Saturday, January 12, 2013

What I'll Spend for Food

My Price Book


Prices on food have changed a lot in the last few years. As our income has continued to decrease, I chose to stick closely to certain prices.

With a $100 a month budget (for 9 people) to spend on food, including stocking up, I have become pretty strict about how much I will spend on certain items. For many things, this means buying that item in season once a year only, and freezing or canning it. I do not always have $100; sometimes I have nothing for the month, and sometimes I have $200. I have averaged spending $100 a month for the last 2 years. This does not include toiletries and diapers, for which I average $65 a month.

Here are the current prices above which I will not pay (that means if it's higher, it's not going in my cart). If there is a range of prices (say, .79 to .99) I usually will only pay .79 (or lower, if I can find it, and I look) but I realize that sometimes, the best price is .99. I will buy less at .99. I won't go higher than that:

(To those who use the metric system, I sincerely apologize. The United States measures in pounds and ounces.16 oz. equals 1 pound. 1 pound equals 0.453592 kg.)

Produce:

In general, I like produce to be $1 a pound or less, but here are my specifics:

Russet Potatoes: .10 to .20 a pound. I always buy these in a 10 pound or 20 pound bag, and I usually find them for .99 for a 10 pound bag in November, when I buy 400 pounds and keep them in the garage through the end of January/beginning of February. I will occasionally find more at this price during the year and buy some then, but not so many, as it is too warm to keep them for long.

Apples: .99 a pound is the highest I will go, but I aim for .50 to .79. I usually buy these in one week in fall and make applesauce. I have often found a good price for them in spring for one week, too, when I have also made applesauce.

Carrots: .45 a pound, usually in a 5-pound bag for this price

Bartlett Pears: .25 to .75 a pound. Some years they only go as low as .99 a pound. I will not pay more than .99 a pound. These are ripe sometime between July-September, and usually at the end of August. I have been seeing 2 different weeks of a good crop come in each summer; usually one July and one the last week of August/first week of September. I buy 80-160 pounds and can them

Peaches: .79 a pound. I get peaches in May and in July from our two trees, so we mostly eat those, but I will buy in July/August (whichever week they are ripe) for canning.

Bell Peppers: These rarely make it in my cart because they have gone up so much. In the last year, however, I have found 2 sales at Winco, and I bought these again.They were .10 each then; I will not go above .58 each, but I aim for .40 each or less. Other stores here usually only go as low as $1 each of even $2 each; I won't buy them at that price. They are very difficult to grow here; I try every year but it was so hot that I didn't harvest from putting plants in the ground in February until December last year, and then only a handful of TINY bell peppers (the heat makes them very small and prevents them from flowering). I will not be growing them this year.

Tomatoes: I do my best to grow these, but with the heat, they don't make flowers or set fruit for most of the year. I put plants in the ground after Valentine's Day. I will purchase them for .50  a pound or less if I can find them and my plants are not producing, and if I have the money.

Lettuce: In general I try to only eat lettuce from the garden, because it is so high, and we eat so much. If I decide to buy lettuce at the store, I usually stick to Romaine hearts, around $3 for 3.

Cucumbers: Rarely purchased (though I love them) as they are usually too high past my price point. If I find them for .33 each or less I will rarely purchase them. The only kind that does well in the heat in my garden is Armenian Cumumbers. I will be planting this type again in my garden this year.

Onions: .20 a pound

Clementines: $1 a pound, in season only

Oranges: .20  to .99 a pound. in season. I stock up when they are .20 a pound and I try not to go higher than .33 a pound. Oranges will last 3 months in the fridge or in my garage in winter.

Limes: I try to buy limes in a bag from the .99 store (my mom always picks these up for me). There are usually 12 limes in a bag. If not, I aim for .20 for less per lime.

Lemons: I grow Meyer lemons and freeze the juice. If I need lemons beyond that, I aim for .33 or less per lemon, and I can usually get the best price (.20 per lemon) by buying them in a bag.

Broccoli: This had become too high for us, but when Winco was built last year, I went looking for this item specifically, as I had heard that they have lower prices on this item. I have found it for .49 to .79 a pound for just the crowns at Winco. When I found them that low, I bought a whole lot, blanched them and froze them. Before that I was buying frozen broccoli from Target with a $1 off 4 coupon, making it .75 a pound (and mostly stems).  We can eat a pound or more per meal. I had not been buying much the last few years, especially when it went to $1.49 pound here, which is too high.

Peas: I have been buying frozen peas for $1.89 for 2 pounds on sale at Fresh and Easy. This is .95 a pound. My family really loves these peas and we are starting to eat 1 1/2 pounds at a meal. Remember that peas are a great source of protein.

Corn: I usually buy canned corn on case-lot sale or on holiday sales in November. .49 a can to .58 a can. Corn does not grow well here; it it too hot for ears to form. Corn doesn't like temperatures of 116º for months.

Grapefruit: .25 to .33 each. These are only this price in season in winter; I will buy a lot then if I am able to do so.

Bananas: We eat through bananas really quickly; a bunch of bananas has 6 bananas, so they are all gone in one sitting. I don't buy these very often, as they are usually .59 to .79 a pound here, but when I find them for .49 a pound or less I will get them if my budget allows it.

