Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Let's talk Groceries!


The one thing that we ALL have to do and can't live without but if you're anything like me, it gets frustrating to see the prices going up while you try to continue feeding your family without going bankrupt. Ok, maybe not that bad, but close right?

So I am curious as to how you deal with the increasing price of food. Do you continue having the same budget as you had one or two years ago? Do you shop every week, every day or every month? Do you change your eating habits to accommodate the prices, like let's say you start eating more chicken, or less meat or more veggies or more pork or what?

I know I'm nosey and I'm asking too many questions but a girl's gotta know right?

Did you also make the switch to the Green Bags like I have? I know it can be a little weird walking into the store with a gazillion little green bags under your arm but I like mine LOL

You all know that we're military so we get paid twice a month and that is when I go to the commissary and do the grocery shopping. Back in Idaho, I tried doing it at Walmart, I did find that some items were cheaper, like their shredded cheese that we could get 2 packages for $3 dollars...etc. But in the long run, the commissary really has been the cheapest for us.

I shop every two weeks and for a family of four I spend between $250 and $300 every two weeks, so between $500 and $600 a month, that includes food, toiletries and paper products etc....snacks for the kids lunches etc. So that's for everything. I've pretty much kept the same budget for the past 5 years or so, but I do find myself spending more time in the store looking through the aisles and grabbing what is cheaper.

So hit me with it ladies, how do you do your shopping? Are there certain brands that you refuse to give up on even if they are more expensive? Do you also look for the cheapest, do you buy in bulk, do you buy what's on sale and then work your menus around that?

Let's talk groceries and hey if you could tell me how much you're spending for the size of your family that would be great, but if you don't feel comfortable that's fine too. I told you I'm nosey, but I'm really only asking because I'm trying to keep my head above water with the rising prices and not wanting to cut back on things like....I don't know......FOOD???


Mari said...

My grocery bill has gone up, but not as much as it could have, simply because Laura got married 2 years ago and Andy joined the army 1 year ago. I also do my shopping every 2 weeks and spend about $110 - $130 at that time. My problem is that I seem to run out of things and those extra trips are what kill me.
I do have the green bags and really like them when I remember. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten halfway through the store only to remember that the bags are out in the car!

Nothing Too Fancy... said...

Well, I'm 23 and newly married, so I'm still figuring all of this stuff out. But it's just the two of us and we get by spending between $75 and $100. It varies because I do buy in bulk when things are on sale. I double most recipes and freeze half so that every once in awhile (when things are tighter than usual, or we're trying to save up for something quickly) I can just take out the leftovers that have accumulated and eat off of them for the week. I have also emptied the freezer leftovers into a cooler and brought them with us on short trips (like the cabin.) That way we don't have to consider a "Food budget" from our vacation money. I also make as much as possible from scratch and I clip coupons religiously. As a young couple, I can think of a TON of things I'd rather spend money on than groceries! I think the real difference is over the long term:-)

Lynn said...

I have a question for you? Is that $250 - $300 every two weeks or your total for the month. And I have not seen cheese at Walmart 2 for $3 for a long time. :) I do find that I am buying cheaper product brands in things like cheese and canned goods. I do not buy the nice brands like I used too. I am also buying less cheese and products like that, that have gone up.

Amy said...

Hey again! Thanks for your sweet comment! Your topic was so much fun! I love getting comments!! It makes me so happy :D

I just went grocery shopping today myself! I hop around alot tho. We did our Trader Jo's run today. I love their dairy and staple type products. And then I go to Sunflower or Sprouts for my veggies and fruit. Then Fry's for anything else. Our budget is $650.00 a month and that is using coupons... food, cleaning products, and personal care. We are a family of 5.

I have been trying to buy more quality foods tho, and I have seem a big jump in my grocery bill due to that... whole grains, organic with what I can.. etc...

~ Amy

Kelli said...

I can't tell you how much we spend on groceries, because I don't know for sure. I'm an awful person! LOL I do know that it is too much and I'm working on it since Phillip threatened me with a budget. ;0) I shop on Thursday (right before the weekend) and we usually pick a few things up on the weekend too, especially if friends stop by.

Barbara said...

Summer is the worst for us, as long as there are cherries/mangoes/berries, etc... to be bought, I'm buying... I don't even look at the price. Our food costs in winter drop significantly as I switch over to apples and big pots of soup that can last almost a week for Paul and I. I also try not to buy a lot of convenience foods, but that unfortunately translates to higher grocery bills, fresh produce is so much more expensive than canned.

