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Remember when lettuce cost less than a dollar? Or when gas hitting $2 per gallon seemed unthinkable? How about when you didn't wince every time you bought that gallon of milk or a dozen eggs?

With non-organic milk costing about $4 a gallon, gas now at $3 and more a gallon and eggs more than $2.50 per dozen, families are bound to have to shop for food differently than in the past.

Long gone are the days when I went to one grocery store with my mom for all our goods. I LOVED that one-stop Publix! Now, it's off to Trader Joe's for milk, peanut butter and hummus. Costco has large packages of Cabot cheese slices, frozen burgers and bread we can throw in the freezer. Grocery store ads often dictate who has the best price and selection that week on meat, fish and produce.

In today's Post Food section, Jane Black recommends shopping around, including heading to convenience stores, to keep the grocery bills down. Also on the recommended list: Use coupons or club cards to get sale prices, stock up on sales and then freeze and consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables instead of fresh.

There's one thing about shopping around though, and that's fitting in multiple stores with a couple of kids. They'll behave for one trip to the store, but dragging them to several? That's asking a bit much.

Where do you find deals on food? How many stores do you find yourself shopping at? Are all these rising prices forcing your family to cut back on the foods you eat or other necessities?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  February 13, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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Several local stores offer whole or half pork loins for$2.00 per lb or less occasionally. I buy them, cut them up myself (all you need is a good knife) into chops and freeze them. I can cut them as thickly as I like and thaw as many or few as we need. The ends of the loins don't make great chops but I recently found a recipe for making sausage in my food processor and that's what I use the ends's not difficult to make the "patty" sausage, honest! I freeze that too.

Posted by: Angela | February 13, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Funny, I was just demonstrating to my daughter a couple of months ago how Mommy shops. She was home sick for the day, but I needed to get food (which isn't an easy feat, as noted). I got out all of the Wednesday circulars and she and I compared prices on the various items that we need. If an item we need wasn't on special somewhere, it went into the "Shoppers" column. That seems to be the cheapest place in town, but is a longer drive away from me (resulting in higher gas cost on the trip).

Once our groceries were divided into three columns for the stores that had the best prices (and Shoppers), we set out. I get eggs from the farmer's market, at a reasonable price, but otherwise there isn't anybody cheaper than Trader Joe's. Also I buy butter in bulk from Cosco, because they seem to have by far the best price there (butter is hovering around $4 for a pound also, and try eating those frozen veggies without a little butter!).

Posted by: Bad Mommy | February 13, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I am glad to hear that it just isn't my imagination that our food bills are skyrocketing.

For 2.5 people (his kids that we have for part-time count for .5) we are spending 100$ on what I consider to be pretty basic fare. We do buy some processed food like granola bars and some junk food (for my honey) but I cook supper every night of the week. We probably only go out to dinner about once a month. Right now, I am resorting to making recipes with dried beans and a little bit of meat to keep our grocery bill in the less tha 100$ range. So this week was lentils and sausage and a couple of weeks ago I made split pea soup with some cheap neck bones.

It just boggles my mind that it is costing 100$ or more for the two of us when a year ago we were buying groceries in the 75$ range or less.

Posted by: Billie | February 13, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I just wait for a staple to go on sale at Giant or Safeway, and then stock up. When Safeway had Hanover Beans on sale for 50 cents a can two weeks ago, I bought about 30 cans. When Cheerios went on sale for 60% off, I bought a dozen boxes. As long as it's non-perishable, it's totally worth doing. For milk and fruit, Trader Joe's is the way to go!

Posted by: Dakota Pants | February 13, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I find myself spending a lot of time comparison shopping and matching up coupons with store sales. We mostly buy meat at BJs, where it's much cheaper than anywhere else, and have almost completely stopped eating beef except ground beef. We've also upped our consumption of beans, though I still splurge on cans.

I live in NC, where SuperTarget and Kroger have the best grocery deals. Our Kroger does a lot of "manager's specials," where they mark down about-to-expire foods to really reasonable prices. For example, I just bought a dozen cage-free, organic eggs for $1.29, because they expire in a week. That's almost 50% off. Those kinds of deals, while unpredictable, can help us save a fair amount of money on groceries.

Posted by: newsahm | February 13, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Food shopping -- ugh. I hit Costco for bulk items, including chicken fingers and butter, as well as wine -- life is too short to give up all pleasures! For the rest our food, Blooms and Shoppers. I "fired" Giant last year -- never had anything in stock, no one to answer questions. I also find that I am buying smaller quantities of perishables -- I'd rather go back later in the week than throw away grapes or milk that have gone bad.

Posted by: Mom 2 a Hobbit | February 13, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

For those who buy in bulk, where do you store the items? My pantry consists of the 2 shelves in the laundry closet in the kitchen. I can't imagine where I'd put 30 cans of beans or a dozen cereal boxes, although I'd love to have that option.

Posted by: LC23 | February 13, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I, too, have noticed that our grocery bill is going up, up, up. But the thing that is so tough is the wrangling of 2 (soon to be 3) kids as we go from store to store.

I know that places like Wal-Mart have the best prices for things like the Earth's Best baby foods and their snacks (nearly a dollar less than our grocery store), and the local dairy has the best no-horomone milk, but most times it is not worth my time or my gas to drive hither and yon with two young kids to save a few bucks a week. For now, I am all about one-stop-shop (and that does NOT include Wal-Mart) until the kids are either in school or just not with me on my grocery outings.

It's sad. In the summer, I budget $20/week for our local farmer's market for fresh veggies and other goodies like eggs and maybe splurging on local meat.

Posted by: harerin | February 13, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and I do try to make our own baby foods when I can (we don't need them now), but nothing is easier than opening a jar that you have on hand when you've run out of something.

Posted by: harerin | February 13, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

The time you're spending running around to several stores for items isn't valuable? Using up gas, getting stuck in traffic, hauling stuff in and out of the car, waiting in line after in to get checked out. No, thanks. I just buy everything from one store. If it's too expensive, I don't buy it or wait until it goes on sale. I'm happily childfree (for which I thank God every day). My weekly grocery bills run less than $50 and that includes detergent, paper products, an occasional magazine. Last week I shelled out a whopping $35. I buy yogurt and fruit to carry to work for breakfast; buy lunch (usually less than $5); snack on crackers and cheese, or salad, or cold chicken for dinner. I can't eat a big meal in the evening. I've thrown out milk by the quart because it goes sour before I finish a quart.

