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are ya thrifty, frugal, or almost CHEAP!?!

I'm pretty much all over that spectrum.

Used to have a Super Fresh market in my neighborhood. They always had a rack of less than perfect produce. NEVER anything rotten or gross... just not picture perfect. Would often buy bananas that were actually PERFECTLY ripe for immediate eating. Usually close to free. Some for eating and rest into freezer for banana bread in the future. A 5 lb bag of fancy "organic" apples became a messa apple sauce. A bag of mis-matched tomatoes became some sauce for something.

The Shop Rite near me always has lots of stuff from their bakery area with sell-by dates... like tomorrow?!? NOTHING wrong with the stuff. When I know I'm gonna want/need bread crumbs, croutons, or bread cubes (like in 2 weeks for stuffing), will end up with a nice crusty loaf of $4-5 bread for maybe $1.50. Today it was a bag of 6 SOFT onion rolls.

Today, bought bacon... odds/ends of the good stuff from deli counter. It's slowly rendering on stove. Will yield a nice batch of bacon fat (for things like crab cakes) & a messa REAL bacon crumbles for all sorts of things.

Have bought packages of cheese ends (from deli area) when getting ready to make mac & cheese.

Anyone else in this boat with me?

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    1. I like to think of myself as "cost-conscious" but never CHEAP. :-) And I like these grocery shopping tips. Particularly the bacon ends and cheese ends. Perfect! I've bought the less-than-perfect produce before (great for Vitamixing, because who cares what it looks like if it's just getting pulverized anyway?!) but never considered the other stuff. THANK YOU!

      1. I'm never sure if I'm doing a good thing or not by buying things on the discount rack at grocery stores to be honest. Some of these stores end up donating those items to soup kitchens. So if I am buying it up, that's one less thing getting donated - not to mention I'm paying for old/damaged food. If the grocery store, however, tosses all that stuff out, then I would feel better buying it so it doesn't go to waste.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Atomic76

          There's a bunch of stuff in the back that they donate. I used to work at a non profit wildlife place and we'd just goto the grocery (back, not retail area) and pick whatever we wanted for free.

          Once it's on the floor it's for sale or garbage, at least in my experience.

        2. I also like to think of it as smart! I "extreme coupon" (no, it isn't like that stupid tv show,) and save $700-800 a month on both groceries and household goods that way and then use the money I save to buy quality ingredients like grass fed meats, fresh cage free organic eggs directly from the egg ranch and wild fish. The local 99 Cents Only stores have tons of organic produce on Wednesday and Saturday mornings (expiration dates are usually at least 2 weeks out so there is plenty of time to eat them while still very fresh!) I'm learning canning and put up a bunch of stuff I got really cheap as well as things I've grown. I grow as much as I can so it is both super cheap and pesticide free/ organic. I'm trying to get the best of both worlds- inexpensive and quality.

          7 Replies
          1. re: weezieduzzit

            Still trying to figure out couponing myself. Glad to read about your success, after some research it seems the tv show couponers aren't all that they seem. But if a CHer has success then it really must be true.

            1. re: youareabunny

              Yeah,. it's true, and it's a dumb idea.
              You too can print out any coupon you'd like,
              on anything that you'd like (except milk).
              There are recipes online (someone cracked
              the code a while back). I'll refrain from linking 4chan.

              1. re: Chowrin

                Saving as much money as I do couponing definitely isn't "dumb." Using coupons is completely different than actively couponing (multiple coupon stacks, rolling rewards and Catalinas, etc.) Also, there are milk coupons- it's an easy thing to get for free if you drink conventional milk.

              2. re: youareabunny

                youareabunny, find a good couponing blog that covers your area if you're curious, a good couponing blog does all of the work for you on figuring out the deals. All you have to do is read it and do the deals that work for you. Not having to pay for paper towels and toothpaste and other household items frees up a lot of money to expand the grocery budget.

