Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
Since the New Year is only a couple of days away, I need help saving money and really becoming frugal, especially when it comes to food shopping. Any ideas? I am only shopping for one, but money is really tight!
By Lynda from Kearny, NJ
I find it useful to sit down and work out the cost of meals I make by adding the price of various ingredients used. Sometimes it can really be an eye-opener. Other factors come into play too, like how many leftovers I can get from a dish. Meals based on pasta and rice are usually cheapest to make, as are soups.
Having a menu plan for the week is also really helpful. I can plan up a list for grocery shopping and if I stick to it I don't usually need to spend much at all. It's when you buy food on the fly that it gets expensive because you just grab whatever is nearest!
Also, have a good look through your cupboards and freezer to see what you've got on hand. No need to buy staples like pasta or canned tomatoes if you've already got them. Keep an eye on the price per pound of food rather than package price to work out what kind of value it is. Store brands are usually cheaper and just as good as national brands. Good luck!
Lynda - here is a short list of my best suggestions to keep food shopping costs to a minimum.
1. Plan your menus, first. This will help you avoid impulse purchases.
2. As you plan menus, check sales flyers, web sites and coupons for bargains: Remember, it you don't need it, it's not a bargain, even if it is on sale.
3. Keep menu items in weekly menus in like minded "families". For example, if you are making a potato dish on day one that needs fresh rosemary, add another recipe later in the week that also calls for fresh rosemary so that you don't waste the leftover fresh rosemary.
4. Shop on a budget and use cash: It's too easy to spend an extra $10.00, $20.00, etc., if you use a checkbook or debit card.
5. Don't assume that "buying in bulk" is always the least expensive option. Take your calculator to the store and verify the per portion savings before blindly throwing a big package of something into the cart.
6. Never shop when you are rushed: Take the time you need to make wise choices.
Hope this is a helpful "food for thought" place to start and good luck with redefining your "frugal lifestyle." You will be glad you did and I wish you the best of luck! :-)
Go to angelfoodministeries.com and see if there is a center in or near your area. The food packages are extremely reasonable and the quality is good.
If money is really tight, you might qualify for food stamps, or EIC. If you make too much for food stamps, but not enough to eat well, here is a local food pantry in your area: RENAISSANCE FOOD PANTRY Site: 22 Wilson Avenue, Kearny, NJ 07082 Phone: 201-998-9460. You can give them a call and find out what their qualifications are.
I'm sorry, it's not EIC, it's EBT. Anyway here is the link to get information on food stamps in New Jersey: http://www.stat rams/foodstamps/
I am in NJ too. Get the weekly circulars for your local supermarkets (they are online if you don't get paper ones) and plan your shopping according to what's on sale.
I save money by eating considerably less meat. I eat more beans, rice (brown), grains (whole), pasta (mostly whole grain). (By the way, they are not always "cheaper" but they are better for you and might save some doctor and hospital bills later in life, so you have to factor in that "cost"). I buy the best food possible, for the money. fruits, vegetables as opposed to potato chips, soft drinks. I watch sales and plan menus around them. Cook most of your foods as opposed to buying already made up meals (TV dinners, etc).
Check out the www.hillbillyhousewife.com. site. It has a lot of frugal ideas and a site I use often. Good luck and hope you gain lots of insight.
Does anyone have suggestions for ways to save money these days? I am particularly interested regarding things like, food, pet products, lotions (dry skin in winter)?
By drew from Piedmont, AL
Yes! The best money saving trick is with Kroger. At least with the one in my area, the first Wednesday of every month is senior day. You get an extra 10% off all groceries.
I am not a senior but my mother is. I usually assist her on these days but there have been a couple occasions when I have gone without her. I take her Kroger card and get the discount at check out. If you are not over 64 you can apply for a card for someone who is and ask them to let you use their card. Kroger usually supplies 2 or 3 cards per application so you could hold onto one.
We shop for three and she stocks up at the beginning of the month on these days. She has saved up to $140.00 on one occasion (counting coupons, sales and senior discount).
Also, if you get a Kroger charge card and have spent $100 dollars on groceries you can get 15 cents off the cost of gas at their pump. I drive a full size van so filling up usually saves me 6 or 7 dollars a fill.
Meat always seems to be the most expensive food items in my grocery cart and when my step-kids were younger and still lived at home, I began one night a week making a meat-less meal (like homemade chili w/o the meat). By doing that I saved at least 5 bucks a week. Also, like another poster said, stock up when the things you use go on sale. Yes, it seems expensive when you start doing that but the payoff in the long run is worth it.
Over the course of a year it really adds up. Coupons don't seem like they save you much but if you consistently use them and added the cost up over a year, I think you'd be shocked at how much money you didn't spend. I get coupons from a booklet that comes in our Sunday paper and our local stores offer sales ads with coupons in them every Wednesday.
