Food Prices just one of things going sky high

cjm70142September 26, 2008

Hi everyone, I am trying to gather as much info as I can, My DH and I live on SSI alone and the food prices are getting higher and higher. He is disabled and I am mobidly obese. and I keep trying to keep going. My question. any tips on buying meat cheaper. I am in country and do take advantage of Deer meat and also try to buy cheapest. we have always been big meat eaters, but I am seeing now that we are going to have to cut back and try to eat other items besides meat.

I am trying to learn to buy very frugally and plan ahead, I shop Aldis for Can goods and used to buy produce but just as high as at home. WE have a Krogers here and prices are good sometimes as anywhere. I planned a garden this year but son didn't get it tilled for me, next year I will get someone. I have never had to buy and fix like this before, I quess that is why I have to now. Lived for the moment Thanks in advance for your help and I read you post faithfully . You all have a good weekend.

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Here's an emergency menu. I wouldn't recommend it for long-term, but it will give you ideas on eating less expensively.

Here is a link that might be useful: 45-dollar-emergency-menu

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 1:36AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

I look over the sale ads to the 2 local supermarkets before going to town, and make a list. Depending on what is offered, and the potential savings, I may, or may not go to both of them. I often only buy those items that are on sale, and use from the stock in the pantry, or freezer.

I stock up on things when they are on sale. Some things I buy at the Dollar Store, Bread Store, or Aldis, and this is all done in passing while I am having to be out on other errands.

Today I got 2 18 count packs of large eggs for $2. I will freeze some for later use. I had got a coupon in the mail a while back good for the month of Sept.

I seldom ever pay full price for anything, due to always stocking when it is reduced.

I do drink pop and today got 3 12 packs of Big K brand for $5.

I was fortunate and had a bushel of peaches given to me. I also had another friend give me a 5 GA bucket of beans in exchange for some excess canning jars I had. I'm expecting another bucket of beans yet, hopefully.
I keep my ear to the ground for anything that anyone might have in excess. Another neighbor often tells me to come help myself, once they have put up all that they need and find things will be going to waste.

Hopefully you can get that garden in and tended to next year.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 1:37AM
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The price of meat sure IS a budget breaker these days. Not that long ago I had a $2 per pound limit, but those days are long gone. What helps us is to have one vegetarian day and 2 days that are low-meat days.

I also follow the old Basic-4 eating plan, so we only eat 2 servings of meat or meat alternative each day.
- Bread/Cereal - 4 servings
- Fruit/Vegetables - 4 servings (total, not each)
- Meat/meat alternative - 2 servings
- Milk/Dairy - 2 servings

I have a $50/week food budget (that's for food ONLY for 2 adults). I usually spend around $10 per week on meat, but no more than 25% ($12.50) of the budget goes for meat. I go early in the morning and generally get meat that is reduced. I also save my leftover budget money and purchase grass-fed beef from a friend, as well as fresh poultry from another source.

I usually cook one large piece of meat on Monday (roast beef, chicken, turkey, pork) and that will serve as meat for sandwiches, stir-fry, soup, and leftovers during the week, and a portion may even go into the freezer for fixins for casseroles or lunches.

I recently read a book that included this menu plan that may help you out...

-Meat on Sunday and Wednesday
-Casseroles / Leftovers Monday and Thursday
-Pasta - Tuesdays
-Fish, eggs, cheese - Friday
-Soup / Sandwiches - Saturday

This is my menu plan:
Monday - Big Meal (large cut of meat)
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Stir-fry (takes very little meat)
Thursday - International - usually something made with ground beef - Mexican/tacos/taco salad, Spaghetti, etc.
Friday - Vegetarian (includes meat substitutes like eggs, beans, cheese)
Saturday - Soup and/or Sandwiches
Sunday - Homemade Pizza or Dinner Salad (both are a good way to use bits and pieces of meat and vegetables)

Other saving tips:
- Have a set amount for groceries and stick to that amount.

- Purchase 100% real fruit juice - frozen concentrate - NOT ready-made, juice boxes or individual size - they are always more expensive when you check the unit price.

- Avoid "junk" food of any kind. Use whole foods.

- Avoid wasted food, that's the most expensive food you buy. Save those leftover cooked veggies in a container in the freezer (marked soup vegetables) to use for homemade vegetable soup. Eat more salads with fresh vegetables. Eat a piece of fruit for dessert.

- Understand what a serving size is.

