Grocery Bills & Extreme Couponers

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Confused, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. Confused

    Confused Active Member

    Ok, I do not like my bills! Of course trying to cut out all processed foods( tv dinners, canned stuff, easy meals) My food is edible and healthy but not out of this world need to be on the news. Ill never be a chef!!!! So, slowly working on getting kids used to this idea of making all homemade "goodies junk or healthy" .. work in progress!!!!!!!

    So, I do not have a green thumb, and all my plants die, but I want to try to to grow my own veggies and fruits. But, fruits equal bees and wasps that I do not want!!! Anyone do this? Is it hard for personal use? How much does it save you est a month vs buying fruits n veggies in the store frozen or fresh, even canned?

    So, how do I become an extreme couponer as I feel lost when trying? I know to buy some stuff in bulk, like for us, we always could use paper towels ( but thinking switching to washcloths and bleaching when done cleaning counters or the tub etc), toilet paper,personal soaps, laundry, dish soaps, crackers, canned foods( but again want to really start using "fresh" not canned. )

    I see monthly budgets articles on the net, saying feed family of 4 under $400!! Or less!!!( yes 3 times a day) But, include picky kids!!! Hard isnt it? Ok, Im not perfect, me too!

    Ok well, I just came back from the store a while ago and didnt like the bill!!! I did /do buy the store brand or whats on sale cheaper then store brand.
  2. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    You don't have to be a gourmet chef to cook good healthy food on the cheap. Start simple and basic. Go online and look for healthy recipes.
    Decide what you are going to fix each night on paper before you go to the store. I know some people will use the store ads to see what's on sale before making out their weekly menu. If your in a time crunch then you can cook extra and have leftovers. Also, I love crockpot cooking. Many recipes online.
    We eat a lot of chicken and fish in my house. Chicken is so basic and easy and yet you can do so many things with it. I like to bake chicken breast and always make extra. I take the extra and cut it up into bite size pieces, throw them in a large baggie and add some mixed salad greens. I take it work for my lunch. Right before I'm ready to eat I will add a little salad dressing to the baggie and shake it up. Makes for a nice chicken salad and so much cheaper than what you buy if you went out.
    I also grill a lot of chicken (yummy) again, I will use this for salad also.
    As for growing your own veggies vs buying, unless you will be growing a lot and putting them up either canning or freezing it doesn't save that much. In the summer months I love going to the farmers market.
    As for picky kids, try to have them help prepare the food. They might be more receptive to eating what they have helped to make.
    I'm not a big coupon person mainly because it's hard to find coupon for fresh produce or meat. Most coupons are for processed foods which I don't buy.
    I applaud you for making the effort to want to eat healthier.
  3. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    There are coupons for fresh produce and meat. Where do you shop, Confused?
  4. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

    I like to garden and put in edibles and herbs every year, but I do it more as a hobby. We also have a few citrus trees with the most productive being a Mexican lime tree. Our friends and neighbors get a lot of limes because that tree produces hundreds. I don't think any of my gardening efforts have ever saved me any money on groceries.

    Our neighbor has a few chickens that produce more than enough eggs for his family of 4. They get so many eggs that they occasionally pass some along to us.

    One thing that has saved my household some grocery money is getting a freezer to put in the garage. I always thought that they would use too much energy to be worthwhile but I was surprised to learn how energy efficient they really are. Now I have somewhere to store big bags of frozen veggies and chicken that they sell at Costco. I also like to make bone broth and chicken stock which takes a long time, so I don't do it very often. Now I can make a big batch because I have space to freeze some to use for a quick lentil or vegetable soup.

    I know a lady that filled her freezer with turkeys when they were on sale.

    This is for the freezer I got from Costco.

  5. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Yes, I know there are coupons for fresh produce and meat but they are not as abundant as those for processed foods.

    I buy my meat in bulk as it's cheaper, then I break it down into smaller packages and freeze it using a vacuum sealer.
  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Buy only fruit and vegetables that are locally in season, that saves money. Join a coop for weekly boxes of fruits and veggies from a local farm. I did that last year and loved it! I tried vegetables I would never have bought in the store.

    Buy frozen because canned often has added salt and/or preservatives. Buy only the vegetables that you can realistically eat that week so there is no waste. If I find a deal on bell peppers, for example, at Trader Joes, I will buy extra and chop them for the freezer to use in cooking. It's the same concept as buying protein in bulk, you just have to know which veggies freeze well and use them just for cooking.
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  7. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    I use a few coupons from time to time, when they make sense for what we need.

