Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Feeding Our Families with Love, Frugally

Coffee Talk Thursday

Cooking and baking for my guys is one of the most tangible ways I can show them how much I love them. While I enjoy preparing healthy, delicious, and attractive looking meals, as a one-income family, I do have to watch my grocery spending. We love lots of fresh produce, but it adds up fast. I budget $100/week for groceries (this includes paper products, cleaning products, and diapers). Fortunately, the last few weeks have been a little under, since I am now only buying diapers for one and not two.

Today, for Coffee Talk Thursday, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the ways we save money at the store.

Here are some things I do:

  • Pay attention to the sales ads. By familiarizing myself with prices, I know when a sale is lackluster, and when it's a "cart-buster." I stock up when something is at a rock-bottom price.

  • I buy store-brand items, for the most part. But sometimes, the brand is on sale for less than the store-brand. When you're familiar with usual prices, sale prices, and the best-ever sale prices, you'll know when to buy a bunch at the best price.

image courtesy Karin Dalziel

  • One of my friends taught me a tip of buying produce that's on sale for .99/lb. or less. Since sales change week-by-week, you will get variety this way. I aim to shop for produce this way as much as possible. At the same time, fruits and vegetables are some of the best foods for my family; so buying them is kind of like an investment in their health. It's still hard for me, in my frugal nature, to spend $4 for a bag of spinach or $6 for a box of clementines, but I'm thinking I should realize it's ok to pay a bit more for the right foods for my family.

  • A beans and rice night is great once-a-week, or every few weeks. You can use it as a filling in tortillas with cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, sour cream (like tacos). There are many great recipes out there, so beans and rice does not have to be boring or bland.

  • A bag of flour costs about the same as one box of cereal. Yet from it, you can make oodles of breakfasts: muffins, scones, coffee cakes, pancakes, waffles, crepes. You can make your own snacks: cookies, quick breads, and more.

  • Quaker oats sometimes go on sale for $1 or $1.50 for the big canister. I bought seven canisters, I think, the last time it was on sale at that price. I bought a 5-gallon bucket at the Walmart bakery, and I store the oats in it.

  • I use some coupons. Our newspaper is fairly small, and the coupon inserts do not have the same coupons as a metro paper includes. I go online to and print a few to use when the store has cereal and granola bars on sale. I like diaper coupons; there have been some good ones lately.

  • I try to find ways to creatively use leftovers and make new meals out of them.
image from ilovemypit

So I'm monopolizing the conversation. :) I want to hear what you do, and how you look at grocery
shopping--especially buying produce. Do you think we should just pay the going price for the produce we want, since it is an investment in our family's health; or do you sometimes grimace at some of the prices too?
(By the way, Friday will be the Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys review and giveaway.)

Let's talk!

(linked to Frugal Friday)


  1. One great thing (for us) that my husband and I have been doing is buying healthy frozen meals for him to eat for lunch. He works at home and is a part-time stay at home dad with our 10 month old son. He used to get fast food several times a week, busting our wallets and his waist line. Even when I pack a frozen meal for work, i figure it is healthier and cheaper than the cafeteria or vending machines. I have been trying to cook more for steps. I really like the idea of $.99 produce, might have to try that one. Great ideas, looking forward to reading other comments. God bless, Victoria

  2. Thanks for the tips. Also, if you have even a little room in your yard you can grow at least some of your fresh produce.

  3. we buy a lot of frozen vegetables, because we have a picky eater in our house so I can puree things like spinach and squash in just about everything she puts in her mouth to get enough in her. we do however buy fresh produce every check I do think that it is worth the investment in my families health although I do cringe at the prices as well

  4. When I look at the price of fruits and veggies and cringe, I mentally compare the price to a latte. I don't buy coffee out very often but if Im willing to spend that amount on a treat how much more willing should I be to spend it on the bag of clementines or the little bag of snap peas that my boys love?

  5. I LOVE Azure Standard for the majority of my groceries, specifically fresh organic produce. I've been amazed that I can buy organic apples for less than a dollar a pound, and OH so much more. Their prices are wonderful and their service is even better.

    Wow, grocery talk sure does make me happy...

  6. I stock up on sale items and am an avid coupon collector. My husband is the sole breadwinner if the family, and he gets laid off from work in the winter. We have 3 children to feed and another little one on the way. I have pretty much memorized when a deal is a steal in stores, so if the sale item is not really cheap, I won't buy it.
    In my opinion, many brand name items are better quality than the generic one. Top it with coupons and the final price is lower than the generic item.
    But, if there is no sale, I stick to the generic kind. Examples: paper towel, toilet paper, diapers to name a few.
    Another thing is that some stores provide rainchecks that is valid for a month. I get it jn sobeys. Within a month, if I am lucky, I might get coupons to top that sale item and get it for a cheaper price!

  7. good ideas! Produce is definitely tricky thing to get a great price on. I like your idea of .99/lb or less. One thing we do is in the summer/fall when produce here is dirt cheap (since we live in apple, peach and pear country), or FREE I can a lot of it into jars. I realize it's not the same as fresh fruit, but it does help our budget in winter when fruits are at a higher price. I also freeze fruits right after picking them (Peaches, apricots, cherries, strawberries) so I can use them later in the year.

  8. I wish I could stick to the $.99 a lb rule for produce. Right now that would allow us to eat bananas and carrots. That isn't enough produce for the week and my kids don't all like those things. I wish produce was cheaper, but I buy it anyway. I have seen prices rise from year to year as well.

    Last year apples would go on sale for $.99 a lb. The year before it was $.79. This year it was $1.29 a lb. Pears are the same way. I have seen them $.99 a lb ONCE all year. It is frustrating.

  9. I am in Canada, where produce can be OUTRAGEOUS in the winter. I check the reduced shelves for fruit, and like you, wait for .99lb sales. Mostly though, we stick with veggies, which for some reason, even out of season, are not nearly as expensive.

    Great post!

  10. This is a great list! I do most of these too. I have reduced our budge from $450 to $375 in the past year or so by really following the sales and matching the coupons to them. This is a LOT of work. I am so thankful that there are lots of "deal" blogs that do the work for me!

  11. Farmers markets - and I stock up when things are in season. Still finishing cleaning out my freezer from last summer!