Mindful Money: What price groceries?

By Mir
January 23, 2008

Far and away the most common question I am emailed in association with this site is “How can I save money on groceries?” Most of us are feeding families, and most of us are dismayed by the rising costs of food.

Most of us would like to know how to feed our families on a shoestring budget, and I was the same way, for years. For some of us, it’s absolute necessity to bring the bill down. For others, we just have this notion that this is another place where we must save as much money as possible.

There are two things to remember when headed into this issue: First, that there are ways to keep the bill down; but second, that you probably should be spending more on food than you think.

Let’s talk about the second point, first. The more people (Americans in particular) earn, the less they spend on groceries. Why? Well, folks are eating out more, but they’re also going for convenience foods rather than real food. This is a really disturbing trend, especially the latter fact.

I have been strapped for cash and still needing to feed my kids. I have been on a budget where every day felt like squeezing blood from a stone. And still, I challenge everyone to ask themselves this question when standing in the supermarket:

What is more important than the food we eat?

In some cases, yes, the answer is “the rent” and “heat” and “other bills.” I get that. But often we are trying to save money on groceries so that we can spend money on things like fancy coffee or shoes or a trip to the movies. In an ideal world, we all have money for all of those things and then some, but all I’m saying here is that we give some serious thought to making peace with spending more on our food. Because it’s important to give our bodies good fuel.

There’s a reason that people who are living in poverty (or close to it) have a higher rate of obesity; it’s not because they’re dumb or that they eat more, necessarily, but that the affordable food choices tend to be less nutritionally sound and higher in calories. And our society places little emphasis on what’s nutritious, and plenty of emphasis on what’s convenient.

You can clip coupons and shop the store specials, yes, but 95% of that stuff is going to be prepackaged. Save some money, yes, but also think about how you can use less of those things. (For a review of what can be done with religious couponing, I refer you back to this post.)

Alright. So let’s say you’re making a conscious commitment to buying fresher, healthier foods. How do you save money on that stuff?

Buy in bulk. Hopefully you have a big freezer, which is an investment that will pay for itself over time. The “family packs” of meats (if you eat meat) will always be cheaper than buying a pound at a time. Even healthier—and sometimes cheaper—is finding a local farm where you can buy a half of a cow or whatever. Sharing with friends is a good way to get those bulk deals, too, if it’s more food than you can use.

Buy local produce, in season. Don’t be buying fresh blueberries in the dead of winter. They came from far away, which makes them more expensive, and the probably don’t taste great, either. I know someone who lives in Alaska is going to be all “But nothing is ever in season and/or local here,” plus most of us aren’t buying local bananas, but you know what I mean. Pay attention to what’s cheap when.

Frozen is your friend. Flash-frozen meats and veggies are just as good for you as fresh, and usually quite a bit cheaper. Plus, you can stock up on sale and it’ll last longer than fresh.

It’s sometimes cheaper when you make it yourself. Not everyone has the luxury of time to do this, of course, but you might be astonished to learn how easy and cheap some things are to cook. If you have the time to make your own bread, it’s delicious and cheaper than store-bought. Making your own pancake mix is a lot cheaper, too. Many, many things are—survey your pantry and start thinking about what you might be able to make yourself.

Read the circular, then stock up. Some nutritious staples are cheap and shelf-stable, and go on sale with regularity. Brown rice? So good for you, and cheap and easy. Ditto for beans. What about pasta? (There are too many really tasty whole grain options these days to keep buying plain ol’ semolina, too.) Take honest stock of what your family tends to eat regularly (or what you want to be eating regularly) and then stock up on those items on sale.

Don’t buy non-food items at the grocery store (unless they’re on sale). I know it’s easy to grab your laundry detergent and some shampoo while you’re right there, but unless those items are significantly marked down, resist the temptation. Non-foodstuffs are almost always more expensive there than from your favorite drugstore or Target-like place. And when you buy that stuff, you look at your grocery bill and your empty fridge and wonder what the heck you’re spending all that money on.

Be honest with yourself about splurges. It’s your money, and you should buy the things that matter to you. But if you’re always talking about how you’d like to “go organic” but can’t afford it, yet you’re buying alcohol or something else similarly pricey on a regular basis… rethink your priorities. (And if organic is an issue you’ve been thinking about, go read this.) I discovered that buying organic milk wasn’t any harder on my budget when I stopped buying Oreos, for example. Just sayin’.