    I also meal plan - I have a list of meals planned out for a week or so at a time .. .. .. that saves time & can save $, if they're planned around what's on sale. I save some of the meal plan lists to refer to down the road for ideas

    When my well of creativity runs dry, I visit a couple of favorite web sites for meal ideas & look over my Taste of Home magazines
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Cheap eating...
    1) yes you need a freezer - not just the one that is part of your fridge. A freezer has to be managed, though. Strict rotation of stock, knowing exactly what you have. Then, the freezer can take: meat specials, pre-cooked stock/soup/stew, super-sale frozen veggies, sometimes good deals on frozen fruit.
    2) evaluate meat based on "lean equivalent" servings. For example, regular ground beef is something like 30% fat, which makes the price per pound of protein that much higher.
    3) buy "tough, old meat" - laying hens, old dairy cows, etc. WAY more flavor, but you have to cook long and slow
    4) Cook ahead (see 1 and 3 above) - and freeze ahead
    5) most people eat too much meat. Use other sources of protein - especially beans, lentils, field peas, and eggs
    6) IF you have lots of fridge space, root vegetables are cheaper in bulk (i.e. 50 lb bags) - carrots, potatoes, rutabaga
    7) The most cost effective things to grow if you're not really a gardener (I'm not either) are greens: leaf lettuce, spinach, etc. These taste WAY better than in the store because they are harvested immediately before use. Clip off a row or part-row leaving a quarter inch of stem, and they will grow back.
    8) Breakfast can be a budget buster. If your family is into cereal, change to cooked cereal (not instant... the real old-fashioned kinds). Whole grains = lots of fiber, and most of these are cheap.
    9) SOME stuff is cheaper at farm gate or farmer's markets... other things are not. Know your prices.

    I make our own bread. Not because it's cheaper (I can by "cheap" bread really "cheap"), but because we get way better quality for the same $.
  9. compassion

    compassion Member

    I save a lot buying bogo.
  10. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I'm not going to say that I do save money...but I will tell you that in going over our budget and monthly spending I've noticed where we spend - every day or two there's an entry in my checking account for a grocery store. $20, $25, $30, $22, $ adds up BIG TIME! It's the constant little "Oh, I need a bell pepper for tonight's dinner." But you don't just buy a $1.50 bell pepper, you go in and come out with $20 worth because you see this and that. "Oh, that meat is on sale!" "Oh, we are low on sugar too!" "Hmm, I'm hungry now, I'll get some wings at the deli."

    We used to make a weekly meal plan, make of list of all the food needed to make the meals, from that make a list of what needed to be bought, and buy it. That four-step plan saved us a LOT of money and we desperately need to go back to it.
  11. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hey, Confused.... been there done that!

    Many of us have been where you are now--seeing the amount spent on groceries and knowing that you need to make a change but not knowing where to start.

    As with any successful endeavor, all it takes is a little preparation.

    I have lived in may states and various communities and I know prices vary and everyplace has different stores available, but one thing they all have in common is their SALE FLYERS.

    1)Each week when the flyers come out in the paper, I go through them to find the best prices on the things I buy. I write out a grocery list and stick to it. I rarely buy anything not on sale. I can do this because I stock up on items when they are on sale, so I don't have to buy them when they aren't on sale. I know what a great price is and what an OK price is and buy accordingly.

    2)Price matching--most stores will do this. You don't have to go to every store to get the best price. Go to one and ask if the price match the local competitors.

    3)Do you have a discount grocer like Aldis? There are certain things I buy only at Aldis. I go once per month. Other stores will price match their sales, too, which I use to price match their produce prices (so I don't have to go to Aldis more than once a month, but get their produce prices all month). I often spend less than half of the regular store's price when I do this.

    4) Do NOT go to the grocery more than once per week, as Lil said. BIG budget killer. Make due with what you have. You will be surprised at what you can make from your pantry.

    5) Leftover management is crucial. Don't waste food.

    I do have a freezer in the garage. It is very full. Got pork steaks on sale at 99 cents per pound and chicken legs/thigh quarters at 69 Cents pound last month. Got a great deal on a quarter of beef for $335. Last month we spent more, but it all evens out as I spend less these next two months.

    I don't use a lot of coupons, though in some areas I have lived in, I used them more often.

    I spend $325 per month for a family of three (also, 20yo eats here 3-6 times per week. We rarely eat out or order in.

    We eat lots of meat. Steak once or twice per week in grilling season. From April-ish through October-ish most dinners are meat grilled out on the grill along with salad of some kind.

    Lunch is usually leftovers.

    Breakfast runs the gammot: cereal, oatmeal, muffins that I make, fruit, yogurt, pancakes, biscuits, eggs, bacon.

    Lots of fruit for snacks.

    10yo helps with grocery shopping and can pick out some things if they are on sale and at a good price so she learns thee value of a dollar. For example, she knows we don't buy whatever cereal she wants, but she can pick from the certain ones that are on sale and I may have a coupon for. I say stuff like 'these are the ones on sale, the other one is too expensive. We may get that one another time, if it goes on sale at a good price'. Delayed gratification. Incentive to look for a coupon or sale. Smart shopping.

