Question for the frugal mamas


#1

So how do you save money on groceries WITHOUT eating lots of processed foods? It just seems like most of the coupons/deals out there are for food in boxes and cans... I'm not a zero-processed food eater, but we try to focus on lean protein, fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. (organic when possible) and I just can't figure out how to work much magic with my grocery bill like some are able to with extreme couponing... Any tips would be appreciated! I've never really worried about my grocery costs much before but am trying to save some money! Thanks!


#2

This may sound rather old-fashioned, but buying a chest freezer allows us to stock up on good quality foods when they are for sale at a huge savings. Chest freezers are quite inexpensive, and serve as a folding counter when kept in a laundry room. Our 42" chest freezer holds an amazing amount of food, though it is sometimes challenging to dig around for older items and there is always the occasional really old food item that must be thrown away because it is freezer burned.

Looking forward to what others have to add.... Thanks for starting this thread!

P.S. Eggs are a fantastic source of protein for an inexpensive price. We go through nearly a dozen a day.


#3

When rearing my family, I found that, with a few exceptions, it was less expensive to cook from scratch. I avoided all the excess salt and additives that way, also. Stands me well now, in my grandma years, as I am dealing with family members with food allergies.

I used powdered milk, sometimes mixing it with liquid non-fat milk from the market. When I needed to buy canned items, such as tomatoes, I bought the store brands. I saved a little on electricity (and used up calories!) by using a hand-mixer, instead of an electric one. I use a hand can opener, as well.

Some items do cost more to make homemade, such as ice cream. I still make my own ice cream for special occasions, or when I want to try something new, such as beet ice cream. It tastes better than store-bought, so you need to weigh the cost versus the flavor.

Having a freezer is a very good idea, as the previous poster pointed out. I would make giant batches of chili or soup, and freeze all that we couldn’t eat in a week. Sometimes making a larger batch of a meal, like chicken and rice, saved electricity in the oven, as I can reheat the left-overs, as individual meals, in the microwave. This comes in very handy now that I am on my own.

I agree with you about the coupons. My Mom continues to send me coupons, but mostly they are for items that are still too expensive even with the coupon. However, the coupons for cat food get used!

Good luck! Look to your ancestors, they were frugal in times before boxed mac and cheese!:thumbsup:


#4

Several years ago when I lost my job, I went out and purchased a small up-right freezer for a couple of hundred dollars. My freezer has several layers of shelving.

I started looking for meats on sale and started freezing them. I also buy meat in bulk that are labeled “family size” and I portion them when I get home.

I also scout the supermarket meat department for “managers specials”. It is good meat that only has 1 more day in the chill box of the market. I will stock up on them. Even if it is one type of meat only.

Just last month they had Angus beef burgers on sale. This is an expensive meat that I would never purchase… They were offering 4 burgers for $2.00 - you can’t beat that. I grabbed all of them… :smiley:

I also buy fresh veggies and especially when they are on sale, I stock up.

Now, fresh veggies don’t have a long fridge shelf life, so I cut them up and freeze them.

I’ll explain: For example.

Red & green peppers are on sale. I’ll buy 5 green & 5 red.

I take them home, wash them & chop them up - some get diced and others get sliced.

I place a handful of red & green peppers in small zippy bags & freeze them.

I now have peppers to use in soups & stews.

I do the same to parsley, zuccini, eggplant, onions and potatoes.

But remember, these frozen veggies will only be used in soups/stews because of their moisture content.

I buy lentil beans in a bag & cook it as lentil bean soup. I’ll eat some for dinner, save another bowl for the next day & then I freeze the rest. A month later, when I want some lentil soup, I thaw & heat.

I also do the same with white navy bean or split pea soups. Last night I made black bean soup. We ate some for dinner, I reserved a few bowls for today and the rest is in the freezer.

I also buy hamburger/hot dog buns on sale & freeze - same with english muffins.

I make tons of pancakes. The family will eat some say “today”, I’ll reserve some for tomorrow and freeze the rest by placing wax paper in between them. I do the same with home made waffles. So when someone wants pancakes/waffles for breakfast, they can have them.

Summer is almost here & the farmers out here will have tons of fresh produce. I’ll stock up on eggplant & zuccini. I’ll make eggplant rolatini or zuccini rolatini, freeze them in aluminum pans with lids, label them, and in the fall/winter, we’ll eat it up.

