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Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle


My name is Kathryn, and I am a frugal.
I was in a discussion on another thread, discussing the high cost of groceries, and they suggested I start a new one.

My suggestion that $25pp a week is plenty for groceries, and that if you spent more than that, it wasn't really unnecessary.
I do not prefer to buy organic or other restrictive products.(grassfed, free-range). We take advantage of free food (gleaning, scanning code of practice), loss leaders, reduced foods and sales.

My husband and I have rasied 4 children, with one parent being home for most of this time.We paid off our home and used the equity to finance buying rental properties when we were in our early forties. Within 6 years, we were able to live solely on the rent collected.
We certainly wouldn't have been able to achieve this on our very modest income (approx $30k) if we hadn't embraced a modest, frugal lifestyle.
We now travel 8 months of the year in Australia, and return to Canada for the remaining 4. While in Australia, we housesit for people,and all we need to supply is our food. In between these housesit times we live in our 2006 van.

In 1980,we started out with a 2 bedroom mobile on a rented lot. Bought a piece of land to build a house. Sold the mobile to start the house, and worked lots of overtime while my husband and my brother built our house.We ended up taking out a small personal loan to finish off the interior.
When the first child was a year old old the house was paid for, and I knew I hated working and being a parent. We made the decision for me to stay home.Our family increased.

We sold this house 8 years later and bought a larger one. Paid off that mortgage asap.(within 5 years). I provided childcare in my home for neighbours. After the house was paid off we continued to save our mortgage payment.We maxed out our RRSP (Canada), but soon realised we cannot save our way to wealth.

We were always frugal. Before the children were even coneived, we had bags and bags of babyclothes that we purchased at yardsales. I would plant potatoes and vegetable seeds all around our property, before we made a garden. We would buy everything on sale, and second hand as much as possible. We eventually went down to one vehicle. Being frugal is a process, which we learned as we went along.

Some people think being frugal is to denying yourself. On the contrary. It is more about liberating yourself. It does certainly reduce stress.
Just find out what you want and how to get it cheaper.
Last year we needed a new couch. We have the funds to buy a new one, but instead we searched on Kijiji and found someone who had just bought a new couch and wanted to get rid of their old one. We paid $50 and took it home.
Many times during spring/fall cleanups people would dispose of their microwaves, bread makers, dvd players. The most common fault is a fuse. We have acquired many washer and dryers just because people wanted to buy a matching set...or it just needed a simple repair. My husband is very handy.

The great part about being frugal it is continuing learning lesson.The internet is a vast place to find information.
I like to make applesauce.Did you know you can use the cores and peelings to obtain pectin, and make jelly with? Imagine that!

My tshirt was stained and I was going to throw it away. Instead I cut it into kleenex sized squares. Now I use them for messes and toss them in the laundry.
When my towels get a hole, I cut them into wash cloths.When they get ratty, I use them for rags.

Why be frugal?
For me it is a sense of a challenge. How can I find another use.Everything I can use once more, is one less thing to buy.If I can buy it secondhand, it is saving another product from needlessly being produced. This is all good for the environment.

Too much debt is bad for the economy. How many times have you heard people say they are drowning in debt. Most of their paycheques are going towards repayments.If they could have just bought more wisely, or waited a while to save for the item, they would be better off financially.

When people get to the point where they think they need to declare bankruptcy, it is mostly because of poor decisions they made along the way. They didn't disconnect their cable. Didn't turn down their a/c or heat.Bought a vehicle that they couldn't afford.
They didn't bunk up and take in a roommate. Take odd jobs. Rent out the house and rent somewhere cheaper.Stop buying takeout food and coffee.Mostly they just stick their heads in the sand.
We,as consumers, end up paying more, when others declare bankruptcy.

So being frugal, can help in many ways.
Please share your frugal suggestions.
If you need help, ask...and we will to try to offer assisstance.

  1. Do you advocate spending money for Internet service for the purposes of research, coupons, sales and specials advertised online. I ask mainly because having a PC/laptop, a printer, ink cartridges, paper and the connection to the Net all cost $$ out of a monthly budget. Where does using the Net to save on food figure in for you in frugality?

    I'd love to hear how you raised four kids this way without any food battles.

    28 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      This 2006 van you live in part of the year, does it have a kitchen, a refrigerator, a stove ? Is it down by the river ?

      1. re: SteveRB

        It is just a regular van with a double bed. We have a portable fridge and hotplate and a gas camp stove. We carry our food supplies in tote containers.
        Sometimes we stay at free camping places, and others we utilise camp grounds.

      2. re: HillJ

        Internet is important. For me, I don't use it for food purchases, but more for entertainment...but I love the frugal subject. I save money by searching for recipes, frugal tips.

        I rarely print anything off, except for our business.(leases etc)
        I used to coupon and rebate. As I got older, I realised these for foods were for stuff I normally wouldn't buy. Coupons are very restrictiive for us, and not like the Extreme Couponers, like we see on tv.

        Food battles:
        If we bought treats, such as popsicles, they were portioned out.
        We didn't allow unlimited access to food. Milk was one glass per day. Juice was one glass per day. If you were still thirsty, drink water.
        Plates were usually served by us, otherwise there wouldn't be any left (especially when they became teenagers)
        They knew how to make cheap snacks such as pancakes,hotdogs or we had a popcorn popper.

        1. re: kathryn_dayle

          So what you're actually talking about is restricting food, i.e., keeping people from eating.

          How do you portion out a popsicle?

          1. re: Jay F

            Yeah, as the youngest of 5 and a borderline poverty-level mom of 2, I have issues with the food restrictions... I think some restricting is called "parenting", some is called "budgeting" and some is called "creating future therapy bills and/or serious food disorders." Food is not just sustenance - it is comfort, it is culture, it is sociability...I have also suffered from almost every eating disorder available in my youth, and thankfully came out the other side able to butter a slice of bread without inflicting bodily harm in one extreme or the other, but it was a long journey to get there.

            I post simply to say: when you make food about control, you make someone's entire LIFE about control - the struggle to gain it, retain it, submit to it...because food is too much a part of life to not have that eke in to everything. Please, budget, be frugal, you don't have to make your kitchen an open party zone, but tread carefully when making food a battleground. My child's well-being (in body and mind) is more important to me than an extra glass of milk.

            1. re: thursday

              When milk is $6 a gallon, and they drink one glassful, that is all the calcium they require. If they are thirsty, there are other choices.
              Other foods also have calcium, so I was not not concerned they were going to be deficent.

              I've read on some threads, where the husband and kids drink a gallon a day.

              1. re: kathryn_dayle

                You're right that it's not about deficiency - my two year old goes through a gallon of organic whole milk in about a week, maybe less. He loves the stuff. He's a skinny marink that doesn't like to sit still to eat, so I don't mind giving him a glass of milk at every meal and most snack times so that I know he's getting some protein - and he doesn't eat junk; he's never even had a bite of processed food (pre-bought, etc.) We make everything from scratch.

                My point was about the psychological implications of such restrictions. Food is not just about vitamins, or just about cost, as many others have pointed out. It's about enjoyment. When you make food, and one's relationship with it, less than the complex, intricate, intertwined relationship that it, by its very nature, is and must be, you create potential problems in other areas. This is one of the first things I had to learn to recover from eating disorders: food is a different thing than other consumables, and to treat it the way you might treat a pair of socks, or a haircut, is to not give it the respect it deserves as an essential part of our emotional makeup, not to mention its role in society, whether as a cultural or economic touchstone.

                1. re: thursday

                  <<not to mention its role in society>>
                  ESPECIALLY when the society is made up of other kids who are not necessarily kind to those kids who eat differently from "the norm".
                  whether i rationally or intellectually agreed with it, i still made all sorts of allowances so that my kid could fit in at school.

                  no one is more lonely than an elementary school kid who is not welcome to sit at anyone else's table at lunch and must sit alone because s/he is not eating the "right" food.

                  i have a friend who grew up REALLY poor. he used to get a used brown paper bag every day and rub some grease in it and bring the empty bag to school saying that he had eaten his lunch on the way to school. that way the other kids wouldn't know how poor he was and that he really never was given any food for lunch. to this day he has food issues.

                2. re: kathryn_dayle

                  One 8 ounce glass of milk provides 300mg of calcium which is less than 1/3 or even 1/4 of what a child needs (depending on age). And the vast majority of children are NOT getting the amount they require. Google was my friend on this one. I checked several sites for this info. We had a glass of milk with each meal. Always. Fruit juice with a couple of oatmeal cookies as an after school snack.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Non-fat dried milk is a thrifty option. I don't think I'd make my kid drink it unless I were really on a strict, strict budget (and if I were, I'd hope public assistance would be available to me), but I think it's better than milk only once per day.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Agreed. My family wasn't poor but we didn't have a ton of money to throw around. We ate more hamburger than steak, more tuna salad than shrimp. But milk was always available.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        We ate a lot of peanut butter, beans, popcorn, canned tuna, ground beef. We shopped at the day old bakery. And milk was never limited, but we weren't allowed to have pop either.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Coke (I grew up in Atlanta so it was ALWAYS Coke) was a very, very special treat, as in maybe half dozen times a year.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Oh gawd yes...Coke really WAS it, even up in New England...and occasionally we'd see a Cotts. In our house, I got to share a 12 oz can of Coke with my dad every Sunday. I would swallow that 6oz like a guppy, so it's good (in retrospect), that my mom rationed it. I am amazed at the soda/sportsdrink consumption that I see among the kids I teach.

                            In New England sometimes you'd get The Dreaded Moxie, which the grownups loved, but the kids drank under duress due to the bitter herbal tang.

                            1. re: pinehurst

                              <Oh gawd yes...Coke really WAS it, even up in New England>

                              My father's most egregious bit of cheapitude, year after year, was that he would only buy Brand X soda, usually at Shop-Rite, the cheapest place in town.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                See, you were a budding Chowhound even then. You could tell the diff between Brand X and Coke. Lots of my cousins would have guzzled swamp water if it had fizz and sugar. :-)

                                1. re: Jay F

                                  Ugh. I'd rather have Coke once a year than Brand X every week. And when Costco switched from Coke to Pepsi, I switched to water. And, yes, I can pick out Coke (or Cocola as we called it) blindfolded. There's frugality and then there's ridiculous-ness!

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    That reminds me of my first summer at day camp. I was probably 7 or 8. We had to brown-bag it every day and my parents included a can of no-name pop. Adding insult to injury this was just after pull-tops started appearing on soda cans, which didn't show up on no-name sodas for years after the big brands had them. So I not only had the crappy pop but I had to carry a churchkey (which would now be classified as a weapon) to open it.

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      Clearly a case of abuse of authority! And I'm sure they then had to pay tons for therapy.

                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                            <and if I were, I'd hope public assistance would be available to me>

                            The OP is living the way people, who had very little, lived before public assistance actually existed.
                            I don't get the impression she has malnourished her children.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              I was describing my own experience growing up and what we ate, not the OP's experience. We had very little. If I had to live like that again, it would be very difficult and I'd want every resource available to me to feed my family. We also had an additional complication in that we had some very serious food allergies to contend with which made certain otherwise very affordable foods, namely eggs, off-limits for us. I wish tofu (and support for those with food allergies) had been as readily available then as it is now.

                              We were fortunate enough to live in a mild climate (unlike the one I live in now) where fruit and nut trees and a garden grew easily, so we had access to a lot of fresh produce most of the year.

                              Very difficult times I would not want to re-live.


                              1. re: latindancer

                                latindancer: i do get that impression

                                <<When milk is $6 a gallon, and they drink one glassful, that is all the calcium they require.>>

                                Have you seen the size of people..most are obese.
                                That is because they are overeating.>>

                                the mind-set of cutting the kids' food down to what the poster (incorrectly) perceives as the bare minimum gives me that impression.
                                when it is seen as perfectly ok to skimp on the extra 38 cents (which it would have cost to provide a second glass of milk). . . . .

                                truly, latindancer, if you were trying to save money to buy rental property, would you chose to cut down the extra 38 cents per day per kid to limit milk to one cup a day rather than 2 cups a day?

                                would you try to justify such a limitation by citing childhood obesity?

                            2. re: c oliver

                              Yes. And many of us on the boards (if we're 40+) remember milkmen. My father used to joke that he was going to buy a cow since I drank so much of the whole milk that was delivered from the local farm twice weekly. Of course, we also kept a glass jug of iced tap water in the fridge, too, for when we were thirsty (our city water is/was good, and there was no bottled water then). And there was always a pot of tea or coffee hot and ready (heavily milked down if you were a youngun).

                              I do recall, on the flip of this, frugality when it came to our protein, which we also consumed in good amounts. During the summer, we had a lot of mackerel, bluefish, trout and the like....things my dad or his friends would catch in large amounts and share, when they had time to fish. My uncles hunted longer than my dad did, and shared what they caught (rabbit, venison, pheasant). We ate a lot of canned tuna and salmon. My mom...who normally bought whole chickens rather than turkeys since we were only 3...could make a work week's worth of meals out of that bird.

                              Also like a lot of you on the boards, we "shared the wealth" garden-wise, which is easier to do when your family were farmers in the old country, and when they have access to good size plots for gardening. We'd get gifted with onions (which we didn't grow), and occasionally berries.

