Some of them here (Midwest) carry fresh produce.
Originally Posted by LMH
I've even gotten frozen meats - chicken mostly - for a lot less than grocery stores.
I've also seen some $1 stores in the Los Angeles area with quite a nice supply of fresh fruits & veggies.
if there's an Aldi near you they have great prices on produce, canned beans, canned tomatoes.
If you don't already know this, Aldi is a German-owned chain with associations to Trader Joe's.
Their chocolate is a great bargain indulgence : 9
And around here most stores will give you the BOGO price if you purchase just one of the item.
Makes a lot more sense for me - living alone - than having to deal with Twenty lbs of potatoes ;)
And if you can possibly find space, growing your own veggies is a huge savings.
When I lived in the city I grew fullsized tomatoes in a windowbox. Also lettuce & herbs.
And I understand from many other posts, that many Aldi's are clean & well-stocked.
Just not ours. It's shameful.
Maybe you could call up or e-mail corporate? Even if you still wouldn't like to shop there, I bet they'd like to know one of their stores is dropping the ball.
Forgive me for not reading all the replies as I'm sure I'll repeat some stuff, but here's some thoughts:
1. Find cookbooks and sources that BELIEVE this can be done. My favorite is Linda Watson of Wildly Affordable Organic. I do not eat organic most of the time, but Linda's premise is that anybody in the US can eat healthy and sustainably on less than the daily North Carolina food stamp allowance for a family of four. Her cookbook has saved me loads and loads. She cooks vegetarian, and although DH and I are still meat eaters, Linda's advice about how to cook beans deliciously has saved us tons of cash. Her cookbook is the best $10 I ever spent, but her online recipes/email list will allow you to try before you buy. http://www.cookforgood.com/
2. I'm a very busy person (this is a rare sick day for me!) but you can save oodles of cash by making ahead, in bulk, and freezing. I own a slow cooker and a pressure cooker, and I'm not afraid to use them. I can make enough brown rice for 5 meals, or enough chickpeas/beans/lentils for 5 meals, in less than 30 minutes in the pressure cooker. I try to keep the pantry stocked with stuff that keeps and makes for an easy meal: canned diced tomatoes, dried beans, rice, whole wheat pasta, and fresh onions (correctly stored) will easily last two to three weeks. Add in some frozen veg and boom, I've got a meal any night of the week.
3. If you're not willing to totally cut meat out of your diet, then ditto the advice to try a butcher. I would rather have 1 pound of ground chuck (meaning it's from a better, more consistent part of the cow than regular ground beef) on sale from a good butcher at $3.33/lb than the tasteless, crappy ground beef from the grocery store at $2.99/lb. Also, learn to butcher a chicken. It's not rocket science, and it's MUCH cheaper to buy them whole and slow cook or roast them in the oven. You can use the leftover meat and carcass for homemade chicken stock. And I am nuts about my pressure cooker for tough cuts of beef--it's fast, easy, and yummy.
Also look at alternative cuts or packagings for your favorite kinds of meat. Canned salmon packed in water can be a cheap alternative to fresh (watch the salt!). If you're a big fan of rib eye steak, then ask a butcher for chuck eye steak, which is literally from the "rib next door" to where the rib eye steak is cut. The chuck eye steak is hard to find unless you go to a butcher because there's only two of them per cow--and most butchers will save it for their own families, so you have to ask for it. Yet another reason to befriend your local friendly butcher. ;)
4. I am not a regular Whole Foods shopper, but sometimes the bulk bins at these high-end stores are a total steal. I can get beans in bulk, fresh spices in bulk, and other pantry staples for less at Whole Foods or my neighborhood co-op than I could at my local mexican grocer.
5. That said, ethnic grocers can be a steal for certain ingredients. Rice and soy sauce from the Asian grocer, tomatillos and green peppers from the Mexican market, etc.
6. Figure out the high-dollar "spends" in your family's personal grocery budget and try to cut those expenses. Four simple examples from my own kitchen:
a. My DH goes through dried cereal like there's no tomorrow. Instead of buying $3+ boxes of Kashi Granola, I make it at home for half that price.
b. DH and I are both crazy about fruit juice and natural fruit sodas, so we bought a Sodastream home soda maker. Suddenly, a half gallon of fruit juice is making us a gallon or more of fruit soda. The Sodastream paid for itself in a month of beverages.
c. DH and I like to eat out, but it's very price. So we've figured out how to knock off many of our favorites at home. I've got a great frozen pizza recipe (from America's Test Kitchen) that I've adapted to have a whole wheat crust and fresh tomato sauce (plus we add fresh veggies right before we pop it in the oven), there's instructions online for knocking off Chipotle burritos (go light on the cheese and sour cream), I learned to make chicken tikka masala and sesame chicken at home, etc.
d. DH loves yogurt, but even on super sale with a coupon, a cup of yogurt is 33 to 37 cents. But yogurt is super easy to make at home from milk, as is strawberry jam, so I just make them myself now.
7. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: The Grocery Game, which is a service that matches up your local store sales with newspaper and online coupons, saves me enough in one month to pay for itself for the rest of the year. If I didn't walk out of the grocery store having saved at least 50% off retail, I consider it a very bad day at the store--and that's buying mostly fruits/veggies and going very light on the boxed/prepared foods. Half the sales at your local grocery store are total ripoffs, and The Grocery Game will teach you to tell the difference. http://www.thegrocerygame.com
Believe me - I did. If for no other reason than that the store had just opened, yet was still so disgusting. And nothing had changed by our next visit almost a year later. Never received a response. Wasn't all that surprised.
Originally Posted by Mosey_2003
Maybe I'll have to drop in there again next time I'm out to see what's what &/or if anything has changed.
If anyone shops regularly at Publix, remember that if any item rings up at a different price than listed throughout the store, if you have them check prices and the rung up price is incorrect, you GET IT FREE (no cigs or alcohol).
My son has made huge scores on hams, turkeys, cheese, etc. You have to keep the prices in mind and pay attention when they are ringing stuff up.
Well, nuts then, Bacardi! That sucks :(
The chinese have a very good cuisine that makes the most of very little meat. Stir fry mixtures of vegetables with different sauces and meats.
Never heard of Aldi, but I have heard rumors that we're getting a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods.
Yes, eating healthy food, and lots of fish, is more expensive. If you don't include the fast food that some people eat. Fast food is getting expensive.
I try to eat lots of wild caught salmon and fish. As well as vegetables grown locally and not shipped in from other states. Giving up red meat was easy, as steak is dead cow. But salmon and flounder and other fish caught in the wild, and not farmed, is expensive.
Going to the smaller farmers' markets helps some. You can buy good vegetables for humans and horses there.
Never heard of any of those around here.:confused:
Originally Posted by talkofthetown
I had a fellow as a tenant who only ate meat that he killed himself by hunting or fishing. He'd eat things like backstrap of beaver, lots of squirrel and rabbit, frogs, snakes, and things that are considered gourmet meat in other cultures, and he would kill and freeze the deer limit for use the rest of the year. Fish? You'd be surprised at what fish are edible if they get on your line. You might have to get used to the taste of wild caught catfish or buffalo but they ARE edible.
Oh heck, if you make a pot of hearty chicken soup from the carcass after meals, you have at least one if not 2 more meals!
Originally Posted by Bacardi1
Also, check the reduced rack at you local market. I frequently can pick up fresh fruits and vegetables that may not look perfect but are perfectly good to eat. Check the bakery reduced rack for loaves of bread and rolls. And finally, check the meat packages, it's another place for a good deal. I will find hamburger on sale and then, because the meat is nearing its sell-by date, the manager has stuck a $2.00 off coupon on it. I rarely pay more than $1.50 per pound for hamburger. I will buy quite a bit and make a couple of meatloafs and freeze them (uncooked) and some spaghetti sauce with meatballs, vacuum seal hamburgers and if it's winter and I have the time, make a big pot of beef barley soup.
Also, when whole chickens are on sale, buy them and cut them up yourself. We would have chicken breasts, and chicken thighs and I would make soup or chicken pot pie from the carcasses. One chicken can provide 3-4 meals. (Of course, back in our "poor" days, DH would comment that he thought I waved the chicken over the soup and counted that as having chicken in the soup:eek::lol:)
Originally Posted by cheval convert
I'm a bit surprised about the other poster's experiences as well. It is normal to see things like brie,several kinds of cheeses (pepperjack, mozza, cheddar, etc), and in the meat department pork roasts, smoked hams, whole chickens, chicken pieces, etc. Dairy has all the basics - whole milk, and all the other varieties, cream, butter, etc.