For a while Safeway was having two for one sales on pasta. I ended up with a load of pasta and spaghetti in my pantry, more than I could ever use so I boxed it up and gave it to the homeless shelter along with a lot of canned goods and instant oatmeal.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I don't have the time or patience for the multiple-store outings. I usually do my shopping one afternoon between work and picking the kids up, which means it has to be in and out. So that means it's usually the Safeway 1/2 mi. from the school. Trader Joe's or Wegman's is a rare weekend event when I have the time to go out of my way. And frankly, even though those stores have some really good deals, they also have too many "treats" that I find tempting since I'm not there all the time, so it's probably better that way. :-)

What I do, though, is clip coupons, compare unit value prices, and religiously take advantage of store bargains. So, for ex., when the jumbo pack of my toilet paper is $5.99 instead of $8.99, and my husband's sodas are 2 packs for $5, I'll buy as many as I have room for in the house.

LC23, we have a similar issue -- old house, no giganto walk-in pantry, etc., so I can't buy huge bunches of everything. So when we did our kitchen last year, I added a 4' wide cabinet with roll-out drawers as a pantry area. STILL not enough room for the TP, paper towels, and sodas, but it helps a lot. Now we're working on turning an unused full bath (dating back to when the house was an apartment) into a half-bath and big coat/storage closet.

Posted by: Laura | February 13, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

My family spends a lot of money on groceries. Virtually everything we eat is organic and we strive to eat as many local products as possible. We have found ways to save money and still eat sustainably (e.g., purchasing a local farm share that provides weekly produce during the growing season and picking our own produce from local farms when we have time), but it's still expensive. Nonetheless, we consider food a priority. We cut corners elsewhere. New baby clothes, cable television, fancy cell phones, expensive toys and electronics are not necessities, but food is. I recognize that our values may not be right for everyone, but I think it's a question of priorities. To us, the health of our family and of the planet are worth a few extra dollars that we could have spent elsewhere. Just a thought...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Here in Nothern VA, we make multiple stops at Giant, Safeway, CVS, and Wal-Mart, with monthly hits to Costco. Some things I learned: Costco is good for bulk purchases of fresh meat, apples, and yogurt but their prices on toiletries, cereal, etc, are not any better than what you get on Giant for sales. Also, customer service is terrible - you are on your own. CVS and Wal-mart both honor coupons, which can make a good deal even better. But CVS never has a lot in stock so you need to shop early in the week, to get sale items. Finally, most places that honor coupons will take them after they expire.

Posted by: Bob | February 13, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I shop between Giant and Weis (who has the cheapest milk around). In a pinch or unless something's on sale, I will shop at Bloom which is the closest of the three. About every 2 - 3 months, I'll stock up on stuff (like snacks, instant breakfast, Fruit 2-O) at BJ's. I also buy name-brand cleaning stuff there (like Swiffer products). All the places take coupons and I try to buy based on what's on sale and what I have coupons for.

I also have found items cheaper in Target and generally don't just go out to one store. I make the "rounds" and go out early on weekends or later in the afternoon on Saturdays when the families tend to be home!

I do find that I throw stuff out because as a single person, one gets tired of it or it goes bad too fast.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | February 13, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

By making the "rounds", I should add that I don't go to three grocery stores in one day! I usually hit up Target, Michael's, PetSmart, the mall, Kohl's, etc. depending on what direction I'm heading in.

Regarding gas, I only drive 4 miles round trip to the train station 5 days a week, so I only put gas in my car about once a month.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | February 13, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

fr February 13:

>...I buy yogurt and fruit to carry to work for breakfast; buy lunch (usually less than $5); snack on crackers and cheese, or salad, or cold chicken for dinner. I can't eat a big meal in the evening...

It's cheaper to brown bag lunch, trust me.

Posted by: Alex | February 13, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

It takes a little work to compile the database, actual or in you head, of what is cheaper where. Many of the personal care products and cleaners will be cheaper at Target which is conveniently located next to my Giant. There is a problem when I have coupons because Giant doubles and Target doesn't so that has to be factored in too. Heck, Iv'e returned stuff to Target that I found cheaper at Giant 20 mins. later. Giant sells the big things of goldfish for $5.99 while Giant sells them for $7.99 - the trick with Target is sticking to your list!

Re: shopping with the kids. I go early on Sunday morning, leave the kids and dad sleeping or cuddling in bed. I pop on my iPod and listen to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me or just music while I shop. It is actually a pretty plesant experience. I do make the kids go with me about every other month - just to make them aware of how things get done. They have such a nice life, I think it is important for them to take part in some of the less plesant aspects of being a part of a family. Builds character! haha

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 13, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Divide and conquer. My wife will go to one store and I will go to another. Then, the only question is how to divvy up the kids.

Also, peapod/ are your friends.

Posted by: Bob | February 13, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Alex: Brown-bagging is so dismal and lunch is the only meal I can splurge on. We have a really nice dining room at work, daily specials, great homemade soups, deli sandwiches, salad bar. If I brown-bag I'd have to buy the food for that. Prefer not to, and I'd rather cut off my right arm than pay $4+ for a cup of Starbucks coffee. I can bend pennies in half when it comes to food. After all, look where it ends up.

Posted by: 9:09 | February 13, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I can get out under $100/week for the 2 of us and a toddler. When my husband shops, it's $150. He impulse buys and doesn't have the patience to check the cost per oz tags. I tend to go with meals in mind, but have the flexibility to adapt to what's on sale.

Anyone heard of the grocery game? I haven't done it, but I understand it's a paid service that collects all the coupons and sales for your zip code so you can get the cheapest groceries. I'm not sure if it works for people like me who refuse to go to multiple stores. I just don't have the time.

Posted by: demandabanana | February 13, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

To find out who has what on sale, you can try It looks like they have all the sales flyers for the local grocery stores, and if you're like me, not all of them come in the mail. For for those who live near a Wegman's, it seems to be the cheapest grocery store(outside of the discount stores) for meat and chicken at least. (And there's one opening in Woodbridge in July.)

Posted by: Barbara | February 13, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

those who use peapod or safeway or any other delivery option, please chime in on how it works! sounds great, but I wonder if there are drawbacks.

Posted by: capitol hill mom | February 13, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I usually do my shopping at either Giant or Safeway. We also have a Shopper's Food Warehouse, but I despise the set up, which forces you to walk through the entire store to just pick up one or two items.