Anonymous said...

With paper stuffs, laundry soap and pet food our family spends $150 a week. We are a family of 4 and I used to come in at $120-130 per week. I try to get store brands,and theres only one item that we have to have non store brand and thats cabot cottage cheese. When we were sationed over seas I missed it SO much. Anyway, I shop with a menu(but not coupons)and cant seem to get my bill to drop. I have noticed my girls eating more too(growing spirts I guess). I do know if things get much more expensive we will have to start cutting back...somewhere!

annie said...

I use those bags too, at Walmart... and now they have them at other stores. The checkers at walmart seem irritated when I hand them my stack of black bags. Oh well...
I probably spend a couple hundred a week on food and hb products. There are six of us. Food has gone up!

Laura said...

I try not to go over $200 a month. There's me and my husband, 2yr old and our 6mo old daughter. I shop at my local grocery stores and then at CVS. I havent shopped at the commissary since Idaho (yep, we were stationed at Mtn Home the same time you guys were there.. I think I even saw you once, haha, anyways). I shop at Walmart for stuff I know I can get cheaper there.. like cream of --- soups.

Oh, and I use the re-useable bags, too :)

Nikowa said...

Wow, your prices per week are pretty good! We have a family of 4 & spend $160-$180/wk. BUT we are stocking up (thanks to the Grocery Game).

I use coupons & stock up on sale items. We don't eat red meat (we use ground turkey) or pork. So basically it's chicken & only on sale. We are fortunate enough to have a neighbor that's a member of a food pantry & we get cases of salads & breads, fruits too.

Also I've recently heard about Angel Food Ministries. (not sure if it's where you are-you can do a Google search). It's once-a-month & you pay $30 for a box of food that should by their standards feed a family of 4 for a week.

Love your green bags, btw.

Lorie said...

My husband just retired from the military and went from twice a month paychecks to once a month. We live about 40 minutes from the nearest base but I still make the drive once a month. The prices on base are so much cheaper in the long run. I spend about $450 a month on total groceries for a family of 5 and that is with 2 teenage boys. I have found it is cheaper to make from scratch then it is to buy packaged/boxed meals and food. I also try to make out a monthly menu and my grocery list from that and try not to stray (unless there is just too good a deal to pass up). I think cheese and dairy is what gets me how it has gone up in price!! It is harder and harder to put a good meal on the table and stay in budget!!

Susanne said...

I can't give you an accurate count because I figure the dayhome into the bill. But for a family of 5 + lunch and 2 snacks for 6-7 preschoolers I was working with a budget of $800 a month. That includes all cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, paper products, everything! Sometimes I can't get everything on my list so it gets bumped to the next trip. I'm horrible though, for buying too much of one thing when I see it sale. I do go to Costco too but have to be careful or half my budget can get eaten up there and then we're stuck eating canned tomatoes and roasts for eg. for 2 1/2 weeks because I didn't have enough money left for the other stuff. LOL.

I don't use the green bags yet, but only because I need the plastic grocery bags for all those dirty diapers from dayhome. :v)

Wow, tmi, but seeing you asked. :vD

Tiffany said...

We don't really have a set budget (though we should because we're terrible with money sometimes), and with no kids the rising prices aren't affecting us *too* much. We do watch for sales more now, though, and use more coupons.

One thing we don't do is buy bread at the store with everything else. We shop at an outlet store/day-old store and get our bread typically between .50-.99 a loaf (All Aunt Millie's brand, which we love)

My husband won't give up his name brand ketchup. There's a certain feminine product that I won't negotiate on either, but that doesn't affect him.. lol.

We don't buy milk, eggs or ground beef unless it's on sale. By on sale, I mean under $3 for milk, less than $1.25ish for eggs and $1.99 for ground beef/chuck. A lot of times we don't have cheese because we don't want to pay $3 for a 12oz bag of shredded cheese (which is usually how we buy it because we don't use much anyway).

At this point, it isn't really that we can't afford things, it's just that we choose not to pay as much for then when there are ways to save a little money. (This is something that drives my dad crazy because he tells me that I'm thinking too much about what things cost and I'm sacrificing my "quality of life".. or something.)

