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

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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. Thrifty, frugal , cheap? More like SMART

    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.

                    2. I tend to buy meat in the $1-2/pound price range and pretty much never buy anything over $4/pound. I tend to have a typically American meat-heavy diet.

                      Does that make me thrifty, frugal, or cheap?

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                        Cheap.

                        1. re: FoodPopulist

                          Cheap, but(sad to say) not alone.

                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                            you must eat a lot of chicken. ;-).

                            actually, what meat/poultry/seafood DO you get in that price range? the only thing i can think of is chicken leg quarters…maybe a sale on pork loin or country-style pork ribs.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Yesterday at Shoprite, boneless/skinless chicken breast for $.99/lb w/flyer coupon. Got four lbs!

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Currently on sale at my local grocery stores:

                                Pork sirloin roast for $1.88/lb
                                Boneless chicken breast/thigh for $1.99/lb

                                I buy things like chicken gizzards, turkey legs, cheap packaged lunch meats. I have no problem using frozen tubes of ground turkey. When it's on sale, the grocery's thick-cut bacon drops under $2/lb.

                                I just like the texture of meat and the feel of it in my mouth, so I may use cheap meat and come up with other ways to create flavor rather than relying on the meat's own goodness.

                                1. re: FoodPopulist

                                  I find cheaper meat often tastier meat.
                                  Choice versus Prime.

                              2. re: FoodPopulist

                                I'd call that frugal, not cheap. Cheap, IMO, implies extreme penny pinching at the expense of others. For example, a person who goes out to lunch with a group and manages to put down only enough for his/her meal w/o tax or tip. Or worse, always forgets to bring a wallet.

                                You're not hurting anyone by purchasing inexpensive meats. It is your choice.

                                1. re: tcamp

                                  I would call that person a mooch.

                              3. Is that a common thing to be able to buy the odds & ends parts of bacon from the deli counter? I've never thought about asking for those, but it's a great idea for making bacon bits!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  I know they sell them at Trader Joe's and I've seen them occasionally at Safeway but never in other stores. Though I've never asked either.

                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    It would be common only at those deli counters that sell slab bacon. Otherwise there are no odds and ends. Packages of bacon ends will also show up at places like Grocery Outlet.

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      Our local Ingle's supermarket carries the tag ends of bacon in 3 pound packages for $2.18 a pound. I just discovered that last week, and picked up another pack today. About half of it is 1/2 to 3/4 length strips of bacon, so I pulled those out for wrapping dates for an appetizer, and fried up the rest for quiche and a bacon - apple salad. Bacon grease goes in the salad dressing.

                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                        I buy it from my Stater Bros grocery, I like the black pepper bacon for making carbonara, I think like $2.50/lb

                                      2. I like the definition given up thread of the 3.

                                        Thrifty buying meat and produce. Local chain marks down organic every Wednesday when the ad changes. Produce is sold in bags for $1 whatever they have is what we use that week, in addition to our salads and froz veg usuals. The Aldi on the nice side of town does $off meat so can get 3 or 4lbs fresh pack drumsticks for $1-$2. Use the ethnic markets for pork shoulders and ground beef, all usually a few dollars cheaper than the national chains. Same for most produce.

                                        Frugal - I have every size ziplock bag to freeze those odds and ends. Pack of thyme is $1 but only need 2 sprigs, freeze the rest. Parsley used in a green seasoning, stems get frozen for stock. Buy froz peppers because 16 oz is $1 where one green pepper can be $1-$2 at the market.

                                        Cheap - the kids snacks. The stuff they inhale and is cheaper to have than the alternatives. Aldi usually is best for this - mini muffins in bags, granola bars, cookies etc. please hold any admonishments about this when you are feeding three teenage boys and their friends organic/Gmo free/ low fat/ calorie conscious is not a consideration I am making.

                                        1. Yep, same boat. I shop at Sprouts and I always keep my eyes peeled for the red "Manager's Special" stickers. I think sometimes they have sliced too much turkey or cheese, or maybe made too much of a particular salad or ground meat. I've also found great deals on packages of chicken parts with a "buy by" date a day or two away. All of these are marked down quite a bit so I really get some great bargains. I can repackage and freeze these so I always have a great selection.