As a working Mom, I often feel guilty that I don't take more time to clip coupons (they're usually not for items I buy anyway), and shop around at several different stores for the best deals like my Mom used to do in the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up. (She still does it!) Saving a dollar here or there may add up, but overall it's not worth the extra time or energy to me. I try to make wise purchasing decisions. We don't buy soda for the kids (hubby can't give up Diet Pepsi), and stay away from processed junk foods. I empathize with those folks who have limited space to store the super-sized warehouse store packages of toilet paper and cereal. (Double boxing the stuff if such wasteful packaging!)

Hubby is retired and works part-time and went to Sam's Club yesterday to stock up on his favorites. Does anyone else out there have a husband who buys vast quantities of stuff, then leaves it out on the counter and kitchen table for YOU to put away???!!! He reminds me of a cat who leaves a dead mouse at the doorstep, then awaits praise...

Posted by: 21114 | February 13, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I shop early Saturday morning. I usually buy the bulk of the weekly shopping at Shoppers. I find them overall to be the best buy. But prices have risen dramatically over the last two years. We make two trips to Costco each month. But it isn't just food. I think I actually separated out the food and the other items at Costco for one month to get a rough idea of what we pay for food in a month. For a family of three we paid $450. Considering my daughter buys lunch and snack at school each day and my husband buys his lunch at work, it did seem high. But we enjoy what we eat and we seem to be able to afford it. But with the second kid, we will just have to see how it goes. My guess it won't go up much for a while because we have to throw out a lot of food that goes bad. Also my daughter tends to be a vegetarian. So meat goes bad pretty quickly in our house. I don't like running around to different stores but I will try the Trader Joe's suggestion.

Moxiemom: I would think it would be easier to shop while the kids are in school. I would imagine the grocery stores would be dead at that time.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 13, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I was noticing this past weekend taht my grocery bill has been going up a lot lately - I shop mainly at Weis and last year for a family of 4, I could get out of there under $100 (usually around $85 - $95). Last week it was $145! One hundred forty five!!!! I have noticed prices going up. I clip coupons, and I plan meals around the meat sales for the week.

I also notice that my kids - 7 and 10 are eating more. They used to share a chicken breast, steak, chop at dinner - now they each have their own. They are also requesting different foods for lunch (they don't like to buy at school). And they are always hungry - especially the 10-yr old boy!

So, for me it's a combo. I'm buying more food, and at the same time the prices are going up.

Posted by: prarie dog | February 13, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

What about those committed to eating all natural and organic foods? That throws a whole other dimension in there. I spend about $125-130/week for 2 adults and 1 child (school-aged), plus we go out to eat once/week and take-out once/week. I'll buy lunch 2 days/week, so we're looking at about $200-210/week. Yikes.

I would probably shave $30/week off of my grocery bill if we didn't eat organic.

We go to Whole Foods and our local farmer's market. I am way too impatient to go to multiple stores and scour the circulars for sales, drive all over the place. Yuck. I think time is worth much more than all of that.

As for the single lady with no kids - I used to surive for 3 days off of 1 Chinese take I sometimes miss those days now that I must make a balanced meal everyday for lunch and dinner!!! I also find I need to eat more with kids to keep my energy level up. Does anyone else find they eat more just to tread water once you have kids? I used to eat a yogurt, drink coffee all day long and then a small dinner. Now I feel as if my body needs breakfast, lunch and dinner proper.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm the 10:25 organic poster.

I should also add that we're vegetarian. A 16 oz block of tofu costs $2.19, so we save a TON of money by not eating meat.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

our grocery bill rise about 20-25% compare to last year. before I do our most shopping in Whole food market and it is about $100 each trip per week for two adults and one pre-schooler. now it can go up to $130. I don't buy any junk food. so now I only go to WF for organic vegi, fruit and chicken. whole food's organic chicken and milk and eggs are much cheaper than safeway or giant. but their beef and pork are incredible expensive.
but I really hate this. I don't have much time to run around the town on weekend, especially with a 4 year old.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Trader Joe's quality is pretty poor.
Fruit and veggies go bad in 2-3 days there.

Whole Foods prices are better than traditional stores (for organics) and taste better and last longer than anything at Trade Joes. Also, Whole Foods milk is ust as cheap as Trader Joe's and actually better quality.

See link below on organic milk ratings:

Posted by: anti-trader joes | February 13, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

When you factor in fuel and time, it still makes sense to me to shop for food at the one grocery store within walking distance of my house instead of running all over.

Posted by: Lynne | February 13, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

capitol hill mom and Bob: I just comparison shopped a few items on peapod versus the deals listed for giant in Of four items, two were priced higher at peopod than in the Giant in-store sale. Two were priced the same. That matches previous research I did when deciding whether I wanted to use Peapod a couple of years ago. used to advertise that their online grocery shopping prices were the same as in-store. Safeway deals aren't listed on, so I can't compare the two.

I do know lots of people who use Peapod and are happy with the produce, products and service. You have to decide, though, if the delivery fee and time/gas saved is worth the delivery cost.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | February 13, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

A couple people have mentioned about throwing out food that has gone bad. This has got to be the simplest way to save money. When it comes to pershiables buy LESS. If you find yourself running out of milk in the middle of the week, you can make a special trip and remember noone will die of malnutrion if they only have water at dinner one night and you will know to buy more the next time. For meat you can freeze it, but for fruits and vegtables, start buying less. If you are worried about not having balanced meals keep some frozen vegtables on hand and a small (with a list to avoid going overbudget) mid week run for perishables when you run out of helps.
Final trick for small families and singles that I learned was if you need small quantities try the salad bar - you can buy only 2 pieces of brocolli, etc. More expensive up front but when you factor in waste again it may be cheaper.

Posted by: mom_of_1 | February 13, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I have a 10 month old and have found it so much simpler to just order from Giant's PeaPod service. They have specials and sales and you can use your regular store coupons. The best thing is that they deliver it to your door (actually, they carry it inside for me) and the delivery charge for any order over $100 is $6.95, which is worth it to me. If I go to the store, I have to find a parking spot on my street when I get back, carry my son inside and get him settled, and then head back out to carry in all the gorceries. I especially recommend PeaPod when you have a big/heavy purchases to make, e.g., cases of water, soda, dog food, etc.