    I do have a small garden. Not sure how much money it saves, but we do love to go out each morning and pick our veggies for dinner that evening. Worth it. Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green beans are our favorites, and we make pickles from the cucumbers which is simple and fun.

    I consider shopping for groceries one of my jobs/tasks of housekeeping and spending money wisely on it is the most important part.

    I occasionally get lazy and cut corners. My food bills go up and I have less to show for it. So then I go back to my system and get back on track. Everyone slips up sometimes. Just start again.
  12. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Sometimes the best deals are in the most unusual places.

    In my area eggs, milk and turkey bacon are cheapest at Walgreens (unless there is a really great sale somewhere).
  13. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    I buy all my spices from the Amish.

    Super, ridiculously cheap around here, not sure if it is like that in other areas. Fresh and Quality stuff.
  14. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Does anyone do a lot of couponing?

    my local paper doesn't have many coupons.

    Lots of people print them off the internet now, but is that cost-effective, considering the price of printer ink?

    What are your favorite sites?
  15. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I should mention, I have grown a small garden for years. I'm not this year, because we plan on selling and so are converting my garden space to yard, but I may have to buy some potting soil because I'm having withdrawal.

    A lot of veggies are not cost-effective. If you won't eat them for starters. But some are quite cost effective. You can get seeds at Wal-Mart for 99 cents a package and really they're fine. The best in my opinion to grow are salad greens (lettuce, spinach - you can always freeze the spinach), tomatoes (if you don't eat them all, you can freeze them and use them in soups and sauces later), yellow, orange and red bell peppers - (Green ones are cheap, the colored ones are pricey in the store even though they're about the same thing! They also freeze great. I cut them in half, seed them, toss them in a freezer bag, done. I used what I grow in the summer all winter.) Cucumbers are easy and usually produce quite a bit but you can't keep them well unless you make pickles, and zucchini or summer squash- it's actually pretty cheap in the stores, but it's a big producer so if you like it you can get a lot. Takes up a lot of space though.

    So yeah, think of what your family will actually eat and try to plant things that you can keep easily.
  16. Confused

    Confused Active Member

    Tanya M- Great idea, my kids used to help me in the kitchen, now its mainly son- sometimes. Ill try again, I used to ask them to each come up with a menu and we would combine them( healthy of course with a little of their splurges) and years ago they did. Ill try again. True, I need to get a recipe book going again :) Im just not even all that when I follow one!

    ThreeShadows, I shop at walmart and where are the coupons for meat? Thanks!!!

    runawaybunny,thats a lot of citrus and sweet of you to share it!! Thanks for that energy tip!!I would love some chickens!!

    LittleDudesMom, thats a good tip to buy in season!! Freezing fresh veggies, I need to read up!

    ctmom05, true, I need to meal plan again. I never stuck to them! Thanks for the site name

    Insane,yes, we need another freezer/fridge, but maybe just a freezer would be better. I agree, too much meat is not good. Dont have much room in fridge ( I always have too much food/milk/drinks in it) but where do you buy those root vegetable bags?

    compassion, thank you!! I was curios so I looked it up already!

    Lil, hha yes!!! Me too!!! Exactly all of us!! I cant just go in ( unless Im that broke) for that or specific items!! Bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes goes fast here! Those would be worth it to try to grow!

    AppleCori,oh wow glad your 10 yr old is helping and learning! Thats a good amount for food!! I want mine lower now!!! Bacon and sausage is very expensive tho!!

    ***** thanks everyone!!!!Sorry If I missed anyone-Let me know!! I think I got you all :) Can those deep freezers hold Icecream good for a month? That is one big item here too!!!! And I love when they have the sales on them, esp the bars,cones etc! So a vacuum sealer? I need one.

    ****Brita Water Filter? Or that knew one? I love bottled water!!! So if I had that be great!
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    We get ours at a warehouse store that caters to small commercial outfits - small restaurants, for example. It's open to the public, no membership, straight cash. They sell 50 lb bags of carrots, potatoes, rutabaga. They have smaller bags too, but best price is carrots in 50 lb bag.
  18. Confused

    Confused Active Member

    Oh wow thank you! Ill look a round now for sure!!
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Dairy is usually good in a formal deepfreeze for 3-6 months... bars and such I would use within 3 months, but a big gallon tub of ice cream can be bought in late fall and... ready to use on the first hot day ;) (NOT in a fridge deep-freeze... the auto-defrost cycle is hard on ice cream!)
  20. Confused

    Confused Active Member

    Ok thank you Insane :) This will help me plan!