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02 February 2013 @ 03:33 pm
Grocery spending  

Does anyone have any tips/tricks to saving money on groceries?? All the "helpful" articles online are ridiculous and are things we already do.

I don't really do coupons because most of what I find are for items we don't need or they're for the name brand items and the store brand is still cheaper.

Most of what we buy is store brand. We buy enough to get us through until the next pay check and generally don't buy extra things.

I'm so sick of spending $300-$400 at the store!!

Here's the receipt from our most recent trip if that helps:

I couldn't fit the whole thing in one picture. I blocked out items from the bottom of the previous pictures and of course our account info. We shop at Kroger. There is also a Publix relatively close to us, but in my experience they're more expensive and there is a Walmart a little further than the Publix, but I think any savings we may have would be cancelled out in the gas to get there and back.

What am I doing wrong??

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Current Mood: frustrated
 
 
 
Crazy Alexy: Pirate Womancrazy_alexy on February 2nd, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
Do you have an Aldi nearby? I highly suggest trying to get some of your groceries there. Usually it helps to shop there first, then get what you still need elsewhere after.

It looks like you aren't afraid of generic, which is good. For yogurt you could buy a large package and dole it out after the fact. I think I see a sponge on there? You can cut it into quarters and make it last four times as long. Also, you can clean/sanitize them by running them through the dishwasher with your dishes.

I noticed that fruit cup was $10. Holy crap. Buying fresh might work in your favor there.

Are you seriously going through 4 loaves of bread in 2 weeks? If that's the case, it might be a good idea to start looking for a breadmaker and learn to make your own...
Crazy Alexy: Pirate Womancrazy_alexy on February 2nd, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
Just so you know, though, you're not doing too bad. Groceries are expensive these days, especially if you try to eat in any way healthy. My husband and I end up spending about $100-$150 on groceries every week and a half or so, and it's just us two, so I feel your pain.
(no subject) - lavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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why's everything gotta be so intense with me: purple porcupinecoendou on February 2nd, 2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
I assume you plan meals and shop from a list?

How many weeks does the $300 get you? For how many people?
Kizzy: make pies!xo_kizzy_xo on February 2nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
I was just going to ask that -- how many people in your household? That has a lot of bearing on how large/small your grocery bill is.

(no subject) - lavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 08:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Amber: pic#59205330amberbaka on February 2nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
You may want to check into a Costco/BJs/Sam's based off of the meat prices I'm seeing and a chest freezer. Meat seems to be the highest part of your bill and if you can buy in bulk when meat is on sale, you'll be able to stock up for the future when meat/other frozen goods are on sale.
lavendersparklavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
We have a chest freezer, the one on our refrigerator is tiny.

We don't have a Costco/Sam's nearby and I don't like having to pay a store just to shop there. We also don't have an Aldi that I'm aware of. </p>

Meat is a HUGE expense. When I was still single I only bought meat like once a month and it was usually chicken or cheap ground beef. My husband doesn't count anything as dinner unless meat is involved. He accepts having spaghetti like once a month and that's it. I actually get sick of eating meat EVERY DAY. :(

(no subject) - jasper17 on February 2nd, 2013 09:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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why's everything gotta be so intense with me: purple porcupinecoendou on February 2nd, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
Also, looks like diapers and meat are big costs. Maybe Costco for those? Cloth diapers are also a great money-saver.
lavendersparklavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)
We're HOPING to get our daughter potty trained soon. We only buy diapers once a month since we buy a large box.
(no subject) - donnajean2277 on February 3rd, 2013 11:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Misha: brunette!dorkcore on February 2nd, 2013 08:54 pm (UTC)
Off the top of my head:

- Looking at the receipt, it actually looks like you're buying name brand for most things. I buy Tillamook yogurt (which isn't store brand but may just be local?) and it's normally less than $1 each. The Yoplait you bought is over twice as much. Same thing with the soups, graham crackers, etc.

- You're spending a lot on meat. Maybe try having 'meatless' nights where you eat beans or grains in place of meat? Or buy meat in larger 'value' packs?

