alameda/zone 8July 30, 2014

I would like to start checking out coupons to save on grocery money. I looked at the website for my local grocery store but they didn't have many. Is there a website for this? How do I get started? Thanks for any advice!

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Hi, I found good info about using coupons at a site called afullcup. On there they have a section for grocery stores where you can find the one you shop at. People post the deals they have found and the best way to use your coupons. Plus there is a ton of other info there. HTH.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 2:48PM
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There is more to saving money on your food budget than coupons, so I hope this information will also be helpful.

--The first way to save is to set a realistic food budget - which is used only for food. In our monthly budget non-food items come from another budgeted amount. My food budget is $125 / month for 2 adults (we use cash only). Everything else, including coupons, is secondary to the set budget.

--I budget $10 of that amount for meat each week. Some weeks I don't find a meat bargain, or I don't spend the entire $10 amount, so I'll set the money aside for another week when I do find a stock-up bargain price, or for a holiday turkey or ham which would cost more than $10. I try to stick to $2 or less per pound for meat, but no more than $10 per week total at whatever price per pound.

I keep a chart in my Price Book so I can figure the number of (3-oz.) servings I can expect to get from boneless and bone-in meat. I can also figure which is the best bargain, boneless breast or bone-in, by doing the math. Most people don't consider all these things, but with the cost of meat going sky-high, it's important on my frugal budget and worth the extra minute it takes to do the math. Recently I figured the package of bone-in chicken breast would cost me nearly 50-cents per pound in waste compared to the boneless, so the boneless, even though it was more per pound, was actually less per serving, and therefore the bargain. But I don't "waste" bones, they are used for making bone broth, but I'd prefer a whole chicken (less per pound) over bones from chicken breasts.

--When you purchase canned meat, like tuna or salmon, be sure to figure the cost per pound and figure how many servings you will get from the can. For instance - 5 oz. can of tuna at 79-cents = $2.53 per pound - at $1.79 - $5.73 per pound. If you want to go into shock at the price per pound, check those single-serving sizes!!!!

--You can increase (stretch) the protein and reduce the cost of meat by mixing it with a low-costing meat substitute (add hard-cooked eggs and/or beans to tuna to get more servings of protein, serve a small portion of chicken with cannellini beans to equal a 3-oz. serving of a protein).

Before going wheat-free, I made high-protein "wheat meat" (aka seitan or gluten) and mixed it with all ground meat as an extender. You can only "stretch" meat with a high-protein substitute. When you add carbohydrates like rice or pasta (and a can of cream of whatever soup in a casserole), you are only increasing the servings of carbs, and probably aren't getting a full serving of protein. Most people consume too many empty carbs as it is, especially "bad", high-glycemic, carbs.

--The next way to save money is to keep a Price Book so you know the competing store prices. Store "A" has a sale on butter this week, but the sale price is higher than the everyday price at store "B". But you may not know that if you don't track the prices of the foods you purchase most frequently.

The next sheet in my price book after the item is the inventory sheet for that item because we practice home food storage and need to know those numbers. Some things I only purchase during certain times of the year when they are at their lowest price - nuts are cheapest after the holidays, condiments and canned pork n' beans are cheapest during grilling "holidays", baking items are lowest around Nov. and Dec., etc. It's important for me to know how many I can realistically use for a year, and can I use it before the use-by date expires.

-Tracking your inventory. When I add something to storage I'll put a slash " / " on my inventory sheet. When I use that item I'll finish the slash "X". If it's an item I need to track the use-by date (such as peanut butter), I'll put 1/15 (for January 2015) and will cross through the date when I move it from storage to the kitchen to use. When I found a manager's special on canned fruit recently, I could quickly look at my Price Book to see if it was a stock-up price, then look at my inventory sheet and determine how many I could realistically use.

-The largest percent of national brand coupons for so-called "food", I just never purchase. I leave the junk food and highly-processed foods at the store and buy whole, nutrient-dense foods. I make my own "convenience" foods, snacks, and bake all our breads and baked goods. I make my own cereal because cereal, even with a coupon, is the biggest rip-off at the store. FYI - there is approximately 17-cents worth of grain in a box of cereal - look what you pay for the package and advertisement.

--I literally shop-at-home first for meal planning, and only replenish when prices are at their lowest. About 70-80% of my food dollars are destined to replenish food storage, and the remainder is for fresh foods.

--I try to never pay full price for anything, and I also try to stack savings. When I use a coupon the item will also be on sale, and occasionally I can find a rebate on some items for even more savings.

--Coupons for whole foods (fresh produce, fresh meat, and frozen food department) are mainly the ones I receive in the mail from my Kroger affiliated Dillons store. Their coupons are also for things I purchase on a regular basis. I also go to their web site each week and will get their digital coupons.

--I haven't purchased milk from the store since 1981. I purchase enough powdered milk and powdered milk substitute products to last a year (Grandma's Country Cream I purchase in a 25# bucket and Morning Moo's in a 37# pail to save on the per-gallon amount - which has always been less than store prices). I use powdered milk for making homemade kefir, using real kefir grains you use over and over, which is used as a substitute for buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, kefir cheese, and plain yogurt. I occasionally make homemade yogurt, but kefir is better for us and less expensive to make (no electricity needed), so I stick mostly to kefir.

--I also order bulk amounts of grains/seeds/beans when I find the lowest prices, but this also comes out of my food budget.

--The free weekly newspaper delivered to our door has national brand coupons, but I rarely find anything I consider "food" in them. Years ago we went from the daily newspaper to the Sunday paper (for the coupons). I tracked how much I was saving with the coupons for 6-months. When it didn't add up to be as much as I was spending for the Sunday newspaper I stopped the subscription because it was wasting money, not saving money.

