the year and his tenant travels as well so I am sort of the house sitter. In return. I use hi freezer and put whatever I need in there. Close by but still I have to drive there. I have a turkey, ham, some chicken, meat, stock and a few things. However not knowing when I will get home makes it hard to plan meals and at 9, 10 or 11 at night you definitely don't want to be involved in cooking something for 3 hours. So I do freeze a lot, save casserole and other things I can heat quick. So I have definitely cut back in a sense. I make more of each meal and save some for later.

                                                                                            I always cooked smart but I guess I watch it more and more these days.

                                                                          3. c
                                                                            Cachetes Mar 24, 2009 06:47 AM

                                                                            I replied in the other thread, but I'll throw in here: we are cutting back not out of necessity, but opportunity. We want to buy a house, and are putting together a down payment.

                                                                            1. LNG212 Mar 24, 2009 06:44 AM

                                                                              The only change we've made to our grocery purchasing habits is that we are buying slightly less cheese. This is because DH's cholesterol numbers were a little high. Other than that, we have made no changes, and (at least so far) have no plans to do so.

                                                                              1. j
                                                                                Janet from Richmond Mar 24, 2009 06:24 AM

                                                                                No change here.

                                                                                1. q
                                                                                  queencru Mar 24, 2009 06:21 AM

                                                                                  I think the issue for a lot of people is that prices have gone up dramatically in the last few years. For many items I've bought, I've seen as much as a 50% increase in price since 2006 and the prices don't seem to be going back down. My only real change is that I buy more items on sale and I'm still spending $10-20 more a week on average than I spent in 2006 without buying significantly different items.

                                                                                  1. MGZ Mar 24, 2009 06:14 AM

                                                                                    I had been wondering the same thing, Cay. Is it necessity or fear that is changing people's consumption patterns?

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MGZ
                                                                                      cayjohan Mar 24, 2009 02:47 PM

                                                                                      Yep MGZ, that's sort of the root of my query. And here's a corollary: Are we as a community enjoying the lesser consumption (say, home cooking and bargain shopping) more than the greater consumption (say, convenience shopping and take out)?

                                                                                      Really interested to know, as I'm pretty transparent in which I prefer but still wonder what's driving this grocery store downturn: necessity or perception...or pleasure at the table once more with *simpler* food (read: not processed, high-priced, "pre-prepared," higher profit margin...yadda, yadda, yadda...?

                                                                                      Best,
                                                                                      Cay

                                                                                      1. re: cayjohan
                                                                                        s
                                                                                        Sal Vanilla Mar 26, 2009 11:18 AM

                                                                                        Grocery stores are actually doing quite well right now. Transport costs have gone back down and people are cooking more at home than going out.

                                                                                        Having read the posts here and thinking about the makeup of CH's - it makes perfect sense that they have not necessarily changing what they are making or buying food wise and are maybe sacrificing in other areas to do so.

                                                                                        I know tons of non food obsessed who have cut their grocery spending so they can get their coffees on the way to work and clothing as the season changes.

                                                                                        Give me something delicious to eat and drink and I am perfectly happy wearing things a decade old... probably with an unidentifiable food stain splashed across the chest. It is my very own logo!

                                                                                        1. re: Sal Vanilla
                                                                                          Ruth Lafler Mar 26, 2009 05:18 PM

                                                                                          I still wear things that are more than a decade old (although I do my best to get out the food stains).

                                                                                    2. ipsedixit Mar 23, 2009 11:22 PM

                                                                                      No change.

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