Posted by: e | February 13, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

No one has mentioned El Grande as an incredibly cheap place to get fresh vegetables and meat. It is located in Springfield in the old Hechingers building. Bananas are 39 cents a pound, cabbage 39 cents a pound, avocados 99 cents each, carrots 50 cents a pound, etc. The produce is really fresh because they have incredible turnover. Just don't go there on the weekend (it's packed!) or on Monday (when they are restocking!). Also, you can get pretty good deals on bulk packages of cereal and other non-perishables from, and as long as your order is at least $25 the shipping is free. For those with storage issues, cans and cereal boxes fit nicely under one's bed!!!

Posted by: Virginia Mom | February 13, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Where in the world are eggs costing over $2.50 a dozen? I'm paying $1.79 for a dozen of jumbo-sized eggs.

Posted by: Ryan | February 13, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Moxiemom: I would think it would be easier to shop while the kids are in school. I would imagine the grocery stores would be dead at that time.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 13, 2008 10:15 AM

Foam, you are right, however if I go later on Monday or Tuesday, then all the specials have often been cleared out by the weekend shoppers, also I like to buy for the whole week and most of my better meals are earlier in the week. Also during the week are all the SAHMs with toddlers who are super cute, but I just got done with that whole deal so a crying toddler gives me flashbacks! haha

I will say that planning my menu for the entire week on Saturday helps save a lot. I make meals, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thursday is leftovers, Friday we have pizza and Sat and Sun. vary whether we grill or eat out. I too buy the large pork loin and chop it up or giant often has steaks or pot roast, buy one get one free. The freezer is your friend. I will not,however, freeze bread like my mom did -eyuchhhck!

btw foam - since you filled me in on your pregnancy I now carry a picture of you in my head as an actual gnome who is pregnant! It's pretty funny. Kind of like Smurfette knocked up! haha

Posted by: Moxiemom | February 13, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I've used both Peapod and Safeways delivery services. Peapod takes coupons, Safeway doesnt. Safeway will deliver wine, Peapod doesn't. I've found the quality to be fine with both. You have the option of marking subsitutes or not for each item. If say, your eggs are broken or the watermelon is bad, or they leave an item out but charge you for it, you call their 800 # and they remove that item from your bill. I've learned to cut melons the minute they deliver it as you only have an hour or two after delivery to get adjustments for things like that. There is a delivery fee so you have to factor that in, but they frequently send mailers with an offer of free delivery if you order X amount of groceries.

Posted by: fairfax mom | February 13, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Ryan: Please share with us where! Here's where I pulled the egg cost from:

At Peapod, a dozen Grade A Jumbo eggs are $2.59

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | February 13, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Some other ideas for singles or couples:

Bake a whole chicken (or parts) on the weekend and nibble on it during the week. Add salsa, or BBQ sauce, or other toppings for variety so you don't get bored.

Get fresh vegetables at the salad bar if you don't eat much and it won't go to waste.

Give up meat altogether, or cut back. I often have a baked potato with various toppings for an entire meal. Cheese is very expensive so it isn't always a good alternative. I have yet to develop a taste for tofu, but if you like it, fine. I can't recall the last time I bought beef or pork.

Buy paper goods, detergent, toilet paper in bulk at Wal-Mart or one of those shopping clubs. If you can get it on sale there, all the better. That stuff keeps and if you have room to store it, great.

Keep a loaf of bread in the freezer and only take out 2 slices at a time for sandwiches. No need for the whole loaf to go stale. English muffins, butter and margerine also freeze well, so if it's on sale, stock up and freeze it.

My biggest expense during the holidays is ingredients for baked goods -- butter, flour, chocolate chips, extracts, nuts, cranberries, pumpkin. I buy all that stuff at one trip and anything leftover is frozen, like extra cranberries and butter. Flour and sugar last a lifetime in closed canisters.

Rearrange your pantry so older stuff is in front, new stuff toward the back. Take inventory once in a while so you don't keep buying new stuff when it's already in your pantry.

For shampoo, only lather and rinse once. No need to repeat. If the bottle is only half full, fill the rest with water and dilute it. Most shampoo is too thick, anyway. Same with detergent. If you're down to the last capful of liquid detergent, swish a little water around in the bottle and get out enough clinging to the side to do one more load.

White vinegar diluted in water makes a great cleaner. I keep a spray bottle full of it for spot cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Well, with a family of 7 to feed (we cook 3 meals a day and eat out once in a blue moon) we are easily spending $700-$800 a month in food. Produce and Milk are a HUGE chunk of that. My kids won't touch frozen of canned veggies. I buy almost everything except produce at Costco. We have a freezer in the basement and I can stock waffles, bagels, bread and meat for the month. We use a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm program for produce from May-October($450 for a weekly delivery all season). Then our grocery bill drops to about $450 a month.
Trader Joes and Whole Foods are both 45 min. away and not woth that trip for me. Our local store is a bit expensive, but has a playroom for my kids-shopping in peace is priceless!

Posted by: Momof5 | February 13, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

One more thing -- buy the store brands. They are just as good as national brands and about 1/3 to 1/2 the price.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"For for those who live near a Wegman's, it seems to be the cheapest grocery store(outside of the discount stores) for meat and chicken at least."

I'll second this, with a caveat. If I could walk into Wegman's and turn left, I could cut $30-40 off my weekly grocery bill. Their produce and regular food (regular cheeses, lunchmeats, breads, cereal, etc.) are a lot cheaper than my Safeway.

Unfortunately, I always find myself turning right, because that's where the good stuff is -- the homemade breads, the fantastic deli, the really good meats, the fancy cheeses, the desserts, the cookies, the premade foods, etc. As they say, a man's got to know his limitations. And since mine appear to be fresh-sliced mortadella and stinky cheese, I just need to stay the [bleep] away most of the time. :-)

I also like Wegman's because I can get everything all in one trip. I love Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but I hate the fact that I can spend an hour there and STILL need to go somewhere else for the dang Charmin. So those I only do those when I don't need paper products or other staples.

Posted by: laura33 | February 13, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

One more thing -- buy the store brands. They are just as good as national brands and about 1/3 to 1/2 the price.

Posted by: | February 13, 2008 11:19 AM

Some are just as good, some aren't. You have to check that out product by product. Generic Honey Nut Cheerios are nasty but plain cheerios are fine. And some aren't as good but good enough. It kind of depends on the generic and your taste.