We're not well off by any means (we live mostly on a Taco Bell shift manager's income + my monthly check), and we (I should say "I" because I'm the one that does it) sometimes overdraw the checking account.. so we could benefit from a set budget, especially before we have kids! lol

Tiffany said...

even though that was really long, I also have to say that we've changed where we shop a little. We were shopping pretty much at our local Wal-Mart, but now we'll sometimes shop other Wal-Marts (there's one about 45 minutes from us that has much better prices, so we'll shop there when we're in the area), Save A Lot, dollar stores, and other local stores when they have good sale items. We were just ignoring what was on sale where, but now we pay a little more attention and make an extra trip to get certain things at other stores sometimes. If that makes any sense.. haha

Stephanie said...

Our grocery bill has sky rocketed ! I shop weekly and spend about $150. I always make sure I buy everything on sale. But sometimes I can make left overs last a couple days.
Anyways, I hope someday soon prices come back down, but I doubt we see that anytime in the near future!

Kirstin said...

Our budget for a family of 4 every two weeks, including toiletries, etc..is about $380.00. We just got a raise after 4 years of not having one so I'd like to see that go up a bit. To stay in that budget I don't buy a lot of high priced items, meats, etc...if I notice an item that maybe I normally buy has gone up quite a bit, I won't buy it that time. I shop at a store very similar to a Super Walmart and they have saved my life (C: But still prices can be a killer. I could probably save more, but driving all over to several different stores isn't always possible.

I buy a lot of generic brand items and don't make many "gourmet" meals. I keep it pretty basic!

Kristen said...

This was a fascinating post and I enjoyed reading the responses. I shop at Albertsons mostly. i love their 10 for $10 although I'm seeing that sale turn into 5 for $10 and 8 for $10. Groceries have gotten a lot more expensive. One thing I still buy is my organic milk. I buy the 1/2 gallons when they are on sale and stock up because it's expiration is a month later or else I buy the gallons which are $6.29. We only buy 2 gallons but I feel it's worth it considering the health benefits and that my kids aren't getting the growth hormones. We are a family of 5 my oldest daughter is 7. I buy chicken and diapers at Costco among a few other things. I stock up on different things when they are on sale. I spend approx. $80-$100 week and about $200 a month at Costco for soap, TP, diapers, ect. I rarely go to Walmart beause it's a 15 minutes from my house and it's a rat race. So i figure with the extra I spend in gas and the time I'll just go to Albertsons that's 1 minute away!

Karen said...

You girls are putting me to shame with your budgets. I have been really trying to cut back and I find that if I shop at just one store, I stick to my list better. I have a Costco membership, but honestly I don't think it saves me, because if I buy one or two impulse items (and that's on a good day!) it pretty much eats up my savings. The biggest luxury for me is having our milk delivered. It is more expensive than the grocery store, (I know there's the argument that it saves you from running to the store and buying more), but I like that it's fresh, comes in bottles and it just tastes better. We get 1% and it's tastes better than the grocery store's 2%.

Linds said...

I am sitting here looking at what you guys spend, and groaning. In the UK, our food prices are way higher. WAY higher. I considered buying a whole chicken last weekend, but it was nearly £4, which is about $7.20 at the moment. Believe me, your prices look very reasonable to me right now. I pay £4 for a block of cheese. Bread is £1.30 ($2.50) And milk is similar for 2litres. 2 small steaks (I looked but didn't buy!) cost £8 which is $14.40. Thank heavens we grow our vegetables,and have an apple tree.

The Bookworm said...

Interesting topic! I'll throw in my experience from the UK for comparison. I tightened up my budget this year (despite rising prices!) and now have a monthly budget of £420 (about $750) for a family of five. That includes food, cleaning materials, toiletries, nappies (diapers) and general household stuff. The main way I cut the amount I was spending was by switching supermarkets. The one I use now is a short drive across town, but is noticeably cheaper and the quality is better too - I think I had got sucked into believing the advertising of the largest UK supermarket, which also happened to be our nearest store. I buy meat once a month from a more expensive supermarket, because it is noticeably better quality and they are stricter about animal welfare standards. I buy what is on offer and plan my menu around it. My meat budget is £40-£50 a month. We don't eat meat every day - maybe four days a week? One of my daughters is vegetarian, so even if I wasn't on a budget I would be including a number of vegetarian meals so that I don't always have to cook her an alternative. I have an organic fruit and veg box delivered weekly, that costs £23 (about $40). After meat, the veg box and nappies, I'm left with about £65 a week for other groceries. One economy I make is to make my own laundry detergent - it costs pennies, is easy to do, and works just as well as the stuff I used to buy for £4 a bottle. I take advantage of Buy One, Get One Free offers whenever I can - if it is something I know we will use, I stock up.

Anissa said...