--Meal planning is another way to save because wasted food is the most expensive food you purchase. Know what a serving is.... Use smaller plates. Eating too much of anything is wasting food and wasting money. Eating empty calories is wasting money.

There are LOTS of ways to save on that food budget without coupons.....

-Purchase the largest, most economical, bag of frozen mixed vegetables you can find. Take out a portion to be used "mixed", then divide the rest so you now have individual portions of corn, green beans, peas, carrots, etc. Much cheaper than buying the individual vegetables.

-EGGS - If the price difference is less than 5-cents per dozen between large and medium eggs, buy the larger size. If the price is greater than 5-cents, buy medium-size eggs. You won't miss the small difference in the average volume of an egg by going to medium eggs. For baking, 5 medium eggs = 4 large eggs.

-BANANAS - We normally consider one banana as a serving, therefore I purchase a bunch with the smallest bananas so we get one or two more bananas per pound than when choosing large bananas. If I purchase large bananas, we use 1/2 a banana per serving and split a banana.

-Bags of apples are often less expensive per pound than when you buy them by individual pieces. Be sure to weigh a few bags of apples if they are priced per BAG because there may be as much as 1/2 pound more of fruit in one bag than another. Choose the largest when they are selling watermelon by-the-melon, choose the smallest when the price is by-the-pound. Same with cantaloupe and honeydew melons.

-In the winter when a.) produce is expensive, and b.) is NEVER fresh after being shipped from who knows where, and therefore lacks most of the nutrients, I rely on sprouts, wheatgrass, and micro-greens I grown indoors for our "fresh" vegetables. I also bring in herbs from the garden and grow them in a sunny south window for additional FRESH food.

-Eliminate health offenders - they cost you twice.

-Never purchase single-serving sizes of anything. Buy bulk amounts and make your own single-servings.

-Frozen 100% fruit juice concentrate is a fraction of price of ready-to-serve bottled and juice from the refrigerator case. Just add water is worth the effort to save money. The second way to save on juice is to remember what a serving size is (3/4 c.) and counts as a serving of fruit for the day.

-Reassess your spending habits, cooking habits, eating habits, reliance on convenience foods, brands, snacks.... Even little changes can save you money.

-Make your own, cut your own, shred your own..... For every extra pair of hands it takes to prepare food, the cost goes up. Generally (not always, so do the math), a bulk amount of cheese is less expensive than shredded. A whole apple is less expensive than a pre-cut apple, dried apple chips, or any processed apple food (pie filling, applesauce). Whole carrots are less expensive than "baby" carrots. A head of lettuce or cabbage is less expensive than pre-washed bagged lettuce and shredded cabbage.

-Know what you already have - a good food inventory is as good as money in the bank unless you don't know what you have and aren't rotating it on a regular basis.

-Have breakfast for dinner occasionally (skip the meat to save even more money). Have a number of vegetarian meals to save on the most expensive food in your budget - meat. Make your own bone broth, vegetable broth (from parings), soup, chili, cook your own beans and rice and freeze them to use later. Avoid microwave popcorn and buy it in bulk bags and make it in an air-popper.

-Whatever you set your food budget at - it can probably be lower AND still be healthy with careful thought and selections. After 7-months this year, I have nearly $200 of my food budget I haven't spent. Gardening helps a lot. Picking free apples and other fruit helps. I dehydrate bushels of free-for-the-picking apples and they are used for snacks, pie filling, applesauce, added to quick breads...... We dehydrate (free) zucchini and use it as a potato chip substitute. Imperfect (free or discounted) fruit is made into fruit leather and the leather is used for snacks or you can make fruit sauce with them. I dehydrate skins from tomatoes (I freeze or dehydrate tomatoes from the garden, but remove the skin first) and use the dehydrated skins for making tomato powder, which can be used as a substitute when mixed with water for tomato sauce and tomato paste.


Here is a link that might be useful: Price Book

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:11AM
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I rarely use coupons any more. They don't usually have them for the healthier stuff.

If you have products that you love and purchase on a regular basis, you can usually go to that companies website and sign up for the email list. You can sometimes get some pretty decent coupons that way. I have an email address that I specifically use for coupons, deals, etc

Check out the Sunday papers for coupons. If you get the right ones, it will cover the cost of buying a paper.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Your recommendations may be well intentioned but some are oh-so-silly. Do you think most people are interested in buying mixed veggies and then sorting them into constituent parts, in order to have a separate supply of frozen corn, peas, etc.? That's really a hoot.

Handling tomato skins separately from tomatoes? Worrying about 5 cent differences in eggs?

Pinching pennies only leads to accumulating pennies, not dollars. If your household is short of money, you'd be far ahead of where you are now by taking a wage-paying job instead of spending your time on silly made-up tasks having such a low payback. It took you 7 months to accumulate a $200 savings from budget? You could have earned that in two days or less, even with a job at a low hourly rate.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:01PM
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I personally would not embrace some of the suggestions Grainlady offered, but she provided a lot of information that works for her. Even you acknowledged they are well intentioned. You could have left it at that.

To take it to the personal level that you did is really petty, but it does go a long way in explaining your login name.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Our Walmart price matches other stores buy one get one free items and I get the product at the lower Walmart price plus one free product. Most coupons I use are already on the merchandise I buy or inside of the box.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:05PM
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Snidely Whiplash is a name I've used as an internet alias for a long time. It's the name of a character from my favorite animated cartoon segment from childhood. The other choice to use from that series was Dudley Do-right. As there real people named Dudley, I chose Snidely. It's whimsical and has nothing at all to do with the word "snide".