- We have what we call "free foods" that we use as snacks. They include nuts, homemade trail mix, homemade granola, dehydrated apple slices (homemade), popcorn, in-season fruit/veggies. I just dehydrated what seems to be about a million small zucchini. I vacuum seal them in canning jars with a FoodSaver, using the jar sealing attachment, and we use them instead of potato chips. I'm dehydrating apples now. They make into applesauce, cobbler, as well as snacks. I dehydrate lots of fruits and vegetables that may go to waste otherwise.

- I purchase most of the nuts I use during the after-Christmas sales, and freeze them.

- Always check unit pricing. If you purchase a can of tuna at $1.29 - that means you are paying $3.44 for a pound for meat. While a can of tuna costing .59 = $1.57/pound.

- Take advantage of "FREE", or inexpensive food like Government Commodity Food Distribution. Potatoes were buy one bag, get one bag free this week. Even though we can't even use one bag before they start to sprout, I got two bags and made them into Mashed Potatoes (5# potatoes - boiled as usual. Add 6 oz. cream cheese, 1 c. sour cream, 1/4 c. butter and mash). Quick-froze them in dollops on a cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop, and then bag them in a FoodSaver bag and store them in the freezer. I won't need potatoes until spring (LOL).

- "Feel Good" food. When you've done well with your food budget and you have money leftover, buy a food that makes you feel good. For me, that's some chocolate, for hubby, that's a bag of potato chips. For you, it may be a quality coffee or a steak. But that way it's still within the budget and won't be a regular purchase.

- Bigger isn't always cheaper. Check unit pricing.

- Avoid impulse buying.

- Use everything like it's your last one. It takes very little toothpaste to brush your teeth (about the size of a pea). Most people use 3X what is needed. See how little dish soap it REALLY takes to do dishes. Use a small plastic tub in the sink - one that holds less water. We do dishes using about 1-gallon of water and only a 1/4 t. of dish soap.

- Keep an inventory. I do this in my Price Book. That way I know we already have 3 containers of catsup, so I really don't need to purchase another - even if it IS on sale. As mentioned by Sue, I don't very often purchase something that ISN'T on sale. I shop at home from my pantry for food preparation. Purchases are on-sale/loss leaders/manager's specials that store in the pantry or freezer.

Even little savings will add up.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:23AM
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Thank you to all of you. I am going to study all your suggestion and try to implement some of them.
My husband was a trucker for 30 years and he ate on road, very picky but getting better. Doesn't like anything new , just a meat , potatoes, man. I do get salads in at least once a week, I like just about anything, and I do allow myself at least on Meal on the tab a month for me, Just to eat someone elses cooking. My goal is to start stocking my pantry as things are on sale, I know this is probably worst time to do but have to begin. Prices here in Illinois are going thru the roof for just the staples. My son did go in on some pigs this year using my property so I am going to insist on one of the porkers to have for our freezer. Will have to have it processed. My dad used to butcher all the time and when I was small I even had my own knife. I wish I had paid closer attention. I really do not like the taste of Powdered Milk , so I need to find a way to subsitue. I want again the thank you all. You are really great people, More people need to stop and take a look at what we are paying for things in the store that are packaged that we could easily put together cheaper. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Good ideas so far. A few other ideas to keep in mind: Price per pound is good, but also keep in mind price per serving. For instance, a boneless roast is worth much more than bone-in. Compute waste into your end cost calculations. Also, sometimes you can find "individual" serving sizes can actually save you money. For instance, one of my "treats" is occasional snack/junk food. Rather than buy a big bag of potato chips which will go stale quickly when opened, I buy the single serve bags of the assorted chips/popcorn/cheese curls at Aldi. That lasts me 4-6 months and satisfies my treat desire. Certainly more expensive than buying a big bag of generic chips, but factor in the waste (as mentioned before) it still is cheaper. A friend has young kids and buys sliced cheese rather than block since a kid's slice is a slice whether 1/32" thick or 1.5" thick! Granted, they could slice it for them, but they splurge a bit on that with a compensation.

A calculator, pen and paper are your best friends for shopping. Just because an endcap says it's on sale doesn't mean it's a good value.

Frugal living is not something learned or embraced overnight. It's a lifestyle that you get into more and more. Accept that now and then you'll get fooled on a cost, we all have. For instance, seeing what you think is a good buy and it turns out the size is smaller than usual, or whatever.