                              But it was a different age. My dad was born in 1922, and didn't become a father until he was almost 50. Men of that generation could often--and did--work at a job with one company until they chose to retire, and then retire with the same excellent benefits and an excellent pension. His was a generation that remembered well the Great Depression, and never wasted a dime frivolously, but for him, frivolity would have been junk food, not a really active milkman.

                          3. re: thursday

                            Thursday, your kids are lucky to have you.

                          4. re: Jay F

                            You tell them they can have one a day.

                            Have you seen the size of people..most are obese.
                            That is because they are overeating.

                            1. re: kathryn_dayle

                              Oh. When you said "portion out a popsicle," I thought you meant you got out a knife and cut it into however many pieces as you have kids.

                              1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                I think you're missing Thursday's point - putting such restrictions on food can cause very disordered relationships down the line. You can teach them the value of money through other means,

                                It's one thing to teach them to only take as much as they plan to eat/drink or educate them about healthy food choices (avoiding hydrogenated oils, or too many highly processed snack foods) but growing children need a lot of energy, and I hate to think of a kid not being allowed a second glass of milk.

                                Further, since when is the RDA for calcium contained in one glass of milk, how does this change as they age? Do you have their meal plans so regimented as to have each macronutrient sufficiently met in the most cost effective way? The exact optimal caloric surplus to support healthy growth and functioning?

                                If you're worried about them becoming obese..well I think you'd see it coming. They don't balloon up over night. Put limits on TV and video games - not food.

                                1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                  Or because they're eating empty calories, rather than nutritious food. Or because they're not getting a sufficient amount of physical activity. More than one reason obesity is on the rise.

                          5. I agree that $25 per person per week is a doable budget, especially if you aren't counting school meals. As for the rest, well, I applaud your financial choices but its often not as simple as that. When you're living paycheck to paycheck and carefully saving money even a string of bad luck that many of us would consider minor would be catastrophic. For example, my air conditioning went out during a heat wave last year and the $600 bill was annoying but not a big deal. I got my appendix out and had to take 2 weeks off (my job is physically demanding). No biggie. I have high quality health insurance, a huge amount of sick leave, and a reasonable employer. Without one of those things, the hospital bill would have ruined me, a job loss would have sent me quickly into foreclosure and no amount of coupons or cost saving tricks would have helped. It's just not a simple problem, unfortunately.

                            1. So in 1980, you were able to buy property? Good luck, huh? Too bad, that the US doesn't permit such opportunities today and that the real estate bubble in North America, that was there for you to take advantage of, burst in 2007.

                              I'm a very frugal guy when it comes to everything but food. I spend more money on salts in a year than I do clothes. My Grandmother taught me to use old tee shirts as cleaning rags, but if I'm gonna eat the way I wanna eat, I'm gonna spend money. Hell, I'd rather have 'em turn off my cable than compromise of the quality of steak I buy. Just the 'hound in me, Baby.

                              Oh, and by the way, as a former Corporate Bankruptcy attorney, I'd suggest that, in many ways, consumer debt is actually quite good for the economy. It's over valued stocks and real property that some folks get to take advantage of, that cause crises.

                              1. I'm afraid your long post is empty of the content I was looking for - how a family can live on $25 weekly for groceries. I live alone and apart from subsisting on bread and water, I couldn't possibly do that. Details, please.

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: John Francis

                                  Here's a concrete example from 2011 that's pretty close. (It's even under budget if you allow pro-rating the "overhead".)

                                  It assumed being allowed to use salt, pepper, soy sauce, & a few (cheap) spices from the pantry, but not rice, flour, or other things people think of as "pantry" items. The "overhead" items did not end up fully-utilized and could be rolled over into the next week leaving room in the budget for more fresh veggies or even a tiny bit of meat or cheese.

                                  Total for the week $28.60 (from 2011)

                                  black tea bags, 100 bags = $2.04
                                  brown sugar (Great Value store brand), 2 lb = $1.36
                                  soymilk creamer, 1 pt = $1.49
                                  All purpose flour (Great Value store brand), 5 lb = $1.58
                                  baking soda (Arm & Hammer), 8 oz = $0.46
                                  eggs, 1 doz = $1.77
                                  Northern Beans, white (Great Value store brand), 1 lb = $1.08
                                  pinto beans (Great Value store brand), 1 lb = $0.68
                                  canola oil, 48 fluid oz = $2.98
                                  peanut butter, creamy salted, 1 lb = $1.79
                                  garlic, loose, 0.18 lb = $0.63
                                  1 green cabbage, 1.57 lb = $1.40
                                  1 yellow onion, large, 1.01 lb = $0.39
                                  Cost of overhead $17.65

                                  Produce, fractionable purchases, and midweek purchases

                                  3 bananas (walmart), 1.445 lb = $0.84
                                  2 more bananas (Trader Joe's), 2 = $0.38
                                  steel cut oats, 2.1 lb = $2.72
                                  carrots, 0.49 lb = $0.34
                                  shortgrain brown rice, 2.78 lb = $3.03
                                  Texas grapefruit (in season!), 6 = $1.20

                                  green bell pepper, 0.73 lb = $0.36
                                  zucchini (2 large), 1.43 lb = $0.84
                                  yeast, 3 pkts = $1.24
                                  Cost of produce, etc $10.95

                                  1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                    And if you had anything left over, you wouldn't need to buy that product, instead you would add a different ingredient.

                                    Well done.
                                    Thank you !

                                    1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                      Not that I don't applaud your efforts but I'm focusing on the # of places you're shopping to catch the deals. I also shop many places in a given week but it's been pointed out to me that GAS and time are also money.

                                      So where is your gas bill listed in your example? Do you count the gas as a food expense?

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Very true, HillJ, gas is definitely an expense. The food listed here is from 3 stores. I happen to be lucky enough to live within a 15-20 minute walk of a shopping center with a Walmart, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Whole Foods. (Not that I shop at WF or SW when I want deals.) I also bike to get groceries from slightly further places.

                                        However I realize this is not the norm so for a more realistic comparison, I'd have to figure out how far the average grocery store is, my gas mileage (or bus fare). Let's say an average grocery store round trip is 25 miles, gas mileage is 25 mpg, and gas costs $4/gallon. So with 1 trip per week, that bumps up the weekly cost to about $33/week. If you pro-rate costs for what actually got eaten, it was $15.33 worth of food eaten.

                                        food eaten = $15.33
                                        gas estimate = $4.00
                                        Total per week per person = $19.33

                                        More on menu in a separate entry...

                                        1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                          I'm catching up on the comments and reading your reply on gas costs. Because I shop while I'm out doing other things I'll just total my gas outlay at $40.00 to $90 a week...how much of that includes gas towards food shopping is probably one third especially if its my turn to pick up the groups list not just a quick run for my own family.

                                        2. re: HillJ

                                          also, in my city, electricity to run that freezer costs more than the savings obtained by buying the cheap bread on sale. (not that i normally will eat the grocery store bread anyway)

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            Yeah, definitely, the cost of keeping an extra freezer is not to be sneezed at. Or are you talking about the freezer that comes with a full sized refrigerator? Out of curiosity, how much *does* it cost for you to run a freezer?

                                            For this menu, I made my bread because grocery-store bread was too expensive. IIRC the cheapest grocery store bread was around ~1/lb and that was the super-white wonderbread-type bread. The yeast was expensive in the little 3 packs. I had originally planned on doing biscuits/pancakes but I really craved bread. If I had to live like this, I'd save up to be able to buy yeast in bulk or do sourdough.

                                            For what it's worth, I wasn't trying to proselytize at all, just provide some details on the food side of things, back when this thread was shorter and there were more questions than answers. ;-)

                                            1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                              i thought your recipes/meal plan were very inventive AND very chowish.

                                              didn't feel that you were trying to proselytize.

                                              years ago, when i really looked at my electric bills, i gave away the freezer.
                                              i understand that electric rates can vary wildly across the country, so maybe for some it really is a saving.
                                              for me, the freezer was siphoning money out of the budget that could have been better spent on higher quality, fresher, more interesting, food.

                                            2. re: westsidegal

                                              Another valid point=storage costs.

                                          2. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                            This would be more useful if you included your weekly menus. And your food shopping gas bill, as previously stated.

                                            1. re: almond tree

                                              Heh, yes! I had to run off earlier so didn't get to the best part.

                                              I'm lucky I don't have to eat like that all the time, but while I ran the experiment, here's some of the things I had. Sorry there's no recipes for some of these, but they're basics that I could dig up again if someone wanted. There's also a bunch of logistics with making this work (Eg, HillJ's question about gas money) but I'll skip those unless someone asks.

                                              I love to eat (and eat a lot) so I'll start with the short list of the tastiest things.
                                              Artisan 5-minute a day bread (the soft white one) - soooo delicious. The number one best thing I had that week. Easy and not much prep time too.
                                              Fresh homemade biscuits
                                              Boston Baked Beans
                                              Cabbage salad with lemon vinaigrette
                                              Chinese-style peanut sauce

                                              The more complete list
                                              Steel cut oats in the morning (maybe 4:1 water:oats ratio) with lots of brown sugar, sometimes cinnamon and/or banana (yes, I have a sweet tooth). Can you believe I hadn't tried them before? I thought I hated oatmeal.

                                              Chinese-esque peanut sauce dip (soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic powder, hot water), used for zucchini and carrot sticks, or over rice. It didn't work so well with the beans.

                                              Fried rice with onion, fresh garlic, and an egg. Freshly fried garlic is yummy.

                                              Cabbage salad with lemon vinaigrette (foraged lemons, vegetable oil, salt, dried oregano/basil).

                                              Brown rice with beans (pressure cooked according to MissVickie's site), curry powder, oil, salt, and enough water to make it kind of saucy.

                                              Bananas eaten with the peanut butter for dessert.

                                              Baking soda biscuits. If it was dessert, they'd get slathered with PB and extra sugar.

                                              Homemade bread. I tried two recipes and the 5-minute a Day bread (Soft American-style white bread) was by far the tastiest.

                                              I might have made simple pancakes too.

                                              Sauteed thinly sliced cabbage with dried basil.

                                              Caramelized carrot strings (sauteed in pan w/ pepper, oil & salt) (stole the show that meal, nicely sweet and caramely-brown. tender)

                                              Zucchini fritters from SimplyRecipes.com (http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucc...


                                              Sweet Milk tea (with the soy creamer)

                                              Bastardized Boston Baked Beans - I believe I used this recipe on AllRecipes.com, http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/Boston-..., but skipped the bacon & molasses, etc because it wasn't in the budget. It was still delicious.

                                              My SIL's Beans
                                              ~3/4 cup small diced onion
                                              ~1/2 cup small diced green pepper
                                              2 garlic cloves, minced
                                              ~3 Tbsp oil
                                              ~3 cups cooked pinto beans
                                              ~1/4 tsp tobasco sauce
                                              ~1/2 tsp dried oregano
                                              salt & pepper to taste

                                              Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Crush the oregano between your fingers and add that to the pan as well. Saute for about 10 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown. Add beans, tobasco sauce, and about 1/2 cup water. Crush about 1/4 of the beans with your spatula and mix with the water. Add more water if it's not saucy enough. Heat through and season to taste with salt & pepper.

                                          3. re: John Francis

                                            Bread, butter, and water. Also, chickens for ..99/lb (make soup in pressure cooker. cut down on wasteheat, and done in a third of the time.)

                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                              You can also cook many things, using waste heat.
                                              Bring your eggs to a boil, cover, shut off heat and wait 20 minutes. Perfect hard boiled eggs.

                                              Do the same with macaroni. Just need to wait 7 minutes generally.

                                              I do this a lot with carrots and potatoes. Just cut them small. You may need to bring to a boil once more, if they still aren't soft.

                                          4. I love frugality. My family has lived this way for generations so that I may now live like a rock star. I wish they had been more apt at investing so that I could live like a Saudi oil prince but one does the best they can with what one has

                                            1. I shop in the "European" style by going to the market before heading home to make dinner.
                                              I buy what I need for the meal and do my best to buy whatever is on sale in meat and produce.
                                              For the most part I am only cooking for two but I make enough for leftover lunch or dinner.

                                              19 Replies
                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                Most of the retired Americans I know who are financially comfortable shop this way as well. Not so with couples still raising their kids, living on a tight budget or not fond of cooking.

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Well, I ain't truly retired (though I did stop practicing law when I was 36), I'm no longer financially comfortable, and I don't have kids, but I could never be happy buying groceries only once or twice a week. I thrive on shopping for food every day and at a bunch of different places according to what they have to offer.

                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                    And that's your right. I'm never retiring so how I live now continues to work for me. I shop everywhere; nearly every day and that includes when I'm working long stretches on other coasts.

                                                    I do find this hot button for the OP interesting though. Nothing gets more personal than how we spend money as a society.

                                                    Food is such a topic of conversation everywhere you go today. That we split hairs over how much we're paying.

                                                    I wouldn't dream of telling another person how to live or spend their dough.

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      As I said above, I'm a 'hound. Take my house, take my truck, hell, even take my business, but if you try and take the fork outta my hand, say your prayers.

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        It's especially ironic to take the position on forums devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of the best food.

                                                        It's not about showing off, it's about stuff that tastes good, and for some of us, IS particularly healthy.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            While ironic mcf, if you'll indulge me-Chowhounds come in all shapes & sizes.