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Mighty Mouse, Green Lantern - if you like one of those, feel free to use it yourself.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:50AM
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I also rarely use coupons for food. The ones in the Sunday paper are usually for processed, unhealthy foods and drinks. I do use coupons for places like fabric stores, retail stores, etc. But not food. The majority are for brands and items I don't use. The best thing I can recommend is getting a Food Saver or other brand food vacuum bagger. By in bulk, portion out your servings and place in the freezer or pantry. We save quiet a bit of money doing this. As Grainlady says, for every pair of hands that touch your food the price goes up. We bake from scratch, breads, cookies, brownies, BBQ sauce,etc. If you have farms near you, pick your own fruits and veggies is a good way to go. It is blueberry season here in Maine. So far I have been out to the berry farm twice to pick. Will be going this Saturday too. Also the higher the pound amount you pick the lower the price per pound. So you save money that way too. Grainlady gives some excellent advice on how to save without using coupons. Take what you personally can use and stick with it. Coupons are ok, but I find I save money without using them also. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 7:13AM
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You always manage live up to your "name" when you post anywhere on the Garden Web with your destructive attacks. I actually think you chose your screen name very carefully and to suit your purpose.

Rather than being constructive and sharing, you choose to attack anyone who may have an idea different from yours. Your responses are like the itch from a nasty rash with your thinly-veiled insults and caustic attitude. I can't believe you haven't been banned from this site long ago.

And just to remind you, this is the MONEY SAVING TIPS forum, not the - go out and get a job and earn more money so you can spend more - forum. It's a place where we share ideas - without judging who or why - while incorporating any shared ideas is an option, not a dictate.

As the old Scottish saying goes, "Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves," so yes, that nickel difference between ALL food you purchase, not just eggs, adds up. If you've ever stopped long enough to check the price difference between large and medium eggs, you'll find it's actually much larger than 5-cents. But most people just mindlessly pick up the large eggs without regard to the cost. In fact, most people are oblivious to how much they spend on food - it's just another tick on the credit card in the world of I want.....

I spend and invest money where I get the best value, and my income level and net worth is none of your business, nor a leading factor when it comes to being frugal. Any fool can fritter money away selfishly and senselessly. You notice there isn't a forum called "Hey Big Spender" or "how to get into debt quickly and stay there".

Buying three boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese with a 25-cent off coupon certainly is saving some money, but it isn't a place I find any value since I don't find the highly-processed food nutritionally sound to begin with.

Meanwhile, dehydrating the abundance of tomato skins I already have from processing tomatoes I preserve DOES have value as a food high in nutrition. But in your narrow thinking you dismiss such a thing. The tomato skins were formerly tossed into the composter, and now I'm using them as a food product which is actually a real money saver. I NEVER need to purchase tomato sauce, tomato paste, or pizza sauce because I can make sauce and paste with homemade tomato powder and water, and water and a few ingredients from my pantry to turn it into pizza sauce.

Dehydrating tomato skins is not an original idea with me, but I was open minded enough to try it when I read about it, and it's become an asset with value for such a small amount of effort. I'm just sorry it offends your delicate sensibilities.

For anyone who may be interested in the how to: Place the tomato skins in a single layer on the dehydrator trays and dry until crispy dry (they dry very quickly). Store whole in a jar with an air-tight lid and wait until you need to use them powdered before grinding them in a coffee/spice mill into a fine powder. If you powder them first, it will clump and get hard since there aren't any anti-clumping ingredients. Use in a 1:1 ratio with water for tomato paste and 1:2 ratio for sauce (or any thickness you like). For pizza sauce add some Pizza or Italian Seasonings, a little sweetener-of-choice, vinegar and a pinch of salt.

The old saying - don't knock it until you've tried it - may be in order, but you are much too dismissive, derisive, and arrogant for that. And now, in your usual nasty manner, you will find more nasty things to say and will destroy this thread which could have actually been helpful to some poor soul out there who MUST make the best of a bad situation and a small food budget. But that's how you operate here at the Garden Web.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 8:11AM
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One does have to wonder why you are so fixated on Grainlady snidely. I have noticed in other posts that you are much more rude to her then you are even to posters on the Kitchen Forum. You don't have to follow her or anyone's suggestions on saving money. Take what advice serves you and forget the rest. But why do you take some things so personal and feel you need be an ass about it? Is that just your nature or do you secretly have a crush on Grainlady, and like a 12 year old boy have to be mean just to show your friends you don't really care? Just wonderin' . NancyLouise

P.S. Sorry to hijack your thread alameda. My appologies

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:26AM
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alameda/zone 8

I got interested in the coupon thing after visiting my Navy son and his family last weekend, and he commented that their biggest expense is food. With 2 small children and his wife finishing up her degree, he is sole breadwinner. So I was thinking of things to help him. Now I have actually gotten interested in it. Am going to Walmart today, looked at their coupons online last nite and printed out 4 things I need and found these gave me a savings of $4 [it shows your savings]. I find all the savings advice helpful from you all, and am passing them along to my son. Told him they should try to make a game of it. He liked it when I said try to see how much money you can keep in your pocket rather than how much you can spend.

I appreciate Grainlady [and others] taking their time to reply. Rudeness is unnecessary and low class in any situation, especially when the poster had nothing to contribute to my question. The old saying if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing might apply here.