I always recommend the Tightwad Gazette series to people to use as a learning tool. It gives you ideas to think out of the box as they say. For instance, maybe you can't save money this week on groceries. Don't fret. But how about saving on paper towels? Start using washable rags and ween yourself off paper towels? Perhaps a different toilet paper will work for you? I, and many others, like Scott brand and there's some generics with the same ideal. 1000 sheets per roll and if you start to watch your use (don't go crazy, but pay attention) this can be a very frugal product. Again, factor in the number of sheets since that's how you use it. One roll of Scott is equivalent to 5-7 rolls of other brands. I usually buy it for about 50-60¢ per roll. Perhaps you can use some cloth napkins instead of paper napkins? Dedicate some washcloths. They don't have to be fancy. And don't make a special purchase, use what you have.

Other things, the usual turn off lights/TV/radio/stove etc not in use, unplug "wall warts" when not in use, use CFLs for significant savings. When baking, you can turn off the oven ahead of time and use residual heat to finish up.

These are all starting steps. "Baby steps" if you please. Keep calm by all means don't panic. Record your successes and pat yourself on the back for them. Pay attention to your money and compare your bills. Do you have some old receipts? Track them and see what you're paying for that can of beans, or tuna, or celery. Log prices of commonly purchased items and learn what really is a good price. If you buy something only once a year, it's not as important as something you buy weekly.

Of course don't forget gasoline. If you don't have to make that trip this time, you'll save money just in gas. Check your insurance for better prices and to see if you're overinsured.

Maybe you can share things and split costs. Do you have a neighbor that can use part of a bulk pack that saves you both money? Or can just one of you shop for both if you only need a few things? Or carpool to the store?

Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle. Have a pantry and sometimes go without? Don't torture yourself but maybe instead of a special trip to get meat for dinner, you settle for omelets for supper, or canned soup and enjoy something different.

Very important: Mindset. If you look at it as an adventure and new experience it'll go fine. If you look at it as depriving yourself, it won't. You're doing what you have to do. And be cautious of false pride. Make it known that you'd rather receive a ham or turkey as a gift instead of a souvenier plate from Disneyland.

Are you in a situation where you can share a garden? Someone can come use your land for a garden, or hunting or something and you get part of the "take"? Again, think outside of the box.

Trick yourself into saving money. For instance we often use too much shampoo for example. Take the bottle and dilute it 50/50 with water. It'll work as well and you'll cut your cost in half.

A disabled husband can present unique challenges for you. Not knowing the nature you may not be able to turn down the heat too much and use sweaters, sweatshirts, etc. But you could close off rooms that aren't in use and turn off the heat registers in there too.

There's a lot of good info in the forum. And a lot of good, caring people. It's helpful to kick ideas around, success stories, failures, suggestions and the like. I know you have ideas to contribute too. Don't be bashful! Keep on posting! Let us know how it's going!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 10:19AM
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Not liking powdered milk... Not many people actually drink milk. It's more-often-than-not used for cooking.

I've used a whey-based milk substitute of one brand or another for over 25 years as our primary "milk". The one I like the best is Morning Moo's ( It tastes like regular milk. But you need to purchase it in the 24# bucket to make it cost effective over commercial milk or non-fat dry milk powder. I use a powdered milk product for nearly everything...

- Try mixing powdred milk with regular milk 1:1 ratio works well.

- Add a little vanilla to reconstituted powdered milk, for a better flavor.

- Homemade cocoa mix made with powdered milk is also a favorite (and inexpensive) way to use powdered milk. There are also lots of recipes for flavored hot beverages using powdered milk.

- Mix reconstituted powdered milk with orange or grape juice (Orange Julius or purple cows).

- I make homemade chocolate and vanilla pudding mixes using powdered milk.

- Reconstituted powdered milk is undetected in bread pudding or rice pudding.

- You can make whipped topping with it.

Orange Whipped Topping

1/2 c. instant non-fat dried milk powder
1/2 c. ice cold orange juice
2 T. orange marmalade

Chill electric beaters and a small mixer bowl. Place non-fat dry milk powder and orange juice in chilled bowl. Beat on highest speed until stiff (4-5 minutes). Fold in orange marmalade. Serve at once (nice as a topping on a snack cake). Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Pineapple Whipped Topping

1/2 c. instant non-fat dried milk powder
1/2 c. ice cold unsweetened pineapple juice
2-3 T. powdered sugar

Chill electric beaters and a small mixer bowl. Place non-fat dry milk and pineapple juice in chilled bowl. Beat on highest speed until stiff (4-5 minutes). Fold in powdered sugar. Serve at once. Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Lemon Whipped Topping

1/2 c. instant non-fat dried milk powder
1/2 c. ice water
3 T. lemon juice
4-5 T. powdered sugar

Chill electric beaters and a small mixer bowl. Place non-fat dry milk powder and ice water in chilled bowl. Beat on highest speed until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes). Add lemon juice. Beat until stiff (3-4 minutes longer). Fold in powdered sugar. Serve at once. Makes about 3-1/2 cups. Great on gingerbread.