Posted by: Random Mom | February 13, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Their produce goes bad that fast because their produce is REAL, not the engineered, preservative filled produce you see mass sold at places like Safeway. It's about the quality, not the quantity. I stop by there about twice a week to get produce, as it is on my way home. You just don't buy so much stuff that you can eat it within a week.

Posted by: To anti-Trader Joe's | February 13, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I mean CAN'T eat it within a week. It's close to lunch. I need to eat some of my Trader Joe's-bought produce to feed my brain.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

We buy most of our groceries at 3 different stores, although usually only 1 or 2 in the same week. A lot of cereals and snacks seem to be cheapest at Target, for instance Honey Nut Cheerios are about $1 cheaper per box at Target than at Shopper's which is already cheaper than Giant. Shopper's is our default store and is usually cheaper but Giant usually has better produce. Giant does have some good sales sometimes though which can rate a trip. One helpful thing for us in terms of cutting the grocery bill is going back to cash. If we take $100/wk to the store, you're forced to account for it every trip. When we put groceries on the credit card, we'd go more often and spend more. We had months where we spent $800 or $900 for groceries using the credit card just because we weren't so conscientious about it. Now we're spending $400-$500 because when you're out of cash, you're out of cash. That's for a family of 5. So we're working on being more disciplined with planning.

Posted by: Random Mom | February 13, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid you'll have to move -- to South Carolina.

Posted by: Ryan | February 13, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Shopper Rockville Pike
Safeway Kentland
Safeway Route 28

All good value
Shop Wed if you can that is when new produce is delivered either Tues night or Wed Morning

Never shop Monday - bad produce and meat items need to be changed over.

Helpful hints - someone in the Grocer business 25 years going

Posted by: edra | February 13, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Kind of like Smurfette knocked up! haha

Posted by: Moxiemom | February 13, 2008 10:48 AM

That is hysterical. I am real short (under 5 feet tall). So now I feel wider than my height! Actually, I just started showing and everyone announces to me, "your pregnant." As if I didn't already know that.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 13, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

No one mentioned shopping at Super H in Fairfax. Super H has the Number one, hands-down best deals on quality produce in the area. Better prices on EVERYTHING. Better selection on EVERYTHING.

In Silver Spring they have a smaller, but still usable store called Han An Rheum or something.

SUPER H people!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Before you consider running around to multiple stores for deals, you have to consider, what is my time worth?

Posted by: teach1 | February 13, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Stopped by Giant for essentials on the way home last night; 2lbs of coffee, 4x12 packs of beer and a couple of lottery tix. Came to $90. It's a world gone mad.

Posted by: TonyR | February 13, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Being a blue-collar, single-income family, I'm trying to find ways to stretch the pennies as far as possible, and the rising prices of gas and groceries are no help! We also live in a small town (population 3000 or so), so there's only one grocery store in town, but Weis serves us well. For staples such as meat or pasta, we wait till it's on sale and stock up. We also do that pork loin trick, which makes for much better-tasting chops than the presliced stuff. We also have a vegetable garden in the backyard, and I try to grow as many of our veggies there as possible, freezing them for the winter. This year I'm also planting blueberries, strawberries, and maybe a cherry tree to give us more free fruit. Others such as black raspberries, wineberries, and blackberries I pick myself from patches along the roadsides, and what we don't eat at the time goes into the freezer. Most of those go to making homemade freezer jam (with the exception of grape jelly, we haven't gotten store-bought jam in years!) We also make our own spaghetti sauce, most of which goes into the freezer for later as well. Grocery shopping itself isn't too painful...we usually wait till all four of us (we have two kids) can go at once, or I do minor errands after dropping off our older kid at school since I have the car out then anyway. Eating out? I can't even remember when the last time we did that was, and if we ever do, it's limited to something like the Dollar Menu at McDonald's. There's no fast-food chains in this town except for Subway (which I don't count because it's a lot healthier than BK, McD's or Taco Bell), so unless we go to the little mom-and-pop restaurants or lunch counters in town, we eat at home (all the time). Trips to the county seat where all the big stores and malls are only happen once every other month, and we don't get much simply because we don't have money for extras. Not to mention who can afford 24-mile round trips to shop all the time these days? Store coupons and Sunday-circular coupons are another of our cost-cutting measures. Whatever other ways we can cut corners on prices and live simply, we do.

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | February 13, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I like to shop through Peapod. I make a plan of what we'll eat for the week and sit down and order it. When I get the food section of the paper I read the recipes. I like to let my shopping list be centered around what I want to cook, not what is on special.

I can more than make back the delivery charge by eliminating impulse purchases. I think Peapod has particularly good ground beef.

That said, their fish prices are high and I will make a run to a regular Giant for that.

I make occasional runs to Trader Joe's for fancy things. I like to cook with nuts and fancy oils/vinegars and TJ seems to be a good place to purchase those.

I don't try to save money on groceries, I try to shop and cook so we have a healthy diet and don't throw a lot of food out.

For me multiple trips to stores, relying on coupons, and buying at Costco-type stores resulted in impulse purchases and purchases of things I didn't like or need and ended up throwing out.

Posted by: RedBird27 | February 13, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I know there aren't as many options in the DC area, but I've discovered that in the spring, summer and fall Farmers Markets are really the way to go to get cheap, locally grown produce and local baked goods. You easily pay 1/2 as much for the in-season produce at a Farmers Market.
2 recent books, Omnivores Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable Miracle highlighted the presence of local farmers in Virginia that would love your business.

Leesburg had a pretty decent market on Saturdays if I remember correctly. Nothing on the scale of the farmers market we have here, but we could pick up everything we wanted for the week.

You're also more likely to get organic produce without the Whole Foods prices and meet the actual people responsible for growing your food. It's also an excellent learning opportunity for children who think food comes pre-packaged to learn about where food actually comes from and how it grows seasonally.

People in the DC area are quite lucky. (I didn't know how good I had it until I left!) You have a long growing season, some good soil and some excellent farmers whose fields haven't been turned into more subdivisions. Support them, support energy independence, and support healthier and cheaper eating for your families.

Posted by: MadisonMama | February 13, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Having said all that, my god I miss Wegmans. Good meat, good produce, great prices, incredibly choices for everything and great, efficient customer service.

At least that was my experience at the Sterling Wegmans.