                                                            I don't believe the OP is the only hound living her brand of the frugal food lifestyle. The method of delivering that message seems a bit harsh....but since when are topics on CH only 100% targeted on the enjoyment of food...or tip toe coddling?

                                                            If we can find a conversation in the OP that would be interesting to discuss.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              I get you, and I'm not saying that discussion of how to eat well frugally isn't chow worthy. I think that the OP here is not about that.

                                                              Frugal, btw, does not mean CHEAP, the Frugal Gourmet said. It means not wasting. So I spend a lot more than the OP, but I may be much less wasteful with my purchases.

                                                              Leaving aside the OP's fictions and judgmental tone for now.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                That would be my definition of frugal as well.

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          From my perspective you're "spending too much on groceries" if you end up throwing a lot of what you buy out or if the spending causes you to go into debt. Otherwise I can't see frugality as being my motivating factor when it comes to food.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            For some, buying once or twice a month is best for them, because they will overspend otherwise.

                                                            For others, taking advantage of the specials, and stockpiling these sales, will be an advatage for them.

                                                            You just need to find what works best for your family.

                                                            1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                              We actually agree on the do what's best for you part, kathryn!

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                I would also add having just returned from the green grocer for my weekend produce that variety means something to me. There I was standing knee deep in some wonderful fruits and vegetables. All the colors and flavors...I'm looking for peak ripeness, deep color, heavy fruit, crisp vegetables. If I select by price alone I not only walk away from the variety this week but I walk away from peak flavor. Armed with a choice, I called one of my pals-we split the order and I left $21.00 my share lighter and produce richer. I keep coming back to that idea.

                                                                And excellent produce was a frugal deal breaker today.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  I consider cooking (an eating) as more than ingesting nutrition, stockpiling calories to turn into energy, and filling my tummy - it's also a major interest, hobby, and passion of mine. I like to read about it, experiment, and learn new techniques. If I was skinning a flea for its hide and tallow everytime I went shopping, it would be a sad hobby for me. I might learn amazing things about rice and beans but the joys of butchery would be lost to me, as well as a variety of delicious cheeses, the microbrews I love to sample, and the fun of trial and error in the kitchen. I have ruined some nice cuts of meat, but had a ball doing it and learned a lot in the process. I've also turned the cheapest cuts into something delicious, so spare me the lectures on THAT. I am not foolish with my money; but grocerying and cooking to me are not areas where I choose to skimp. I will not don a hairshirt made of saffron threads, if you will allow me some poetic license.

                                                          2. re: MGZ

                                                            I should have noted that my approach to shopping is based upon the fact that I consciously chose to live in an almost two hundred year old town on the NJ Shore. I shop at various stores in town and make a game out of seeing how many days in a row I can go without driving. I think I use my truck to go to the recycling center (a half mile from my home and less than a quarter mile from my studio) more often than I use it to go to the "fancy" supermarket outside of town. Truth is, since our Scottish Fold has gotten older, I have to drive to get her the food that is best (although, I should note, that she is a 'hound - loves lobster, shrimp, crab, and beef jerky most of all.)*

                                                            The reason I mention this, as I have posted many times before, is that it's important to make thoughtful choices about consumption. To me, every penny I save on gas, or changin' my oil, or replacin' my tires, etc. is a penny I can invest in my chow. I will drive across the River to get lobsters when the place I love sells 'em for three bucks a pound - and, admittedly, we overindulge. But, as I said, "I'm a 'hound". I'm unabashed about it. I'll walk everywhere for five or six days if it means I can eat two and a half lobsters with sauteed chanterelles on my day off.

                                                            At bottom, I suggest that you "Think Before You Consume" in all aspects of life, Consume what you want, I don't give a f*ck. The idea is that you make considered choices about what you consume, be it food, drink, news, gas, electricity, etc.

                                                            Me, I'm gonna consume the best tasting stuff I can at every turn. If that means that I gotta get a coupla extra months outta my beat up jeans, I'm real good with that.

                                                            *Funny thing is, she much prefers the jerky I make to anythin' store bought. Even when I give her Uncle Bill's, she looks at me like, "Really, you couldn't bother to make it for me?"

                                                        2. re: Motosport

                                                          If I were to shop European style, I would easily spend 25$ per day and weigh 500 pounds.

                                                          I have yet to figure out how that works better.

                                                          We shop once a week. 35-90 dollars per week depending on the sales. Some weeks we will buy no meat or toilet paper but some we do both so it evens out. I take lunch everyday to work and could easily do the same with my fiancé but he refuses.

                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                            If I were to shop European style, I would easily spend 25$ per day and weigh 500 pounds.


                                                            1. re: Marusik

                                                              Which just goes to show to each his or her own...and I mean that in a friendly way.

                                                              I prefer to shop almost daily - get some ingredients for whatever I'm in the mood for tonight with the intentions of using up the leftovers for lunch another day, always buying what's a good deal/on sale that day. Now that we have kids, that's less feasible, so we rejoined Costco. The result? I spend $200 at Costco buying a bunch of stuff that's a good deal for regular prices but comparable in price or more expensive than the sale prices I used to seek out. And then I still go to Trader Joe's on my way home from work 4 times a week because we forgot something, ran low on something, or have had a rough day and I really want something delicious tonight, thankyouverymuch. When we looked over our pre-kid and post-kid grocery budgets, we were astonished to see that our spending had almost TRIPLED after the baby, and I was exclusively breastfeeding.

                                                              When I know I have to use up what I'm buying in the next few days, I buy less, and therefore eat less. When I know this is my one trip of the month, I go into hoarding mode, and overbuy, and buy crap. Everyone has their own methods and madness.

                                                          2. re: Motosport

                                                            I used to do that when I was first married, about every other day until I realized that I was spending $35-40 at least three times a week. We ate like royalty, but it was a bit much for us at the time.

                                                          3. Kathryn, if I were wearing my English teacher hat today, I'd tell you that I can't find the thesis statement in this post.

                                                            I would imagine that many Chowhounders do not live extravagantly, but that's none of my business

                                                            Many of us struggle to feed large families, extended families, or families where spouses, children, or elders have special (and sometimes costly) dietary considerations. There are posts all over the homecooking and special diets pages as to how to do both.

                                                            I'm glad that your husband is handy, and that he and your brother were well enough and skilled enough to build you a home. Not every financial downturn is due to extravagant living. Not every problem can be solved by frugality.

                                                            Pinehurst (Andrea)

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                              Sometimes I wonder if people really know they could easily spend less and not feel deprived.

                                                              If you many are struggling to feed large or extended families,or special diets, many they do need suggestions. We don't have any dietary concerns, so I can't offer any suggestions there.

                                                              When someone does experience a financial downturn, by continuing with their current lifestyle would be an extravagance.This is when they need to go into survival mode. It would have been better if they did this voluntarily before a jobloss or illness affected their finances.
                                                              How many tv channels does a family need? Do you need to use the dryer, when you could wait until tomorrow and it is sunny.

                                                              1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                here's a way to save money:
                                                                i make my own iced blended mochas using valrhona cocoa powder imported from france and peets dark roasted coffee.
                                                                i spend less per drink than brittany spears does when she buys hers from starbucks (you know, the kind made with crappy cocoa.)

                                                                1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                  We don't own a clothes dryer. We have basic cable.

                                                                  "It would have been better if they did this voluntarily..before an illness affected finances"

                                                                  (Smacks forehead). I get it. My H and I are one of the "they", the "those people." Silly me! I should have expected my healthy, carpenter husband to have a stroke just as he turned 47! Why didn't we plan for it?

                                                                  You're fabulous at being frugal, Kathryn. Maybe the world would be better if everyone could live like you. I wish I could save money by baking cakes from scratch, and making pancakes from scratch, and stocking up on bread. I can't. And I wish that your brand of frugality would solve consumer debt and allow everyone who wants to own a house to do so. It won't.

                                                                  And I wish you would not make assumptions about people's lifestyles that don't-and can't-fall in lockstep with yours.

                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                    ***And I wish you would not make assumptions about people's lifestyles that don't-and can't-fall in lockstep with yours.***


                                                              2. So, HOW do you spend only $25 pp/ pw on groceries?:) LOL

                                                                28 Replies
                                                                1. re: Marusik

                                                                  Here is sample month, for one person.This is based on Australia prices and specials, that we have been able to access.Mince is ground beef, and capsicums are peppers.Substitutions can be made.

                                                                  10 x oatmeal (cook 3-10 minute type)
                                                                  4 x omelets
                                                                  4 x pancakes
                                                                  4 x french toast
                                                                  4 x bacon & egg
                                                                  4 x waffles (if no waffle iron, make pancakes)

                                                                  4x sandwich wraps
                                                                  4x sandwiches
                                                                  14 x leftovers
                                                                  4x salads
                                                                  4x pizza

                                                                  2 x chicken and veg
                                                                  2x chicken w/ simmer sauce and rice
                                                                  2 x chicken soup
                                                                  3 x meatloaf and veg
                                                                  3 x macaroni and meatsauce
                                                                  3 x pork patties and veg
                                                                  3 x roast pork and veg
                                                                  3 x chili
                                                                  2 x nachos and salsa
                                                                  3 x shipwreck
                                                                  3 x tuna casserole


                                                                  Ingredient list

                                                                  1.09 bag oatmeal
                                                                  8.46 3 doz eggs
                                                                  2.50 mushrooms
                                                                  3.99 cheese block
                                                                  2.00 bread x 2
                                                                  5.99 dry full cream milk
                                                                  1.85 flour
                                                                  1.95 oil
                                                                  .95 raw sugar
                                                                  .95 white sugar
                                                                  2.49 bacon
                                                                  1.99 tortillas
                                                                  2.00 tomatoes
                                                                  1.00 pepper
                                                                  1.00 lettuce
                                                                  1.09 mayonnaise
                                                                  .75 pasta sauce
                                                                  6.00 chicken
                                                                  1.79 simmer sauce
                                                                  2.85 rice
                                                                  1.49 carrots
                                                                  2.99 potatoes
                                                                  3.29 sweet potatoes
                                                                  3.00 reduce stew vegs
                                                                  1.49 sour cream
                                                                  1.19 chili sauce
                                                                  10.00 4 x mince
                                                                  1.00 crackers
                                                                  3.00 mince pork
                                                                  5.00 roast pork
                                                                  .99 kidney beans
                                                                  1.50 2 x can tomatoes
                                                                  1.19 tomato soup
                                                                  2.00 2 x tuna
                                                                  .69 macaroni
                                                                  1.99 bag apples
                                                                  3.00 margarine /butter
                                                                  1.99 oranges
                                                                  1.99 kiwi
                                                                  2.98 coffee
                                                                  2.00 teabags
                                                                  1.50 spices/flavorings
                                                                  1.99 nachos

                                                                  Oatmeal Sugar Cookie
                                                                  1 cup white sugar
                                                                  1 cup butter
                                                                  2 eggs
                                                                  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                  1 cup rolled oats
                                                                  1/2 cup raisins (if omitted, increase oatmeal)
                                                                  1 3/4 cups s.r. all-purpose flour
                                                                  1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                                  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                                                                  Cream sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla thoroughly. Mix in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate 4 to 5 hours or overnight.

                                                                  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
                                                                  Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with greased bottom of glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 10 minutes

                                                                  3 apples chopped
                                                                  about 1-2 " water in saucepan
                                                                  cook until soft
                                                                  add 1/4 c sugar, or to taste
                                                                  sprinkle cinnamon

                                                                  White cake
                                                                  Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf or a small dozen cupcakes)
                                                                  2 cups of Self Raising Flour
                                                                  1 Pinch of Salt
                                                                  1 Cup of Sugar
                                                                  1/2 a cup of Margarine
                                                                  2 Eggs
                                                                  1/2 a Cup of Milk
                                                                  2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Essence
                                                                  Pre-heat over to 190 degrees celcius. Place all ingredients in deep mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes. Pour that mixture into a greased patty or loaf tin 28cm x 18cm and cook for 30-35 minutes.

                                                                  Add some chopped up apple or apricots while cooking.
                                                                  A sprinkle of cinnamon, and sugar to taste.
                                                                  I like mine a bit thinner, so I add a bit of extra water.

                                                                  chopped onion,mushroom..saute
                                                                  add beaten egg.
                                                                  shredded cheese over top

                                                                  Pancakes :(enough for 2 adults,2 kids)...
                                                                  1 egg
                                                                  4 tablespoons cooking oil
                                                                  2 tablespoons sugar
                                                                  1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                                  Mix this all together then add
                                                                  1 cup milk
                                                                  Mix together then add
                                                                  1 cup self rising flour
                                                                  Cook on oiled skillet until bubbles around edges, then flip.
                                                                  Cook for another minute or so.
                                                                  Serve with your favorite topping and fresh fruit on the side.
                                                                  Also a nice stewed fruit is good too.

                                                                  Waffles (if you have a waffle iron)
                                                                  1 1/2 cp self-rising flour
                                                                  2 tsp. sugar
                                                                  3 tbsp. melted shortening or for crispier waffles add 2 more
                                                                  1 egg
                                                                  1 1/2 c. milk

                                                                  French Toast
                                                                  1 egg
                                                                  1/4 cup milk
                                                                  2 bread slices.
                                                                  Mix beaten egg and milk together. Soak bread until absorbed.
                                                                  Cook on med-high until golden, then flip until done.