Check out the link below for more ideas.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 11:51AM
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I posted this link to Miserly Moms a while back. It has some lower cost meal ideas. Some meals are healthy and some are not. I've tried a couple that I liked.

Just as example how you can cook for less, here is a recipe I tried the other day from the Miserly Moms that I thought was pretty good. I had everything on hand except the lime juice. I omitted that and the hot sauce (since my kids wouldn't want it). This recipe could possibly be made less expensive by using dried beans and cooking them from scratch. I believe some people here even freeze beans so they have them when they need them. The chicken broth was saved and frozen from when I cooked a whole chicken. I always have left over corn when I open a can. A tip I picked up from these forums as that things like green onions or herbs can be purchased in the produce section and then you snip off parts as you need them, but plant the roots in dirt and grow them on the window sill. I had my green onions growing from a previous purchase so I didn't have to buy them either. The soup probably cost me less than $4 and that was the main portion of my families meal. Any leftover soup or chili can be frozen into individual servings and served as a meal at a later date.

Quick'n'Tasty Black Bean Soup

1 can (19 oz) black or black turtle beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup chunky salsa
1/2 cup corn niblets
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
Squirts of fresh lime juice (optional)
1 cup shredded Cheddar, Colby or Monterey Jack cheese
1/8 cup finely chopped green onion

Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan and heat thoroughly. Spoon into 4 bowls. Add lime juice. Combine shredded cheese with green onions. Portion on top of each serving. Enjoy!

We can still find meat below $2 if it's on sale. I try to keep my meat spending below $2.50 a lb if I can. Using meat as more of a condiment and not as the main dish helps. Sometimes I'll buy a chicken or some other meat and cook it all at one time. If I don't portion it out for another meal or two at that time, it gets eaten. If I portion it out and then hide it in the freezer, I can have it when I need it.

My focus around here is trying to buy quality or relatively healthy food and not just what is cheapest. Iceberg lettuce goes on sale more often and is usually cheaper than romaine, but I don't buy it because it doesn't really have any nutritional qualities. White bread is cheaper than whole grain or whole wheat, but it isn't nutritious either. I buy a lot of fresh fruits and veggies as snacks instead of pre-packaged foods. I also follow some of the Guidelines of the Southbeach Diet and it's suggestions. Diabetes runs in my family and so I'm trying to eat right and raise my kids to eat right. Vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower are more nutricious than corn and some other veggies and our body doesn't break them down into sugars as fast which means we don't get hungry as fast. We'll eat corn, but not often. I make substitutions in the diet because a majority of the meals call for more expensive cuts of meats or veggies. For instance a roast is cheaper pound per pound than a t-bone or cod. I substiture green peppers for red or asparagus. I've noticed when I follow the diet I don't eat as much food.

Another way I can think of to spend less and not feel deprived when eating is to try new things. My kids love Chinese food, but it costs around $40 for the family to eat out. I didn't attempt to cook Chinese food for a long time because I didn't want to buy a lot of spices and oils I don't normally use and didn't want to waste if I didn't like it. I've discovered that I can buy a pre-packaged mix for things like stir-fried rice or General Gao's chicken near the chili and taco spices. I think it only cost me about $4 to make a meal the other night using one spice packet, leftover meat and rice, a couple of eggs and a bag of frozen veggies. If I make a second dish, it's another $4 or so. If I can make a decent Chinese meal at home for less than $10, why pay $40? As I gain more confidence, I'll probably drop the spice packets and add my own spices.

This is all stuff I do for my family. It may or may not work for you. Hopefully, you find some things that do work for you.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 5:58PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

My question. any tips on buying meat cheaper.

I try to keep my meat purchases under $2 a pound. I often see Boneless pork tenderloin for $1.69- $1.89 a LB but you must buy a whole one. I have the butcher then slice it, and maybe cube some of it, or leave a big piece for a roast, and then pack and freeze it in smaller portions. I frequently see 3 LB boneless/skinless frozen chicken breasts for $5.

