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« on: July 29, 2007, 03:09:52 PM »

We are a family of six (three girls and one boy all 8 years and younger). Our gocery bill each week is pretty big (plus we live in RI which doesn't help matters). Have any of you found effective ways to save money each week?

Gregory
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2007, 03:46:14 PM »

No sodas. No sodas. No sodas. No sodas. No sodas.

And one more time, no sodas.

They are awfully bad for you and anybody can easily live without them. Drink W-A-T-E-R. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2007, 03:57:17 PM »

No sodas. No sodas. No sodas. No sodas. No sodas.

And one more time, no sodas.

They are awfully bad for you and anybody can easily live without them. Drink W-A-T-E-R. Smiley

In RI you might be better off drinking soda than the water Wink
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2007, 04:07:37 PM »

Yeah, we're a family of six - our oldest child is 7. First, eating simply helps - the fewer prepared foods, the better. Check area grocery stores for specials (don't buy from convenience, but only for the lowest price), and 'shop on the outside' (that is, buy food that is normally on the outer walls of the grocery store - bakery, butcher, produce, dairy) - avoid food that is canned, boxed, bagged, or frozen. If one eats lots of deserts or carbs, the body will still feel tired and hungry. If that happens, one can wipe out their pantry rather quickly. Stress can make one want to overeat, or to devour carbs - which in the long run is expensive (even if cheaper pound for pound compared to protein.) Soups and stews stretch further as well, and are easy to reheat. Use coupons. Take advantage of WIC programs if you've got an infant or small child (or breastfeeding/pregnant mother), and food stamps as they are simply a tax return. Many states have instituted Farmer's Market programs with their WIC to give children and mothers access to fresh vegetables (and, buy vegetables - not so much fruit or starches. Green, orange, and yellow are good colors to go for.) Any discount stores help - often there are bakery discount stores. Make a budget, and find ways to cut back. One can do quite a lot with beans and rice, for that matter - and turkey and chicken are often cheaper than other meats, and also healthier. If you can, learn how to cut a chicken - most places buying pre-cut meat makes it more expensive. If you know how to cut your own chicken, you can get a whole roaster for $3-4 less than buying the same chicken cut in 8 pieces (and, it will come with the 'gizzards' - which are edible.)  Also, with fresh food - make it a habit to go to the store more often, not buy in huge amounts. Eat what you have before you get more (avoid spoilage - so don't over buy, and keep track of dates.) Driving into rougher neighborhoods one can often find the really inexpensive groceries. If one gets in a tight spot, the Catholics are always willing to help without proselytism (we Orthodox should do like them) - we've found Catholic Charities to be extremely helpful in a few past tight spots. They are seriously Pro-Life: if you've got babies, small children, or a pregnant lady - they'll help.

Another is - don't miss any public event where they have food! If you don't have to pay for it ... well, you don't have to pay for it! Apartments and community centers often have cookouts or pizza nights. Take advantage of them, and take the opportunity to talk to folk about the Faith if possible. Smiley  Many states have special programs allowing one to hunt or fish if one is on public assistance of any sort, in a certain income level, or Native American. Elsewise, a freshwater license for a year is cheap enough - and if one does it to eat rather than for sport (and studies for best results) one can get a pretty good return on investment in license, equipment and time ... and kids can learn how as well. Above all - plan meals, know what you need to buy before you ever leave for the grocery store.

At least, the above are things we do or have done in the past. I hope some of it might be helpful.
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2007, 04:08:17 PM »

Quote
In RI you might be better off drinking soda than the water Wink

Actually, the water in RI is very good.

We don't buy soda and the kids never have it (only at parties, they might have a small cup).

The grocery bill killers are meat/chicken/fish and milk (lots!)/cereal, etc.

Gregory
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2007, 07:01:44 PM »

Sorry, Gregory, I did not mean to imply that you guys are soda addicts. Great that your kids don't drink that stuff!

One more suggestion, if I may: my wife and I noticed that products like liver (chicken, beef), kidneys, and tripe (cattle stomachs) are very inexpensive, at least here in Mississippi. Many Americans dislike them, but they actually taste VERY good if prepared appropriately.
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2007, 08:43:38 PM »

Here are some sites which may help:

http://www.creativefrugality.com/

http://rangylil.iwarp.com/frugal/

http://www.festivaloffrugality.com/

http://www.frugalvillage.com/
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2007, 09:35:38 PM »

We are a family of six (three girls and one boy all 8 years and younger). Our gocery bill each week is pretty big (plus we live in RI which doesn't help matters). Have any of you found effective ways to save money each week?
Gregory

I sure wish I could - I'm kind of a foodie and love to cook, which also means I love to shop.  We are a family of four but I overspend on groceries so could probably feed 6 or 8.  The most effective thing I found for those tight times was just having my husband put his foot down and give me cash for a set grocery budget each week.   When I only XX dollars it made me shop more frugaly and realize how much I really didn't need.  It's like being back in college as poor students and having to make do with $25 and the change out of the sofa cushions for a whole week. 