                                                                  tortilla bread
                                                                  spread salsa or tomato sauce
                                                                  fav toppings and cheese
                                                                  in oven until cheese melts

                                                                  Salsa (fresh)serves 8...adjust to taste
                                                                  2 spring onions, finely sliced
                                                                  4 tomatoes (about 650g), seeds removed, finely diced
                                                                  1 each of red, yellow and green capsicum, seeds removed, finely diced
                                                                  4 tbs (1/3 cup) roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to sprinkle (optional)
                                                                  1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
                                                                  Juice of 1 lime
                                                                  Combine for 1-2 hours before using

                                                                  1 lb (.5 kg) ground mince
                                                                  1 egg,beaten
                                                                  onion, medium, finely chopped
                                                                  1/4cup tomato sauce or barbeque sauce
                                                                  1/3 cup crushed cracker crumbs, or cornflakes
                                                                  salt and pepper

                                                                  Mix together and press in small casserole or loaf pan.
                                                                  Cook at 180c for approx 45 minutes.
                                                                  Drain any fat off, then spread over top

                                                                  2 heaping tablespoons raw sugar
                                                                  1/4 cup chili sauce, or tomato sauce
                                                                  Return to oven for approx 10-15 minutes.
                                                                  Makes 4-6 servings

                                                                  Pork patties
                                                                  pork mince
                                                                  1 beaten egg
                                                                  1/2 chopped onion
                                                                  form into patties and fry until done

                                                                  Chicken soup
                                                                  Take the carcass of the chicken and put in stew pot. Add enough water to just almost cover.
                                                                  Bring to boil,add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 pepper.(to taste) Simmer for 1-2 hours.
                                                                  Let cool.Remove all bones and discard. Picking the chicken off the bones is a pain, but it is well worth it.
                                                                  Chop up some of your favorite vegetables, such as sweet potato,rutabagas( swedes),parsnips, carrots, celery,onion. Add to chicken and broth. add a little water if necessary. When vegetables are soft, you can thicken soup with cornflour if you prefer.
                                                                  Sometimes I like to add spices like basil, oregano, tyme...a couple of shakes each.

                                                                  saute mushrooms, onion..set aside
                                                                  put tortilla in skillet on med -high heat
                                                                  add saute vegs, chopped chicken pieces, 2 tablesppons salsa,a bit of shredded cheese.
                                                                  Put another tortilla on top.
                                                                  When cheese melted, flip over, until toasty on both sides
                                                                  enjoy with sour cream, salsa, or sour cream mixed with a bit of chili sauce

                                                                  sprinkle with cheese..microwave just until cheese melts
                                                                  leftover Chili on it, is good too
                                                                  enjoy with sour cream, salsa, or sour cream mixed with chili sauce

                                                                  Chili con carne
                                                                  .cook mince fried with chopped onions, mushrooms, capsicum
                                                                  and then fat drained
                                                                  add can tomatoes, kidney beans,
                                                                  2 Tablespoons vinegar
                                                                  2-4 Tablespoons chili powder
                                                                  salt and pepper
                                                                  Cook for 30-60 minutes

                                                                  ground mince
                                                                  thinly sliced onion,potato,carrots
                                                                  put in layer in casserole dish, add 1/2 tomato soup
                                                                  repeat layer, top with remainder soup + 1/2 can water
                                                                  salt and pepper to tast
                                                                  Put in oven 180c until veg cooked..about 45 min to 1 hour

                                                                  Tuna casserole
                                                                  1 cup raw macaroni, cooked
                                                                  cheese sauce : 2 T butter (melted), stir in 2 T flour, add enough milk/ water to make a sauce (1/4-1/2 cup) add 3/4 c shredded cheese.
                                                                  Mix cheese sauce and cooked macaroni together.
                                                                  add 2 chopped cooked eggs
                                                                  1/2 chopped onion and/or celery
                                                                  1 can drained tuna
                                                                  1/2 cup mayonnaise
                                                                  1/3 milk
                                                                  cream soup (recipe follow, if you don't have a can)
                                                                  1 cup of cooked leftover vegs (peas,beans,corn,broccoli etc)
                                                                  Mix all together. Crush enough crackers to sprinkle over top.
                                                                  bake until bubbles around edges at 180cel for approx 45 min

                                                                  Cream of Something Soup Mix

                                                                  2 cups of dry powdered milk
                                                                  3/4 cup cornstarch
                                                                  1/4 cup chicken bouillon granules
                                                                  2 tablespoons dry onion flakes
                                                                  1 teaspoon each basil and garlic powder
                                                                  1/2 teaspoon pepper
                                                                  2 tablespoons dry celery flakes (optional)
                                                                  This is a convenient mix for making the equivalent of a can of cream of celery, or mushroom soup, which so many recipes call for. To make the mix, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix them up, distributing everything evenly. Store the mixture in a quart size container, well sealed. It will keep for several months.

                                                                  To cook: combine 1/3-cup mix and 1-1/4 cups cool tap water in a small saucepan. Stir it well and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Boil and stir for a full minute. Remove from heat. It is now ready to use in any recipe calling for a can of Cream of Mushroom or Celery or Chicken Soup. I tested all of the casseroles in my website with this recipe and it worked perfectly without exception.

                                                                  You can also make this in the microwave, in which case, reduce the liquid to 1 cup, because none will evaporate during the cooking process. An additional benefit to this recipe, it contains no added fat. If you wanted to, you could add a tablespoon of margarine or bacon grease for more flavor, but it really doesn't need it.

                                                                  1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                    Focusing on just the ingredient list with prices. I can't duplicate your list on weekly price on either the east or west coast unless I dumpster dive (which I don't) or steal (which I don't). Maybe the end of week produce bin on a few items. But .95 for sugar? 2.49 for bacon? No can do.

                                                                    Could you agree that shopping smart is impacted by where you live?

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      I was going to say the same thing. How does one buy 0.95 (whatever the unit was) if there are no packages if flour, sugar, etc in that size and there is no bulk aisle available.

                                                                      $1 for lettuce and $1 for a pepper? Really?

                                                                      My challenge is to make the best meals I can during weeks when we have a bit more cash and during those when we don't. I'm not open to living in a car when the budget is tight. Kudos to you for bring fine with that.

                                                                      1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                        pizza's a great way to stretch a budget.
                                                                        go light on teh cheese, and use canned tomatoes and homemade dough.

                                                                        1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                          You should buy the largest package, which gives you the cheapest unit. In Canada we have bulk barn, where we can buy any amount we want.
                                                                          In Australia, they have prepackaged small bags in the grocery store.

                                                                          If lettuce and peppers aren't on sale, or reduced, exchange it for something else you might like to fill out a sandwich/salad.
                                                                          You should be flexible.
                                                                          When you have a bit more cash, this is a great time to stock up on sales.

                                                                          1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                            You're still not getting that regional variances play a HUGE part in the price people pay for food.

                                                                            Let me give you one example.

                                                                            The largest bag of sugar or flour or lentils in Sri Lanka that a person can buy at a grocery store or food shop? 1 kg. In Singapore, that I've seen, for sugar is 2 kg, for flour is 1 kg.

                                                                            Sugar for 50 cents a pound? I haven't seen prices like that since, well, a decade ago when I lived in Canada. Prices like that do not exist everywhere in the world.

                                                                            And sugar and flour do not go on sale. Ever. Most foods don't, in fact.

                                                                            And this is something you continue to ignore - that the entire world is not like what you've experienced.

                                                                            1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                              The largest package doesn't work for things which are perishable. The price advantage can easily be lost to spoilage. There are also limitations on storage space, particularly refrigerator and freezer space. With those caveats, buying larger sizes is an obvious way to save a little money.

                                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                                            2.49 for bacon isn't completely out of line. Sugar retails at ~.50/lb at costco (50 lb bags), so that's not too crazy either.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              In this instance, the sugar is a 1kg package.Bacon can be found for this price plenty of times. When it goes on sale, buy enough to last you until the next sale.The point is, you should be stocking up with end of week prices.
                                                                              These are prices for NSW and Qld, Australia.

                                                                              In Canada, we may need to buy the larger packages, or bulk bins to geta similar price unit.
                                                                              A couple of weeks ago turkeys were on sale for $1.49 lb, and flour $11.99 -22 lbs, and sugar 2.50 for 5 lbs, in canada. I asked my daughter to pick it for me..as we return to canada in 4 weeks.

                                                                              Where ever you live, you will find different prices.I can buy bananas cheaper in Canada, where we don't grow them, than in Australia, where they do.You just may need to change your habits.

                                                                              Sales are everywhere, you really just need to search them out.You can also supplement food buy growing some in pots on your patio, if you don't have a back yard.Spices on a window sill.
                                                                              A neighbour may have apples trees that go to waste. Ask if you can have them..and maybe give her a bottle of jelly or applesauce to say thank you.

                                                                              I don't have all the answers. I was hoping others would be sharing their frugal ideas.

                                                                              What I really find annoying is when people say they can't. Especially when others are telling them, they do.
                                                                              If you can't, and want to, open up your mind, and maybe you will hear, how to.

                                                                              Today I am going to make a pavlova dessert. I can buy the meringue base in the supermarket for $10 !!!....or make it myself for a few pennies...and a little bit of time.

                                                                              1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                I'm saying I cannot because I know the price won't be that low in the quantity I am willing to buy. I have no desire to stockpile bacon even at your price. I won't use it. I won't keep lbs and lbs of white sugar in the pantry of my home when I won't need it. What I will do is split the cost of a 5 lb bag with another friend who needs it. So for me, stockpiling is not the answer. Food sharing is.

                                                                                Now I'm really happy to hear you're enjoying a pavlova dessert because I was beginning to wonder if you're eating enough variety and enough flavors.

                                                                                For instance, do you spend on spices. If so, are you buying seeds and spices in bulk? Do you have a great deal of space to store stockpiled foods? There's more to this method than just loading up your cart because bacon is cheap..right?

                                                                                I garden-share year round and sell jarred and canned foods in markets. So I'm covered there.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  i have a completely different mindset from katheryn:
                                                                                  if i'm going to spend the time to shop and cook and clean up afterwards, i will darn well use FRESH high-quality spices bought at Penzys, i would not bother with some dried herbs that have been sitting around since 1992.
                                                                                  i will use the freshest vegetables, i won't use beans that have been sitting in the back of the pantry for 2 years.
                                                                                  for the most part, if a recipe depends primarily on white flour or white sugar, i'd not be interested in it.
                                                                                  to me, eating a high quality fresh apple is much more appealing than eating a piece of pie that was made with tons of sugar and flour to disguise the fact that the apples used in it were mushy in the first place.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    I'm glad to hear about your food sharing. That is a great alternative, which I never thought to mention.

                                                                                    For my pavlova I like strawberries and kiwi on top. I wasn't spending $5.99 on a punnet, so instead I will be putting leftover pineapple and kiwi on it...and maybe some peaches.
                                                                                    Our eggs, limes, and hot peppers are free, because we are housesitting.They tell us to help ourself.

                                                                                    Because we living a different sort of lifestyle, we just carry basic spices, and substitute.We bought them in spice bottles at the supermarket.We carry basic meal ingredients and replenish as required.

                                                                                    Our last housesit was as a caretaker at a caravan park in the middle of Outback Australia. We were provided accommodation and all our meals at the roadhouse restaurant for free. (5 months)
                                                                                    During this time the army came thru several times, and they tend to throw away their unused ration packs. My husband is ex-Australian military, and he gave them containers to put unwanted supplies. We now how enough food to last us 4-6 weeks, that would have previously ended up in the dump. This is great for convenience when travelling.(boil in bag meals)
                                                                                    Now we are here at the housesit,we are buying and cooking 'regular' food.

                                                                                    Other times when travelling, we have stopped and purchased a hot cooked chicken with salads for our meal. (from a supermarket) It was cheaper, and more satisfying, than eating in a restaurant. We ate in the park and fed the pigeons the leftovers.

                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                      Buying "loose" spices saves an insane amount of money. Why should I pay for the glass bottle, the top and the label? A couple of years ago I DID buy a goodly # of Penzeys spices but in subsequent purchases I can buy bags and refill the bottles. And they're generally WAY, WAY fresher than the jarred stuff in the grocery.

                                                                                      We rarely throw out any food...or even feed it to the dogs. (They HATE that!). Any little scrap of meat, veg, salad can go into an omelet. Recently I had some red onion and capers left from a bagel/lox meal. Omelet!

                                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                                      I totally don't understand where you can stockpile bacon in a 2006 van?

                                                                                      1. re: LaLa

                                                                                        We had a 38' motorhome and storage was still at a premium. There was no way we were buying large quantities while traveling.

                                                                                        1. re: LaLa

                                                                                          We don't stockpile in Australia while we are travelling, we just buy what is one sale. We carry basic ingredients of flour, sugar etc and buy meat/vegs/fruits/ in quantities we can consume in a week.

                                                                                  2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                    I'm curious how many pounds of each item you get for your money. Eg, how many pounds of cheese do you get for $3.99 or pounds of oatmeal for $1.09.