It is cheaper to make you own home made spaghetti sauce. I make big… big batches & freeze in individual containers.

Apple season, I make pies & freeze them.

I also make my own home made bread. I’ll make 3-4 loaves per week.

I do the same with home made cinnamon buns & freeze.

I also make home made ice cream.

Extra coffee from the morning goes into ice cube trays. Why…??? Because when I bake something & it needs 1 tablespoon of coffee, I don’t want to brew some & wait for it to chill… :stuck_out_tongue:

I tend to buy whole chickens when on sale. One chicken will yield the following:

Chicken meat for tonights dinner:

Tomorrow, I’ll take the white meat/chicken breast and cut it up for chicken salad/lunch sandwiches. I will then take the chicken carcass, throw it in a pot of cold water and boil the bones down to get chicken broth.

I will then freeze the chicken broth.

So you see, one little chicken can yield quite a bit of food.

I hope I haven’t bored with my post… :blush:


#5

If you are eating unprocessed foods, you will generally save more than you would have on coupons.

A garden can be a great way to save money on fresh food.


#6

Here's what I have done:

1.) Grow my own stuff. Eggplants, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, are easy to grow in a small plot and you can can them if you have extras. Organic peppers, especially, are expensive at the store. Herbs too.

2.) Group buy. Our church has a provident living program, so in our particular ward (similar to parish), a number of families banded together to buy bulk. For example, we were able to buy 40 pounds of organic chicken breasts for $100 if we buy 5 cases. That's just $2.50 a pound that we divided among ourselves.

3.) Get the circulars for places like Whole Foods every week. They would put certain things on sale on certain weeks - buy a lot then and put it in storage/freezer. Right now, I have about 12 bags of sliced bread in my freezer. Sliced bread is easy - just take out of the freezer and let thaw for a few minutes and it's as good as new...

P.S. If you have something like a fresh market in your area (usually local farmers), you can find lots of organic fresh vegetables there on occasion. Buy a jillion of them and can them. Check your local directory for an LDS Cannery - trust me, they won't proselyte in the cannery - they can help you can your stuff for a very very minimal charge (usually just the price of the cans).


#7

Yes, a lot of towns have buying co-ops if you know where to look for them.


#8

[quote="mini_me640, post:1, topic:242436"]
So how do you save money on groceries WITHOUT eating lots of processed foods?

[/quote]

First, we live in an 800 sq.ft. condo, with a one-car garage, so we don't have room for a freezer or garden. :p

So, we eat very little meat, like, once or twice a week only. I'm sure that saves us money because eggs, beans, tofu, whole grains are much cheaper.

I'm sure to draw fire for saying this, but we get our fruits and veggies from traditional supermarkets and steer clear of higher-end supermarkets (i.e., "WholePaycheck") and farmer's markets. Fair trade, organic, yes, yes, yes, I know. This might not be true everywhere, but when I go to a farmer's market around here I can come away with a pint of strawberries, a bunch of spinach, and a dozen eggs and have spent $15. I couldn't imagine how much I'd be sending if I fed four people seven days a week from a farmer's market or upscale supermarket.

I buy 2, 1.5 liters of soda a week. When it's gone, it's gone. No more until next week.

I'll add more as I think of them, but right now I think we save the most money on being relatively meat-less.


#9

you are right that the processed, high sugar, high refined starch foods are also the cheapest, and it is no wonder those with lowest incomes tend to have more obesity. Take a look at the WIC aisle in your grocery store and see what your federal tax dollars subsidize.

It can be done but it may change your family's eating habits drastically (which can be a good thing). Play the "we can't afford it" card all the time. Cut out all processed sweets, snacks, chips, cereals, drinks etc which we all ought to do anyway.

Let the kids learn to bake and cook, and grow their own. Let each one plant one veggie they like and make a family garden. Or see if your town has a community garden. Take a course on canning, freezing and preserving at a local college or county extension.

Explore food co-ops, whole food stores, bulk stores and similar outlets. If your Catholic school has a Market Day you can save a lot while supporting the school (if you have a freezer, a great investment.)

