• Posts Tagged ‘groceries’

    Spending More For Kinder Food

    by  • November 11, 2009 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Our vacation to Australia has changed the way we eat. When we were in Australia we got to experience so much of our beautiful planet and see wildlife up close like never before. We snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, visited the rain forest, and spent the night on a free-range sheep farm. We ate local, fresh, organic produce and tried native fruits and vegetables. We dined on wild kangaroo and alligator. The connection to nature was overwhelming, and ever since we got back from Australia we have been paying more attention to what we eat.

    We used to work hard on spending as little as possible on food. I coupon-clipped like a maniac and a lot of our meals came from boxes and cans. We wanted to make a change to a more local and sustainable diet. So Him did some research and found some local CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). We signed up to obtain our meats and veggies directly from local farms. We are trying lots of vegetables that are new to us, like kale and dandelion greens. Our meat now comes from animals who live happy lives in fields with their calves. Our eggs come from free-range chickens. We buy locally produced milk in re-usable glass bottles.

    Our diet is certainly more varied and nutritious than it used to be. It also costs a lot more. A six-month allotment of meat cost over $500, which was a big leap for a woman who is used to buying bulk bags of ground beef at $1.99/lb. The eggs are now about $5 a carton compared to the $2.59 I used to spend. The only saving grace is that the automatic food deliveries have reduced the amount of overpriced junk food we used to aimlessly toss into the grocery cart.

    I am hopeful that our increased spending on food will translate into better health for us and our planet. Have you ever made an expensive change for a good cause?

    Lose Weight, Save Money!

    by  • August 21, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    About a month ago we decided to go on a health kick to lose weight and improve our appearances. For our weight loss plan, we are using free software to track calories, resulting in a plan of good old fashioned diet and exercise. One unexpected positive benefit is all the ways this is saving us money!

    •We’re eating fewer calories, so we purchase fewer groceries.
    •We’ve eliminated “splurge” food purchases like the expensive premium ice cream we used to buy several times a week.
    •Some diet foods are actually quite affordable. I’m eating Special K cereal bars for breakfast and snacks. I have a bunch of coupons for these and bought them on sale, so they were only 33 cents each!
    •We’re using our health club memberships quite a bit more. This doesn’t save us money, but it does make good use of the money we already spent on memberships.
    •With all the extra exercise we’re doing, we don’t have a lot of free time to go shopping, so we’re spending less on clothes, CD’s, etc.
    •I often receive free boxed lunches at work. I used to eat the whole thing for lunch, until I discovered that a whole box lunch has about 1,000 calories. Now I eat half and save the rest for another meal, so I am able to get two meals for free.
    •We’ve stopped buying expensive processed snack foods and started buying inexpensive fruits and vegetables.

    So far I’ve lost ten pounds! Saving cash is a nice bonus on top of it all.

    Whole Foods, Whole Budget

    by  • July 24, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    We recently tried our hand at grocery shopping at Whole Foods, a grocery store that offers natural and organic foods. While we aren’t vegetarian, we also aren’t ignorant about the pitfalls of processed foods.

    After one round through the store, we decided that Whole Foods probably isn’t for us. I quickly estimated that the basic food prices are 2-4 times what we pay at the big grocery chains, and some products cost as much as 10 times more than we usually pay. On top of that, you can’t use popular brand coupons or rebates, including UPromise. And although Whole Foods did have some items on sale, the sale prices were typically just a few cents off, not the buy-one-get-one-free kind that I hunt for.

    We estimated that shopping regularly at Whole Foods would require us to increase our grocery budget by about 100% or more. We decided that although the grocery items at Whole Foods are probably better for our health, we cannot justify the added expense. We may stop in for a few special items, like sodium-free peanut butter, but it won’t become our main source for staples.

    You Can Negotiate at the Supermarket!

    by  • June 21, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    I had no idea it was possible to negotiate prices at a large chain grocery store until today. I was in line at the deli counter behind a tiny, sweet old lady. She pointed at a small end of a ham in the display and asked the clerk to weight it for her. It was about half a pound. What happened next floored me.

    “Will you sell it to me for half price?” she asked the clerk.

    “Yes,” he said, and wrapped it up for her.

    I commented to her that I didn’t know you could negotiate the price of a ham. She told me that if the meat is less than a pound, they will often sell it at a discount. That’s because it is too small to slice and sell. She pointed out that these ham ends are the perfect size to chop up and use in a casserole or cold salad.

    You never know what you might learn at the deli.

    How Do You Save Money on Beer?

    by  • May 27, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    It is a fantastic Memorial Day weekend here in Chicago, so that naturally means bustin’ out the grill and chilling out with some tasty cold beverages.

    As Her has posted before, we save a lot of money on groceries by shopping for sale items and using coupons on those items. That is, until I head over to the liquor aisle, pick up a few bottles of my favorite alcoholic beverage, and put it in the grocery cart. What would have been 40% savings overall gets thoroughly decimated by some tasty alcoholic treats. Beer almost never goes on sale, and there are never coupons for beer. Woe is me!

    The economist in me thinks that I should just get a huge trash can, fill it with ice, and dump a keg of beer in it. I’ll be able to imbibe for weeks! That’s SAVING, right?

    How do you save money on beer?

