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Need help with food shopping (cheaply)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I have never lived on my own before and never learned about how to budget household items since someone else always did that for me.

Fast forward to today, I have a decent job, and my boyfriend pays for most of the household bills (mortgage, property taxes) because I don’t actually own the house. Even though I don’t have too many bills I have been living paycheck to paycheck. It’s always been a massive fight between us because he doesn’t understand where my money goes. I always insist he needs to give me more money for food and he never does. This has been going on for a year. It’s been our major fight.

Anyway, I finally got fed up fighting with him, him not believing me and me spending all my money on food so I went through my bank account to see what I spent a month on groceries… its 700$ a month. My boyfriend has been giving me 200$ a month or less.

So…. Now I know why I am so broke…. Sad huh… anyway I need to buy cheaper stuff. This gourmet food every night isn’t going to work anymore.

Please tell me your inexpensive, but yummy, recipes. Or any other advice on how to grocery shop while saving money. I’m such a noob at this on my own stuff. I am tired of not have any money for myself. Its been making me depressed since i cant buy new cloths or anything pretty for myself so its been affecting me emotionally as well being so broke.

post #2 of 20
Do you have a large freezer? Buying things in bulk, or when they are on sale, is a lot cheaper than just going to your regular grocery store and buying what you need when you need it.

We eat a lot of chicken. I get a 4kg. box of frozen, skinless/boneless chicken breast at Costco for about $25. I would have to pay a lot more if I bought the same thing fresh from a grocery store, even if I bought the "club pack." The box lasts us a month or two usually.

Pasta and rice dishes can be cheap, and you can find a lot of variety in recipes if you search the web.

I buy things when they are on sale. Cheese here can be $7 a block, which can add up when you have a cheese-addict boyfriend as I do. So, I wait until it's on sale for $4 a block and buy a bunch, since cheese lasts. You can also get good deals on meat (beef, pork, chicken) if you keep an eye on the flyers. I buy a few packages when it's on sale, divide it into individual meal portions, and put it in the freezer. Also, if you buy larger cuts of meat and cut your own steaks/chops, it's a lot cheaper than buying pre-cut.

We don't exactly have refined tastes, but I think we usually eat fairly healthy. We probably eat too many processed foods, and I do find that processed can often be more expensive than buying fresh.

There are some things that I will only buy brand-name, but most things are cheaper and pretty much the same if you buy generic.

Get to know the prices at local stores. I'm not one to drive around to 50 stores when I need to go grocery shopping just to get a dollar off something, but I do know what stores have what cheap (ie. Walmart, Dollar store, discount grocery store). So, when I'm at the stores, I pick up what I need there instead of just waiting until I go to my regular grocery store.

I also recommend looking for and using coupons whenver possible. My boyfriend and I went to the grocery store last week and bought about $80 worth of groceries. We buy gas at the grocery store gas centre and get store credit coupons. We saved about $25 alone with that (my boyfriend commutes, and buys diesel for equipment, so we get a lot of gas . We also had some coupons that saved us about $10. We ended up cutting out bill down to under $50. It doesn't happen like that every time, but, when we can, it feels nice to save a bit of money. In addition, I have an account at the grocery store bank and collect points when I buy groceries or use my credit card. I have almost $150 worth of points built up from not too long ago, which I can use to buy groceries, gift cards for other stores, or various other things. We go to The Superstore....I think they have those in New Brunswick.

Mine is a pretty specific situation, but there are lots of rewards programs and coupons out there in every location. You have to look at your own situation and see where you can a) save money and b) get returns on the money you do spend.
post #3 of 20
we blow a lot of money on food to

so now we started eating more rice and pasta and always buy the big bags it works out cheaper.
i find chicken expensive so i also use lots of mince and steak as i can get two meals out of each - mince and dumplings on a sunday and then spag bol on a monday
and potatoes are versitle to theres nothing finer than a jacket potato with tuna

when i see cheese on special offer ill get some grate it and put it in the freezer because i love nothing finer than having a cheesey crust on top of my shepards pie

do you have a slow cooker? you can pick out recipies off the internet and use seasonal veg as they are cheaper when in season