Another you all find that shopping at different stores that have lower prices - like Sam's Club, Big Lots, Dollar General - help?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 11:03AM
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No personal offense or insult was intended by my words, or is ever intended in that way. I accept that many have found them to be of that nature and for that I apologize.

I tend to be a skeptical person. The value-added by a task or an approach is measured by the extra value of the result, not by the amount of effort expended. One can always break work into smaller pieces, analyze every element, but if the overall difference to the end result by doing so is small, most would say the approach wasn't worth the effort.

That was what I was trying to say. I think there's a difference between spending money wisely versus trying to squeeze every penny out of every step taken. I comment when I observe what to me are extreme views but I will be more careful to do so in a inoffensive way.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 11:10AM
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I do find that shopping at BJ's and Costco saves our family money on the items we purchase over a regular grocery store. But you have to know the prices of things. Not all items at warehouse stores are bargains. They are great for bulk buying and separating what you have into the family portion that is right for you. We make our own granola. We purchase the nuts/seeds and dried fruit from the warehouse store, mix it up and bake it and then portion it into smaller air tight containers. And because we shop there frequently we have always received our membership fee back and more come repayment time. It has worked for us very well. Judith, you said your son was in the Navy. Does he also shop at the commissary on base? Or don't they have those stores anymore? It has been some time since I have been on a Navy base. (Navy Brat here) NancyLouise

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:17PM
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Something my Dad said long, long ago about using coupons stuck in my head.

"If you saw a dollar lying on the sidewalk, would you pick it up"?

If I see a coupon for a product I USE (not to buy something I wouldn't ordinarily use), I can't NOT clip it! My Dad might be watching from heaven :)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:40PM
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There may be something at the link below that could be helpful. I ran across it this afternoon while researching something else. They claim to be able to cut your groceries by 50%. Personally, I would assume that is only possible if someone doesn't cook all that much from scratch, doesn't use whole foods and use mostly ready-made and highly-processed foods, and has an hour or two to find the online coupons and bargain alerts. I only spend 5-10 minutes on coupons each week. Some coupons I've found on-line aren't accepted by stores - and printer ink is expensive.

I can reduce most food budgets by a large percent just by:
-cutting out junk food and unhealthy snack items
-eliminate bottled water and soda
-avoid single-serving items (yes, children can live without a juice box and gummy fruit snacks)
-eliminating food waste by knowing how to use leftovers
-serving children a child-size serving appropriate for their age so they don't waste food
-making sure people know what a serving of food is
-how to prepare a balanced meal

I teach this as a class several times a year at the County Extension Office and at the local Food Bank. I also teach a class for elderly men who are widowed or having to take over food preparation.

Another way I save money is by following a simple meal plan. It's my roadmap to cooking. I hate to make menus and find the process too restrictive, but I like this plan for its simple structure. It is variable enough you can exchange one day for another, or leave a day out entirely and not destroy the whole week, but not so rigid I have to plan each meal down to finest point. A well-stocked freezer and pantry make meals quick and easy and dessert is commonly fresh fruit. I like to cook once and use for many meals by keeping portions in the freezer. With the exception of Monday, a balanced meal rarely take me longer than 10-25 minutes to prepare. Remember, raw whole foods are nature's original "FAST FOOD". ;-)

MONDAY: Big Meal
Includes a large cut or portion of meat and all the fixings. The meat will be used for other meals, perhaps some for the freezer, sandwiches for lunches, possibly used in stir-fry, and hopefully a carcass or leftovers that can be used for making soup. I can get 6-8 meals from one baked chicken as an example.

TUESDAY: Leftovers
May or may not take on a new look from what was served Monday. The leftovers may be found in the freezer from a previous Monday meal if you have a family who balks at having leftovers from the day before. This could also be a casserole day or a slow-cooker meal. Make it whatever works.

I usually have fresh veggies prepared from Mon. and Tues. that can be used (I try to prepare enough for Wednesday). The meat for the stir-fry may be fresh, frozen, or already cooked - and nearly any kind of meat will work. Frozen veggies will work just fine. "Stir-Fry" can be extrapolated to be something like leftover boiled herbed potatoes (fried) and baked ham, or Ham and Swiss Rositi. or one of my favorite cheap eats - Sautéed Chickpeas with Broccoli and Parmesan Cheese.

THURSDAY: International
This usually means something with pasta (Italian) or a tortilla/taco shell (Mexican), but any country will work. It's a good place for me to try new recipes (I try to fit 3 new recipes into my meals each week). I make my own tortillas, but they are also inexpensive from the store.

FRIDAY: Vegetarian
A good way to save money by using meat substitutes - eggs, cheese, etc.. I keep a stack of homemade bean burgers in the freezer along with homemade burger buns. Baked potatoes with vegetarian chili is a favorite, or use the chili as a base for a taco salad. It's a good time to have breakfast for dinner because you might have more time for making egg dishes, pancakes/waffles/French toast, etc.....

SATURDAY: We're always busy on Saturday so we tend to keep meals really simple like soup (always several kinds in the freezer) and/or sandwiches, quesadillas, or nachos with meat and veggies for a topping.

SUNDAY: Homemade pizza, or when it's hot a nice dinner salad. Both are a great way to clean out the refrigerator.

The next way I plan meals is by following the old Basic-4. The Food Pyramid, and now the new My Plate, have too many calories and too many carbs for us, but can be good guidelines as well. I've used the Basic-4 since the 1970's.
(these are amounts for the entire day)
Bread/Cereal - 4 servings
Fruits & Vegetables - 4 (or more) servings
Meat or alternative - 2 servings
Milk - 2 servings
We also eat a serving of nuts each day.