To some extent I no longer obsess over what I’m spending on food. I know which foods are cheap and nutritious for when money is tight, and when it’s not, I try to get over the fact that I’m spending a lot on something we’re just going to eat. We’re not having filet mignon, over here, but life is too short to agonize over whether or not we deserve portabellos, you know?


  1. Thanks, Mir. I love this Mindful Money thing you’ve got going. You gave me a lot to think about in this post. 🙂

  2. Scour the ads, yes absolutely, but I find it also helps if I can pre-plan a week’s worth of meals, (usually with whatever is on sale that week) and make a list of the items I will need to prepare those meals. Now, I’m not saying I ONLY buy what’s on the list, however the list system certainly helps curtail unnecessary spending.

  3. Store brands. Buy store brands when possible.

  4. I am having a hard time getting over that fact that I spend a ton of money on something we are just going to eat. Blah. With 7 kids we spend quite a bit on food but I use almost every tip you shared. I try to grab and stock up on stuff when it is on sale. We spend about 400-500 a month on groceries.

  5. Another advantage of frozen fruits and veggies is that it is allowed to stay on the plant until it ripens, then it’s picked and flash frozen. Making it better for you than the stuff that is picked too early and allowed to ripen on the truck and/or sprayed with who knows what kind of chemicals to force it to ripen.

    The other trick to healthy eating is to shop the periphery of the store and stay out of the aisles. Not always possible, I know.

  6. I’m not big on coupon clipping; I just can’t be diligent about it, so I accept the fact that I’m going to pay a bit more for some things. That being said, we buy virtually all of our meat at Costco and then break the large packages down into meal-sized portions and freeze it in our old fridge in the garage. While these aren’t a necessity, I use nuts a lot in baking and cooking, so I order them in bulk from a Texas company and pecans/walnuts end up costing me about $5/pound, delivered (I buy 5 pounds of each at a time). Those store nicely in the freezer, too. I’m going to reread this post to take more of it in – I know there’s more we can do to eat healthier at our house. I will get a “shout out” to the pasta I cooked last night – Barilla Plus – it’s loaded with protein and other goodies (omega 3, fiber) because it’s made with multi-grains, legumes, oats, flaxseed and more. And it tastes great, too!

  7. I tried doing the super coupon thing, and yes it is a lot of work. It is also very true that most of the coupons are for preservative filled foods. I finally took some time and figured out how to slash my grocery bill. First and foremost try the generic brands. Some will be no where near the quality of namebrands, but many will be just as good and a few are better. Secondly plan your meat purchases ahead. Watch for sales and fill your freezer. I took that one step further, and I plan a day for cooking large quantities of meat. This fall I purchased 30lbs of ground beef, and spent an entire day making meatballs, taco meat, meatloaf, and cooked plain ground beef. I purchased 5 lbs of chicken and made a huge batch of shredded chicken. Not only does this save me big bucks on my bill, but it cuts my dinner prep time in half.
    If you buy lots of prepackaged foods, then couponing is a good way to save.
    Mir, your advice is awesome. You give us all the opportunity to rethink how we do things, and make changes if we want to. Thanks!

  8. well said. A combo of shopping the periphery, scouring the ads, and planning a week’s worth of meals in advance helps us feed a family of 5 (every meal, including lunches) for a week for around $100.

    Oh, and because I make everything from scratch. Sometimes allergies end up being a good thing! 😉

  9. Thanks Mir! You are right. We need to really figure out what we can cut out to eat better. It is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

  10. Wow – I’m caught over Jodi above feeding a family of 7 for 400-500 a month! I’m happy to spend about $375 on a family of 4, with 2 little ones! That’s impressive, whatever she’s doing!

  11. We spent a short time as very poor grad students. Our meals were mostly frozen pizza and mac and cheese. Fruits and veggies were non-existent. Now that we have a comfortable income, (and children to feed!) I WILL spend money for fruit, and I won’t feel guilty about it.

  12. Sometimes the meat department has prepackaged meats that are *juuuuuuust* about to tilt over the expiration date and they need to move it out fast. If you’ve got a big family where you know you’ll be able to use it up… or you’re living with someone who’s into ginormous burgers like I do… you can get a pretty good deal. Just last week, I got 2 lbs. of ground beef for $1.50.