                                          1. No human *NEEDS* meat or cheese...hell...$5 will buy a POUND of brown rice for 88 cents .... a POUND of dried black beans $1....a POUND of organic whole carrots 89 cents...a can of tomatoes and a bunch of fresh KALE $1.24, just putting it out there.

                                            12 Replies
                                            1. re: Val

                                              This human does

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Then do as you will and want to do! But with cost of meats/poultry/fish going so high, if folks REALLY want to save money, they'll choose plant proteins and complex carbs...MUCH cheaper! And entire cultures have survived and thrived on these foods.

                                                1. re: Val

                                                  Most food costs are pretty in elastic in comparison to income. I believe this is a thread about stretching the food dollar regardless of what is being purchased. We aren't talking nutrient:dollar, just food value:dollar. Some deals are nutrient dense others aren't.

                                                  Yes ill buy kale a bunch at $2-3 at the farmers market but that doesn't do much, when it's $1 for those same bunches at the very end of they day, that's a deal!

                                                  1. re: Val

                                                    If you have a diabetic you have to feed, all those beans and rice won't work. For them, it's not healthier, it's unhealthy

                                                    1. re: Val

                                                      Our ocular orientation, visual light vs color sensitivity, canines, and evolutionary ancestors all say we're omnivores, but believe what you will.

                                                      1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                        Visual light v.s. color sensitivity is for FRUGIVORES.
                                                        Our ocular orientation could just as easily be for traveling through trees (it's a common monkey trait).

                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                          We have relatively low color sensitivity, so not frugivores, and the primary evolutionary force for front facing eyes is for preying not watching out for prey, and ALSO happens to help with focused navigation. Thanks for playing.

                                                  2. re: Val

                                                    Using your argument, no one *NEEDS* organic carrots at 89 cents when you can buy regular carrots for 49 cents. No one *NEEDS* canned tomatoes when you can buy a fresh tomato instead.

                                                    There are lots of food items we don't NEED. However, it's a matter what we WANT. People buy organic produce because they want to, not because they have to. I could eat rice and beans every single day of my life to survive and save myself thousands of dollars while doing so, but I wouldn't enjoy it.

                                                    We all choose what to spend our food budget on -- for some people, they just need the basic necessities and don't see a reason to spend on "extras". Others want to enjoy different foods and are willing to spend more to buy those items. I have no issue spending $15lb for a hunk of my favorite aged parmesan cheese, but I won't spend $15 for a pound of steak. I buy my product from a local Hispanic market (or a nearby middle eastern market, depending on where I am that day). I save a ton of money that way. Some things I save on, others I splurge on.

                                                    1. re: Val

                                                      I happen to like kale, but I would rather be reduced to eating cold vienna sausage straight from the can rather than give up meat.

                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                        Sweet Jesus, I think I'd die first! I love me some meat, but God, those things.... The slurpy sound my boyfriend makes when he sucks the juice out before eating them makes me gag.

                                                      2. re: Val

                                                        wow. your prices be cheap!

                                                        1. re: Val

                                                          At Whole Foods I am looking at the bulk organic beans for $2.00 lb, and brown rice $1.69 lb, carrots, $1.00 lb. Yes, try and buy organic where ever I can, no GMO, and no pesticides. I have a small organic garden I am growing what I can. I am all for the cheap, and discount. Markdown is my favorite word. I shop the sale, and the season. Organic beef is now $8.00 lb and up. I stop in one local store to see if they have marked down the grass fed beef. Timing is everything. My husband says buy organic now, save on Dr. bills later. That is if you can get in to see a doctor in the future. Good luck on that.

                                                        2. I live in the south in an area where there is not more than two grocery stores + walmart besides a few convenience stores. We have no ethnic markets except for a couple of latin stores with no meat/cheese departments. Pickings are slim here. That said, I frequent the meat markdown sections of the stores and there is a grocery store 20 miles away that I go to once a month because they do have cheaper meats and they mark down their produce. They also have a section of discontinued items I like to look over.