I really stock cheese, about any kind when it is $2 to $3 per pound. It keeps a really long time.
I stock bacon when it is $2.50 or less and freeze it too.

I buy salmon on sale, for salmon patties...yum!

Tuna on sale (but name brand) for tuna salad...yum!

Eventually when you get a little stock built up, you will have numerous choices from your freezer, all of which was bought on sale...and the same way with pantry items, and toiletries, cleaners.

I very, very, very seldom ever buy just one of anything on sale, unless it is a 12 pack of double roll toilet paper.
If it is on sale, I'll usually buy 2-3 anyway, depending upon the item, and its shelf life. I discovered marshmallows go stale before they are even opened. I don't stock crackers ahead either.

A couple years back I found the 16 OZ cans of pumpkin (name brand) on sale for 39 cents. I think I got about 15 cans. Someone said I'd never use all those before they were outdated. I bake a lot of pumpkin pies, and had all them gone well before the expiration dates.

I'm just always alert to anything that is a good buy that can be stocked in the pantry, or frozen.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:45PM
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Any tips on keeping meat under $2.00 per pound. YES!! Buy from the producer.

Now -- it takes a freezer and approx $400-500 upfront for the expense. But the most I have paid per pound finished is $2.05. Now -- that is not $2.05 for ground beef -- but also $2.05 for chuck roast, t-bone steaks, round steak,and prime rib. And I don't eat choice beef -- all the beef I eat is organically raised prime beef.

You have to understand beef cuts -- you have to be able to make soup using a soup bone (personally, I like shanks better than knuckles)-- know how to cook a round steak or stew meat. But 1/4 beef last us about 14-15 months.

You said you live in Illinois -- there are still a lot of small local lockers that could hook you up with a producer. And most lockers will take EBT cards.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 1:29PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

The loss leader boneless skinless chicken breasts here are still 1.99 a pound. I always stock up with lots. We use that for lunch meat too and I try to be creative with my chicken recipes. Even though leg quarters are cheaper, I throw away so much fat and bone that I think the boneless are a good price. I know I can make broth but I don't use much broth.

Adding beans to different meat dishes is a good way to stretch them and make them healthier. Meat doesn't have to be a slab of something. A serving size is generally considered the size of a pack of cards or the palm of the hand.

I'm going to say it because it is obviously something you are concerned about and with good reason. If you are morbidly obese, this would be the time to cut back.
Eat 1/3 less of what you used to eat. Visit diet forums, count calories. I have lost weight several times in my life by counting calories. I bought a cheapy paperback book that listed calories and ate only 1300 calories a day.
You know already you will feel better and be healthier and I wish you all the best!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 3:11PM
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Thank you ,thank you everyone, I will try to sort out all the info and I know i can use some of it. I think it is interesting how some of the old ways are coming back. I have just enough knowledge about how my parents used to do things, I guess I forgot. now that my kids are gone i can do things different. I guess my DH willhave to go along.
You are right about me, my obesity didn't come about by being conservative. I am in the process of have a lap band put it I hope and I will have to cut down on food intake and also the sizes and portions. Another thing that I was wondering about some of the products you use, supplements and such, where do you get them, I live in a small rural community and not a lot available, Have to travel about an hour to any health food stores and such. Again thanks for the info, and you are a great bunch of people.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 11:10AM
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Many stock prices aren't.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 4:21AM
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I also chime in on getting ahold of a copy of a Tightwad Gazette book. Ask your local library and it is worth the drive to pick it up. Just take a look and see what ideas will or won't work for you in your own situation. You want to save money on meat but overall I think saving money anywhere is a goal you might look at. Make it a game, an adventure and a learning experience. Pat yourself on the back for any and all small have taken the first step, asking for help, looking at the ideas offered and not ignoring or wishing away your situation. There are many great postings here from people who have had small steps start a big journey. Good luck and ask away!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 12:23AM
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Hi CMJ, You asked for tips on buying meat cheaper.
In addition to the good suggestions above, I would add: Look for meat sales early on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Instead of buying beef stew meat or soup meat, buy a big roast and cut it up yourself for several different uses. Ground beef can be pressed into hamburger steak size, wrapped in bacon you find on sale, wrapped and frozen individually and cooked without thawing. Ground beef is a good stretcher example meatloaf and stuffed peppers where bread, oats and rice help fill. Whole chicken that you cut up yourself is much cheaper. If you do not know how to cut a chicken, the home economists in your county should be able to help you. I agree that making a game of saving helps.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 4:32PM
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