  13. Jodi, we are feeding a family of nine here and spend about the same. I use the same tips Mir suggested, I do coupons, I stock up but I am also fortunate that I use a military commissary rather than local stores. I noticed a gallon of 1% milk locally runs between $3.50-$4.25 a gallon. I get it for $2.63 at the commissary.

    Check different stores in your area for different things. Just because the store you go to have lower prices on one thing doesn’t mean they are the best deal going on other things. Know your stores and don’t discount the little crummy looking hole in the wall stores, sometimes they are the best prices on the same things in the bigger, cleaner more prominant stores.

  14. Mir, you’ve given me a lot to think about. One of the things I’ve been mulling over is joining a co-op and receiving oraganic produce. It’s a little pricier than I would like, but your point about what we should be spending on makes sense.

  15. I shop at our extremely lovely, beautifully stocked local market – the signs not only tell you what’s organic vs what’s conventional, but WHERE each item came from (in produce, meat, and dairy – it might be Mexico, or California, or the farm down the road – but you KNOW where something came from). I love shopping there – it’s like a mini vacation. They’ll exchange or replace anything without question, and just generally go the extra mile. Plus, during really hectic weeks, I can order online and just pull up to the front door, where they bring everything out to my car – this costs $5, but they usually throw in a free “gift” that is equal to or greater than the cost of this service (once it was ice cream; the next time it was organic chips and salsa).

    Now, all of this said … I CANNOT get out of there without spending over $80, and that’s just on a “run in real quick and grab a couple of things” trip. And I’m there probably three times per week for our family of three. It horrifies me, but I also can’t bring myself to go back to the non-organic foods. We’ve tried dividing our shopping – dairy and produce at the lovely store, other things at the big market … but the time this takes out of my life is too big a price to pay.

    Soooo, I was encouraged to read Mir’s words about deciding where you’re willing to cut costs. New shoes for someone whose feet aren’t growing? Or organic milk?

    Mir, what are you feelings about spending lots of money on the things you eat the *most* of? We go through at least two gallons of milk and a dozen eggs per week, and if I buy these organic (or, better, from a local organic farm – ohmygod, have you had truly farm fresh eggs recently??!!), we are talking $5 for milk and $4 for eggs …. times 52 weeks per year. Ouch!

  16. I CANNOT shop without a list, because I forget everything, and also it keeps the budget down because I try to stick to exactly whats on the list. Doesn’t always work, and heaven forbid my husband shop with me, then we have way too much.

  17. Amy: I think it’s even more important to spend the extra money on the stuff you eat the most. Any recommendation you read about where it’s important to go organic starts with milk and eggs. Those are the first changes I made, myself. If it came down to it, I personally (not saying this is the way for everyone, just throwing it out there) would eat less of those items than go back to non-organic. When times are lean, I’ve given my kids less milk rather than buy the cheaper stuff, but that’s just what worked for me.

  18. I agree with you on food. I used to think eating cheap was such a priority. And it is possible to eat on very, very little money… if you are willing to accept the health consequences of eating mostly white starches, like rice, homemade biscuits and gravy, pasta, potatoes, etc, with not near enough vegetables, fruits, or healthy meats to go with it.
    To keep my insulin resistance in check, I now willingly pay more for whole grain flour instead of white, 100% whole grain bread instead of white or “wheat”, whole grain pasta, and we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which sadly don’t enjoy the tax-funded government subsidies that sugar-producing crops, and things like potatoes that are so needed for the massive junk food and fast food industries, do. I used to buy ice cream fairly often for a treat, but hardly ever frozen blueberries, because blueberries are “expensive”. But it turned out the blueberries cost the same as the ice cream and were a much healthier thing to have in the freezer as a treat. So now, I buy the frozen wild blueberries every time I shop, and they are a dietary staple, and ice cream is not, and it doesn’t cost us any more; it’s a direct substitution.
    I found that whereas even diet sodas are addictive and unhealthy, re-defining “treat” as home-brewed iced tea with lemon instead of soda, saves health as well as money. We never buy frozen juice, as it is pasteurized and mostly sugar; we spend the money instead on fresh fruit to eat.
    And as for organic, we buy the “dirty dozen” organic or not at all, when it’s not in season in our garden.
    And we grow a fairly productive vegetable garden in almost no space thanks to the Square Foot Garden method, which is easier, to boot.
    Thanks for the article on groceries. The mental attitude that we should all spend $50-100 a month on cable, internet, etc, or heaven knows how much on eating out, yet groceries should cost so little, is false economy. I was shocked that I spend $450/month on groceries for a family of 4, and I could spend less, if we all ate mostly cheap white starches. Food costs money, and trying to fill the stomach without nourishing the body because fruit is more expensive than Pop-Tarts is a one-way ticket to terrible health.