If the switch from soft drinks is too painful transition this way.
In a gallon jug of water (filtered with a counterop pitcher like Brita, not bottled) add one scoop of frozen white grape juice concentrate and shake. Makes a sweet tasting drink, one can makes 4-6 gallons, and is even more refreshing than plain water when chilled.

Don't buy any food that is not a food or did not come from an actual food. Potatoes, not pringles. 1/2 pint heavy cream to whip in your mixer, not coolwhip, butter or olive oil, not margarine. cut up chicken that you bread with crumbs from leftover heels of bread put through the blender, not pre-formed frozen nuggets. you get the picture.

reserve milk (whoa glad I don't have kids at home any more) for breakfast and snack time, not meal time (fills them up too much) and drink water with meals. Fill up with cheese and yogurt to get their calcium (while you are training them to eat green leafy veggies). Do not buy single pack sweetened yogurt. Make your own from plain dannon and frozen berries (especially cheap when fresh are in season). Kids can make parfaits with chopped nuts and sundae toppings.

buy what is in season. your supermarket may have a website or mazagine that gives tips on this. if there is a lot of it, like strawberries right now, freeze. Or do without strawberries when they are expensive (1.28 a qt at walmart yesterday).

use everything.
save veggie trimmings, bones etc and make stock, which you reduce, then freeze in cubes for seasoning, broth, soup base, gravy base etc.


#10

[quote="karow, post:8, topic:242436"]
First, we live in an 800 sq.ft. condo, with a one-car garage, so we don't have room for a freezer or garden. :p

So, we eat very little meat, like, once or twice a week only. I'm sure that saves us money because eggs, beans, tofu, whole grains are much cheaper.

I'm sure to draw fire for saying this, but we get our fruits and veggies from traditional supermarkets and steer clear of higher-end supermarkets (i.e., "WholePaycheck") and farmer's markets. Fair trade, organic, yes, yes, yes, I know. This might not be true everywhere, but when I go to a farmer's market around here I can come away with a pint of strawberries, a bunch of spinach, and a dozen eggs and have spent $15. I couldn't imagine how much I'd be sending if I fed four people seven days a week from a farmer's market or upscale supermarket.

I buy 2, 1.5 liters of soda a week. When it's gone, it's gone. No more until next week.

I'll add more as I think of them, but right now I think we save the most money on being relatively meat-less.

[/quote]

Here, produce is MUCH cheaper at the Farmer's Market than at the grocery store. I guess that's something that must vary from place to place. :shrug:


#11

Beans. They cost practically nothing.


#12

If you like Indian flavors, I would suggest learning to make some Indian recipes. Most Indians are Hindu, and Hindus are generally very strict vegetarians. Generally, Indian dishes compensate for their lack of meat with rich flavors, lean proteins (such as lentils, cauliflower, etc.), and veggies.

This is one of my FAVORITES. Served with basmati rice it makes a HUGE pot and its flavors only become more rich and textured as it sits. If you have a store like Central Market or Whole Foods, check to see if they have a bulk section. I buy all of the spices from there and it costs under $1 for the whole dish every time. Then you just have to buy the lentils, tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Usually costs me a total of $5-$6.

allrecipes.com//Recipe/spicy-indian-dahl/Detail.aspx


#13

Do you mind sharing with us how many people/ages are in your house that you feed and approximately how much do you spend a week on groceries…???


#14

We are in a two bedroom apt.(downsized from 55+ mobile home park) downsized to eliminate debt for the times ahead…We have a chest freezer in a corner of the LR and an upright in the one BR(spare room)…We have a store that get overstock/outdated and literally, save $100’s… We buy say a healthy fruit veggie drink for $.99 that sells for $3.99
at the local chain…We buy cases at a time…Got weaned of soda’s years ago…Make our own teas with honey or agave nectar…Make our own rice/almond(milk)… Share a garden with my sister(5 miles away)…Freeze/dehydrate about 30 lbs of blu…eberries to make healthy energy shakes.Make our own granola bars, choco cake with chick peas…
really lost weight me 130 her 115 by getting rid of high fructose/hydrogenated oils…Eat lots of nuts. You just do what you have to do…Dr Oz website has a lot of good healthy recipe’s…BTW I organized our one car garage that would fit in tw by organizing/suspending items…Have a workbench suspended and our small landscape trailer turned sideways on furniture dollies and two motor scooters and our chevy tracker(4WD for snow)…I am disabled from a work accident so we went from a Accord and nissan truck to one vehicle and plan trips accordinly…We literally dumped about 30k
debt and have money to save now…I did splurge and bought a metal detector to hunt gold/silver and give me a warm weather hobby…