I read the book "Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half" by Steve and Annette Economides, but only picked up a few tips, but it would be excellent for people just starting out. They also have a web site:

I live in a small town where you can drive across it in 12-minutes from any direction, and along with small town living, that means there aren't all that many shopping choices - 3 Dillons (Kroger associated), Sam's Club, Aldi and Wal-Mart.

I rarely find lower prices at Sam's Club for most items I purchase - although there are exceptions - which is why I keep a Price Book. Just because you can get it in bulk, you still need to figure the unit prices. Another problem with Sam's is that you have to buy so many of some items. You can blow through $300 in moments if you aren't careful. Only rarely are items reduced at Sam's, while Dillons has sales every week. I only get to Big Lots once every other month, and I do find some food bargains there occasionally, but not enough to justify a weekly visit.

Aldi will nearly always have a lower priced item, especially if you aren't stuck on name brands. Buying at Dillons saves us several ways - store coupons, manager's specials, reduced meat section, and with the loyalty card, you can earn points for cheap gas - even cheaper than gas at Sam's Club. They used to have double coupons, but sadly those days are long gone.

I only go to Sam's Club about once a month, or less. I DO order things on-line from Sam's Club. When I purchase Morning Moo's Whey-Based Milk Substitute (37# bucket), it's actually cheaper than buying it from Augason Farms on-line. Shipping kills you from Augason Farms.

Aldi doesn't take coupons, so that's a negative, but I still check their ad online each week, but I don't always shop there each week.


Here is a link that might be useful: Frugal Fanatic - beginners guide to couponing

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 4:43PM
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alameda/zone 8

My Navy son, after years on carriers for much of the year giving jets the OK to fly, has just started as a recruiter in a larger metropolitan area, they have bought their first house and are learning to live like civilians - if only for a time! I am loving it because they are 4 hours away!! When he was single, he was terrible with money - I am excited that he is becoming so interested in saving for the future, and learning [my favorite quote!] to "live beneath his means". I am going to pass all these tips along to him as am sure he doesn't have time to research for himself.

I don't have big grocery bills unless we entertain, and usually eat a chicken breast with vegetables and my sugar free jello salad for dessert. But not today - making pear pies and bread with fruit from neighbors trees! But I still enjoy saving money when I can, don't like to waste.

I used to have a 2 week menu written out that I would shop weekly and get the supplies - then had everything I needed to make good meals. That really helped me organize - like Grainlady's meals - to know about how much I needed to spend weekly. I am hoping to get my son and DIL interested in this - as he said groceries were their biggest expense - and see if it will help them cut their bill down as well as help them learn about the ways to save money. They know nothing about landscaping, and that is one of my favorite things, so instead of them bumbling around and hiring someone, I am going to help them landscape and show them how to do it for themselves. So fun having them and the 2 young grandsons so close!

Am really appreciating all the tips........wish I had some to offer in return. The one thing I do when I go out to eat is to box up half the meal and take it home - portions are too big anyway and if I move half to the side, I wont eat it, take it home and have it for lunch or supper next day. Figure the meal costs half as much that way. I don't need to eat all that food at one setting anyway. Best deal is at a Mexican restaurant where I order the 3 enchiladas, get soup instead of beans, take the extra flour tortillas. Mix soup with the rice for a meal, use tortillas with cheese for breakfast, fill up on chips and tortillas at the restaurant, eat one enchilada there - the rest I take home.

Thanks for all the great tips - cant wait to read more!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 5:36PM
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Alameda - boxing up and taking half of a meal home is a tried and true Weight Watchers tip. But I now ask for the take home box as soon as they deliver my meal to the table. And I box it up before I start eating. Otherwise, I begin nibbling around the corners of what I intended to box up. And then, before you know it, it doesn't seem like enough to bother to take home and I eat it all despite my good intentions!

Happy for you that the family us closer by now ENJOY

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 6:51PM
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Not to stir the pot but I tend to agree with Snidely and borrowing a term from the economists, there are opportunity costs being ignored.

With that said, I have a concern about the 5¢ egg thing. The USDA establishes a minimum weight for a dozen of eggs. Large eggs are 24 ounces and medium are 21 ounces per dozen. If I recall correctly, around here a dozen large eggs goes for about a $1.79 or 7.46¢ per ounce. That means a dozen of medium eggs would need to cost $1.56 or less to be a "better value." That's a 23¢ difference.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:01AM
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I went to the library to get the book with the egg information - "Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half", and here is their explanation (page 84).

For 18-weeks, we tracked egg volume. Each Sunday, we cook up one dozen scrambled eggs.... We measured the volume of liquid (white and yolk) each from the dozen eggs. Although the industry standard is to measure the total weight of a dozen eggs (shell and all), we thought that it would be a more accurate assessment to measure the actual amount of edible egg you get from a dozen eggs. We used various sizes of eggs: medium, large, and extra large.

(There is a chart in the book with various-sized dozens and liquid ounces for one dozen eggs.)

Med - average 21, high 24, low 19
Lg - average 22, high 24, low 20
XL - average 22.3, high 23, low 21

Test conclusion:
Given the small difference in average liquid volume between medium and large eggs, a sharp consume ought to always check the price of medium eggs. If the size and weight difference are minimal, go with the smaller size. If the price difference is less than 5-cents per dozen, buy the larger size. If greater than 5-cents, buy the smaller size.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 5:24AM
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I am 77 years young and consider myself a fairly intelligent, well-informed person, but I ALWAYS learn something new from these posts! Grainlady, thank you for taking the time to post your detailed suggestions, instructions, and recipes for us. It is truly appreciated!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 12:01PM
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This insightful "strategy" will save people how much, 50 cents or a dollar per month? Eggs are so cheap that I suspect few bother to give the price any thought at all. As with other things, if it matters to you, buy them at a store that has better prices rather than one with higher ones, but beyond that, hmmm...