We are Military too and I TRY not to spend more than $100/MONTH for Myself, My Husband, Teenage Daughter & Dog. That includes Food & Bath items. I just started using coupons a few months ago and have quite a stockpile built up. I try to walk out of the Commissary spending less than $10. Check out my blog, I regularly post my deals/photo's and coupons used.

momof4as said...

Hmm this has made me have to think about what we spend, ugh... I mean I think about it but I block it out, you know what I mean... I generally shop weekly and seems like no matter what I buy, whether it's a lot of meat (I load up when it's on sale),canned goods, household items, baby things, whatever the majority is... it's always right around $175 (family of 6). Kind of odd! So I guess that's about $700 a month? We live in one of THE most expensive states - in fact it may be the one - and my mother-in-law nearly chokes when she sees how bad our prices are! We have started buying some things in bulk if it is a better deal. One of our stores even does a "buy one, get two free" and I will go for that when possible. I'm not very good with coupons... it's a major victory for me when I have one I can use.

I do have the green bags but sometimes I forget them which is too annoying! I feel victorious when I go into a store with coupons, LIST and green bags in hand :-)

Cheri said...

I love my green bags- they really are great!
We are a family of 5 and I spend about 75 a week.
I shop at Save A Lot and I do save money there.
I hate going to the local "normal" grocery store- Family Fare. Their prices are terrible.

Anonymous said...

We use the cash only method for our grocery bill as we're trying to bulk up our savings account. I spend around $40-$50 a week for a family of four (husband, wife, 5year old and 18month old). I cook mostly from scratch and watch the ads and clip coupons like a maniac. I should add that my husband is a hunter so we have a freezer full of meat year round. The only time I buy meat is if we need chicken or ground beef for burgers, otherwise it's turkey or venison and fish from the freezer.

Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

I haven't been keeping real close tabs on it lately, but I need to start doing that, because I know it's going up.

One way I've found to cut back is to cook more from scratch, and the crockpot has been a life saver for this! Which reminds me... I need to go get tonight's supper in to cook!

Carol said...

I've been averaging about $80 a week for our family of four. I do a LOT of couponing/sale matching! It does mean hopping around to different stores to get whatever is on sale, but since they're all close together, it's worth it. And yes - I use the green bags too! Two groceries stores I shop at give you five cents off per bag. I know it's only a nickel, but better than nothing :-)

Elizabeth said...

I love green bags :) Plastic ones are so horrible for the environment and I feel like I'm helping save God's world when I walk in with my little canvas bags.

I shop sales. When meat is on sale, I will use over half my budget to stock up for a few months. When produce is on sale, I'll do the same and then freeze or can what I can. When dry goods are on sale, I match coupons and fill my house. I'm learning to budget better every month... but I do miss the days of not having to! :)

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

I've been working on a weekly estimate of what we spend, but it's difficult because we're stockpiling a lot more with prices going up. I'm also trying to do a lot more freezer cooking, so I'm buying for things we are saving for the future. My guess is we spend about $125/wk for our family of 3 full time residents plus my stepson.

I buy a lot of generics and sale items, and we just got an Aldi so I'm curious to try shopping there and see if it saves us some $.

Love my reusable bags! I need to get a few more, I only have 3 so far.

Take care,

Marlayna said...

I shop every week. I spend about $150 for 5 people and 2 big dogs eat a 50 lb bag of dog food about every 3 weeks. I have altered some of my habits. The butter I like is now well over $3 for a little tub, so I am buying the cheap stuff. I am trying to buy more store brand stuff and I don't buy the brands that I am loyal to until they are on sale. I am adjusting okay, I guess.

I have not switched to the bags yet, mainly because I would have to spend $10-15 to buy them and I don't have the extra money to spend on that right now. Good for you though, I bet it makes it easy for carrying them in.

Karen said...

My grocery bill has actually gone down because I quit going to the store to shop -- plus I started using coupons. Instead, I order my groceries online and have them delivered. The $10 delivery fee is nothing when you consider I cut my grocery bill in half by not actually going into the store. I also started taking advantage of sales and coupons, and now stock up on things like shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc., when they are on sale. For our family of 3, I usually spend $600 to $700 a month on groceries.

autumnesf said...

We are considered remote so we don't actually get to a base often. We also live in a town that really has 2 options for groceries...the local HEB or Walmart. Neither is cheap. There is no Aldi's or cheap groceries to be found in town. Frustrating! I so miss Aldi's and the commissary.