#15

[quote="Hiskid1973, post:14, topic:242436"]
We are in a two bedroom apt.(downsized from 55+ mobile home park) downsized to eliminate debt for the times ahead..We have a chest freezer in a corner of the LR and an upright in the one BR(spare room)..We have a store that get overstock/outdated and literally, save $100's.. We buy say a healthy fruit veggie drink for $.99 that sells for $3.99
at the local chain..We buy cases at a time..Got weaned of soda's years ago..Make our own teas with honey or agave nectar..Make our own rice/almond(milk).. Share a garden with my sister(5 miles away)...Freeze/dehydrate about 30 lbs of blu...eberries to make healthy energy shakes.Make our own granola bars, choco cake with chick peas..
really lost weight me 130 her 115 by getting rid of high fructose/hydrogenated oils...Eat lots of nuts. You just do what you have to do..Dr Oz website has a lot of good healthy recipe's...BTW I organized our one car garage that would fit in tw by organizing/suspending items..Have a workbench suspended and our small landscape trailer turned sideways on furniture dollies and two motor scooters and our chevy tracker(4WD for snow)...I am disabled from a work accident so we went from a Accord and nissan truck to one vehicle and plan trips accordinly..We literally dumped about 30k
debt and have money to save now..I did splurge and bought a metal detector to hunt gold/silver and give me a warm weather hobby..

[/quote]

Would you mind sharing with us how you make the rice/almond milk? I sure can't afford it from the market since I am laid off.:D


#16

I’ll have my beloved give me the recipe and I’ll post it…She buys shaved almonds and rice…I know she cook’s the rice down with our filtered water and runs it through cheese cloth… She uses the solids to dry and makes a rice hot cereal and puts natural maple syrup in it…God bless…May the Lord provide abundantly for you…


#17

[quote="Hiskid1973, post:14, topic:242436"]
We are in a two bedroom apt.(downsized from 55+ mobile home park) downsized to eliminate debt for the times ahead..We have a chest freezer in a corner of the LR and an upright in the one BR(spare room)..We have a store that get overstock/outdated and literally, save $100's.. We buy say a healthy fruit veggie drink for $.99 that sells for $3.99
at the local chain..We buy cases at a time..Got weaned of soda's years ago..Make our own teas with honey or agave nectar..Make our own rice/almond(milk).. Share a garden with my sister(5 miles away)...Freeze/dehydrate about 30 lbs of blu...eberries to make healthy energy shakes.Make our own granola bars, choco cake with chick peas..
really lost weight me 130 her 115 by getting rid of high fructose/hydrogenated oils...Eat lots of nuts. You just do what you have to do..Dr Oz website has a lot of good healthy recipe's...BTW I organized our one car garage that would fit in tw by organizing/suspending items..Have a workbench suspended and our small landscape trailer turned sideways on furniture dollies and two motor scooters and our chevy tracker(4WD for snow)...I am disabled from a work accident so we went from a Accord and nissan truck to one vehicle and plan trips accordinly..We literally dumped about 30k
debt and have money to save now..I did splurge and bought a metal detector to hunt gold/silver and give me a warm weather hobby..

[/quote]

You're right - you do what you have to.

Best of luck with the metal detector. I heard of people finding small fortunes with those.:)


#18

I think sellers mark up for a “hip-n-trendy” factor around here. Last year an egg seller at the closest FM to our place was charging something like $7 for a dozen eggs, and she wanted another 50 cents for the carton. I kid you not. And I was there thinking, “What? You expect me to put the eggs in my tote bag?


#19

Thanks…The biggest one I heard was in England where a guy found relics from a a previous century that was valued in the millions…


#20

[quote="Hiskid1973, post:16, topic:242436"]
I'll have my beloved give me the recipe and I'll post it...She buys shaved almonds and rice..I know she cook's the rice down with our filtered water and runs it through cheese cloth.. She uses the solids to dry and makes a rice hot cereal and puts natural maple syrup in it..God bless..May the Lord provide abundantly for you..

[/quote]

Thanks in advance!:D


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