- On the note of value packs, buying a brick of cheese is going to be more expensive than the bag of shredded you bought, but it will usually be twice as much.

- There are some really expensive things on there that you could probably reconsider whether or not you need them. $15 for 5 hour energy? I'm not trying to pass judgement on what you feel your family needs but that's a lot of money for something that you could probably ween yourself off of.

- Is a grocery store the best place to buy diapers? I don't have kids so I don't know if that's true but it seems like a lot of non-food stuff is more expensive at grocery store based places than say, Amazon or Target.

I go through phases with coupons but our biggest way to save money when we aren't using them is to just shop the circular. Whatever fruit, vegetables, and meat is on sale that week is what we eat. Blueberries are out of season and $6 now? We're not going to buy them.

Another tip is to not buy pre-packaged stuff. You can buy the ingredients for a huge batch of soup that you can freeze and eat for a lot of meals for the price of a few cans of soup. We start getting into trouble with grocery money when we start buying boxed/canned stuff.
lavendersparklavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 09:20 pm (UTC)
The closest non grocery store is 15-20 minutes away. That's a bit of a drive for a couple items. Plus we only buy diapers about once a month and prices are pretty much the same since we buy generic and not name brand.

Meatless dinners are not really an option, much as I would like them to be. </p>

The 5 hour energy was a pack and my husband drinks them in the morning on his way to work. His drive is about 45 minutes down a long empty road. He doesn't drink them everyday. The pack will probably last a month or more. He just drinks one if he's not really feeling awake. He doesn't like coffee so he drinks that instead.

The yogurt... Idk. It's fancy, it has fruit and granola with it. My husband takes it for breakfast. I'm not sure if there is anything else he could substitute with.

The cheese, I could probably just buy a brick and shred it, I just get lazy. Plus the pre shredded comes in flavors!

The blueberries were an impulse buy. They were the perfect size for my daughter. They were also organic so that ups the price. Same with the graham crackers. They're organic and my daughter is in love with them.

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Kizzy: make pies!xo_kizzy_xo on February 2nd, 2013 09:00 pm (UTC)
It's just my husband, me, and the dog. We don't do coupons, we buy generic, and I'm always on the lookout for sales.

That said...

Do you have a Costco or a BJ's anywhere nearby? What we do is a once-a-month or so big stock-up run at either (they're both in my area) for the major stuff like meat/poultry, paper goods, and some groceries like coffee and cereal. It typically runs us about $120-130, give or take a few dollars. I'll parcel out and freeze the meat/poultry once we get home, while the rest goes in the pantry. The outlay may seem huge, but considering that both stores charge less per pound, there's a significant savings right there. Plus, if we don't finish what we have by the following month, we won't buy it again until we completely run out.

I also supermarket-hop, depending on what we need. Market A -- the closest to our house -- has the best prices on X item, but I won't buy Y item there because Market B (couple of miles away) has the best prices on that. When I'm out running errands I try to keep the general which-market-is-where map in my head so I'll remember to pick up something while I'm on my way to/from somewhere else. Like, for instance, I don't normally shop at the market near my in-laws because they're 25 miles from us, but if we're visiting, I'll stop in and get Z item because it's cheaper there than up our way.

Alice: Bunny Cloudalice_bunnie on February 2nd, 2013 09:07 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the above comments, so if I repeat, sorry. XD

I do use coupons, but only for things I need. If you combine coupons on days when the store has sales, and stock up on extras when you're there, that is the most helpful.

For instance, I see you bought Progresso Soup... recently at my kroger that was part of the "Buy 10 specific items, get $5 off your entire order"... Progresso soups was one of them... I had a coupon for .40 off one, and $1 off two... so I bought 3, then combined with my other purchases, the soups came out to less than a dollar each, which is a big savings. Also, same for Campbells soups... they always have coupons, and they always go on sale. Got chicken noodle for about .25 with my coupons last week.