                                                          I WISH I could find a cheese counter with odds/ends but one store here does sell 3 pound packages of bacon end pieces for $5.00 which I buy and it has many whole pieces in there so I feel like I'm getting a good value considering a pound of bacon around here is going for 4.99.

                                                          We take road trips since we're on the border of VA/NC a few times a month and I stop along the way to other stores. I'm a bargain shopper. When it's on sale, I load up and when it's not, I don't usually buy it when it comes to meats and other high priced items unless I absolutely have to have it. But I can do it because I have two deep freezers.

                                                          1. I am embarrassed at the checkout sometimes because every item in my cart has an orange sticker. Bright orange. Orange that draws you over and calls your name. Says, "Here, hon, you know you want me. I know I'm not really your type, but look how cheap I am."
                                                            I have to tell my husband sometimes to don't let me look over there where the bargains are. It's a physical effort to walk away.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                              I'd encourage you to look. About a month ago I got 6 dry aged steaks (they have a glass case where they dry age whole cuts and cut off when you ask for it - it must have been close to edge so they trimmed and cut and put in styrofoam and cello in the case) well someone didn't know how to work the markdown gun, 1lb rib eyes originally 19.99lb marked down to $0.67lb (with the loyalty card of course).
                                                              Now my significant other insists I check the meats for specials.
                                                              Treat it like the red light district, don't pick up anything you aren't prepared for, but if you see something that's normally out of your league or what you usually consume, it's all a bonus.

                                                              1. re: ncghettogourmet

                                                                A while back, I picked up a half dozen one pound packages of ground turkey that were marked on sale $.59.
                                                                Each!
                                                                They usually are about $4.99. I wondered if the price gun guy had goofed.

                                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                  Sweet deal. I think the guns have a setting where you have to put the new percent price. Like instead of saying take 15% off the new price is 85% of the original and newbies or distracted end up putting it as 15% of the original. For a $10.00 original that's the difference of the new price being $8.50 or $1.50.

                                                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                    Sounds like a goof. Last week the supermarket flyer featured 3# bags of baby white potatoes for 79 cents. Probably that price was supposed to be per pound and the error was before the printer level, but they were honoring the price as advertised.

                                                              2. My mom usually shops with our neighbor. Buddy system works well because sometimes there are deals with a limit. So if there's at item only my mom wants, her friend will also buy it and vice versa. Useful especially for soda or tons of meat when she's having a party. Same goes for mailed store coupons that are only 1 per customer.

                                                                On top of that, my mom uses her card for everything. Since her friend would be paying cash/check anyway, my mom just pays for all transactions then gets a check from her later. $1 = 1 mile on Amex

                                                                1. i'm in!

                                                                  i've gotten "sell by" (that date) grass-fed beef steaks and a lovely niman ranch pork loin that was the best pork loin i've ever eaten. i would not have paid the full price. (but now i might, having tried it…;).

                                                                  i love to see the $1 bags of bananas or limes, or tomatoes! harris teeter is my go-to for these.

                                                                  harris teeter has frequent BOGO sales, and there (as opposed to other grocery stores' BOGO), you can buy only one and just pay ½ price.

                                                                  1. I'm in the boat with ya, ks! I'm all three at different times for diff reasons but I wouldn't pass up a good food deal. I draw the line at dumpster diving and warehouse pickin but a mark down on something I use/need/or can buy for someone else I'm in!

                                                                    1. No, price is at the bottom of my list, and I don't spend time couponing or running from store to store.
                                                                      I shop for quality, convenience and supporting the local economy, so I buy mainly at the local coops.

                                                                      1. I think maybe thrifty. I use coupons, but only for things I would normally buy. I'm picky about brands for toiletries. I really like my store's digital coupons, since they load straight to my shopper's card and I don't have to worry about remembering the paper coupons.