one big thing im going to start doing is writing out a menu for the week and shop to my menus and thats it no snacky food because i find all the little things you add in mounts up really quickly. im even toying with the idea of going to the shop each night and buy the things i need for tea each night
shopping to a menu worked for me the last time i tried it i saved a bomb and i dont know why i didnt stick to it
post #4 of 20
I spend lots on groceries too... Well actually I guess i should say rather that I go food shopping a lot. haha. To save money I hardly ever buy things that aren't on sale. I hate paying full price for anything. So I'll get something different or a different brand if it's on sale. For example, if I want broccoli but it's not on sale, I might get green beans because they are. Pasta is cheap, and it's easy to chop a tomato and maybe onion and some other veggies and mix it all with olive oil for a nice primavera thing. Potatoes are cheap and you can do anything with them, it's like a blank slate. Other than that, sometimes I buy a Sunday paper for the coupons, but I usually forget about that til it's too late. oops. But yeah, my advice is buy on sale. Buy generic, lots of store brands are just as good or better than brand names, but you will find that some things you just need the brand name cos it really is better. Experiment. And good luck!
post #5 of 20
You've already gotten some good advice so I'm not going to repeat what's been said. Just a couple more suggestions. If you don't already do most of your cooking from scratch, you may have to start. Stay away from frozen dinners and prepackaged food. Limit things like steak or expensive cuts of meat to once a week.

Most important, set a time with your BF to go over finances. Have the grocery bills organized to show him how much you're spending. Tell him he either needs to give you more money for food or he's not allowed to complain when you arbitrarily change his eating habits. Also, be prepared if he asks you to contribute more to the household expenses. What was your agreement when you moved in together? If you didn't have an agreement, it's time to set one up to head off problems in the future.

ETA: Make sure you tell him you want to talk about finances and set a specific time that is good for both of you. Don't just dump it on him when he walks in the door one day.
post #6 of 20
My boyfriend and I also live together - no kids just 2 fur-kids. I do the shopping but will buy generic brands or sale items on anything and mostly everything (except for a few items which the name brand has better quality), I'll also visit a few discounted grocery stores for some items (not always but sometimes since it's in the next city over), Costco/Sam's club for bulk. We also eat rice and pasta a few times per week. Chicken and pork chops are inexpensive compared to beef and lamb; although I tend to pay a little more for boneless chicken.

I try to plan my meals for 2 weeks since we get paid every two weeks other times I wing it with the staples we have on hand at any time.
post #7 of 20
One of the best ways to save money on a food budget is by coming up with a meal plan for either a week or two week rotation. By doing this you know what you need to purchase when you go to the grocery store and are in better control of how much you spend.
It is also important to load up on cupboard items when they are on sale.
Checking store flyer's for coupons also helps.
Having a freezer so you can stock up on meats, poultry and fish during sales is also a excellent idea.
Keep in mind Frozen Vegetables are much less expensive then fresh and in a lot of cases also more nutritious because they are frozen a peak ripeness.
Buying seasonal fruit then freezing allows you to have wonderful fruit desserts all year round at a lower cost.
Also if you like cooking there are tons of cookbooks on-line that are considered budget conscious that you can use.
post #8 of 20
Originally Posted by GoldyCat View Post
Most important, set a time with your BF to go over finances. Have the grocery bills organized to show him how much you're spending. Tell him he either needs to give you more money for food or he's not allowed to complain when you arbitrarily change his eating habits. Also, be prepared if he asks you to contribute more to the household expenses. What was your agreement when you moved in together? If you didn't have an agreement, it's time to set one up to head off problems in the future.

ETA: Make sure you tell him you want to talk about finances and set a specific time that is good for both of you. Don't just dump it on him when he walks in the door one day.
I agree with that.

Also, it has to be equitable based on your incomes. Say for example he makes $3,000.00 per month and you make $1,000.00 per month. Dividing things 50/50 would mean he has more money left over than you do. So if he makes more money than you do, he should be contributing more than you do.

However, when it comes to food, men tend to be the bigger eaters, so if you are spending $700.00 per month on just groceries for the 2 of you, he seriously needs to be putting in more than $200.00 towards the bill.
post #9 of 20
Plan your meals around what's on sale. Use coupons on sale items only. Check to see if they accept coupons printed from the net. If so then do some searches for coupons. Sign up for coupons at manufactors' websites. Find out who doubles coupons. Hmm sometimes drug stores have better deals than grocery stores.
post #10 of 20
My personal advice would be to take a hard look at what it is you're buying. $700/month for two people is a ton of money. Also, make sure you take into account whether or not you eat out on top of that $700/month, because that's food too, ya know?

I can feed my family of three (DH, DS (2), and myself) for about $500/month at the grocery store and a bit more for eating out. Honestly, I think that's high and am trying to cut back.

I agree- you need to meal plan. Eat leftovers for lunches. Try eating more vegetarian dishes. I post my weekly menus (all vegetarian and fairly inexpensive meals) on my blog. I can't link to it here, but it's in my profile if you'd like to check it out.

Oh-also, shop with a list. No impulse buys. That's a biggie!
post #11 of 20
You've already gotten some great advice, so the only thing I'd add is most supermarkets these days have websites - you find your local store, and you might find that they have pages of all the specials and the dates the items are on sale. You can build your meal plans around what is on sale before you even go to the store.