  19. I read this entry and comments with great interest. It’s truly been a challenge (especially since having two kids) to re-commit to the “as fresh and from scratch as possible” approach to food. Convenience is always seducing us to buy food that is prepared and packaged to store for a long time and cook up in seconds flat. What’s worse, companies have begun marketing “healthy, natural, organic” alternatives so now, for twice the price, you can buy pre-cooked brown rice in microwavable bags, a 100% whole grain and no-refined-sugar-added Pop-Tart-like toaster snack, and organic, vegetarian, ethnic gourmet TV dinners. The illusion of food that is good for you – at twice the price!

    It’s been a huge help to 1) take one hour a week to plan our meals, 2) shop our pantry, fridge and freezer first before heading out to the store, and 3)make cooking and sharing meals a priority for our whole family. As my kids get bigger, I want them to learn how to choose and prepare healthy snacks and meals, and to eat mindfully.

    This year, we’ll be joining a CSA and looking for a local community garden to help cultivate.

  20. We shop at the commissary here on base. With two adults, a 5 year old, and a 21 month old, a cat and a dog, we spend around $130 a week. This for all of us, three meals a day. It would be much more off base. For example, our milk is $3.15. Off base it’s around $4.30. This does include tp, expensive razor blades, etc…

    To keep cost down we cloth diaper, use vinegar, or concentrates from the health food store to clean with, and don’t but packages snacks, except for Kashi bars. I always have a menu planned, with the coordinating list and we don’t deviate from it.

  21. Last summer we bought a share in a CSA–a local farm, which also happened to be organic. We got a large basket of vegetables once a week for 22 weeks. It was WONDERFUL! I can’t say enough good things about it. At $460, that turned out to be about $21 a week for ALL our vegetable needs. Even though I have to wait until May to start getting our basket again, it has helped me to buy “in season” and locally much more. Not only is that healthy, but turns out, often times it’s more economical too.

  22. I was so excited to see this post! Thanks for thoughtfully writing on this! For me, I think it is important that I try to use my resources in the best way I can (time, money, etc.). Over the past couple of weeks, I have implemented some changes in my grocery shopping. The website moneysavingmom.com has been an excellent resource to teach me the basics of investing a little time to cut down on my grocery bill. There is a Supermarket 101 E-book that is very informative. Crystal (the blogger for moneysavingmom.com) also teaches you how to pretty much get all household cleaners, toiletries, etc. for free at CVS Pharmacy and Walgreems. And it REALLY works!
    For me, I have just been trying to be in an informed and ready state of mind before even entering the grocery store. This is NOT how I have functioned over the past 8 years or so since getting married! I would go in for milk and eggs and come out with 150 dollars worth of groceries (and I WAS looking for deals, cheaper store brands, price per unit, etc.). Occasionally I would use a shopping list, but this would end up being about 25 percent of the items that I would actually end up buying. As simple as it may sound, “having a plan” has almost cut my grocery bill in half.
    I have been using coupons to my advantage, shopping multiple stores if necessary, and only buying the items on my list. Even though many coupons are for processed items, some are not. I really try to do organic, wholegrain, lots of fruit and vegetables, and minimally processed foods, and I have still benefited from coupons. If you have the desire and some time, “couponing” AND “having a plan” can be EXTREMELY helpful to your budget.

  23. One fabulous thing I don’t see people lauding much these days are pressure cookers. It’s the opposite of a slow cooker but does the same types of things. I can get a pound of DRIED BEANS cooked and ready for a recipe in ten minutes (plus five more to wait before depressurizing the pan)– it takes a slow cooker about eight hours to do that. It does amazing work on pot roasts/potatoes/carrots, too.