Posted by: MadisonMama | February 13, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

We do most of our shopping at trader joes, since it has the best prices on the things we use the most (read: milk and yogurt), and we can get in and out in 20 minutes. But the PP was right- the produce is awful. Apples are mealy (they come from new zealand!), and other stuff is frequently shot in a day or two since it's been sitting around a while. This summer I plan to do a csa so this won't be an issue.

I hate going to the big grocery stores (safeway, giant, etc) because it takes forever, I can never find anything, and then I have to wait in a 15 minute line to get out. I swear it takes me like an hour to buy 3 things at safeway.

Posted by: reston, va | February 13, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

MadisonMama- Takoma Park and Dupont have some pretty good farmer's markets. The TkPk one is open year round. GREAT meat, bread, and cheese, very good produce, and the egg line is LONG, so they must be good.

Has anyone shopped the TkPk coop? I've lived in TkPk for almost 3 years and have yet to go!

RedBird- Great point about peapod preventing impulse purchases. I keep considering it, but the initial set-up/first list is going to be annoying.

Posted by: atb | February 13, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

LC23 -- My husband and I have the same problem, as do my parents. What we both have done is put in shelves in the basement or some other out-of-the-way place to store the overflow bulk purchases. If you have a small apartment, maybe a large Rubbermaid container that could either go on a porch or balcony or double as a sitting bench could hide some of the extra stuff?

Posted by: Jessica | February 13, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I recently stopped buying cereal and little packages of yogurt. Breakfast choices are now oatmeal, cream of wheat, or yogurt. I buy quart packages of plain yogurt. Last summer/fall I made freezer jam--strawberry, peach, and apple butter--so we mix jam (or maple syrup or honey) with plain yogurt (can also go in the oatmeal or cream of wheat). I sometimes make egg salad, which can become sandwiches for breakfast or lunch.

I buy whole chickens and cut them into parts. Beef is a rarity, and is bought in bulk and repackaged. Cheap cuts of meat tenderize nicely in the pressure cooker.

The big deal is milk. Between my two girls and me, we drink about 2 gallons of milk a week (three in the summer). I don't know how to reduce the amount of money we spend on milk. I have horrible memories of dried milk from my childhood, and anyway, I don't think it is much cheaper than buying a gallon.

I'm a single mom so I have spent years dragging kids along. Now they are just old enough to stay by themselves for an hour while I go, but I don't feel comfortable going to Wegman's (cheaper, but takes 20 minutes to get there, so it adds to the time away from home and is extra gas getting there). I usually do one big run a week and stop at other stores on the way home from work for just a few items that are on sale.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"The big deal is milk. Between my two girls and me, we drink about 2 gallons of milk a week (three in the summer). I don't know how to reduce the amount of money we spend on milk."

If you are drinking more in the summer that means it is more about thirst than nutrition so try water, ice tea or anything else that isn't heavily sugar.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

You can blame much of the increase in food prices on Congress's idiotic push for corn-based ethanol. It has driven up the price of corn, corn-based products, corn-fed animals, and non-corn agricultural products (because farmers are switching from, say, soybeans, to corn).

Posted by: Ryan | February 13, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I like to think that I am saving money by making things in bulk and eating leftovers, excuse me, planovers. A big batch of soup is dinner for two nights and can be lunch several days. Same with a casserole. A potato, cheese, and ham bake (kind of like hashbrowns, but more substantial) can be dinner one night and breakfast for a couple of days. Sometimes I am creative enough to change the format, such as putting something into a stirfry, or a casserole, but not always. I can usually use part of a whole chicken for one dish (occasionally two dishes) and the rest of it for soup.

The big thing, though, is that I am trying to send lunch to school with my kids more often than letting them buy the school lunch. There frequently is just a little leftover of something, and one of my children often requests that for lunch the next day (in her thermos). School lunches are really getting expensive, so this helps a lot.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"'The big deal is milk. Between my two girls and me, we drink about 2 gallons of milk a week (three in the summer). I don't know how to reduce the amount of money we spend on milk.'

If you are drinking more in the summer that means it is more about thirst than nutrition so try water, ice tea or anything else that isn't heavily sugar."

No, more in the summer is because we eat lunch at home in the summer and not at school. Of course I'm paying for them to buy milk at school, but it is part of the lunch price, so not as noticeable.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised at the number of people who seem to be focused only on the cost of the food they buy, rather than the quality. Like some posters, we try to buy local and/or organic whenever possible and make trade-offs elsewhere in the budget. The cost is definitely higher, but the quality is vastly superior.

For those concerned about cost, cut back on the meat and ditch anything processed! We are not vegetarians but make an effort to NOT make meat the center of the plate. Beans/legumes, vegetable-dishes, pasta, and even eggs are cheaper, healthier, and better for the environment than meat. And, yes, our kids eat those foods.

Posted by: Capitol Hill | February 13, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I want a Wegman's near me! I live in Alexandria, near Old Town...we have a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, both of which I love, but I still suffer from Wegman-envy :-)

Posted by: Me | February 13, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

re: milk- the prices on milk can vary a lot between stores. I know a gallon of organic milk costs about $2 more at safeway or giant than trader joes or whole foods (yes, whole foods is cheaper for this!).

We drink a lot of milk also, I would say we are currently going through about 5 gallons a week (I am expecting twins and have been encouraged to drink a minimum of 6 glasses a day to get enough calcium and increase my caloric intake.) Too bad we don't have space for a cow.

Posted by: reston, va | February 13, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

For those who want a good local source of milk products, go to They are located near Fredrick but have weekly delivery routes all over the DC area. Great, home-delivered milk in glass bottles! Also, yogurt, cheeses, butter, meat, etc. Not cheap but great quality, no hormones/antibiotics, and LOCAL.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

does south mountain creamery deliver to VA? Last time I called them, they wouldn't.

Posted by: va | February 13, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

VA 1:32 - Depends on where in VA. I know that they have routes in Arlington, Alexandria, and Tysons/McLean. We live on Capitol Hill and had to get 50 families for them to start a route. It took some leg work (I didn't do it!) but the organizers used mostly local listserves, etc. Now, they have over 100 families on the Hill.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

OMG- I just checked and they do!!! I have been emailing them every few years for a while now and finally gave up. I am really excited. I have been fantasizing about milk delivery in glass bottles like my entire life. It is ridiculous how excited I am about this.

Posted by: va | February 13, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in PG Co in the 70s - we had someone who would delivery eggs, and I think we had a milkman for a while - not glass bottles, but a big plastic just with a spigot on it. Does anyone else remember this?