Good luck!

post #12 of 20
Are you buying lots from the grocery store deli (not lunch meats) but pasta salads and prepared food. That can be just as much as eating out.

The two of us-well the human food grocery bill is about $60/week. But I have a large veg garden so that eliminates some of the produce.

Are you discarding alot of food?? When meat is on sale I stock up ( I have a chest freezer) and freeze it to serving portions right away.

I try to use coupons but I don't buy alot of pre-made/convienence foods so there are not too many coupons to use at times.
post #13 of 20
I learned very young that $5 buys very little steak, but it buys a lot of beans. And both are good sources of protein.

Buy store brands. When I've picked up loads of green beans at Allen Canneries, up in Arkansas, there may be as many as five different brands of beans on the truck, but they all came in the other end of the cannery on the same truck.

Eat simply. I've had very nutritious meals that cost less than $5 for the two of us.

An alternate suggestion would be to get your boyfriend to take you out to eat a lot, and let him pay for it!
post #14 of 20
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
An alternate suggestion would be to get your boyfriend to take you out to eat a lot, and let him pay for it!
I may have to try that suggestion myself!
post #15 of 20
As a young married couple, who has college loans to pay and is looking to buy a house we are very tight with money--not to mention we have 4 cats and 4 turtles that require food and vet care.

We spend about $200 a month at the grocery and about $60 on restaurant food.

#1 Don't buy lunch out, pack a lunch this will save a fortune, we realized that between the two of us eating fast food for lunch during a week, even ordering off the dollar menu we were spending $50 week combined for lunch. But if we buy lunch meat, bread and snack we spend maybe $20 a week combined for lunch.

#2 Only buy meat on sale. Even if you dn't have a big freezer you can do this. Most stores have their boneless chicken breast on sale once a month, so if you get enough for a month you're good to the next month (but chances are another grocery will have it another week so you don't have to wait a full month).

#3 shop with a list always

#4 compare prices--I was under the impression that kroger had the best prices, I realized that walmart is much cheaper--I buy meat only from kroger as they run the best sales.

good luck.

post #16 of 20
Starting up a household is expensive. All those staple you have to buy in the begining (mustard, peanut butter, spices, suger, etc) add up the first month or two but then it does get cheaper..or at least it should.

One thing I've found is making a lot at once and freezing it is a lot cheaper and saves time later. For example, this weekend I'm making a HUGE pot of spaghetti sauce and a big meatloaf. Neither one is very expensive to make. Most of the spaghetti sauce will be frozen in two serving portions for whenever we have a craving and are too tired to cook (or too broke to go to the store) and the meatloaf will be used for lunches and dinner during the week. I also make huge pots of chili and soup and freeze most of it.

I also buy a lot of my canned goods and dry goods at the dollar store. I mean, let's face it, canned green beans are canned green beans no matter what brand they are. Toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, kitty litter all comes from the dollar stores. Snacks too.

Normally for the 2 of us we spend about $300/month on food (no including animal food) and eat fairly healthy. Also, check and see if there are any local farmers markets around or even roadside stands that sell fresh produce. Locally grown is usually the best, the cheapest (most farms have so many squash, tomatoes, cukes, etc they just want to get rid of it) plus you are helping your neighbors.
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
It turns out this is pretty much my fault… which in hindsight is my boyfriends fault LOL. We went grocery shopping the other day together and ended up buying dinners, lunch, breakfast, snacks, drinks, etc… everything that should last us two weeks all for $140.00. In the past, I would buy 4 dinners, and maybe some household items and pay more then that.

We actually took our time and made a list of everything we wanted, all inexpensive and one expensive fancier dinner. Then we went to the cheaper grocery store and went isle by isle and selected items on sale, cheaper cuts, cheaper brands, etc.

I realized that since I am the “do’er†of the house I am always running around doing errands. Grocery shopping to me was a chore I hated, this caused me to go to the closest grocery store which just happened to be the most expensive one, and pick up more expensive items. Also, because I didn’t plan it well, I bought too much, sometimes having to throw things out.

Thanks so much guys, my boyfriend and I took all of your advice and put it all together, this is going to save us a lot of money. You guys are the greatest!
post #18 of 20
Yay! I'm glad to hear that taking and planning together with your BF has worked out for you. I guess it's all a matter of getting a plan started, once you know what to do, it should be easy to stick to it. Good luck!
post #19 of 20
You'll do fine OP. It takes practice and routine. I certainly didnt start out by being a successful frugal shopper - it took me awhile to get good at it.

You are definitely on your way. Consciousness is the first step.
post #20 of 20
So glad the info helped. Shopping can be frustrating and with my hubbys schedule I do all of the shopping.


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