    Thrifty Tip For Muffin Lovers

    by  • May 6, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    I love muffins. I used to stop by a Dunkin’s Donuts on my way to work almost every morning and but a muffin. My muffin habit cost me $14.25 a week! Since it was paid for out of my allowance, I quickly got tired of being broke. A few months ago I decided to change my habit and start baking muffins at home on the weekend so I would have them ready to take for breakfast every morning. It’s worked out great! Muffin mix is now a staple on my grocery list and I stock up when they’re on sale and we have coupons. Sometimes they’re even “buy one get one free” so we end up with a week of free muffins! They only take 10 minutes to mix up and 15 minutes to bake. And we bake them in the toaster oven so we save energy too.

    They’re a LOT healthier than the Dunkin Donuts muffins, too. A DD muffin has 455 calories, while the worst of the boxed mixes has 210 calories. Plus they taste better when they’re homemade. Best of all, I no longer have the possibility of opening my bag to discover that the muffin I requested was replaced with a Long John by mistake.

    Leftover Easter Ham Recipe

    by  • April 21, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    One of the easiest ways to cut your grocery budget is to simply eat what you already have. If you’re tired of eating your leftover Easter ham, here’s a easy, cheap and fabulous recipe, guaranteed to reincarnate that ham into something you’ll enjoy eating!

    Split Pea Soup With Parmesan Croutons
    1 bag of split green peas (do not soak)
    1 leftover ham bone
    2 cans chicken broth
    4 C. water
    1 leek, white part only, washed and finely chopped
    2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
    2 tbsp butter
    1 bay leaf
    1 tsp marjoram

    1/2 loaf of stale French bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes
    1 stick butter
    1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese

    To prepare soup:
    In a heavy stock pot over med-high heat, melt butter. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté until soft but not browned. Add remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour.

    While the soup is simmering, prepare the croutons:
    In a large skillet, melt the butter completely over med-high heat. Add bread cubes. Toss frequently until golden on all sides. Add parmesan cheese and toss to coat. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Remove ham bone. Salvage any meat from the bone and add the meat to the soup. Remove the bay leaf. Using a vegetable mill or food processor, process the soup with a medium blade.

    Top hot soup with croutons and serve.

    Serves 6

    One-Year Update: The Joint Checking Account

    by  • April 14, 2006 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    About a year ago we decided to combine all our income, assets and debts. This was because we were moving in together for the first time, and it seemed it would be impossible to fairly divide all the shared expenses. Not wanting a big hassle, we held our breath and jumped into the pool of joint finances. One year later, I have to say it was a great decision. All our income (salaries, bonuses, tax refunds, eBay profits, rebates, etc) goes directly into the joint account. We each divert $75 per paycheck into our own “allowance” checking accounts, so we each get $150 per month to use toward our individual wants. Individual gifts (from birthdays etc) gets divided up so that $100 goes into the allowance account and the remainder goes into the joint savings account.

    All our joint expenses are paid from the joint checking account. Every Saturday we sit down toegther, gather up the bills, decide how to allocate the funds available (which credit card gets an extra payment etc) and pay bills. We leave around $100 in the joint account to cover any additonal expenses during the week, and put any leftover money directly into our online savings account. We do this knowing we can always get the extra cash out of savings if we need it, however just having it out of sight has always prevented us from going over budget.

    Other joint account expenses include things we can both use, such as dinners out, date nights, household items. groceries, etc. We also sometimes use the joint account to pay for some new clothes if we both need to stock up on necessities and are out shopping together.

    Expenses that come out of our allowances include personal indilgences such as trendy clothing, lunches out, happy hour with coworkers, hobby supplies, etc.

    This arrangement has worked out so well that the only time we argue is when we miscommunicate about our intentions. For example, a few times I have been trying to decide whether or not I should splurge on an expensive item with my allowance. I ask him what he thinks, and he assumes I’m asking because I want it to come from the joint account. That has happened a few times, so now I’m better at being clear about where the money will come from.

    Deal of the Week – Jewel

    by  • March 22, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    This week there’s a great deal at Jewel grocery store. When you buy any ten selected frozen items, you get TWO movie tickets (valued up to $12 each) FREE instantly! To really work this deal, we bought ten of the cheapest item offered: frozen boxes of Green Giant vegetables. There are regularly $2.69 each and they are on sale for $1.25 each. That’s a great deal!

    Total cost of purchase: 10 x $1.25 = $12.50
    Value of free tickets: 2 x $12.00 = $24.00

    Best of all, there are no coupons or rebates involved. The clerk hands you your ticket vouchers when you check out at the register! Wednesday is the last day for the sale prices, so get it while the gettin’s good.

    Eaten out of house and home

    by  • January 28, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    We’ve been robbed.

    A few years ago, I bought a half-gallon of ice cream at a rather shady grocery store. When I got home and opened it, I discovered it was already half-eaten. And the plastic spoon was inside the carton. Ew. Thoroughly disgusted, I returned it to a clerk who eyed me with suspicion and asked how I knew I didn’t eat it. Trust me, I know. So now I had my money back and a good story to tell at parties, and I thought that was the end of it.

    Until tonight.

    I just opened a brand new pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream to discover it was already half-eaten. How do I know I didn’t eat it?
    1) I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, since I’m on a diet.
    2) I know He didn’t eat it because he hates cherries.
    3) The spoon marks inside are from a round-tipped spoon. Our spoons have more of a flat tip.
    4) There is a big hole dug in the middle of the ice cream. I NEVER dig holes in the ice cream, because that’s how ice crystals form and ruin the whole pint!

    So, in addition to the loss of my dessert, I have also now lost all faith in grocers. What are the odds of this happening twice? Oh God, why me! The worst part is that we are trying to cut grocery bills to save up for the wedding, so I can’t even justify a new pint. Le sigh.