You don't have to have a big system to work on this, even just an envelope of coupons you always keep with your grocery list. I do have a system, but I have more time, I'm sure. However, for the cost of a paper here, $2, I always end up saving at least that. I usually save about 30% according to the receipts, however I don't look at it that way, because I wouldn't have bought most of the things at regular prices! xD

As for Publix, I only buy their BOGO items, and if possible, combine with a coupon. Publix will let you use a BOGO coupon on a BOGO item, and you essentially get that for free.

I only buy meat on sale, chicken (boneless skinless breasts) for $1.70, beef for under $3.49, and pork about $1.99/lb, then freeze it.

I have a family of 5 I feed. We usually spend about $800/month, sometimes less depending upon if I use pantry items for a while.

Kroger will mail you coupons on items you use a lot, and usually their store brand, as well as $X off a $X purchase in the meat or produce department. Sign up for that. Publix will also send you mailers. That is, if you decide to go that way. Good luck.
mustangracer: Metal Katmustangracer on February 3rd, 2013 08:26 am (UTC)
I do coupons A LOT but I only clip them for the products I know I use. We also have Safeway here and they do this "just for U" program based off of your shopping habits. I always get a discount on fruit/veg and poweraid (we drink an epic ASS-TON of poweraid in my house).

hikerpoet: mantishikerpoet on February 2nd, 2013 09:14 pm (UTC)
I agree with the others--that's not unreasonable or exorbitant at all. Good job!
What we do differently:
--no 5hr energy! That's a big chunk.
--We're omnivores, too, but that's a LOT on meat. Cut down, or if you need it/love it, think of things like fajitas where you can still get a fix and use a smaller amount, etc.
--Whole fruit. Most freezes amazingly well if you prep it and put it in freezer bags. Hell, even the pre-frozen fruit bags are cheaper than the cups. If she does happy to be a picky eater and that's a super healthy thing she'll go for I do understand the concession.
--Do make most of our own bread. It also freezes amazingly well. You admittedly have to be careful, though--yeast just in itself can be expensive, so you you'll want to find more of a bulk one that works well for you.
--We do make soup a lot, but we do buy canned, too, admittedly, esp. as there are a lot of sales this time of year.
--what are the quantities on the baby food and the yogurt? They tend to be about half that here, and we're in an area with a high cost of living. However, if they are the larger containers and you just go through a LOT, that sounds super reasonable. But if that is for smaller containers just because you really like those brands, maybe shop around?
Good luck!
lavendersparklavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I need to find more recipes that I can stretch our meat with. My husband has been going crazy with steaks lately. :/

I have one soup recipe that I LOVE, but I have to buy so much stuff to make it. Of course I haven't made it since we moved here so maybe I can find kale in a smaller amount and not waste it. </p>

I could probably use homemade bread for my daughter and use the store bread for my husbands lunches.

I used to buy frozen fruit. I don't like how watery/messy it is when it thaws. But I really should start buying that again if I start buying fruit regularly. The blueberries this trip were just an impulse buy.

(no subject) - sblmnldrknss on February 3rd, 2013 05:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zyada on February 4th, 2013 02:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
Darlahooddarlahood on February 2nd, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
We are a family of three, but I often feed my parents who are on fixed incomes. Mostly shop at Publix or a local mom'n'pop store. I spent on average $180/week. Including wine occasionally, pull-ups, and organic milk.

During the holidays when I was entertaining, our monthly groceries went over $1,000. As my dad likes to say, "groceries are damn high!"

We eat a lot soups and casseroles because they tend to have more leftovers.

Ask your husband to pick up meat on his way home from work every once in a while. He'll catch on quick about how pricey it is.
lavendersparklavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
He knows how pricey meat is, he goes to the store with me. He just has a not very good concept of money/spending/budgeting.
(no subject) - goldoyster on February 3rd, 2013 12:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
Erinerinmdmd on February 2nd, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
I do a lot of cooking from scratch, beyond what it seems like you do from what you purchase. Cream of ____ soups are easy to throw together at home with cream + vegetable + broth. I freeze leftovers in quart bags. Similarly, soups are easy to make in large quantities and freeze.