Originally Posted by Mosey_2003
Produce is luck of the draw re: selection and price. Best deal I ever got was "use them now" cranberries for 49c a package - straight into the freezer! :)
Whole Foods is not cheap. They have built their brand based on the whole organic, natural type foods. I only shop there for meat, because they are one of the only places around me that actually has ground pork that isn't super lean. So if you're looking to save a buck, I would not be excited about Whole Foods.
Originally Posted by talkofthetown
Trader Joe's is pretty great for packaged/frozen foods. I don't love them for much else though-their meats and produce are not great, and overpriced. But everything else is priced very competitively and they have a pretty great selection packaged stuff you won't find elsewhere.
Do you have Winco or Food for Less out there? Grocery Outlet?
Not a big fan of Aldis either - maybe its a VA thing. Ours up north are kind of skeevy too. I've never seen anything in there I had to have, so I rarely go in.
Now, the 3rd world supermarket (my affectionate name for Global Foods), that place is great. It caters to the Hispanic and Asian community. Produce is CHEAP! Some is kind of weird, but CHEAP. It is huge for an ethnic grocery, but is not the cleanest place in the world, certainly not Wegman's:lol: They have improved the ventilation, so the fish market in the back of the store doesn't hit you when you come in the front door. Like anything else you have to watch prices. I get produce there and the occaisonal meat-type product (lots of animal parts that generally don't come on foam trays under plastic) but I almost never by "grocery" items there. Those are priced too high.
Ethnic markets, in general, are more expensive than regular grocery stores, especially for non-ethnic food. The Bottom Dollar Foods (low end Food Lion) is anything but bottom dollar. Their loss leaders are ok if you can get them, but everything else is high. Apparently keeping a store grungy and outdated is an effective way of fooling the masses into thinking it's cheaper than it really is.
I definitely plan a week's meals in advance. I live with one of my friends, and we shop together...if you have a roommate, it's much cheaper to shop together and plan meals than to buy individually.
Once I have the list together, I go through the sale flyers and choose the store that has the most items that we need on sale. That definitely helps. We were a bit bad last week about adding a few extra items and still styed under our grocery budgets.
Some stuff I wait to put on the list until I decide where to shop. For example, fruit-once I know what's on sale, I decide what kind and add it. I love grapes and they were $.99 a pound on sale, so that's what I got. If they hadn't been, I might have gotten apples, etc. Same with veggies.
I do avoid packaged foods when I can for the most part, but I do use things like canned tomatoes in spaghetti sauce because a large can is under a dollar and good fresh tomatoes to make that much are more. Yes, they sometimes have added sodium, but you can adjust for that in the cooking. I also used boxed pasta (whole wheat, not white) and cereal. For those I get the store brand unless something else is cheaper with a sale or BOGO. I don't care about brand if the ingredients/nutrition info are comparable and the store brand tastes good. I certainly don't care what the packaging looks like as long as it's not dented etc, because that can indicate problems with the food inside in the case of cans.
What I cannot do is a whole chicken. I love roast chicken, and I love to make soup out of the carcass, but I just cannot eat legs and thighs. I can't stand the taste or texture. I've tried them in different recipes, etc and can't choke them down. Even if they're breaded and fried and have sauce on them. Yuck. I wish you could buy a whole chicken breast like you can a turkey breast.
Before you despair, examine your sales receipt.
One day, as I was picking up a watermelon at the grocery store, I noticed it was 39 cents a pound. I felt annoyed and a little outraged at the price as I put it back in the bin, thinking, "I refuse to pay that much!" On the bread aisle I reached for a package of Svenhardt's (sp?) bear claws and as I picked them up, I noticed the price. It was several dollars, can't remember now exactly how much, but almost as much as the watermelon would have been. I have always remembered that incident because of my propensity to blindly, without concern for the cost, put a treat or junk food in the cart while scrutinizing the healthy stuff and screening it for value. Normally in that situation, I would never have looked at the price of the pastry, I guess because I figured it was something I wanted, damn the cost. So I put back the pastry and retrieved the watermelon.
The point is, buy good-quality food. Rather than spending your money on Doritoz and soda, buy fresh salmon or blueberries in season.
Do you know how much a bag of potato chips costs? How about a pound of hamburger? If, like me, you are vague on the price of the chips but know exactly what is reasonable for the hamburger, you might want to examine your purchases.
Originally Posted by talkofthetown
Neither of these will do much to save money on meals.
Around here Centrella is a chain that has decent prices and different levels of outlet.
Their PayLow here is bag-your-own and carries many of the same labels as their pricier Strack & Van Til stores for less including their house brand.