    And there are some fabulous recipes for soup out there (bean soup and other non-bean soups). And soup is cheap, freezes well, contains lots of veggies, and makes a whole meal with just a loaf of bread or some crackers.

    Also? Give up soda. Just do it. Order it when you go out to eat, but don’t buy it and bring it into your house. It’s waste of money and a bad habit nutritionally.

    We have a great little “bent and dent” grocery south of town that has some great bargains, too– if you’re not too proud to shop there, and remember that they only take cash.

  24. I have a question sort of related to this. . .I have a book about budgeting and I think it suggests that 15 percent of your monthly budget should be devoted to food, does that sound reasonable to you?

  25. We try to not to eat out, so we spend a bit more on groceries so I can prepare meals that are a bit fancier than the average home-cooled meal. It helps to entice us to stay home. Spending $10 on 2lbs of shrimp might seem high, but think about how much a shrimp dinner for 4 would be at a restaurant…don’t forget tax and tip.

    I hit the grocery on Monday morning when they mark down all the meat that will expire in the next 2 days. I get lamb, tender steaks, turkey sausage, ground beef, and roasts at a fraction of the price and then freeze them when I get home. I just can’t bring myself to purchase chicken or fish that will expire soon, just too icky for me.

    Also visit the seafood counter for their “seafood combo” which is basically the hunks of fish left when they make a nice filet or a customer only wants to buy 3/4 of that filet. They generally charge $2.99/lb and I get salmon, sea bass, tilapia, tuna, trout, etc. I make a fish chowder with some of it (white meat) and a seafood stuffed ravioli with the rest. Delicious.

    I also freeze berries when they are cheap during the bumber crops in the summer, and thaw them out for the kids during the long winter months. Nothing like blueberries and freshly made whipped cream to fight off the winter blues.

  26. I find that when we cook delicious, organic meals at home we feel less like eating out because we are satisfied with our meals. We may be spending a bit more on organic food, but we end up spending less on fancy meals out.

  27. A list is essential, and I create it from the weekly sales ads, then from my list of things ON SALE, I see what coupons I have to match those items.

    These are the stores with the best deals for my money:

    Publix: BOGOF items are at the front of the store. You only have to buy one, not two, so you get 50% off, then I use coupons on top of that. I frequently get granola bars, oatmeal, coffee, cereal, etc. for a dollar each. Also, I pick up the Greenwise circular in the back of the store, it usually has $1.00 off organic milk, which is often on sale for $2.99. I also get the 1-cent coupon in Sunday’s paper. This is for one ‘mystery’ item of their choice that costs 1 cent.

    Piggly Wiggly: Not everyone has one, but if you do, they often have 88 cent sales (this week, in fact!) including frozen veggies and I stock up. They also have a lot of unadvertised specials marked in the store with little magic marker written tags. Plus, they have a ‘clearance corner’ in the very back and I always check there for closeout items, sometimes they are things I have a coupon for and they end up free.

    Big Lots: I go once a month to stock up on everything from applesauce to ziplock bags. You never know what you will find (just like the songs says!), and sometimes I walk out with three things, but some days I find every brand I love for about thirty to fifty percent off. I have yet to spend more than $40 on a single trip.

    Also, I grow rosemary, cilantro and basil. Nothing makes a cheap spaghetti dinner seem gourmet like throwing in some fresh herbs. Food smells better, tastes better, looks better and it doesn’t cost much to grow.

  28. TheGroceryGame.com. Totally pays for itself, the years worth of paper, and a freezer within 2-3 months. I tried couponing, sucked at it because it was so much work. The Grocery Game takes all the hard work out of it. 🙂

  29. This has been a great post to read. Any suggestions for a singleton with only a tiny refrigerator freezer?

  30. I find that the more money I spend now on quality, organic and locally-grown produce and meats, the less money I will spend in the future as my body ages. I am doing my body a favor now and it does cost more, but the price of life? So worth it.

  31. Lovely Mir, I read your website daily and pass on the great deals – with links intact – to everyone I know. I love this series of articles you are doing, thanks for the great food for thought. I wanted to point out that the When Buying Organic article suggests buying non-organic bananas and I know for a fact – have seen documentaries on – how much pesticide goes into growing regular bananas – and it’s a lot! That is fairly common knowledge, so I don’t know where the article author comes of saying that levels of pesticide in them are low. Cherries are like that too – full of chemicals. I say buy organic whenever possible. Costco now carries many organic items as does Trader Joes.