I know this probably sounds weird but I keep track of every coupon I use, the amounts I save when I buy something on sale or when I buy in bulk and when I get up to the check stand to pay for my purchases, I write the check for the amount I owe plus the amount I saved. I keep a small note pad in my purse and my checkbook has a calculator and I just add up my savings while I'm waiting in line or shortly before I get to the checkout. It just takes a minute. Anyway, when I get home I take the money I "paid" myself - the amount I saved on groceries - and I put it in a tea tin on top of my fridge. I also do this with the money I save on meat-less meal night.
Once every 3 months or so, I put it in a savings account and once a year we use it for something fun or sometimes to pay off something we bought. Right now, we've not spent the amount we saved in 2009 and after checking the balance in there I have almost $500. I've done this for at least the past 15 years and yeah, I admit, it's easier to use a debit card but I tried that and would keep forgetting to "pay" myself the savings amounts so it wouldn't feel like saving does when I have tangible money in the bank.
One last thing: I live in a rural area and once a year we buy either a quarter or half a cow and have it butchered and packaged and that saves a tremendous amount. It's almost like I'm giving myself a dollar (or more even) every time I use a package of meat. It much less expensive overall than what's in the store. Also, I have them put half the hamburger in 3/4lb packages and when I make spaghetti, lasagna, chili, etc where it calls for a pound of meat, I only use 3/4 of a pound.
You don't really miss the 1/4lb and since most people consume more protein than they need, I feel like I'm doing myself a favor health-wise plus for every 4 times I do that, I'm saving a pound of meat to use for something else. (just an aside here: the money I save from this doesn't go into my savings account I mentioned above). I hope this gives you some good ideas! Cheers!
What am I missing here? People talking about how they save using coupons. The town I live in (not a small town, close to 250 thousand people but no one doubles coupons. When I do get coupons they come from the Sunday paper and there is seldom ever more than one or two that I'd use. Most coupons are for cleaning supplies and prepared foods' stuff I don't buy. You don't see coupons for fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and meat. I save the most by buying store brands, generic items, and reduced to clear meat. I do use coupons for major dept stores like Kohls and Penneys.
Hi. I have lived on a very low income for years and have started going to the dollar stores before I go to the grocery store. You can get a lot of your items much cheaper than the grocery stores. Then things I can't find there I try to have coupons or watch the store ads. I never buy a regular price. Always sale items. When it is on sale buy a few and keep on hand. Then the next week buy the sale items again. It really works out in the long run. Good Luck, Barb from Michigan
All the above suggestions are good. I would also add this: We have 6 major grocery stores in our area. When the weekly flyers arrive in your mailbox invest the time to read each one's 'specials' of the week. After a while you will become quite familiar w/each store.
The 'sale prices' vary widely from each store.
Use a Marker & circle those that appeal to you &
make 1 wkly trip hitting all of them (ergo saving gas) to buy what you need. Split your order if
you are only allowed 1 thereby getting 2 of sale
My parents went through the great depression and one of the things my mama taught me is still great advice : shop and eat the loss leaders! These are the items that are on the front page of your grocery ad. The stores purposely make very little on these items to get folks in the store. Try it and see if you can cut your grocery budget.
Also, make a list and stick to it! Don't buy anything that isn't on the list-or,if you must, buy just one thing that isn't on the list. You'll be surprised how much you can save. Also, I buy two when things are on sale. For example, spaghetti sauce. Then I don't have to buy it the next time when it maybe isn't on sale. Be flexible.
KJABLUE I don't know if you are still on here but I love the advice you give for savings. How does one go about buying a whole cow? Most of our grocery bill is meat, mostly beef (thanks to the hubby) but when I shop I always go for the bogo deals and my husband doesn't understand. But I can get a bag of boneless skinless chicken for 20 bucks and get one free, that for the 2 of us is like 8 meals. When the kids are home, 5 or 6. But I love the idea of paying yourself and I think I might start doing that! I use coupons religiously and save a lot, though I have had to change the way I shop, plus I buy a lot of store brand items because my store gives tickets for so much off your next purchase if you spend so much in store brands.
I am rather aggressive when looking for prices and shop online often. But how does one save money on food? I don't mean Costco, I mean really save. Food is so expensive now.
Try growing your own vegetables? Buy cheaper cuts of meat, or cut back on meat consumption, and learn to cook those (often) tougher cuts. Make more things "from scratch" instead of buying prepared items such as soup, rice and biscuit mixes or even entire meals. Make your own pasta sauces. I'm not for a minute suggesting you buy these high-ticket items but if you do, consider getting back to basics?
Wish I had some grocery saving tips myself. I have a Sams membership but in most cases I think they are more expensive than grocery stores when on sale. I do buy toilet paper and paper towels there. I buy a lot of food at Big Lots but you have to watch for expiration dates. I clip VERY FEW coupons because I don't buy much prepared food. For cleaning I use vinegar and use vinegar in rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. I buy a lot of store brand items.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Know the price per ounce of all food and cleaning supplies that you purchase. Example: vegetables 4 cents per ounce, meat 10 cents per ounce or pine oil cleaner 2 cents per ounce.
Would like to know some tips on saving while buying grocery. Also I am a vegetarian so any special tips on buying grocery for vegetarians?