                                                                                    1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                                                                      Today I purchased 450g package of cheese for $2.99.

                                                                                      Oatmeal would be 1 kg size.

                                                                                      These prices will not be the same in every place. You will probably have other items that are cheaper.

                                                                                      Eggs and milk are very cheap in USA, but in Canada we have Egg Boards, which control prices.Milk is also controlled in some areas. I buy whole/full cream milk and dilute it for cooking.

                                                                                    2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                      Ten meals of oatmeal for a dollar? really?

                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                        Oatmeal is very cheap, and very filling. Add a chopped apple and a sprinkle of cinnamon for flavour. Or stir in a tablespoon of frozen berries.
                                                                                        A bit of canned fruit.
                                                                                        So many ways to change flavours,

                                                                                      2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                        Thank you for the detail, we eat some of those very same meals and I like the soup mix recipe. I consider myself a frugal person but am not anywhere near your league. I work full time, have a working spouse and two teens. While I enjoy food shopping and getting a deal, at some point my time is more precious to me than shopping for a bargain.

                                                                                        As for non-food related frugality, my spouse is not at all handy and we live in a city setting so line-drying and planting potatoes around the house are not possible. I do have a garden plot several miles from home, however.

                                                                                        I am aware of highly frugal methods but not interested in adopting most of them at present. But good for you for accomplishing what you have and living a lifestyle that you and your family enjoy.

                                                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                                                          We don't do all these frugal methods all the time either. Over the years, we have used them and some of the others I have mentioned, are ones I am contemplating using, or know people who do.

                                                                                          I thought this site was more general, but it is solely food.

                                                                                          1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                            That's why it's called Chowhound and not Gypsies-R-Us.
                                                                                            (just funnin'!)

                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                              Veg, I thought Bob and I were the only gypsies you are acquainted with :) Well, and Gypsy my avatar.

                                                                                        2. re: Marusik

                                                                                          I live in downtown Chicago. If I shoot a squirrel in the park and dress him out there I will probably attract police attention, so please advise of method for garrotting a pigeon. Meat for dinner, O boy.

                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                            Several years ago in San Francisco, I saw someone I assumed to be homeless. With one hand he was feeding a bunch of pigeons. With the other he held a black plastic garbage bag. When one got close enough, he grabbed it, rang its neck and put it in the bag. I admired him for that. He hopefully had a nice dinner that night.

                                                                                        3. It sounds as though you have done a good job of being frugal but
                                                                                          I am still looking for the information on " spending too much for groceries" the only thing you mention is to "stop buying takeout food and coffee"

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: SimonSaysWoof

                                                                                            That is what I was hoping people would share.
                                                                                            I'm not the frugal guru, but just one person who doesn't like to waste money.

                                                                                            I've read the easiest way to figure out where you overspend is to keep a diary for a month, of all the expenditures you make.

                                                                                            When I returned to work, I bought 3 coffees a day at the vending machine @ 65c. It wasn't even good coffee. When I worked out I was spending about $465 a year, I dusted off my thermos and started bringing it...that increased to brown bagging my lunch. I worked in a factory, and we weren't permitted to leave the property, so it was vending machine/cafeteria food or byo.
                                                                                            Many co-workers bought their lunch everyday, and I was considered 'cheap'. I usually brought leftovers.

                                                                                            Instead of takeout pizza, consider making it.
                                                                                            Take advantage of restaurant specials, if you need a treat. Many have birthday freebies, kids eat free,discount times,bogos.

                                                                                            When I was a kid, I can count on one hand the amount of times we went to a restaurant. Now, kids don't even think it is special, it is a way of life.

                                                                                          2. Folks, the original post is very general in its focus, but we hope people will concentrate on frugality as it relates to cooking and eating in the follow up conversation.

                                                                                            Also, just a quick reminder that telling people what they can and can't post is our job ;) If you think a post is against the rules, please Flag it, rather than replying. Please keep the conversation focused on the actual information being discussed, rather than on whether someone should or shouldn't have posted or on how they posted.


                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                              <*Mel Brooks voice on*> You're so strict!!

                                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                Thank you.
                                                                                                My thread is very vague, and I do apologise for that.
                                                                                                I guess I was hoping people would share their ways of getting their living costs under control.

                                                                                                Just saying they can't believe how much they pay for groceries, utilities, cars,vacations etc is fine, but it doesn't help much.
                                                                                                Instead, I would like a discussion on how to fix the problem.That is what I thought the "other" thread was about...how to reduce your monthly grocery bill.

                                                                                              2. I have to agree with the other posters that I'm not sure what this post is about. This is an essay on how you choose to live, but I don't get how it relates to food, or what you're asking from us.

                                                                                                Perhaps you could explain more about how you spend so little on groceries?

                                                                                                And what is frugal about buying bags and bags of baby clothes for children not yet conceived?

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                  I tend to show by example of how I did it in my life.

                                                                                                  When I purchased the baby clothes, garage sales were just starting to become popular, and thrift shops were not something I had ever used.
                                                                                                  Everyone always says that kids cost a lot. That was something I refused to believe.I bought enough clothes, for extremely small amount of money, that I didn't need to buy new clothes.
                                                                                                  I used cloth diapers, the type you fold yourself, when we were home, and disposable when shopping or visiting.
                                                                                                  We did buy a new crib and car seats, because we planned on more than one child.

                                                                                                  How do I spend so little on groceries?
                                                                                                  Well, I guess I really think it is little. We buy ingredients to make food from scratch. Flour, sugar, oil, oatmeal,spices.We buy fruit and vegetables that are in season, or reduced.
                                                                                                  Stores usally have certain times of the day, when they put out their reduced meats. They go fast, so may need to ask your grocer when they display them.
                                                                                                  Meat portions are huge on a plate. The guide is the size of the palm of the person consuming it.Round the plate out with vegetables/rice/pasta.
                                                                                                  Susbtitute or omit expensive ingredients in a recipe. You may be pleasantly surprised.
                                                                                                  Buy in bulk when feasible.For the people who say they don't have available space, put it under your bed.
                                                                                                  Don't be afraid to try a cheaper brand. We start with the cheapest, and if we don't like it, we go to next one.Maybe you can make it from scratch.
                                                                                                  We buy whatever shampoo that is one sale. Bottles of kids, superman shampoo was 50c.We bought all they had. Sometimes we come across a shampoo we don't like. It works perfect for bodywash.

                                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                    I also do not include them in a grocery budget.It just shows you can bargains and frugal ideas in many places.

                                                                                                    As mentioned before, how a person views there overall budget, is at pleay here.

                                                                                                    There is no sense spending $100 month on groceries, just so you can spend $200 on restaurants.

                                                                                                    Now if you took that $200 saving, and used it for debt repayments, or downpayment on a house or investment, it would have value.

                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                      But that's the point, value.... $200 a month on restaurants might be of great value to some people. It's entertainment, it's a hobby, it's relaxation, it's an enjoyable experience. That has value.
                                                                                                      What one person finds valuable, another may not.
                                                                                                      I find more value in tips on frugal grocery shopping, without resorting to eating grain-based diets, than I do suggestions about the "value" someone else is placing on my spending choices.
                                                                                                      So, maybe some tips without the lifestyle lecture?
                                                                                                      I would like some tips on eating less bread, pasta, potatoes, and more of other more colorful, nutrient dense vegetables and fruits, on a budget. Yes, buy in season........... anything else?

                                                                                                2. The OP, in my opinion, is confusing "cheap" for "frugal."

                                                                                                  I hate cheapness, but I am proud of always buying whole, non factory farmed chickens to cut up at home, whole fresh veggies to prep, grating my own cheeses, etc... The more I came to care about food quality and its effects on personal and public health, the less we have spent eating out, preferring to make what I consider better quality at home.

                                                                                                  We live way below our means, but delicious food produced with integrity is a priority for us; travel, vacations, big wardrobes are not.

                                                                                                  The OP's values are totally opposite mine. I'm likely just as frugal, but not as cheap.

                                                                                                  I also hate to see total disregard for the net expenses down the road in terms of health care dollars, lost productivity, damage to public health all caused by the foods the OP posts about buying and eating for the love of money in pocket with total disregard for the greater good.

                                                                                                  We all are paying with tax dollars and health risks due to resistant superbugs due to the 80% of the antibiotics manufactured in the U.S. that are dumped into feedlots and sprayed onto produce, producing super deadly pathogens just so she can buy 79 cent chicken. That the junk she advocates buying promotes diabetes and we all pay for the dialysis, amputations and drugs that ensue for decades of misery does not figure into her cost calculations.

                                                                                                  There's the money in your pocket, but it costs so much more than might be obvious to the individual shopper considering only the immediate out of pocket cost.

                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                    Here are a couple of definitions I like.
                                                                                                    Frugal is when your choices affect yourself, and cheapness is when it affects others.

                                                                                                    In Canada and Australia, we have our healthcare covered mostly in our taxes.

                                                                                                    The USA has a lot lower prices for food than Canada and Australia.Even saying that, we are still able to buy good food for $25pp. is it easy? Not at all. It takes time and research to find the best places to obtain the best prices.As soon as you find this info, you can use it all the time.

                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                      I spend a good deal less than $25pp per week. Buy it all at costco. easy peasy. Shop once a month. (buy milk from corner store)

                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                        It's nice to know I am not alone here,stating that $25pp is doable.

                                                                                                        1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                          It is definitely doable. I could easily budget a little more and do exactly that. I don't mind the 35-90 for two though. I have enough wiggle to be able to do that. Typically we buy:
                                                                                                          1/2 gallon milk once a week
                                                                                                          Dozen eggs ever 1-3 weeks
                                                                                                          1-2 fruit each week
                                                                                                          Lettuce every 1-2 weeks
                                                                                                          Bag of onions every month
                                                                                                          Pound of butter every 1-2 months
                                                                                                          Bread every 2 weeks
                                                                                                          3 vegetables per week
                                                                                                          Sale meats to freeze one large pack per month
                                                                                                          Cheese 1-4 per month
                                                                                                          Liter of seltzer 1 per month
                                                                                                          Pasta 1-2 boxes per month
                                                                                                          Rice 1 package every 3-4 months
                                                                                                          Fish once a week

                                                                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                                                                            We have a wonderful Latino market near us. I only buy rice and beans from their bulk bins now. WAY less money.

                                                                                                      2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                        The consequences of the food choices you make and recommend *are costing all of us money *
                                                                                                        due to public health expenditures for the damages the production practices cause.

                                                                                                        Hence, it's cheapness, not frugality. It's costing more than any one person or government can afford in real tax dollars and health expenditures.

                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                          I'd say you're making an awful lot of assumptions here.
                                                                                                          And I'll just leave it at that.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                            I have not made assumptions, but you have. I'll leave it at that.

                                                                                                      3. re: mcf

                                                                                                        You are really reaching here.

                                                                                                        1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                          Not at all, it's all very well documented.

                                                                                                      4. Nope, not feeling it. We did a lot of what you talked about when we were young and coming up and raising 4 kids, but that was because there was no choice. Now we make good incomes and don't particularly live beyond our means, do not make apple jelly out of scraps, do not live in a van at any time of the year, do not have raggedy ass furniture and appliances, and spend at least $125 every Saturday at the grocery store. That does not count the meals we eat out. I am done with constantly making do and settling for less...We did that to put our sons and daughters through school and In feel as though we have earned the lifestyle that we now happily enjoy, including spending a good amount of money on great food. We do take a lot of vacations on flier miles and hotel points if that counts. Not a criticism of your lifestyle, but frugality is not the key to peace and happiness for everybody.

                                                                                                        1. OP, do you have any suggestions Chowhounds would embrace? If there's a better way to buy save money on high quality food, count me in!

                                                                                                          27 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                            If you have certain personal guidelines, where it can only be organic or grassfed, the standard answer would be to only buy it when it is on sale, and stock up.
                                                                                                            If something isn't in season, pick something else.
                                                                                                            Look behind the marketing of the product. Is it really going to make a difference?

                                                                                                            1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                              Is what really going to make a difference?

                                                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                Yes. Don't buy fresh squeezed orange juice out of orange season. They flavor it with tic-tac flavor.

                                                                                                                Buy concentrate, which tastes like orange and is cheaper.

                                                                                                                An apple in season is .99/lb as a loss leader. out of season, it's 3.00/lb and worse to boot.

                                                                                                                Buy seconds straight from the farm. make pie.

                                                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                  Buying in season is a pretty obvious money saver. It seemed like the OP thought she had innovative ideas.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                    well, yes. obvious to you. and to most of us here.
                                                                                                                    sorry, I thought you were asking a /real/ question instead of saying "no duh"

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                      Oh, it was a real question but I think most people on this site have figured out how to buy frugal purchases- buy in season, don't buy prepared food, stock up in no perishables she on sale, etc. Those are the basics. I'd love to learn something new but unfortunately haven't seen anything in this thread. I'm holding out hope though :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                        Being frugal, or living within your means isn't rocket science, but many people are just not willing to do it.
                                                                                                                        If they were, there wouldn't be any consumer debt, and people would own their homes.

                                                                                                                        Baking a cake from scratch doesn't take much more time, than cooking from a cake mix.
                                                                                                                        Or making pancakes from scratch...but you just cannot convince some people.