So for a family of 4 I am budgeted $250 per paycheck - the same as you. We always buy the cheapest on most items. We've cut out almost all snacks except for fruit. No juices anymore. I quit eating bread and dairy and leave it for the kids. We've cut back on meat consumption but not by a whole lot really. My husband is sure he can't handle that.

We do have the bags - and I always forget to bring them out of the car!!

Crystal said...

Such an interesting topic - I've loved reading the comments too.

Up here in Canada, I think our prices are generally higher than in the US and they are going up even more. The one thing that really annoys me is smaller packages for the same price. Unless you were paying attention, most people probably missed it. An 8 kg (17 lb.) bag of flour now sells for what a 10 kg bag used to be - $8.98 at Walmart, the cheapest I can find. Produce in those clamshells is by volume instead of weight - which is ridiculous! You don't sell dry measures by liquid terms. eg. 500 ml of blueberries ($3.99)or 1 quart of strawberries (on sale at $4.99)

This summer I've done alot more freezing and canning than ever, preserving summer's goodness to use in the winter when we'll pay big prices for fresh things (mostly because of transportation from warm places like Mexico and Arizona). Yesterday I bought fresh chickens from a Hutterite colony ($2.00/lb.) along with 20 lb. bags of carrots, beets ($20 each) and potatoes($15). I am committed to buying fresh local food whenever I can. I've spent extra money these last 2 months stocking up for winter. Luckily we have our own beef and there are just 2 of us at home now. I will share some of these things with our 4 kids to help ease their grocery bills - and so they can buy milk for their kids.

I am making my own laundry soap - easy and way cheaper! I try to use cloth instead of paper towels or paper napkins and never use plastic plates or cups.

Having said all that, I still spend around $400 per month on all groceries. I have started shopping at Walmart because they are cheapest and I buy 2 for 1 or in bulk whenever possible. I was a loyal Safeway customer (I worked there during university and our milk went to their dairy) but I can't afford it anymore. Even with reward miles it isn't worth it. The nearest major grocery store is 30 miles away.

I only do Costco once or twice a year, usually before Christmas for special food items. Otherwise I spend too much and end up with extras we don't really need. I too have gone to store or no name brands instead of the major labels.

We have green plastic bins (12 X 18 X 10") that cost $4.99 each and are great for packing groceries. I use mine all the time - and sometimes have to run back to the car to get them because I've forgotten. One major supermarket chain has done away with plastic bags altogether - can't even buy them in the store. I wish they all would.

So that's the saga of my shopping - sorry it got so long but it's a passionate topic with me!

Jillian, Inc. said...

We spend right around $125 a week for a family of 5, so $500 a month. I shop every week because I am terrible about putting together grocery lists and menus and I need to be better about clipping coupons.

Michelle said...

Hi Sandra

I guess we spend about $500 a month for a family of three,But with McKenna loving her fruit and also small snack things it does add up.I do wish we were in the states as the coupons are much better imo.

Kelli said...

Hi! I have a family of 6 and the kids are all boys, two of them teenagers. I don't have to tell you how much they can eat! And all 4 kids take their lunch every single day. That adds up!

I shop in this way, I make a list of meals for the pay period. I watch the sales fliers that come out on Wednesday morning and adjust menus accordingly. Then I shop mostly at Kroger becuase with every $100 you spend in a month, you get 10 cents off every gallon of gas you buy. I.E., if you spend $300 in a month there, you have 3 fillups that you save 10 cents off the posted price. That's a big incentive for me! Then for the things that are too expensive at Kroger, I buy at Wal-mart or Sam's, or the things that they just don't have at Kroger. Wal-mart price-matches, but it's just too much trouble, I always spend too much if I only go there!

I stock up on meat when I can, but we only eat ground turkey, no ground beef, and chicken. So when chickens are on sale or chicken leg quarters or something, I buy as much as I can and cook it all at once to freeze. It's not much harder to pull the meat off 30 pounds of chicken as 10, then into Ziplocs.

We don't eat much vegetarian, my boys just won't, but we do red beans and rice some days, frozen ravioli with marinara sauce on top.

Oh, that and we have a bread outlet store where I get all the bread, rolls, bagels, etc. It's SOOO much cheaper! That and the mark-down rack at Kroger.

And I do make my own laundry detergent, too, Tide was just costing too much, so I switched. I figured once that it only took about $10 worth of stuff to make about 3 months worth of homemade detergent and boy, it works better!

Those are all the tips I have, but I've enjoyed reading!