                1. re: weezieduzzit

                  And this is why it is stupid.
                  Anything that gets this much "publicity" and
                  becomes this "easy" is abusing the system.

                  And abused systems get shut down.

                  1. re: Chowrin

                    Every last one of the deals I do is completely within store policy. There is no abuse. I know you've said on other threads that you used to use coupons and it sounds like it didn't work out well for you. That doesn't mean it doesn't work out well for other people.

                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                      Within store policy doesn't mean it's within profit margins.
                      I used to get Redpack tomatoes for free (get a half dozen
                      cans when they were on sale).

                      Do you think the corporation's making a profit on that?

                      I'd be saving 70-90% off my grocery bills... (not one off. all the time) I don't think that
                      counts as profitable.

                      (Now, a relatively keen eyed observer
                      might think that I wanted my local store
                      to go out of business).

            2. Define your distinctions. I would consider thrifty and frugal synonymous. The Frugal Gourmet explained that frugal does not mean making low price the first consideration but rather, not wasting what you've bought. If your prime concern is cheap cost, you may sacrifice quality and nutrition.

              Like you, I seek out the quick-sale markdowns in each department, changing my shopping list and upcoming menu plans accordingly, on the fly. Last week the supermarket had boneless lamb legs two days before their use/freeze-by date. They were on sale, with an additional mark-down sticker. It came to less than $2.50/# so I got one and once home, divvied it up into sections, one for roasting and two for braising, freezing most of it.

              Some people can't handle deviating from their preplanned shopping/cooking lists. If you don't have a flexible cooking style, you can't take advantage of weekly flyers and instore mark-downs. Cooking on the fly comes naturally to others (like me), but I think to do it well, you need a large variety of pantry ingredients. Not everyone has enough storage space for that.

              11 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                I've always known them to be (based on the definitions by my Depression era grandmothers:)

                thrifty: getting a good deal that not only saves money but is good value for the money- spending your money wisely

                frugal: not wasting what you have, making use of all of something

                cheap: low price being the only consideration

                1. re: weezieduzzit

                  I grew up cheap by necessity, and started out my adult life that way. I've finally become more what I would call thrifty.

                  I can't really call myself frugal, as I often find myself throwing things away that I didn't get around to finishing before they went bad. Most often, these are:

                  - cream
                  - wine (we don't drink, so I buy the little bottles when I need it for something. I can't ever seem to follow up with another wine-needing recipe to use up the rest of the bottle before it needs to go!)
                  - celery
                  - leftovers (I never learn)

                  1. re: Kontxesi

                    For wine, you can freeze unused wine and pull it out for cooking anytime you need it. Use your ice cube tray or freeze measured portions.

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      Oh! I definitely didn't think of that. I started doing it with tomato paste, because I used to throw that all the time, too.... Not sure why I didn't think to do that with wine.

                      Thanks. :)

                      1. re: Kontxesi

                        If you buy tomato paste in tubes it doesn't go bad and could be kept in the fridge. I do not buy cans since I discovered tubes.

                        1. re: herby

                          Cans are way cheaper than tubes of tomato paste.
                          I still buy cans and freeze the leftover in little ziplocs. Squeeze the air out and flatten.

                          1. re: TroyTempest

                            That's true but I use it infrequently and in small quantities - one tube last a long time - so the price is not important to me. Does that make me frugal? :)

                          2. re: herby

                            I don't think I've ever seen it in tubes. Would it be right near the cans?

                            1. re: Kontxesi

                              I am in Canada and do not usually shop in big stores - it is usually with the pasta and sauces. Here is the one I buy:
                              http://www.amazon.com/Mutti-Italian-D...
                              I am sure I pay $2 something, definitely not over $3.

                              1. re: Kontxesi

                                Tubes of tomato paste are usually by the specialty Italian ingredients near the pasta sauce. Close to the anchovy paste and pre made pesto.

                      2. re: weezieduzzit

                        then i am thrifty and frugal. not cheap.