                                                                                                                        Earlier this week, the town we are housesitting in,the bread was on sale for $1.79.(regular $2.49) We bought one loaf.
                                                                                                                        A couple of days later, we went to the next town, and their bread is $1.00 a loaf.We bought 2 and put them in the freezer.That grocery chain always has $1 bread.
                                                                                                                        We would be buying more bread, but now we saved money.

                                                                                                                        1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                          >Baking a cake from scratch doesn't take much more time, than cooking from a cake mix.>

                                                                                                                          This is the only thing I agree with you on re: food. But I do it because it tastes better, not to save money.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                            Do you do anything to save money?

                                                                                                                  2. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                    "They flavor it with tic-tac flavor."

                                                                                                                    Hmmmm...learned something new today. Thanks. I'm an avid reader of labels and was not aware of this at all. Sneaky sneaky.

                                                                                                                    From Wikipedia: According to the citrus industry, the Food and Drug Administration does not require the contents of flavor packs to be detailed on a product's packaging.*

                                                                                                                    *(Donaldson James, Susan. "California Woman Sues OJ Giant Tropicana Over Flavor Packs". ABC News. Retrieved 30 January 2012.)

                                                                                                                  3. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                    I believe she means organic or grass fed vs items that do not fall in that category.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Nayners

                                                                                                                      Yeah, that's what I think. Haven't gotten an answer but it's definitely important to me.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                        I doubt the OP would spring for organic foods unless it was at a rock bottom price.

                                                                                                                  4. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                    Yeah, it makes a HYOOGE difference, in ways I've listed in this thread. It's not marketing hype.

                                                                                                                  5. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                    Buy high quality basmati rice. Skip pasta entirely (.99 /lb is way too much for starch). Learn to love flatbread, and buy from costco! 50lbs of flour goes by in no time.

                                                                                                                    Choice meat is fine for most things (except steak). Learn to like it a bit lean --it's meatier that way.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                      Nice ideas but not very relevant to the way we eat. Thanks, though.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                        None of those suggestions are suitable nor appropriate for me or my family.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                          Whyfore not? Homemade pasta is just as cheap as flatbread, just a ton more work.

                                                                                                                          I can come home and have a pizza on the table in 30 minutes flat. Homemade top to bottom, homemade crust and sauce.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                            Diabetes. I haven't had a slice of pizze with the crust in more years than I can count.

                                                                                                                            You pay for those highly caloric, nutrient impoverished foods with your health.

                                                                                                                            I don't need or take any meds, and my blood glucose is pretty much always in the low normal range eating wholesome,delicous and nutrient dense foods that turn into glucose entirely the moment they're digested.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                              "I haven't had a slice of pizze with the crust in more years than I can count."

                                                                                                                              Wow - Good for you. I don't think I could go three months without a slice. Not sure if life is worth it without pizza,

                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                I didn't t think so either!! I was the Pasta Prom Queen, too.

                                                                                                                                But feeling so much better, reversing diabetic kidney and nerve damage and other high carb diet induced maladies is VERY reinforcing.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                          It'll never happen at my house.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                            >Skip pasta entirely<

                                                                                                                            Yeah, that's going to happen. When I die.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                              what you're saying reminds me of a blind date i once had with a guy who told me that he would never eat japanese food because thai food is cheaper.

                                                                                                                              that was the first and last date.

                                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                What a bizarre statement! I would want to see his calculations in that one! Haha

                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                  i didn't want to hang around to hear his next statement!

                                                                                                                        3. As a general response, I did not want to start a new thread.Some people got very annoyed with my posts on the thread which asked how much they spent on groceries per month, and basically told me to start a new thread.

                                                                                                                          I also didn't realise until today, the concept for Chowhound was a blog for foodies.I came to this site, because I was googling (I forget the exact subject now).
                                                                                                                          Most of the blogs I read are about sharing information on how to reduce your living costs, to reduce debt, and take control of your financial house.

                                                                                                                          I do apologise if my tone comes across as arrogant.It truly isn't my intent.

                                                                                                                          I don't distinguish what some call 'quality' food.I personally do not like steak, and the only way I eat it is chopped up in a stew, or in a stroganoff.I am also not a vegan.

                                                                                                                          Living in Canada (I'm a citizen) and Australia (husband is a citizen) , we have our health care covered in both countries.

                                                                                                                          I will go thru the replies, and try to answer your questions as best as I can.

                                                                                                                          I do appreciate all the replies, even though I think my post is a bit muddy.
                                                                                                                          I guess I don't believe that overspending in one area in your life, only affects that.Generally if you can control that, you are more open to taking control of other problem areas.

                                                                                                                          The economy of the world is very fragile. If one country is affected, it affects others.

                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                            "I also didn't realise until today, the concept for Chowhound was a blog for foodies."

                                                                                                                            oh, honey.

                                                                                                                            1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                              "The economy of the world is very fragile. If one country is affected, it affects others."

                                                                                                                              Personal and public health is fragile. if one person supports toxic food production to save money, it affects everyone.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                I agree. you'd be surprised how much toxins are in organic produce. solanine, for one.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                  You completely missed my point.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                    No, I don't think they did, I think they were making their own.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                      I didn't see one relevent to what I wrote. So there was no point in quoting me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                        I may be wrong, but I think Chowrin's solanine comment was meant tongue-in-cheek and was referring to the nightshade family....tomatoes and potatoes.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                      your point, if I may put words in your mouth, is that commercial farming is creating toxins that we then ingest.

                                                                                                                                      My point is that there are plenty of toxic things in nature, and that buying organic isn't much protection against 'em.

                                                                                                                                      Two sides, same coin, why I quoted you.

                                                                                                                                      If I misread, blame me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                        So you completely missed my point, I'm not talking about a "toxin" free world or life the way new agey health nuts use the term.

                                                                                                                                        I'm referring to super pathogens we have no drugs to fight, increasingly, due to antibiotic abuse in the food production practices that lead to cheap groceries. And the pesticides, and the damage the runoff does to our ability to sustain life wherever it goes, etc...

                                                                                                                                        Unsustainable practices, and we are all paying with damage to our health and the cost of paying for the extremely high disease rates in people who eat cheaply, ie: high starch, factory farmed meats and produce, etc.

                                                                                                                                2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                  Creative solutions pop up. CBS Sunday Morning, a tv program that never fails me, covered a story about Sharing networks listing quite a number of ways people ARE taking a proactive and sometimes unconventional look at their spending by sharing. I thought it was interesting. http://www.cbsnews.com/sunday-morning...

                                                                                                                                  I subscribe to a group that specifically gets together to food shop, meal plan and make money selling our food products. I've known these folks for 22 years. What started out as an opportunity to share the cost of a neighborhood fresh fish delivery service grew into a fantastic way to eat well and save money on our entire food budget. For instance, I like the occasional steak. I want good steak. But I don't want or need a huge commercial piece but if I partner on the butcher's cut I win and so do my food partners. No waste, no settling, no waiting for sales. That's how I roll.

                                                                                                                                  Chowhound is a great read. Get to know the community and maybe when you have more time to get to know this site you will find you're in welcoming company. There's valuable information posted all the time.

                                                                                                                                  I encouraged you to open a post rather than get your ideas lost in another topic. I thought you had something to offer; something to teach beyond don't buy brand names.

                                                                                                                                  I apologize if I had a hand in forcing your comfort level. That was not MY intent. But yes, around here it's mostly about the chow.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                    HillJ, what a great group of food friends you have! That is a wonderful idea.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                                      I don't know all of the group members well but well enough to have this food relationship that works for all of us. Like any group getting together with a common goal, you start out focused on what brought you together (stretching our food shopping dollars and making some money) but over time you get friendly and close because the idea becomes a worthwhile service that rewards everyone. It's been so long as this point, I'd probably have to think hard to think about shopping another way. Some of the strategies today that include many forms of sharing and bartering interest me.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                    It's not a "blog," but rather, a discussion forum, with a specific focus: food.

                                                                                                                                    "I don't distinguish what some call 'quality' food" that statement alone kind of sets you apart from many posters.

                                                                                                                                    You might want to cruise around this site for awhile, see what it's about. It's got lots of ideas that might just fit into your scheme of things, you might find useful.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                      It isn't "a blog for foodies," in my opinion. I am interested in food, but I do not consider myself a "foodie." The forums are about food, and things related to food. Economizing on food is an appropriate subject, but, in my opinion, economizing in other aspects of life is not.

                                                                                                                                    2. Ah Kathryn. On one hand, I understand what you are saying; long ago when my husband was a student I ran my house on $10 a week and, although prices were much lower then, $10 was still a super-austerity budget. But could I do it now? In downtown Chicago, where a loaf of bread costs $3.69 and a box of cereal $4.85? Back to a world of Dog Bone Soup? Probably, but it's not a way of life I would choose. And as I write this I am thinking of The Unsinkable Molly Brown's lament, "If I have to eat catfish heads all my life, can't I at least have them on a plate?". Life is short.

                                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                        Life is short, and why should people be so willing to stress themselves for decades because of such short sighted consequences.
                                                                                                                                        I'm suggesting, there are always cheaper alternatives.Such as baking your own bread and not buying box cereal.
                                                                                                                                        If you use a lot of baked beans, try making them from dried beans.
                                                                                                                                        Instead of buying expensive pasta sauces, try making them.
                                                                                                                                        Instead of buying bottles of applesauce or pudding cups, find out how easy it is to make.
                                                                                                                                        Buy a large container of yogurt (if you don't want to make your own) and put them into individual containers.
                                                                                                                                        Same with juice bottles.

                                                                                                                                        If you are taking the family on a trip, instead of buying them an ice cream treat, consider buying a package of them at the grocery store, or a larger container of icecream and a package of cones.
                                                                                                                                        Kids don't care..they just want a treat.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                          I have no interest in baking bread. I don't eat much of it. Same with cereal. I never eat it.

                                                                                                                                          I always make beans from scratch. I super-always make pasta sauce from scratch. I make every dessert I eat, sometimes even ice cream. But I do this because it's better, not because it's cheaper. I honestly didn't know any of it was cheaper, as I don't buy processed foods.

                                                                                                                                          But kids care. I'd love to know what yours really think of this journey you've taken them on.

                                                                                                                                          I'll bet this forum is just filled with ex-kids who cared when their parents cheaped out on food. And I do mean "cheap," and not "frugal," as I read about your food restricting upthread.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                            the main problem with baking bread is that even though it is great when it first comes out of the oven, after even one day (even when frozen), it is not so great.

                                                                                                                                            there is a reason good bakeries sell their day old bread for half price.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                              I bake bread with a sour dough starter, the bread is delicious and has a shelf life of a week-max. It never lasts that long though. The best part is it costs less than 1$ to make.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                              We have a friend who put a lock on her kitchen cabinet so the kids couldn't get to the cereal. It was so expensive and they ate it up like candy, she complained. She also locked other things up, like the TV room. I'm pretty sure her kids wished she wasn't home! All six of them moved out before they were 18, and some she hasn't talked to in years.

                                                                                                                                              She's actually a very pleasant person, plus married to a cop which here on Long Island is a VERY well paying job. But the things she used to brag about, gave me the willies. Some people are just born to be cheap.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                I think if my parents had had any more kids than me and my brother, my father might have locked up the food. I'll never forget one night when he spent hours bitching at me because I had eaten "his" ham (from the deli).

                                                                                                                                                I hadn't eaten it all, or come close to finishing it. I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich after getting home after everyone else had eaten dinner.

                                                                                                                                                It must have been his PTSD from having lived through the Depression or something, but my mother had to, like, physically stop him from strangling me, or whatever he was thinking of doing to me.

                                                                                                                                                He had real issues with our having things he hadn't had when he was a child.

                                                                                                                                                Ironically, I get my food preferences from him. We both loved Italian above all other.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                  My Dad loved to drink Coke but my Mom wanted us to have juice or milk. But either way, Dad was very possessive since the other kids would often swag some. He got in the habit of making a magic market line of where he was at. Luckily I wasn't into soda so I didn't get the blame!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                  Coll, my mother in law did this, too. My H was one of eleven, so you can imagine what kinds of cereal they went through, even though she bought huge boxes of generic corn flakes, etc.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                                Some people are into baking, but many more are not. It isn't just about frugality — there are many factors. In order to bake, one needs more equipment, space to store the equipment, space to store large quantities of flour (for frugality) of more than one type (if variety is desired), and lots of time.

                                                                                                                                                I like to cook, and have no problem using dried beans, but there is just no way I am going to bake to try to save money. As a non-baker, I have access to a huge variety of baked goods from the many smaller bakeries around today, which I could never duplicate in any practical way.

                                                                                                                                                The way to save money on baked goods is to reduce the consumption of them, especially the sweetened ones, in my opinion.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                  I once had a roommate who, because her religious community encouraged it, devoted a hall closet to storing a plastic garbage-can of flour. (It was a garbage bin expressly acquired for flour storage and had only ever been used for that purpose. Also, it was lined with plastic--probably a garbage bag, ha!.)

                                                                                                                                                  She used it for her every day baking. I always worried it was going to get weevils or something.

                                                                                                                                                  She also stored oversized containers of peanut butter and oil. If there's a will, there's a way, I guess!


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                    using the same logic as GH1618, i have arrived at the same conclusion.

                                                                                                                                                    an additional factor is that, to my palate, day old baked goods are rarely worth the calories.