At this time of year, almost all of our fruits and vegetables are frozen or canned. I generally can and freeze things in season, so consider that this summer.

My family also eats a lot of meat. I buy in bulk and have learned to cook cheaper cuts well to save per pound. Whole chickens, for example, are cheaper than chicken breasts and last my family of five several meals (night one: roast chicken w/ veg sides, night two: chicken in risotto, side salad, nigth three chicken soup w/ bread on side). Ground beef is very versatile and fairly inexpensive. Boneless/skinless chicken thighs work for boneless chicken meat without the expense of the breasts.

Bread is also manageable at home. I make sandwich bread 1-2 times a week, and pita or rolls at least one other time. Once I found good recipes, it just has become part of my daily routine. Same could be said for yogurt and salad dressings, and my children prefer what I make to store bought now.

Its a bit of an outlay in money, but we buy a pig and quarter cow every so often. Better quality meat and all I have to do is pull it out of our second freezer once a week to defrost int eh fridge.

latechgrad26: pic#114039628latechgrad26 on February 2nd, 2013 09:18 pm (UTC)
Meat -Kroger marks down a lot of their meat in the morning. Try to visit early and buy clearance meat that you can freeze and eat later. I've found tons of deals on chicken and beef this way.

Generics - You'll cut down on a lot of costs by buying store brand items. Kroger regularly has 10/$10 sales on store brand items so you can save a lot there.

Cleaning supplies - For sponges, wipes, etc. try buying those things from the Dollar Tree if there's one near you.

Consider joining Amazon Mom to get discounts on diapers. I purchased a lot of my niece's diapers this way. Toys R Us usually has sales on their store brand diapers as well. Check out Hip2Save, she usually posts diaper deals for online and brick & mortar stores.
lavendersparklavenderspark on February 2nd, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that Kroger discounted their meat in the morning! We usually go in the evening since my husband wants to go with me and we have to wait until he gets home from work.
(no subject) - msmoonshade on February 2nd, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sblmnldrknss on February 3rd, 2013 05:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
lizzer01lizzer01 on February 2nd, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
Publix and Kroger both double coupons and when you combine sales with coupons you really rack up the savings. I shop a lot at Publix and only buy the BOGO items that I have coupons for. Doing these things I get name brand for so much cheaper than store brand.

Avoid buying things like diapers and wipes or pet supplies at the grocery store. Those items are generally more expensive there.
Nicole: pic#114004153sblmnldrknss on February 2nd, 2013 09:21 pm (UTC)
What are all those $1 things?

Pet items, diapers, cleaning products, razors.... all of that is far less expensive buying in bulk at Costco.

Cut anything not nutritionally necessary. Soda, gum, juice, "baby" food items, 5 hour energy, canned soup, convenience foods(pancakes, single serving cups, etc.). You can buy yogurt in big tubs, if you must have canned fruits, buy them in cans and dole out into smaller containers.
Cara: averygemini7 on February 2nd, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC)
I agree with others about the diapers, cheaper elsewhere. Also, you can look into a local CSA, Bountiful Basket type deal for produce? We have a lot of money with co-op produce and some bulk items. If you want to stick with certain name brands, like Yoplait, coupons will in fact be useful too! All in all though I also echo others that said cost of living and food is just going up. We spend so much on food for a family of four, and my kids are little yet.
Kathryn: mugsurvivinglove on February 2nd, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC)
We cut our groceries bills by quite a bit by buying our fruits/veg from a local co-op and just buy our meat from the grocery store(whatever is on sale is what I buy and I buy enough to cook AND enough to freeze) and then cleaning stuff and household items at a big box superstore.

We don't buy packaged foods generally and stick to fruit/veg/meat/poultry/dairy and bread is a 'treat'. We are a family of three and our grocery bill is about $50-$80/week.

Edited at 2013-02-02 10:13 pm (UTC)