I think many people these days are shopping their conscience instead of prices when it comes to chicken meat and eggs. The living conditions for chickens in industrial-scale production facilities are shocking, and the output from many of such places has a high incidence of contamination. People are willing to pay more for cage free, free-range, organic eggs and chicken. They taste better, that's for sure, especially when you buy from local producers.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:24PM
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I read these types of threads with a degree of detached interest - I do find it fascinating to see what others do and how they get "the most bang" for their grocery dollars. I say more power to you.

Though I normally peruse the Sunday supplement supermarket coupons, I'm not tempted by what I don't usually buy so I'm not much of a coupon clipper; always lots of chips, pop, snack items which are rarities for me. I don't have to be "careful" grocery shopping, but heck who doesn't love a bargain? And the bargains in the stores here tend to be the unadvertised specials or the no coupon required dozen large eggs with the purchase of a half gallon of milk, two for one berries, deli items, artisanal breads (which make a sandwich a little more interesting) type things.

I do more stock up shopping in the winter which is just a habit since despite the brutal and snowy weather here, I've never been unable to get out.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 7:48PM
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I appreciate you taking the time to go to the library but it wasn't really necessary. The yesterday I went to one of our local grocery stores (part of a nation chain) and remembering this conversation looked for medium eggs. The had large, extra large, jumbo, and an assortment of "premium" eggs but no medium. The store brand large eggs were $1.79.

Since the USDA specifies weights for eggs, it's pretty reasonable to assume that manufacturers hit those numbers. Obviously as with any natural product (and most other products) it's impossible or impractical for manufacturers to ensure that every carton of large eggs weighs exactly 24 ounces but a production run should average out to 24 ounces or slightly more. For consumers that means one carton may weigh slightly more or less than another but overtime should average out to 24 ounces.

Using the USDA specs, a dozen of large eggs weighs 14.29% more than a dozen medium eggs and a dozen extra large eggs 12.50% more than a dozen large. The differences that the authors you referenced are 4.76% and 1.36% respectively; that's pretty substantial.

Unfortunately what's not included is the weight of the whole egg. The only conclusion I can draw is that the ratio of "insides" to shell varies depending on the size of the egg. Which makes some sense because a large volume or mass of "insides" requires a sturdier container. Given that Mother Nature is pretty efficient and one might think that ratio of shell to "insides" would be linear. But maybe not.

This post was edited by mike_kaiser on Mon, Aug 4, 14 at 9:27

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 7:55AM
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Who knew eggs could be such a polarizing topic? I buy eggs every few weeks. Always jumbo and I don't even check the price. Ever. Because I know I need eggs and I always buy jumbo. I personally need to save my diminishing brain cells for weightier decisions (no pun intended)!

But I respect your decision to care if that's YOUR thing :)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 2:29PM
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I'm with you on that one. I don't count the leaves in bundles of loose leaf lettuce either.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 3:12PM
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I was in a different store today and again no medium eggs. Prices for large, x-large, and jumbo were $1.79, $2.09, and $2.24.

That makes x-large 16.76% more expensive than large and jumbo 25.14% more expensive. Based on USDA sizing the difference is 12.50% and 25.00%. So the jumbo is priced on par with the large eggs.

Now if we go with Economides' numbers, those x-large eggs would have to cost $1.81 or less to be a better deal than large eggs.

This post was edited by mike_kaiser on Mon, Aug 4, 14 at 22:35

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 10:33PM
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I'd love to get large eggs that are an everyday price of $1.79. Here, they're at least $3.49.

The only coupons I clip/save are for cat food. Anything else is for convenience food and cleaning products that I don't use. I detest the one-time use of cleaning products and heavy chemicals that are used.

I love saving the heavy plastic cereal liner bags. They're excellent for pounding chicken breasts, putting between tortilla shells for freezing, and other things.

We enjoy black beans and I buy them dried. I soak them and cook them, and freeze on a cookie sheet that's been lined with cereal liners and then freeze in plastic bags.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:43PM
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i found Non-fat, dry milk developed an off taste when it was in the cupboard too long, so buying a year's worth at a whack would not work for me. The last time I looked at a box in the grocery store a couple months ago, the price of a box of non-fat dry milk was the same as two gallons of milk.The box made two gallons. And the price of milk in our state is high, minimum set by the state (Maine).

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:01PM
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For those of us who practice home food storage, powdered milk isn't just for emergencies, we use it every day.

We also know oxygen, light, moisture and heat cause powdered milk to deteriorate quickly, so at the very least, once opened, store it in an air-tight container (canning jar filled so there is very little air-space at the top) and place it in a cool dark place, rather than the box it comes in. Kitchen odors can even penetrate the boxes the milk comes in and be absorbed by the powder.

Even in my cool food storage room in the basement, I store dairy products (and powdered eggs) close to the floor where the temperature stays a little cooler. For each 10-degrees F cooler than room temperature (70-degrees F), it increases the shelf-life. Conversely, for each 10-degrees warmer than room temperature, it decreases the shelf-life - and this is for all food, not just powdered milk.

Once a box of powdered milk is opened it is best used within a few months, or vacuum-seal (oxygen-free storage) for longer storage time. It's unfortunate people think it has a much longer shelf-life than it actually does..... Exposure to oxygen alone degrades the vitamins rapidly. If you have some that has been sitting on your shelf and is old, seems "off", or has more of a yellow/tan color to it from improper storage, you can use it for making a nice soothing milk bath, and all is not lost. Wasted food, due to good intentions and poor execution, is the most expensive food we purchase......