  32. I haven’t gone through all the entries. Forgive me if this is a repeat. We live in a small town with a small grocery store. People say to me all the time that they “save” money by driving to the grocery story in a bigger town. First of all does it make sense to dive farther with the gas prices? Are the groceries really cheaper?
    I read a tip one time about ‘grocery cycles’. I have not been able to find it since. Mir…can your sluething skills find it?
    Here is the tip. Grocery flier ads have approximately a 6 week cycle. For example, you may notice that Kraft cheese goes on sale for a certain price. Then the following week the store brand cheese will go on sale, but for only a better bargin. There are certain staples/brands that will rotate like this. I notice it to be cereal, chicken, lunch meats, juices, soups, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, spaghetti items, peanut butter…you get the idea.
    This takes preplanning. But I actually kept a notebook of the main things I bought by getting the prices from the flier. (I did this for 6 weeks) It was amazing. We ran out of ketchup at our house. I went to my note book and saw that it was (maybe) going to be on sale the following week. So I waited. I paid $.89 rather that $1.79.
    I sounds like work. It is initially. But now I can go into the store and know. Hmmm…I am not going to buy that frozen orange juice that is on sale. I will wait two weeks when it is even cheaper….then I stock up.
    This has also been helpful with those 4/$3; 5/$6; 2/$6…signs. They can really be deceiving. Are you getting a deal or not? I wrote that in the notebook too. I wrote down exactly what each price was individually. That way I could look and see if it was really a deal.
    Sorry this is long…hope it helps!

  33. I don’t recall seeing my #1 money saving tip when grocery shopping: DON’T GO SHOPPING WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY!

    Seriously, if you go when you’re hungry you are practically guaranteed to buy stuff that is not on your list (and is probably overpriced convenience food anyway).

    Big batch cooking is another way to save money (and time). Cook 3 times the amount you’d normally cook and freeze the other two portions for quick meals on other nights. You’ll save money by buying in bulk and time by not having to cook the other two nights.

    Another tip is to compare the pricing of the stores in your area. I live in the Chicago area, and prices vary wildly. Dominick’s and Jewel (Albertson’s in other parts of the U.S) tend to be much higher priced than Butera or Meijer, so I generally shop at Butera and Meijer and only go into Jewel and Dominick’s for their “loss leader” super cheap specials.

    Another good money saving tip is to buy canned goods and other staples at Aldi. I buy things like sugar, flour, canned vegetables, etc. there for a fraction of the cost that I would pay at other stores. Their store brands are manufactured by “big name” manufacturers. For example, their Belmont brand Moosetracks ice cream is really Dean’s Moosetracks–repackaged. Their Belmont chocolate chip cookies are really Matt’s. And cost about half as much as Matt’s! I’d stay away from their bread, lunchmeats and produce, though. In my experience they are not very good.

    Finally, I have a great cookbook with money saving tips called Cheap, Fast, Good. It’s all about eating well on a shoestring and has lots of great tips.

  34. I should say I OWN that cookbook. It’s not like I wrote it! LOL

  35. Don’t go shopping when you’re pregnant! Pregnant women should have to hand someone a list when they get to the store, and wait while someone gathers the order. I wander aisles grabbing random junk food, and it adds up!

  36. Wow. Wow. After reading all the comments I can’t even remember what I was going to say. I’m a super bargain shopping maven, especially when it comes to groceries. We’re just getting to the point where we have more income (don’t go out as it is, etc) and have been able to purchase more nutritious foods as this post discussed. I think what I like most about this post is the encouraging quality over price and really a paradigm shift on priorities. We may be moving across the country this summer and am so sad to leave my local dairy. The cows are milked 20 feet from the store. The hormone and antibiotic free milk is cheaper than the grocery store. Skim milk tastes like 2 percent. Vanilla ice cream has 5 ingredients and the first one is cream. I’m about two miles away and it has been so nice to have something local, healthy, and delicious for my family. But there is a much better chance of having a CSA and local foods mostly year round in the new area so that will be nice! Anyway this has to be one of my favorite want not postings. Great job!