I assume you shop at Costco or Sam's or the equivalent?  That has to be more cost-effective for a family of 6 than a family of 4.  And even if the amounts are too big, maybe there is another family that would like to go halves with you and split the cost.

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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2007, 09:37:06 PM »

OK now that's weird?  How did I quote myself within another quote?  Just hit the "post" button and nothing more.  Very odd.
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2007, 09:42:05 PM »

Sorry, Gregory, I did not mean to imply that you guys are soda addicts. Great that your kids don't drink that stuff!

One more suggestion, if I may: my wife and I noticed that products like liver (chicken, beef), kidneys, and tripe (cattle stomachs) are very inexpensive, at least here in Mississippi. Many Americans dislike them, but they actually taste VERY good if prepared appropriately.

Very true, Americans seem unable to appreciate these potentially wonderful peices of meat.
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2007, 11:03:02 PM »

OK now that's weird?  How did I quote myself within another quote?  Just hit the "post" button and nothing more.  Very odd.
Watch out for those potentially nasty
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tags in the post editor.
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2007, 11:08:34 PM »

No sodas. No sodas. No sodas. No sodas. No sodas.

And one more time, no sodas.

They are awfully bad for you and anybody can easily live without them. Drink W-A-T-E-R. Smiley

I drink 80-100 ounces of water a day, and during non-fasting times 2 glasses of milk a day, and yet I still find time to drink 4-5 dr peppers a day Smiley  Trying to cut back though.
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2007, 11:54:31 PM »

Actually, the water in RI is very good.

We don't buy soda and the kids never have it (only at parties, they might have a small cup).

The grocery bill killers are meat/chicken/fish and milk (lots!)/cereal, etc.

Gregory

From the days of my first job working for the family institutional grocery wholesale firm, the ratio that restaurants, hospitals, schools, etc. usually attained in a 'plate cost' was the standard 80:20 or 80% of the meal cost was in the entree, 20% in everything else, the sides - potato, rice, other starch, vegetable. Examples:
1) 'Meat'  - your main cost; so we'll start there
We cut our bill considerably by purchasing family packs of fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts (!) which we can get on sale here for $1.99/lb. We buy the largest portions we can get; I split them, and freeze a meals worth in ziplocks. By getting 16-20oz breasts, I can get 4 portions from each, because I split each 8-10 oz half again. That works to $.50-$.63 per portion. I can't do that with canned tuna even.
2) Another meat - boneless whole pork loin (not tenderloin) - same deal as above at even lesser cost. Cutting them is easy, bags are cheap.
3) Beef - my favorite - is expensive. We don't eat it very often. When we do, I don't buy NY Strips or Ribeyes,  Sad  but chuck cuts. Ground beef only if making beef burritos or Greek dishes requiring it.
4) Fish - got to shop for the deal.
5) TURKEY.
6) Other protein sources : Lentils, beans, eggs, bulk cheeses.

With something like 208 fast days, we've got the meat dollars under control, but I know with young ones you can't cook as we can in our 50s.

Other considerations:
Milk is expensive now. But the stuff it usually goes on is even more outrageous. Breakfast cereals are very costly. Consider old fashioned alternatives - oatmeal, farina. On weekends, if you have time, homemade pancakes are cheap and the kids should love 'em and the fun of making them.

Snacks - a stealth attacker of the food budget, at least here in the Aristokles home. Popcorn is now the preferred (my chocolate yogurt pudding notwithstanding) snack.

We get a lot of stuff from Sam's Club - my source of decent feta, fish, condiments in quantity. A gallon of mayo there is $4.68 here and lasts a long time in fridge. How much is a quart of Hellman's up there?
Wish I could think of more suggestions , but I'm hungry now...

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« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2007, 01:26:02 AM »

I lived in a college dorm where I had to buy my own food and cook my own meals, so I learned how to budget pretty quick.  Don't know if this will come in handy, but I'll give it a shot:

1) Whole chicken or chicken quarters that are cut on the premises are usually alot cheaper than the name brands by 10-20 cents a pound.  When I was shopping, I used to buy eight quarters for six bucks a bag.

2)  Learn to cut your own chicken and turkey.   It's cheaper, and not that hard to do, provided you have a sharp knife.   Don't wait until thanksgiving to buy turkeys.  It;s good eating, and the price actually is cheaper before and after the holidays.

3) Make your own bread.  Alton Brown has a good recipie for basic bread on www.foodtv.com, and Emeril's got a good basic pizza dough.  I never bought another loaf or ordered pizza again after I learned how to make my own.