Posted by: Me | February 13, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Just checked out the S. Mountain creamery -Looks great! Am excited too....

Posted by: Me | February 13, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

All these tips are so useful. We are Indian, and I have noticed staples like tea, cinnamon, rice, nuts, even baking powder, etc. are cheaper at *some* of the Indian/ethnic grocery stores. (some very good ones in Fairfax or Langley Park). I just bought a four pound bag of kidney beans for $2.89. Of course, going to yet another store only adds one more trip to the list.

Posted by: Savitha | February 13, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Super H and El Grande are owned by the same people ... and yes, they cannot be beat for fantastic prices on good, fresh produce and meat. Regarding the price of milk, my family mixes full-fat milk with equal parts water, which reduces the price by half and gives you milk that tastes like skim milk. We did this years ago at the suggestion of our doctor because our little boy was drinking 6 to 8 cups of milk a day, which was way too much. For someone who needs the calcium and/or calories, this suggestion would not work. This type of "milk" makes excellent sense for kids who throw out the milk from their cereal bowl.

Posted by: Virginia Mom | February 13, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

posted today:.....My weekly grocery bills run less than $50 and that includes detergent, paper products, an occasional magazine. Last week I shelled out a whopping $35.

Do the math a little better and you'll stop patting yourself on the back!

4.99 x 20 = 99.80 a month, lunch 49 x 4 = 196 a month other grociers & ...................sundrys

~ $300 a month. for one person. ummm

Posted by: Fairy Ring | February 13, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

We shop at Whole Foods for my organic lactose free milk and organic cheese. I peapod the rest. We have a Giant within walking distance and we go there when we need something quick, but I found that the best way to save money for us is to plan our menu 5 days in advance and stock up for those days. That kind of trip is too difficult with two toddlers and two working parents, so I pay a few bucks for peapod to shop for me and deliver every week. I save the cost of delivery in one day of bringing my lunch from home.

We just don't have time to go to several stores or even to spend more than 30 minutes in one store. The kids would go nuts and by the time we got home, cooked, and ate, they'd be nuts again because it's way past their bedtime. Weekends are good for a shopping trip during their nap, but we are all tired and want to take a nap or at least to get a moment to clean the bathrooms and do laundry.

Posted by: DC Mama of 2 tots | February 13, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Fairy Ring: I don't buy groceries every week. That $35 to $50 amount is twice a month when I get paid. Lunch averages $4 a day, once in blue moon it's $5. So $50 x 2 = $100 for groceries; lunch is $80 a month. I couldn't spend $300 a month of food if I ate non-stop, which isn't the case.

Posted by: 9:09 | February 13, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't really need my groceries delivered, but it would be nice if I could place an order online, then have it packaged and ready to be picked up when I got to the store. Does any store offer this sort of service? Or should I write up a business plan and try to market it?

Posted by: Me | February 13, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Fairy Ring, you think $300/mo for one person is high? Seriously? I used to average @ $50-75/wk 15 years ago -- and, no, it wasn't exactly lavish. More like making one pot of chicken and dumplings to last 3 days. By the time you add in paper products, laundry detergent, ziplocs, shampoo, hairspray, soap, deodorant, Tampax, etc. etc. etc., there's not a lot left for the food.

Posted by: Laura | February 13, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess we have gotten so used to cheap food for cheap prices that we are amazed when we try to buy the healthier foods. They cost more. Yes, they do. But they are real food, unlike the instant, fast, boxed, prepared, convenience foods we have gotten used to seeing and buying. Hey, maybe we will stop gaining weight if we buy less, but better, foods!

Others above have also said this: You are what you eat. Our bodies are not supposed to be garbage dumps. They are living, working devices that need what they need - not whatever is cheapest.

You can spend your money on healthy food or you can eventually spend it on meds and doctors and live out a low quality of life. Your big choice.

Posted by: Made a choice | February 13, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"I don't really need my groceries delivered, but it would be nice if I could place an order online, then have it packaged and ready to be picked up when I got to the store. Does any store offer this sort of service?"

I think Harris Teeter does this.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Well, shoot. I called SM Creamery and I am 2 miles too far off their route. Now I am bummed.

Posted by: va | February 13, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Made a choice - I agree with you. I budget in other areas to afford food that is, well, made of real food. Come spring, you will find me at the local farmer's market buying fresh produce - yum!

Posted by: Me | February 13, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I buy organic foods too, but my parents never did and we turned out healthy. I can afford organic food, but many can not.

I don't think people that buy non-organic food are going to need "meds, doctors, and have a low quality life."

That's a little harsh. People do the best they can.

I will say that people that eat a lot of junk food might not be the healthiest, but even then that's a generalization.

Posted by: Response to make a choice? | February 13, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

We used to buy organic until we realized that we simply couldn't afford the grocery bill. No amount of budgeting in other areas was going to change the reality that we didn't have that kind of money - period.

My husband and I eat a little differently. He tends to eat more processed foods than I do but the amount of 'boxes' in our grocery cart is relatively small in comparison to the items that are used to make our meals. Food is just plain expensive.

Do we splurge a little? Absolutely. I really only like raw grape tomatoes (or green peppers) so I spend the money to buy a plastic container each week so I will have more raw veggies in my diet. On the other hand, we rarely buy grapes, although we love them, because they are so expensive and both of us will eat plenty of other kinds of fruit.

I am sure that we could eat much more cheaply but at what cost? I can remember spending just 90$ a month on food (and other essentials like toilet paper and shampoo) 10 years ago because that was all that was in my budget for food. If I ran out of food... oh well... I basically starved. But the diet, quite frankly sucked. The only weekly sources of protein was a can of tuna and 2 eggs along with a bit of peanut butter on my morning toast. Lunch was ramen noodles and an apple and supper was cheap pasta, canned spaghetti sauce mixed with the cheapest frozen veggies (peas, carrots, and corn) with a glass of milk. I had the same thing every day for months because that was what you could afford for that kind of money.

If I had to, I would go back to that... but right now... I try to be as economical as possible and still have some variety and fun in our diet.

Posted by: Billie | February 13, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Fairy Ring, you think $300/mo for one person is high? Seriously?

Yes, I definitely think this is high. Our family of four spends $800 per month and we are total food snobs. Ok, that probably sounds awful, but let's add in a laugh at the end.