The better plan is to use it a.s.a.p. after opening: pudding mix, hot cocoa mix/flavored coffee mixes, Magic Mix, basic white sauce mix, homemade yogurt/kefir, homemade Ricotta or Mozzarella cheese, etc., are just a few of the things I make with powdered milk, including using it for drinking/cooking/baking.

If you have a FoodSaver, you can transfer your powdered milk to canning jars, place a paper towel or paper coffee filter over the surface to hold the powder in place, and vacuum-seal using the jar sealer and a canning lid. If you want to use a FoodSaver bag, place the milk in another food-safe bag (pressing out as much air as possible) then place it in a FoodSaver bag to vacuum-seal. The double-bag will prevent the powder from drifting to the opening, which can prevent a good seal.

I would also recommend purchasing powdered milk in #10 cans rather than boxed from the grocery store if you need long-term emergency storage. While an UNopened box of powdered milk should last a year at room temperature (70-degree F), a can of powdered milk will keep 10-years, and 20-years storage life will provide good taste with diminished nutritional value. Once open, you can vacuum-seal the unused portion for longer storage than you would get on a shelf at room temperature. Stored food of all kinds should be rotated and USED, not purchased and forgotten.

There are also brands that are better tasting than the boxed brands from the store - Grandma's Country Cream has the best flavor straight out of a glass, but costs more (I purchase it in a 25# pail to cut cost), and Morning Moo's Whey-based Milk Substitute (a non-instant mix - add to hot water) is another that has great flavor (I purchase it in a 37# pail - free shipping if I order through Sam's Club). The least expensive is the non-instant powdered milk product sold by the LDS Church. Not a great taste, but the price is right and can be used in cooking and baking, as well as mixes, if you don't like the flavor.

Since I use powdered milk products exclusively (and I have many brands in storage), I get much better prices per reconstituted gallon than commercial milk from the store by purchasing it by-the-bucket/pail, but I also purchase #10 cans when I find a bargain price (bogo). If you want it for emergency use, I wouldn't start price comparison with milk from the store - you are paying for storage capability. You can really only save when you purchase in bulk, at a sale price, and can get free or reduced shipping. Having seen price of milk double over the last few years, my home food storage plan has paid big dividends. With careful planning and purchases, the most a gallon of reconstituted powdered milk has ever cost me is $1.87 including shipping, and much of what I have in storage is much less per gallon than that. It's not that long ago I would split a 50# bag with a friend and a gallon of milk cost $1.10.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 11:10AM
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I think most people prefer and can afford to enjoy the superior taste of fresh milk and eggs.

If the marketplace considered them to be equivalent to the fresh varieties, they probably wouldn't be so much cheaper. The powdered substitutes are cheaper for a good reason.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 2:16PM
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I don't think you actually KNOW anything on the subject of powdered milk and powdered eggs; which isn't unusual since most of your non-answer answers are in no way generous with good information, or helpful to anyone.

I teach classes on Home Food Storage as well as how to use powdered milk and powdered eggs - common commodity food items distributed by the Government. I teach classes and compile recipes sheets on using commodity foods, but I can see you must not rub elbows with these people. Powdered milk is also an item given out at the local Food Bank, another place I teach classes.

It's always YOUR way or NO way!!!! You could never see clear for people to experience a "choice". Especially when the choice is just that - a choice - neither right or wrong. Nor can you see an honest need for the option for someone who CAN'T afford the "SUPERIOR TASTE OF FRESH MILK AND EGGS".

Per usual, anyone can make the choice to pay more for a product and pay more for convenience. It is my opinion you really should leave the Money Saving Tips Forum to people who actually know how to save money. And personally, I could certainly do without your self-righteous spite and malice when something doesn't fit your agenda.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Sure I do. I've had both and I find them unpalatable.

Money can be saved on housing by sleeping in a car or a tent. Money can be saved on laundry by washing clothes in a stream. On food by trapping squirrels and neighborhood songbirds. Yes, people in unfortunate circumstances may need to rely on some of these approaches for a time. But let's face it, suggesting these activities would hardly qualify as money saving tips.

Few people want or need to buy powdered milk 25 pounds at a time. Keep in mind that the decision concerning whether your suggestions are valuable is decided by the listening recipient, not by you.

It's you who's intolerant of people who don't share your views. My comments are directed at your comments, not at you. For all I know, you're a very nice person. If you have a wealth of knowledge, share what you know by giving people useful suggestions.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 5:36PM
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This forum is similar to reading a book....some thoughts will be of interest to some, and for some there will be no interest. We're all intelligent and responsible in deciding which advice we'd like to apply to our situation(s). We're all here to either ask questions or share information (as well as read through & benefit from other's experiences). Have a good day!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:23AM
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alameda/zone 8

All the replies to my original question - except one - have been interesting and informative. I enjoy reading others' opinions even if I cant make use of the information.

Snide remarks have no place on these forums. If the thread is of no interest to someone, they should go elsewhere. I will revisit my previous response - if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:36AM
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Grainlady I always like reading how you save money. No, it's not for everyone, but that's life.

My wife also likes to save money on groceries, especially when groceries are getting more expensive every day. Beef prices are at the highest in history.

I just read an article where food prices are up 49% in the last 5 years. 49%!

My wife makes a two week menu. She looks at the flyers from the local supermarket and uses the specials when planning the menu. And she uses coupons, since our local supermarket doubles them.