                                                                        I'll stock up on meats when they're at their lowest price, same for staple items like chicken stock (no I don't make my own). My store has a nice organic brand that I like that goes on sale every now and then for 2/$4... sometimes even 2/$3. Same for boxed pasta, I stock up when it goes on sale for 10/$10. This last time I had a coupon for 50 cents off 2, so I got 2 boxes for 1.50.

                                                                        I also do check out the discounted meat, although at my store it's usually the very expensive cuts that are marked down to just sort of expensive. I did get a 4 pack of pork chops once for $1.50 though, or a whole cut up chicken for under $5. I just throw it in the freezer if I'm not going to use it right away. I also buy a lot of meats at Costco... it's not really cheaper than the grocery store but the quality is better.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                                          "I use coupons, but only for things I would normally buy."

                                                                          That would be my problem with coupons. I don't really use ANYTHING I find coupons for! My mom had a big wallet that she had stuffed with coupons and used them all the time, but we definitely shop differently.

                                                                          (Someone broke into our van and tried to hot wire it, but failed. They then stole our first aid kit and that coupon wallet. We always wonder how mad they were when they opened it!)

                                                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                            Yeah I don't use too many manufacturer's coupons. In addition to the digital coupons, my store also sends paper coupons in the mail for products I regularly buy. So like today on my shopping trip, I used a paper coupon for a free dozen eggs, $3 off the shampoo I use, and $.75 off of bacon. My total grocery bill this week for the entire week was $41.... I do plan my meals around what's in the freezer though, so I didn't have to buy any meat other than a whole chicken that was on sale, and the bacon.

                                                                        2. Absolute. I coupon a ton in all areas of my life. As far as foods, I will totally buy discounts and I will buy in bulk if it works out in my favor (won't go to waste, will save money in the long run).

                                                                          I get really creative (though again, some would say weird) with using up foods items that I don't like/want (If I spent the money on them I am -not- tossing them). For example I have a lot of cereals I bought at one point that are now taking up more room than I want and I'm not a huge cold cereal eater. I ate through one bag by blending a little bit of a maple flavored cereal into some oatmeal for breakfasts. It added a great background flavor note and I went through the entire bag easily. I've also ground up some cereal into 'flour' and snuck a tiny bit into cookies which had the same effect.

                                                                          Most of my thrifty-ness is couponing, freezing, and repurposing. I haven't gotten into canning and I do some dehydrating, but not in bulk (just for a batch or two of fruit chips on occasion).

                                                                          1. I don't use coupons and wouldn't buy non-quality food, however every supermarket in the world has almost identical prices on what they refer to as a "cart" (even Walmart), however, each of them has items that they have selected as cheaper than other supermarkets. If you live in close proximity to several stores and you remember which items are cheaper where, you can save hundreds of dollars a year!
                                                                            Trader Joe's, for example sells nuts, bananas, milk, eggs, wine cheaper than my other supermarkets; Whole foods sells parmigiano reggiano and parchment paper cheaper; Local supermarkets for produce; Walmart for dog food, paper towels, toilet paper, soap; and Online for many other items. It doesn't take me any longer than I would've spent at one supermarket and I love saving money.

                                                                            So... I guess the answer is yes :-)

                                                                            1. None of the above

                                                                              1. I don't think of such practices as cost conscious as much as health conscious. Good on you!

                                                                                1. I would call you frugal, and I shop that way a lot of the time but would probably not buy the odds and ends at the deli counter because I would be worried about listeria if some kind of lunch meat had been handled for a number of days. I might buy the cheese and cook it, and bacon too. But i would be leery of deli meat. Everything else, yes!

                                                                                  1. All of the above. I sometimes find deals at our supermarket chain. Bags of bananas for 99 cents. Lamb chops for $3.99 a pound. Turkey breast for 99 cents a pound etc. I made the bananas into ice cream and froze it in pails. It was pretty tasty and kept the kids in snacks most of the summer. Turkey we go through used as you would chicken in recipes. I am not a fan of really low quality food. I would rather save a few bucks by buying something close to the sell by date than something like generic brand ketchup. After I developed a bunch of food allergies I had to totally change my diet and make more things from scratch to avoid certain ingredients. Now I think most processed foods taste awful.