4) Buy the store brands when buying canned food.  Same stuff, really.

5) For beef and pork, again, buy the store cuts.

6) Make your own tortilla chips.  All you need is a bag of tortillas ($1.50), a cookie sheet, pam and salt.  Cut tortillas into quarters.  Spread evenly on sheet, spray with pam.  Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes @ 350.  Salt after they come out.  Enjoy.

7) Never buy more fruits ot veggies than you need, because you dont want rotten plant goo in your fridge.  It also saves on cost.  Precut and bag veggies, so that you can just throw your meals together with greater speed.

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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2007, 07:27:44 AM »

From the days of my first job working for the family institutional grocery wholesale firm, the ratio that restaurants, hospitals, schools, etc. usually attained in a 'plate cost' was the standard 80:20 or 80% of the meal cost was in the entree, 20% in everything else, the sides - potato, rice, other starch, vegetable. Examples:
1) 'Meat'  - your main cost; so we'll start there
We cut our bill considerably by purchasing family packs of fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts (!) which we can get on sale here for $1.99/lb. We but the largest portions we can get; I split them, and freeze a meals worth in ziplocks. By getting 16-20oz breasts, I can get 4 portions from each, because I split each 8-10 oz half again. That works to $.50-$.63 per portion. I can't do that with canned tuna even.
2) Another meat - boneless whole pork loin (not tenderloin) - same deal as above at even lesser cost. Cutting them is easy, bags are cheap.
3) Beef - my favorite - is expensive. We don't eat it very often. When we do, I don't buy NY Strips or Ribeyes,  Sad  but chuck cuts. Ground beef only if making beef burritos or Greek dishes requiring it.
4) Fish - got to shop for the deal.
5) TURKEY.
6) Other protein sources : Lentils, beans, eggs, bulk cheeses.

With something like 208 fast days, we've got the meat dollars under control, but I know with young ones you can't cook as we can in our 50s.

Other considerations:
Milk is expensive now. But the stuff it usually goes on is even more outrageous. Breakfast
cereals are very costly. Consider old fashioned alternatives - oatmeal, farina. On weekends, if you have time, homemade pancakes are cheap and the kids should love 'em and the fun of making them.

Snacks - a stealth attacker of the food budget 9, at least here in the Aristokles home. Popcorn is now the preferred (my chocolate yogurt pudding not withstanding) snack.

We get a lot of stuff from Sam's Club - my source of decent feta, fish, condiments in quantity. A gallon of mayo there is $4.68 here and lasts a long time in fridge. How much is a quart of Hellman's up there?
Wish I could think of more suggestions , but I'm hungry now...

This was a useful post; thank you!
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« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2007, 09:46:40 AM »

One thing we do (although we are only three) is to make a weekly plan of our meals; all meals, all ingredients we write down. We plan them around what we already have, and usually only have to buy one or two things to make a complete meal. We buy organic, and still manage to spend $40-50 a week.

About drinks: I've found iced tea is a very cheap way to have a good tasting drink. It can be made unsweetened, and has about 5 calories per 8 oz. (compared with 150 for most sodas). We buy the Lipton family-sized bags (about $6 in MO) and a local sorghum molasses (much tastier and healthier than processed sugar) for about $4. We buy the tea bags about four times a year and the molasses about once a year.

About baby food: We won't be able to put this into practice for a while, but once Caitlin starts eating solid foods, we plan to make our own. It's possible to puree fresh fruits and vegetables and then freeze them in ice cube trays (only fill each section about halfway at about 6 mos., then gradually increase to the whole section as the child ages). A 6 mo. old will go through one apple in about 6 meals, so it's much cheaper and more nutritious than those processed canned foods.
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« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2007, 10:02:26 AM »

Now that it's summer, try to find a local farmer's market.  Not only will you be buying locally and supporting those in your community (or near to it), vegetables are almost always cheaper and it's even possible to find really cheap cuts of meat.  If the farmer happens to raise his animals free-range/pasture fed, you can really taste the difference.  I was hooked when the wife and I got some ground chicken from a local farmer and made chicken tacos with it.  After that delicious culinary experience (it's amazing when one can refer to a taco as a culinary delight!) we decided that Frank Perdue can keep his chickens.

Plus the ground chicken cost about 25% less than even comparable sized generic store-brand.

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« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2007, 10:32:02 AM »

About baby food: We won't be able to put this into practice for a while, but once Caitlin starts eating solid foods, we plan to make our own. It's possible to puree fresh fruits and vegetables and then freeze them in ice cube trays (only fill each section about halfway at about 6 mos., then gradually increase to the whole section as the child ages). A 6 mo. old will go through one apple in about 6 meals, so it's much cheaper and more nutritious than those processed canned foods.