When I lived by myself many years ago I used to limit myself to $40 per week on groceries. That's very roughly what I still spend- $40-45 per person per week.

But Costco solves this, $12 worth of toilet paper lasts 3 months. If I bought it every week, I'd pay whatever...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't think people that buy non-organic food are going to need "meds, doctors, and have a low quality life."
actually the notion that people who don't buy organic are poisoning themselves as the consumers of produce sprayed with insecticides is basically wrong.

Buying organic is NOT about what you put into your body. Buying organic is about the pesticides that seep into the soil and ground water in farms. For instance, the people who work in banana plantations coming down with chronic illnesses not unlike agent orange exposure. I'm no doctor, but I believe that almost none of the pesticides on bananas make it past that thick skin. Ditto with citrus fruit.

Strawberries are another consideration because of their skin.

The pesticides are hurting the environment and hurting us all as a group, so the elimination of them is important, but you won't change it until a LOT of producers create organic farms.

Does everyone see the difference? Organics help the environment, but if you lived next to a farm that used pesticides, you could eat all the organics you wanted, you'd be exposed to pesticides via the ground water. What would need to happen is that producer would have to see the value in selling organic produce to an audience and then your groundwater would improve.

Does that make sense?

Posted by: DCer | February 13, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else here keep kosher? Prices for kosher meat will really wow you if it's not what you are used to! I was absolutely thrilled to get ground beef for $3.99/lb (if you buy 10+ lbs...there's that extra freezer!) the other day. Boneless skinless chicken breasts at Trader Joes are a HUGE bargain at $5.99 or $6.99/lb. Of course, no need to buy any type of pork products, but steaks and other cuts of beef start at $7.50/lb and go up to $12/lb or more.

Keeping kosher you also really have to be a planner, because the local grocery stores don't carry kosher meat. I plan trips to Trader Joe's, Shoppers, or Wegmans occasionally, or a few times of year to one of the kosher butchers in Maryland.

Posted by: nvamom | February 13, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

We have a locally owned "natural food" grocery and they have spices in bulk. They are a LOT less expensive than the pre-packaged ones and fresher too.
Does anyone use a weekly menu on a regular basis? I tried and it helped but couldn't keep up doing it.
I totally agree about keeping packaged and prepared food to a minimum. We keep some on hand but try to minimize it. But after all, when everyone is exhausted it's less expensive to use prepared food than to go out!

I use my bread machine a lot, too. I find it's much less pricey than buying bread (I buy the yeast in bulk too!) and tastes better. My daughter likes for me to make dough in it and when we get home she makes rolls or bread sticks. Extra rolls and sticks go into the freezer and are fished out for lunches (if you use rolls for sandwiches, slice them BEFORE they go into the freezer).

Posted by: Angela | February 13, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Probably not the politically correct answer, but where we live (way south of y'all), this is what HUNTING is for. We have a freezer full of deer meat and as a result, our grocery bills are very low. That and a few more veggie meals than usual during Lent (lentils, beans, rice) and we're set. I'd love to know more about the whole milk thing though -- we buy 3 gallons a week, for three kids -- but I have a friend who told me her kids drink twice that much. I have another friend who tells me that she rations it and cuts her kids off when their limit has been reached. How much milk do your kids drink?

Posted by: justlurking | February 14, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Responding to JustLurking: I'm not sure if your question was addressed to my post about adding water to whole milk to make "skim milk" at half the cost, but if so ... I only have one child, but he and my husband each drink a gallon a week. So I get one of those two gallons for "free" via the method I described. It really does taste like skim milk, but it is a bit of an adjustment if you are not a skim milk drinker. The important thing is to ensure that your children get enough calcium from their total diet -- this milk will offer half the usual amount (obviously!), so consider yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, broccoli, etc. If you are eating fairly healthy anyway, it's probably not a problem. I save $150 a year on just this one item on my grocery list!! By the way, I envy your freezer full of venison -- I think it is really tasty!!

Posted by: Virginia Mom | February 14, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I was just trying to explain to my husband last week that grocery prices are sky-high right now. He never grocery shops, so I think he was having a hard time believing me. I'm going to have to forward this on to him!

My in-laws are here right now so I just bought food for four adults and a preschooler for a week. Sticker shock - big time! :-)

Posted by: PLS | February 14, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Justlurking: We buy 3 gallons a week for two adults and one child. Our daughter and my husband drink Organic skim milk and I drink lactose free fat free milk. Both choices are very expensive. I think Organic fat free milk is 4$ for a half a gallon. So $8 for a gallon. I do buy the generic brand of lactose free fat free milk. I am waiting for a generic Organic milk for a cheaper price. Sometimes we buy milk at Costco which is a little cheaper but I found their milk goes bad faster (even before 7days)-regardless of sticker date on the carton. I would never limit my child's milk in take based on price. I would cut out things like chips, cookies, and snacks before cutting out milk. But that is me. My daughter only likes milk and water.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

PLS: I sent my husband to the grocery store last month for weekly shopping. Get this, he found it STRESSFUL and expensive. I guess I will be doing all the shopping from now on.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 14, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I have noticed the price of milk going sky high lately, so I started cooking with reconstituted dry milk instead of using fresh milk. In cooked recipes I don't notice a difference in the taste and it works out to be much cheaper. I'm single, but I'm still on a budget so I seldom go out to dinner, and take lunch just about every day. I'm big on shopping the warehouses for staples and non-perishables. I'm fortunate that I have a basement and an extra freezer for storage. I shop my local green grocer for the fresh veggies and fruits, they are conveniently on my way home from the Metro station. I have analyzed chasing down the bargains, but I've found that with the price of gas hitting close to $3.00 per gallon it isn't cost effective. I make a list, check the sale paper for my local grocery store and use coupons.

Posted by: Single Shopper | February 14, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Re: milk. Do adults really need this much milk? How about drinking water? Unless you're uber-active, you could probably do without the extra calories, and you can get Ca2+ from other sources. If you do want to cut it, go 50/50 with dried milk. Full disclaimer: I HATE milk and have as long I can remember, so the idea of drinking it is borderline horrifying. I have a toddler who needs it, and the smell is something I don't think I'll ever get used to. She doesn't like soy, so I'm stuck with it. It really is expensive.

Posted by: atb | February 14, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

For the person who wanted to know where to store bulk purchased items----try under the bed.

Posted by: MarianKay | February 16, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

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