We eat well, we don't starve ourselves or buy something we don't like simply because it's on sale or there's a coupon. That's just plain silly. But it's also been over 35 years since we've eaten a frozen dinner either.

A few years ago we had a discussion about food stamp recipients. A letter to the editor inour local paper was written by a 'stamper' complaining about how she couldn't feed herself and her daughter on $300 a month in food stamps.

That was a challenge my wife couldn't ignore! So she went online to see what can and cannot be purchased with food stamps. Wow, pretty much everything in the store except prepared foods (pizza), pet food, and toilet paper.

She then found out the stores run specials on the first day of the month too, because that's when the EBT cards are loaded.

Now, we shop once a week because our freezer isn't that big and the store runs specials every week too. So she took $300 and divided it by 4, and used that as her goal.

So off we went on the first! It was a madhouse! Especially in the frozen food aisle. People literally stocking up on Hungry Man dinners, Stouffer's lasagna, etc! But the produce area was nearly empty except for elderly customers. So she stocked up on fresh beans, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, etc, and then it was off to the meat dept! She found a nice pot roast that she was able to cut into 3 meals, family size packages of chicken thighs, turkey thighs, a pork roast, and when she got a chance to squeeze in because it was the most popular section of the meat case, ground beef.

She found frozen shrimp on sale, and with her coupon, she ended up getting a dollar off the sale price too.

So... Off to the checkout. Will we come in under $75? With her coupons from the Sunday paper and store discount card she came in just under that amount! At the bottom of her receipt it said she saved 30% off her total bill. But then that's what she always saves.

So if someone thinks it's not worth the time to save money, let them waste it. But for my wife and me, we get FREE groceries one week a month.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 8:23AM
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What a great challenge with such inspiring results. I like the fact your family does so well with coupons you actually get one week "free"!!! Great job!

In my food budget classes we go over the cheapest foods for protein and how to use them, since meat is getting so expensive:
-cottage cheese
-legumes, quinoa, beans & lentils
-chicken/ground turkey

Add to that a list of about 20 other healthy foods they like from all the food groups (such as oats, apples, bananas, sweet and white potatoes, pumpkin, frozen/canned/fresh vegetables, whole grain pasta, quinoa, nuts, lentils, beans, popcorn, frozen 100% orange and grape juice ......), and pantry staples (flour, sugar, spices, baking soda/baking powder, salt, etc.) and a family of 2 should be able to not only have enough for well-balanced meals 3 times a day, plus snacks, on $300/month; but should be able to add to their pantry and buy ahead when things are on sale.

Although the price of food does vary greatly from place to place......and that could make a lot of difference. If their child is in school, they will also be able to take advantage of free or reduced breakfast and lunch, so that will save them the cost of those meals.

I encourage everyone, even those on food assistance, to have enough food from all the food groups for 1-2 months and teach them how to buy ahead, even if it's only $3-5 per week.

I happen to live where the cost of living is fairly low (but that also means incomes are also low - median income for our town - $44,000 - while pay is 23% lower than average salaries for job postings nationwide).

It's about teaching people new to budgeting their food dollars and meal preparation the old fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant. Teaching them to prepare food from scratch, as much as is possible or reasonable for them (many of my students don't have proper kitchens and kitchen equipment, something most of us take for granted). Learn how to compare prices, choose alternatives, taking advantage of what's on sale..... Learning what a "serving" is and how their meal should look (protein, fruit, grain, vegetable, dairy).

All the things you and your wife use as cost-saving tools, but most people have to be taught how to use those food dollars wisely to get the most food possible.

I also have a class on $1 (or less) per serving meals (although I haven't done a cost comparison recently and they are probably slightly higher than this now):
-Baked Chicken with Vegetables
-Veggie Chow Mein
-Refried Bean Tostadas
-Tortilla Pizzas
-Chicken Cacciatore
-Pork Carnitas
-Easy Broiled Drumsticks
-Ham and Cheddar Supper Waffles
-Black Bean Burgers
-Sautéed Chickpeas with Broccoli & Parmesan Cheese
-Black Bean Soup and Cornbread
-Cheesy Pork Chops & Green Beans

Along with inexpensive meals, I also teach them how to have an "emergency" go-to meal on hand so they don't end up being tempted to go out to eat.

To date for the year for two adults:
Spent: $890.98 out of my $1,000 ($125 X 8-months) food budget. Yes, there are steaks and a large assortment of meat in the refrigerator freezer (we don't have a stand-alone freezer - just the refrigerator freezer), and we don't deprive ourselves of anything, and eat a well-balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods. Everything just needs to fit into the budget.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Remember not to get too bogged down in the dollar figures mentioned in many of the examples that you read here and on other blogs. You have to set your budget based on your dietary/caloric requirements. Do you have any health issues that need to be considered? How about other family members? A family with a little kids will need less calories than a family with a bunch of teenagers. So, start by identifying the right goals for your household first. Next, if you have a backyard, can you grow some of your own food. What plants grow well in your climate? Focus on seasonal produce, see what's on sale, and then rely on coupons as the final step. One problem I have with coupons, is that often the best deals are on highly processed or junk food that makes it really cheap, but you end up paying the price in the end in medical bills or in trying to lose the unwanted pounds!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2014 at 2:35AM
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You mention gardens. Of course a garden is good. My wife likes to make her own pasta sauce so tomatoes are a major pert of our garden.

But alas, we live in Vermont and I swear, sometimes I think the growing season is only 18 days long. The tomatoes go into the ground the first of June and the first frost can be as early as September.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2014 at 6:39AM
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