                                                                                    I try to buy most of our groceries as the basic ingredients and it does help keep costs down. We finally got a Costco in town. It literally cut my grocery bill in half vs. having to shop at Hyvee.

                                                                                    1. I'd say I'm all of the above at various points.

                                                                                      The bulk of my groceries come from my membership in a local Gleaners organization - I pay $75 a year and every week get a bag of groceries. Most weeks there's a loaf or two of bread, some fruit (usually 3 oranges or apples) a bag of potatoes and/or carrots, some sort of green veggie, a couple of pantry items (could be just about anything! One week it was a container of salt, another week it was 3 jars of nutmeg, I'm set for life there!) and then misc other random items. Once I got a whole ham. In strawberry season it's not uncommon to get half or even a whole flat of strawberries. Sometimes a gallon of milk. Another time a case of bolthouse farms organic carrot juice This week a HUGE can (think restaurant supply size) can of pizza sauce)

                                                                                      All of this food is either close to expiration date and pulled from the shelves from local stores, or seconds from area packing houses - the oranges aren't as pretty on the outside as what you'd get in store, the strawberries are very very ripe NOW and wouldn't last long enough to make it to the stores and be sold. Sometimes the quality of the produce is iffy and I end up tossing it before it gets used. Other times I dry/freeze/can the surplus to use during leaner weeks when I get nothing but a bag of potatoes, a loaf of bread, and some ketchup packets.

                                                                                      I consider my Gleaners membership being 'cheap' - I am paying bottom dollar for sometimes dubious (but sometimes amazing) quality food, some of which does end up in the trash because it's well past what I consider acceptable. But even with that, what I do use is well worth the money I pay for the membership - I've gotten over $100 in spices alone this past year from them.

                                                                                      I supplement this with whatever is on sale at the grocery store to round out my meals. Often I have to buy protien since meat is a rarity in my bag. Being broke, I opt for cheap protien choices - I buy a dozen eggs a week, buy dozens of cans of tuna for 29 cents each with coupon when it goes on sale, as well as beans (both dried and canned) I buy bacon ends to make carbonara and to add oomph to my soups. I don't need pretty rashers for that. When ground beef is on sale, I buy 5 lbs, split it into 1/2 lb batches and freeze - I've gotten to where I so rarely eat meat now that 5 lbs will last me 6 months. - I suppose this is called being thrifty.

                                                                                      Frugal comes in with making the best out of what all I have. The week i got 15 huge onions in my bag, I made 6 half pint jars of red onion & balsamic relish, and then diced and dehydrated the rest to add to soups/stews/etc. Apples were made into apple butter, orange peel is dried and made into sachets to ward of spiders as we live in Black Widow territory. Peels from the tomatoes I canned were dried and puverized into tomato powder, it makes a great substitute for tomato paste, providing that same richness when added to a dish. The tomatoes themselves are put up in 3 different ways - tomato jam, crushed tomatoes, and sundried. I only buy tomatoes when I can get them for 3lbs/$1 at the peak of the season when they're the best quality and put them up and the rest o the year use either my dried or canned depending on the dish they're going in. I probably put up 30 - 50 lbs o tomatoe each summer - and thats just for myself.

                                                                                      Then.. I splurge. I buy pricey ingrediants like quality parmesean cheese and truffle salt that costs 20 bucks for a 4 oz jar.. because a pinch of it turns cheap eggs into something sublime. I actually consider that thifty because that $20 has lasted me 2 years and I'm not even half way through the jar yet. While these items are pricey up front, they stretch a long way, and add lots of flavor, so that I don't feel like the food I'm eating is always 'cheap' so that I don't get bored and end up spending on more expensive items.

                                                                                      With all this being said, shopping for 1 person, I spend about $10 - $15 a week on groceries tops.. some weeks as littlea s $5, or even nothing at all if my Gleaners bag had a good selection in it. And it's like being on a cooking tv show each week - I never know what's in the bag until I get it, and I get to come up with meals that use what I'm given! Extra bonus fun!