                                                                                                                                                    on the rare occasions i have baked goods, i buy a small amount of the best and freshest from the best bakery.

                                                                                                                                              3. you know how we save money? once my husband didn't work for 3 months when he was supposed to (hollywood crap) so i bought a bunch of stuff at coscto and did most of my shopping at trader joe's and the farmer's markets for fresh veggies and fruits. and then, i do thing called "let's eat only out of the fridge" game. i only eat what's in there. so if i ran out of tomatoes for sandwiches then it was tuna and lettuce minus tomatoes. we eat everything until we are out. if i ran out of bread, then we'd just switch to rice, etc. etc. i don't buy factory farmed foods as much as possible. my child also has food allergies so i have to be careful with certain brands of foods and we tend to make everything from scratch. these are my frugal suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                  I love the eat out of the fridge game. I do that quite often. Saves a trip to the store.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                    yes, in fact, we're doing it right now. when money was tight my goal was to keep a budget under $500-600 a month for food and only take weekly trips to the store and monthly if not hold out longer for costco. when i got the sudden urge to make something awesome it didn't quite work but we were satisfied with it all. it's also a challenge when you put a 4 yr old into the mix. sometimes he wants apples and we're out. nothing can replace wanting a certain food for a youngster sometimes. plus, you know they've only eaten cheese all day and you don't want them to get deprived.

                                                                                                                                                    oh, and during this time of savings we stop buying things like cheese sticks and buy only blocks. buy large tubs of yogurt and pretty much eliminate convenient packaging. this is also a challenge when you have food allergies bc you can't do bulk bins due to too much uncertainty with cross contamination.

                                                                                                                                                    normally my food budget can be triple of $500 if i'm not mindful.

                                                                                                                                                    this can all be done without moving into a van too.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                      trader joe's is my fridge.
                                                                                                                                                      makes for a lot of variety.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Somehow this thread reminds me of when I first left home and was just learning to manage money. Back then ideas like stocking up on sale products and making my own applesauce were a revelation. If scanning code of practice had existed at the time, I probably would have been excited about that too -- oblivious to the fact that my fellow shoppers and I would eventually pay the price of free food I scored in that way.
                                                                                                                                                    I began to use vegetables with their peels, and save cooking water to make soup. (Didn't work so well when I tried adding artichoke stock to my minestrone!)
                                                                                                                                                    Now these ideas seem old. They may help some people, but things like bulk buying or cooking a quantity of baked beans don't work so well for me, living alone in a small apartment.
                                                                                                                                                    I prefer to buy fresh and appealing produce and meat, in amounts that I can consume within a reasonable time. This may mean buying one chicken leg rather than a whole chicken at a cheaper per kilo cost, for example. (I know I could cut the whole chicken up and freeze part, but I really dislike struggling with the poultry shears. I also don't care for eating leftover chicken all week -- in fact, I eat very little meat during the week, reserving it for Shabbat.)
                                                                                                                                                    And when I am calculating the true cost of a meal, I factor in the expense of gas for cooking and water (which is not provided free in this country), as well as the money I could make as a freelancer in the time I spend preparing. Sometimes I will still opt for a preparation- and cooking time-intensive dish, sometimes not. The point is that I am doing it in an informed way.
                                                                                                                                                    Eating enjoyable healthy meals, whether alone or with my children or friends, learning about new foods and new ways to prepare familiar foods, and reducing waste are my goals. And I'm having fun along the way.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I have a logistical question for you.

                                                                                                                                                      First you say:

                                                                                                                                                      >>>We now travel 8 months of the year in Australia, and return to Canada for the remaining 4. While in Australia, we housesit for people,and all we need to supply is our food. In between these housesit times we live in our 2006 van.<<<

                                                                                                                                                      Then you say:

                                                                                                                                                      >>>Last year we needed a new couch. We have the funds to buy a new one, but instead we searched on Kijiji and found someone who had just bought a new couch and wanted to get rid of their old one. We paid $50 and took it home.<<<

                                                                                                                                                      Uh, what "home"???

                                                                                                                                                      The people you house sit for let you home decorate with your own furniture?

                                                                                                                                                      Or do you have a van that would make John Madden's bus seem "frugal" by comparison?

                                                                                                                                                      Do tell.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                        We have our own home in Canada, that we return to 4 months of the year. It has furniture and everything :)
                                                                                                                                                        Yes, because our 26" floor model tv is still working great (that we bought in 1990) it doesn't have a flat screen one.
                                                                                                                                                        We also have a vehicle we put up over winter too.

                                                                                                                                                        In Australia, we housesit or camp in our van.(used to be a tradesman work van)
                                                                                                                                                        It is just a 2006 Kia Pragio.Nothing special, but it is comfortable.

                                                                                                                                                      2. When I see numbers like $25 per person for food, I also see lots of bulking up with beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, etc.

                                                                                                                                                        I can't eat all that starch!

                                                                                                                                                        OR, I see tiny portions. I recall one poster saying a meal to them could consist of a few almonds or a bowl of rice with butter. More power to them, but, yeah, that's not gonna work for me!

                                                                                                                                                        I have had to cut way down but eating a meat & vegetables diet still costs me $200 to $250 a month. I suppose if I ate nothing but the cheapest eggs and canned tuna, I could make it work but I also would be choking down my meals after a couple weeks.

                                                                                                                                                        And while I can't afford grass fed meat right now, at least I can get good grass fed butter or cheese (when I see it at good prices.)

                                                                                                                                                        The generalization you're making that sticks in my craw (I thank you for giving me the opportunity to use the phrase "sticks in my craw) is that if you don't go bare bones, cheapest options across-the-board, that you are wildly wasting your money at Whole Foods daily.

                                                                                                                                                        There is a whole world in between. I'm a very careful shopper. I check the reduced meats section and put my deals in the freezer. I bought twenty pounds of pork shoulder last week so I could get the bulk discount. I know what I'm doing when it comes to value. I resent the implication that I'm wasteful if I don't do it in one specific way.

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                          2+ Thank you!!!

                                                                                                                                                          That's what I was thinking.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                            I bout a whole por rib loin at Costco for like 8 bucks they had aa coupon off for 10 bucks and it was 4.00 a kilo My whole AAA Alberta Beef whole Ribeye was 88 bucks at 17.99 a kilo and last week got a whole Turkey at 20 bucks off a bird so the Turkey was like 7 bucks now thats shopping That is enough meat for me till june Dry aging the beef and the pork and its super yummy

                                                                                                                                                          2. I am not interested in embracing the frugal lifestyle, as you describe it, as my family lived it for many years out of necessity, not out of choice.

                                                                                                                                                            Also, you mention that only one of you works. In our household, both of us work. I think there's a trade-off between time and money. When you both work, you have less time, and therefore, there are conveniences you are willing to pay for. In a way, time and money are two ends of one continuum. When you have lots of time, you need to spend it in order to save money. When you have lots of money (as a working person anyway), you need to spend it on order to save time.

                                                                                                                                                            In addition, there are things and experiences, including meals out, that my income pays for. It's part of the reason I work. So I can travel. So I can attend fine art performances. So I can enjoy dining out. So I can pursue my hobbies. So my kid can attend music class. Etc. Of course, there are also things I have to pay for in order to work: child care, a second car & gas & insurance for commuting, work attire...

                                                                                                                                                            But, I live reasonably modestly. I consume mindfully, buy used when I can, take care of the things I have. I use my public library. Hang my clothes out to dry in summer. Walk when and where I can. Buy energy-star rated appliances when an old one goes kaput. And so on. Most of those choices have to do with wanting to care for our precious earth more than being frugal, though they are sometimes intertwined.

                                                                                                                                                            I also believe that some of my grocery choices, buying organic or sustainable or humanely-raised have to do with paying my full share of the burden of "cheap food." Some food is artificially cheap because the real costs are being borne by society and not necessarily by the direct consumer.

                                                                                                                                                            All of that having been said, I am surprised by how high my grocery bills are. I would love more tips and recipes and strategies for saving on my grocery bills. I've copied your and Munchiemonster's recipes and shopping lists into my file. I'd love to see this discussion head more in this direction.


                                                                                                                                                            31 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                              TDQ, do you recall the series of OP's rworange did on $3.00 meals. They are probably too deep in the archive but I'd love to dust off their cobwebs and post them here.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the reminder. I loved this project of hers!


                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                    OK, so I just skimmed RWO's posts again. I forgot that many of her recipes called for things like, "a mustard packet from Chinese take-out" etc. Totally cracks me up.

                                                                                                                                                                    Just reading these posts exhausts me, actually. It just all seems totally random. I just can't live that randomly. And I personally have a hard time balancing "plan ahead" vs. "be flexible", both of which she suggests one do. If I'm going to invest a ton of time into making a plan, I have a hard time re-tooling it just because the fresh corn looks good.

                                                                                                                                                                    And I'm not willing to drive all over town to shop at several grocery stores. I'm willing to shop at the one I drive past. And I can re-arrange my route to shop at one vs. the other, but I'm not going to shop at them all.

                                                                                                                                                                    But I think the hard part for me is how to plan vs. how to be flexible.


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                      I recall thinking it was easier to read than do. Rw has a lot of energy and her goal was to beat her own best records, share with the community. I went along for the great read but I can't employ her methods. Just my way now of pointing out how these ideas have come across the community from time to time and what even then was gleaned.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                        OK, thank you for that. I was afraid it was just me.

                                                                                                                                                                        I have actually looked at these posts of hers several times over the years thinking, "Oh, I'll just follow her plan and see how it works for me." And once I get into it, I think, OMG I'm so overwhelmed. I think her conclusions are probably the real take-aways for me personally. Since so much of her approach relied on serendipity, it's would be really hard for anyone to follow exactly in her footsteps.


                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                          I was also reminded of RWOrange when reading this topic. IIRC when she undertook the $3 a day project she was only shopping and feeding herself. So lots more flexibility than planning and cooking for a family. Also her ability to travel far and wide for shopping was, I think, due to the nature of her job (really just guessing here). Later on RW acquired a husband and stepkids that really changed that picture.

                                                                                                                                                                          Personally, I have noticed a increase in grocery bills in the last couple of years and I don't think my buying habits have changed that much. Prices really are on the rise in the US and that is a trend that is not likely to go away.

                                                                                                                                                                          Like many here on CH, quality food is a priority, so I will find other areas to cut back

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pamf

                                                                                                                                                                            "...RW acquired a husband and stepkids.."
                                                                                                                                                                            That's funny!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                              Actually, IIRC, she did use the term "acquire" re the stepkids :)

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: pamf

                                                                                                                                                                              All, true. RWO was pretty clear that her personal situation gave her some advantages in tackling this project, but also some disadvantages in that she isn't an accomplished cook. It really was a fascinating project and even if her exact approach won't work for everyone it did prove it was possible to live on that kind of budget, but that doing so successfully would take some time and some saavy and some planning.


                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                          Well said. Thanks so much! I work from lists and plans and, much as I'd like to be able to, just don't always turn on the "fresh corn" (for instance) dime. Not very creative, but a great quartermaster-- that's me!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                      "All of that having been said, I am surprised by how high my grocery bills are."

                                                                                                                                                                      I took over the weekly shopping duties a few months ago upon my retirement. I'm appalled by how much of our grocery bill is for non food items. I understand that other's shopping habits are not mine but we live in a small town where the supermarket is often the best, if not the only, place to buy certain sundries.

                                                                                                                                                                      I suppose it is irrelevant when you are buying things that you need but I do feel that sometimes when people complain about the high cost of food it involves more than food.

                                                                                                                                                                      As an example, a few weeks ago I spent a hundred or so dollars and as I was checking out it occurred to me that there was practically nothing to eat in the cart. A bottle of vitamins and a jug of laundry detergent were about a fourth of the total amount.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kengk

                                                                                                                                                                        see that's me too. Plenty of non food items go into my weekly shopping that have a role IN my food budget. Can't get around that and still cook, bake, take care of the household.

                                                                                                                                                                        Even when I use b. soda, vinegar and lemons to clean my house...as opposed to super cheap cleaning products...that has to count, right?!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                          This is random, but I've been buying my dish soap (Dawn) at the CVS down the street. They almost always have the small bottles on sale for 99 cents and, (after I did the per ounce math) it actually works out to being cheaper, or at least as cheap, as the bigger bottles even at Target!

                                                                                                                                                                          That's the only household thing I buy there though; everything else is exorbitant.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                            I've found that to be true also. The wonderful Costco threads that run on CH comes to mind immediately. I've been a Costco member since they landed in NJ and while some buys are spot on many are higher than elsewhere even at the giant size. I cross reference prices using the computer (one reason I asked the OP about her Internet usage) to cut thru the bs on weekly pricing. I use to waste more time running around only to find the prices *unit price* was not the deal they advertised.

                                                                                                                                                                            Also, rain checks are something I take advantage of when the store is out of stock.

                                                                                                                                                                            And many competitors honor the lowest price of the week to keep your business-I employ that strategy.

                                                                                                                                                                            Making nice with the produce guy, the butcher, the cheese cave; getting on newsletter lists for unannounced specials or early birds-these all work well.