You are so right - Making baby food is very easy, cheap and much more nutritious than the junk in the jars.  (and have you ever tried that Gerber stuff - totally gross).  I could make lots of ice cube meals out of 1/4 lb. organic ground turkey and organic brown rice, or sweet potatoes and ground turkey, or any combination of veggies.  Also, the greatest baby food in the world - mashed avocado.  If you need to thin it down for the younger eaters, dilute with breast milk.   If you need to add breast milk to the turkey or sweet potato combos, add after the cooked mixture has been chilled so you don't break down the fats and nutrients in the milk. 

Now the one thing I would not prepare myself was spinach - I'd buy the organic baby food in jars.  Apparently some batches of spinach when harvested and prepared at home have a sodium level that is too high for young babies. 
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« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2007, 10:43:09 AM »

Now the one thing I would not prepare myself was spinach - I'd buy the organic baby food in jars.  Apparently some batches of spinach when harvested and prepared at home have a sodium level that is too high for young babies. 
Hadn't heard that about the spinach--I'll have to look into it. I've noticed, too, that a lot of the California leafing plants (spinach, lettuce, cabbage, etc.) have had problems with disease this past year, although our local farmers haven't had that problem.
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« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2007, 01:22:37 PM »

http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;116/3/784

An important correction to my post on spinach and homemade baby food post.    It's not iron but nitrates from the soil that concentrate in spinach, carrots, beets, and can in rare instances cause infant methemoglobinemia ("blue baby disease"), a severe form of anemia.  Apparently this is still a real disease risk for babies who are fed formula prepared with well water that contains high amounts of nitrates.  Yet another reason to breastfeed babies as long as possible.

See the post above for a journal article from the American Acaemy of Pediatrics.

"Infants fed commercially prepared infant foods generally are not at risk of nitrate poisoning. However, home-prepared infant foods from vegetables (eg, spinach, beets, green beans, squash, carrots) should be avoided until infants are 3 months or older, although there is no nutritional indication to add complementary foods to the diet of the healthy term infant before 4 to 6 months of age."   

There's really no need to feed solids to babies before 6 months of age so I think it's no problem after that.  I did see some websites that said if you are going to make homemade baby food from spinach, beets, etc.., that you should drain the cooking liquid that will contain the leached out nitrates.  Commercial baby food producers obtain their veggies from farmers whose soils have been tested and managed for low nitrate levels so they don't have this problem.

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« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2007, 01:55:46 PM »

We aren't planning to feed her any solid food until 6 mos. anyway, but that's good to know. We'll be sure to drain well. Thank you.
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« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2007, 05:20:43 PM »

A few things Mr. Y and I have found helpful:

  • Eat a meal before shopping.  You'll be less tempted by all the goodies if you're not hungry.
  • Make a list and stick to it.  We leave a few blanks on the list for things we've forgotten or things on sale that we'll use soon.
  • If it's on sale, ask yourself if you'll really use it within the next few days.  There's no point in buying a five gallon bucket of capers on sale if you don't have an immediate use for them.
  • We tend to buy better quality food for slightly more money and make up for the cost when buying non-food things, like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc.  I'd rather my food be nutritious and have to use maybe two paper towels instead of getting barely edible stuff and the best paper towels money can buy.
  • Pay attention to weights and measures, especially on sale items.  Sometimes stores have Buy One Get One Free sales or package two items together for a certain price, but we've found the "deal" is often more expensive than buying the two items as normally packaged.  50% off deals are better anyway; you don't have to buy a second something to get the sale and then have that second something spoil while you're still using the first.
  • It takes a little more time, but shopping around does help.  Check your local ads for sales on meats and seasonal stuff.  We live in a large enough town that if we can't get something in one store, we can drive a few blocks to another store.  If that's not an option where you live, try shopping for non-perishables at discount stores and save perishables for closer stores.
  • I thoroughly agree with previous posts:  Stay away from prepared, pre-packaged, heat and serve, ready to eat foods.  You'll pay extra for the convenience and they're almost always poor quality foods, high in preservatives and fats and low in nutrition.

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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2007, 06:07:21 PM »

Check area grocery stores for specials (don't buy from convenience, but only for the lowest price), and 'shop on the outside' (that is, buy food that is normally on the outer walls of the grocery store - bakery, butcher, produce, dairy) - avoid food that is canned, boxed, bagged, or frozen.
True!!!  This works world round too.  I have a family of 6.  Even in Shanghai we stick to simple grilled meats and melon.  A little pastries in the morning.  Safe uncontaminated melon produce because of thick skin, also least expensive.  Fresh meat and a little sauce.  Protein, nutrients, clean water, fiber, sweet & hot taste.  Daily Bread + Barbeque and watermelon.  Food of Champions.
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