  37. Now I remember, you know a few hours later…

    One of the best things I ever did was buy 30 lbs of chicken at once, go home, bag it up and put it in the freezer. I’m pretty sure it was $1.49/lb.

    When I bought 80 I wasn’t doing it with a friend and was there alone with 80 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts in 20lb bags and a whole lot of ziplocs. It really wasn’t as fun. But to me its worth those two hours once a year to get a whole lot of chicken in individual packages for $1.29 a pound. Its great stuff.

    Another time I think I bought about 40lbs of 99% fat free ground turkey breast who’s sell by date was two days later. I took it home, cooked it up on all four burners at once (that was a blast) and froze it. I had ground meat for a long time with that one.

    And then for my husband who loves dark meat, I found boneless skinless thighs for $.99 cents a pound and so those got bagged and frozen. Can you tell I have an extra freezer?

    We actually still have a rain check (the best invention ever, especially if you go the day before the ad’s change and they are totally out of everything) from a year a half ago (which is still honored) for that chicken breast at $1.29lb. If we don’t move, I’ll get some during the late summer, otherwise I’ll pass it along to a friend who will enjoy it!

    But really, I love rain checks. They are great. If they aren’t out of stuff from a big sale when you go by the store, try back a few days later and keep track of it. We were able to get cases of pampers for $13 before coupons, and cases of huggies for $15 before coupons. And when you get two rain checks of 10 each, you’re pretty much set for a few months at a time. I think last march I got 7 cases of pampers and then in November maybe I finally got my first 10 of huggies from a raincheck from march. I split it with a cousin and we shared coupons. That way I’d just have one more rain check of ten that we’ll probably share before potty training starts. And these cases end up being more $5 less than the normal price of the biggest bags, megas I think.

  38. I have to respectfully agree that coupons are worthless, and are always for preservative laden items. This is just false. Perdue chicken puts out man coupons in the sunday paper- I paid $2 for a 29 oz bag of perdue perfect portions (reg price is ($9.99!). Publix had bags of brand name frozen veggies on sale- reg price $1.79- I paid $.19/ea after coupon. Delmonte tomatoes- $.14/can, all using sales and coupons. Also, if you are a kroger plus member who regularly uses coupons, they will snail mail you coupons off any meat/produce/frozen item- that you can combine w/ sale/man coupon- and then use a coupon from the entertainment book for a % off your order! Kroger even sent me a coupon for $2 off a $5 organic eggs/bread purchase. It is extremely possible to eat healthy on a low budget. I feed a family of 5 for under $60/week (including birds/dog), and we are all at ideal weights, no obesity going on here from eating prepackaged foods. Even flour goes on sale w/ a man coupon, same w/ sugar- my “buy” price for a 5lb bag of sugar is $1.29 (aldi price is $1.99), 4 lb bag buy price is $.99. The fact that I spend less on groceries, funds our ymca membership, needed bike repairs, new bike helmets, new computers, magazine subscriptions, scratch cooking supplies (food scale, pizzelle maker, kitchen aid mixer are purchases we made last year). Spending less on groceries enabled us to remodel our kitchen/living room- and none of us want to eat out, bc we love our house so much! Food literally goes down the toilet- a new stove purchase helps to fill the belly alot longer:)

    The entertainment book (I bought 2), and sunday papers are needed to optimize grocery savings:) couponmom.com is a great FREE help for matching up sales w/ coups, I know I am doing well when I catch a deal she missed!!:) Check out moneysavingmom.com for daily grocery savings tips.

  39. This may not sound like it will save you money, however it really does work.

    If you happen to live in a larger city (unfortunately I no longer do) many of the supermarket chains have delivery services. (Albertson’s, Safeway (favorite)) Yes, there is a delivery charge (although the first delivery is usually free and they will send you specials and coupons for future deliveries).

    The part that saves me money is the fact that I do my shopping online and can review my items. This eliminates my impulse buying from walking down the aisles and seeing things on sale or if I’m hungry and just start throwing things in the cart. It especially helps you comparison shop (if you have multiple stores that offer this, I usually alternate by which one has the best deals for the week) and if you are on a budget since you can remove items before ordering. They also have the option where if they do not have the specific item/brand you are looking for, you can tell them to replace it with another item of equal or lesser value.

    Not only does it save me money by not purchasing excess, however it also saves gas money and time!

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