                                                                                                                                                                            So I don't need to go into combat mode to buy foold the way I want to at the price I'm willing to pay-- some planning (which I do take from the OP's recommendations) works.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                                  I really hate Aldi. It all looks like off-brand crap to me, sorry to say. But, I have two that are very convenient to me. What am I overlooking that might be worthwhile there?


                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi, DQ - I haven't been yet -- one is set to become my closest grocery store any day now -- but I've read on CH that there may be decent cheese (Jarlsberg, cheddar) at lower prices than I'm used to. So I figure I'll check it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                      Many people feel that way actually. Aldi has been selling brand names for well over a year. Brand name cheeses of late. And I enjoyed the savings on Jarlsberg, Kerrygold fresh mozz and goat cheese. But in NJ locations vary a good deal on stocked items, cleanliness and brand price.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, based on your above posts, it may not be for you as it's unlikely you could do a majority of your shopping there.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But, for example, yesterday I got two 7 oz blocks of Kerrygold Dubliner cheese for $2.99 a block.

                                                                                                                                                                                        They've started to carry some organic products. Their produce is surprisingly often quite good. Their avocados are AS good as anywhere (anywhere can be good or bad) but are always substantially cheaper.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Their sweet potato chips and kettle chips are terrific.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Baking supplies (when I do bake) are cheaper. Condensed milk, for example, is always about a buck and a half.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Good imported chocolate. When they get shipments of German products, those are good.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Chances are that they have more duds than another market. But the good stuff is very good and worth the trip for me, since it's only a mile up the road!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                                          and the price of eggs. I've paid .55 a doz and no more than $1.69 a doz.

                                                                                                                                                                                          here's what irks some Aldi shoppers more: prices change not weekly but sometimes daily. like gas prices. so just when you think your deal was super; it was super duper a day later.

                                                                                                                                                                                          biggest complaint the Mgr hears!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ha! True. I've run into that with their berries. I'm an avid Amazon shopper though, so am used to crazy price fluctuations.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Onions! They always have three pound bags of onions for anywhere from a buck to a buck and a half. And not dinky little ones. Big & fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                          Funny how this just circled through in another thread.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Aldi's each have a "personality" that is appropriate for their area and neighborhood. If it is possible, try to peruse an Aldi in another location Other Than the one you've visited.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Right now, their CHEESE is very popular.
                                                                                                                                                                                          And I like the tubes of gr beef and gr turkey.
                                                                                                                                                                                          In my area, their milk is cheaper than the Big Box Stores.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                        yeah, you do have to be careful at costco. some items like pastas are not necessarily cheaper than they are at Trader Joe's. also storage is an issue for us. we live in a small place and don't have much room in the fridge. yes, you can freeze cheese and big cuts of meat and seafood but we lack room in the freezer as well. it makes no sense for us to buy so much when we don't have the space to accomodate large foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                          And the temptations! My sister saves in one aisle and winds up over budget in another. So if you don't have control power to just walk in for the great price on a quart of berries and a pineapple but leave with the prepared foods or specialty items...you're not ahead....strictly budget speaking.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Now, if you love shrimp salad enough to buy the prepared brand and eat it every day for two weeks...then okay, spend away!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                          would like to add to HillJ's post:

                                                                                                                                                                                          although i like to buy some items at Whole Foods, a market that most find to be expensive, keep in mind that Whole Foods will extend a 10% discount if you order a case of something.

                                                                                                                                                                                          that discount brings the price on many of their items to a level BELOW that of the regular stores.
                                                                                                                                                                                          also, many frozen food items only come 8 items to a case, so you are not really forced into buying a tremendous amount in order to get a sizable discount.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                            Twin Cities co-ops will do the same for members, even if the item is on sale. Plus you still get your quarterly dividend.


                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                              Right. When you think about it there are dozens of methods to employ right from the places you shop now.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Rebate anyone? How many people make a habit of turning those in for a refund? The Costco wall is NEVER out of rebate forms. They are hidden from view sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Do we visit the website of manufacturer's to take advantage of discounts they print on their own sites? Last one I used was a $15.00 rebate on the electric toothbrush duo I bought already at discount at Costco. Two brush kits wound up costing $55.00.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Manufacturer's website often offer deep discounts and freebies to print out and use locally.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Take a food survey, you are rewarded with discounts and freebies.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't always catch the deals but I try to catch a significant # so I stretch my buck when possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                              We know each money saving tip takes an investment in time. And if time is a premium to begin with (which for me varies month to month) I count on my food group to have their eyes on the prize we can all benefit from.

                                                                                                                                                                                              But I remember how much time my Mom spent on green stamps, and I consider my food shopping life a luxury compared to how hard she worked at saving money for us to eat well.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: kengk

                                                                                                                                                                                      Excellent point. The grocery store is definitely not the most affordable place to shop for personal care products and such, though it's often convenient to do so!


                                                                                                                                                                                    3. There are many roads to Mecca.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Folks, we want to once again remind everyone, including the original poster, to please keep the focus on food. Before you hit the big blue button, please read over what you've written, and if it's not focused pretty clearly on saving money on food (how to, where to, whether to), please reconsider making the post.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My first year our of grad school, I was working full time making $11/hour without benefits. I worked for a university, and was forced to take unpaid time off during school breaks, so I was earning a whopping $22K/year in a town with a median household income of $50K/year. I budgeted myself a combined $40/week for food and entertainment. The less I spent on groceries (including household items), the more I could spend on fun. I ate a lot of peanut butter, carrots, celery, and apples. I spent a substantial amount of time looking at weekly adds and planning menus based on sales. At first it was like a game, but eventually it was exhausting. I usually could manage to keep my grocery purchases in the $25-$30 range. If I had anything leftover from the $40 at the end of the week, it went into a jar where I saved spare change for splurges. I managed, but it wasn't fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Six years later, and I have a job I love and earn more than twice as much. I'm still below the town median, but comfortable. I do not waste anything, and I think long and hard about major purchases. When it comes to food, I buy what I want. If it's on sale, that's great. Most weeks, my grocery bill is $40-$50. Some weeks it's higher if I'm stocking up on meat at a great price, some lower if I'm planning to use meat from the freezer. At most, I'm spending $1K more for food over the course of the year, and being able to relax and really enjoy shopping, cooking and eating is worth $1K.

                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                                                                                                                            "At most, I'm spending $1K more for food over the course of the year, and being able to relax and really enjoy shopping, cooking and eating is worth $1K."
                                                                                                                                                                                            and that is the heart of the matter. Worth. Value.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well said.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The choice of what we eat (and why) is not one-size-fits all, nor, as we see from a lot of posters on the board, is it a choice that some follow in the same manner over a whole lifetime.

                                                                                                                                                                                              We see this in the kind hosts who try to accommodate all the guests' lifestyles at their tables, when one guest has celiac, one is diabetic, one is vegan, one won't eat anything green, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                                That is ALL that matters when it comes to our food.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. For those old enough to remember Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, he made a point of differentiating between "frugal" and "cheap."

                                                                                                                                                                                                Also I respect people even if their splurge isn't mine. Because mine likely isn't theirs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. In fairness, OP is quite new to CH and perhaps didn't realize how tuned in to these things most of us are. Reading over the years, it's apparent that some have deeper pockets than others. But even the wealthy among us don't appear to be wasting money. But there are many, many threads about economizing including good deals at Grocery Outlet, Costco, TJs, etc. I think most of us cut corners in one area to afford the things we don't want to compromise on. She hasn't participated in about 12 hours so maybe realized that she was preaching to the choir :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I finally got through this thread. I agree that the OP didn't realize that this is a "foodie site" (in her words). I think people on CH tend to me more defensive of their eating and shopping habits. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As for me, I save money on the things we enjoy eating. We don't compromise on what we eat, but I do shop sales and occasionally use coupons on things I would normally purchase. I don't buy things *because* they are on sale or *because* I have a coupon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    When meat is on sale, I'll buy 2-3 family packs, and bring it home to break into small quart size freezer bags. We have a small chest freezer in our laundry room for storing things like that. I'm a bit particular about the brand (for example, chicken must be Foster Farms or Tyson brand or Sprouts brand, as I don't like the quality of certain other brands sold at my grocery store). I buy most of my fresh produce from our local mexican and middle eastern markets as they are lower priced than the grocery stores. We do eat lentils, beans and rice, but in moderation (we are Indian, so lots of preparations for those kinds of things!) We do 80% of our shopping at Trader Joes and Sprouts. The other 20% is at Costco (meat, bread, eggs plus whatever looks good to us), Ralphs and Target, for things I can't get at TJs and Sprouts. We buy what we like, but we are concious of prices -- for example, I'll buy pork loin chops on sale for $2.99/lb but I will not pay $4.99/lb. I plan my menus around what's on sale and what I have in my freezer. (side note: clothing and home items are the same way -- we look for the best price on the item we want. We don't buy the cheapest thing available)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That being said, we do eat out 3-4 times a month. We don't do fast food. We have kids, so we usually pick something kid friendly like Wood Ranch or CPK or our favorite neighborhood sushi joint. For date nights, hubby and I splurge and have a nice dinner with a bottle of wine. It may cost us $200-$400 depending on where we go and what we order, but it's one of the reasons we save money elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm in Australia atm, and we are 12 hr+ ahead (I was sleeping)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm honestly surprised that this is your only comment to my post. As I mentioned, ways of being thrifty are rampant on this site. If people didn't jump on your bandwagon, it's likely because they're on one that's equal to yours. This site is about food so talking about those other things is just not going to resonate here. If you've perused these boards enough, you realize that being arbitrary rarely accomplishes much. It's about food and there are countless way to skin that cat :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I just started reading the posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Please let us know when you finish!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. $25 per week sounds a little austere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        There can be merit in frugality; equally it can be merely meanly parsimonious or ascetic - Dante placed the misers with the profligate in hell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ultimately, it's a personal choice, and I wouldn't disturb you in the life that you've chosen. For me, though, and in recognition of that we only have one life to live, the choice to live a life more expansive than subsisting on discarded food in rented vans is not one that I can criticise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. The topic is one I always read - frugality and grocery shopping. It comes up often on Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here is a link to rworange's Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/420878

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I like rworange's approach and the sharing of menus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                            K-D did actually share some menus and recipes up-thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8970... and none of her recipes (unlike rwo's) called for packets of fast-food condiments! HA! That really cracked me up about rwo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            We discussed rwo's $3/day project a little up thread as well. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8970...


                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks TDQ... I kinda skipped a lot of this thread (I thing I always tsk tsk in my head when everyone else does it (BAD Mary!)). When someone new starts off on the wrong foot on Chowhound and everyone jumps in to confirm the wrongdoing, I can't watch (or read) the gory details.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, then you may have skipped munchiemonster's shopping list and recipes also buried upthread:



                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. My post here from yesterday got deleted, so I hesitate to post again; still, I do think that as much as the actual strategies or tactics one uses to save money, that the spirit behind the action is important. I do a lot to save money--it's why I moved out to a semi rural part of my city, why I buy in bulk as much as is feasible, and why I try to eat simply and sustainably. Where i shop matters to me too: I am less than comfortable shopping in a place where there's exploitation. I applaud anyone who puts thought and intention into their eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let's see if this one sticks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: NorthEncantoGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I read a very nice post that sort of addressed actual hunger...socio economic issues. Sort of was that your post?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I admire anyone who is thrifty, can accomplish their dreams, and manage, as we did too, to raise four children with 1 very needed full time stay at home parent. KUDOS! With that said, people need to understand the difference between being frugal, and doing without or settling for less nutritious and delicious food and living without joy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Being frugal is about not wasting anything possible, being conscientious, and having your heart behind whatever choices you make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A wonderful chef who was on ETV for years and travelled as well as published cookbooks was the Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith. He was a joy to see in the kitchen, and constantly imparting a zest for life, with wisdom delivered often with humour and a smile. Unsure if anything he did is still in print, but check used book shops either online or brick and mortar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps appreciating others differences could be helpful? How dull would life be if we all ate, thought, loved, and existed exactly the same?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Food for thought from a CHOW newbie - don't throw old hard biscuits at my head please. Oh alright, where is my son's old football helmet? Might be needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: amamacadamia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In fact, I just bought a Jeff Smith cookbook, used, in very good condition, although not because it is "frugal."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                BTW, I don't think Jeff Smith was a "chef," strictly speaking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: amamacadamia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The moderators (in their wisdom) deleted her posts where she clearly stated that she and her family have access to numerous fruit trees for lots of fresh fruit and berries....and fresh produce from her garden.IMO it does not get any healthier than homegrown organic fruit and produce to feed yourself and family.The OP also stated that at one six month long house-sitting gig all of their fully prepared meals were provided for free.Sounds like she has her system perfected.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Um I am frugal and get to having seasons tickets to the Flames golf at prestigious courses and it shopping get to eat high end foods. I shop at Costco and the superstore wharehouse plus liquidation world. I go out for coffee but get free refills at Starbucks it gets me out All my steak I buy at Costco last I looked a ribeye at safeway was 28.99 a kg Costco 17.99 for a whole one and its AAA Specialty meat shops its 40 a kg. I usually eat as I am a single guy on 20 bucks a week as I also enjoy KD mind you its added with Balserson chedder from Costco in which i only buy something if it has a coupon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. We think it's best to close this thread at this time. Thanks to those who helped keep it on track and shared tips on how to cook and eat frugally.