Asparagus: We all love asparagus. I planted some in my garden and I have had 2 plots die that were producing in the past. I will only buy them for .99 a pound in season; they don't go lower than that. I planted a lot more asparagus plants last year, so in a few years I hope to be harvesting again.

Watermelon: My family likes it, but it is pricey, and I find it is only best in season. I will buy it maybe once or twice a year at .25 a pound (usually around the 4th of July).

Honeydew and Cantaloupe: I will rarely buy these ins season at .49 a pound or less,  but not as often, as they are usually much higher than that.


Dairy:


Cheddar Cheese: $2.50 a pound (Sam's Club, often $2 a pound in spring/summer)

Mozzarella Cheese: $2.50 a pound (Sam's Club, often $2 a pound in spring/summer)

Sour cream $1 a pound (Smith's)

Milk: Milk has become a rarity here, but I will occasionally buy it for $2.79 or less.

Butter: I buy unsalted butter for baking from $2 a pound or less (Sam's Club and/or holidays). Last year I found it really low in summer at Sam's Club and stocked up. I rarely use it as it is very expensive compared to margarine.

Margarine: I like spreadable margarine for putting on toast, potatoes, pasta, and using in cooking. I pay around $2.65 for a 3 pound tub of Blue Bonnet or Gold N Soft. This is a regular price at Walmart for this size.

Eggs: .99 a dozen. Prices are rising rapidly on these and sometimes the lowest I'm seeing is $1.25. I will rarely make an exception to go that high. I usually wait until they are .99 a dozen (about every 3 months)  and I buy 13 dozen and I make them last as long as possible. The American Egg Board says that eggs are good for 4-6 weeks past their expiration date, so don't be afraid to stock up!

Pasta


Pasta: .49 a pound to $1 a pound. About the only pasta for which I still pay $1 a pound is Farfalle. I can usually get everything else for .49 to .79 on about 3 sales a year.

Meat:


I don't buy meat over $2 a pound, and I generally stick to meat under $1 a pound in order to have meat and stay within what we have to spend.

That said:

Turkey:  .49 to .79 a pound (I stock up in November for the year; this is our main source of meat)
Ham: .79 to .99 a pound (I stock up in November and December for the year)
Whole chickens: .69 to .79 a pound

Boneless skinless chicken breasts: These have become rare for me to purchase. They normally go on sale for $1.99 a pound, but once or twice a year we may see $1.69 a pound. If I have the money, I will stock up then. I saw this price recently but was unable to do so.

Pork Loin Roast: This has gone up in recent years. I look for sales of $1.89 a pound to $1.99 a pound, which are getting harder to find. I love this cut of meat but we only have it a few times a year now.

Ground beef: I did not purchase ground beef at all in 2011 because it was too high. A friend of mine pointed out a sale in 2012 for $1.99 a pound. I bought 20 pounds once in 2012.

Bacon: A rare purchase, but I can sometimes find a store sale at $1.49 to $1.99 a pound. I will freeze any that I buy

All other cuts of meat have risen above my price point, so I have stopped buying them, as they are too much for our budget. I used to be able to buy pot roast for $1.89 a pound, but now I cannot find it lower than $2.49.




Bulk items (purchase place listed behind them in parenthesis):

Bulk items vary in price depending on the year and crop production. They have risen quite a bit in recent years from what I have paid in the past. Stocking up on these items can help you weather price changes for a long time, as these items last quite a while. I looked up current prices online to give you the most recent prices that I am seeing. Some are higher from when I stocked up on these last year.


All-Purpose Flour: $8.23 for a 25 pound bag/ .33 a pound (Sam's Club)

Bread Flour: $8.27 for a 25 pound bag / .33 a pound (Sam's Club)

Granulated Sugar: $12.34 for a 25 pound bag/ .49 a pound (Sam's Club)

Brown Sugar: $2.97 for a 4 pound bag/.75 a pound (Sam's Club)

Powdered Sugar: $2.98 for a 4 pound bag/.75 a pound (Sam's Club)

Yeast: $4.68 for 2 1 pound bags/ $2.34 a pound (Sam's Club)

Salt: I buy a 4 pound box at Sam's Club. I have bought Kosher salt the same way but Sam's no longer carries Kosher Salt, so I will be looking this year.

Spices: I generally buy most spices at Sam's Club. Prices vary per spice. I also grow several things for fresh usage in my garden, including basil, parsley, thyme, tarragon, and more. You can see my garden list here.

San Fransisco Herb Company for poppy seeds, mustard seeds, and cream of tartar, all just under $2.50/pound.

I have bought spices in the past from Herb Products Co. I looked them up recently and they just went out of business after 30 plus years. When I run out of the herbs I still have, I will have to search for new sources for several of htem.

Popcorn: Until last year, I paid $17 for a 50 pound bag of popcorn (Sam's Club). That lasts up one year. The month after I purchased it, I noticed a different brand and a new price of $25 for a 50 pound bag. Corn production was poor prior to that, so I will have to see what prices are when we are getting low this year (around June). For those who are wondering, we use this stovetop popper. We've had it for 4 years and it has been great. We use it at least once a week.

Long-grain White Rice: (Sam's Club) $9.23 for 25 pounds currently. We go through 50 pounds a year, though this looks to be increasing. That is .37/pound.

Basmati Rice: I bought a lot of this several years back and I haven't bought any since then as we are still well-stocked.

Vegetable Oil: $6.78 for a gallon (Walmart)

Olive Oil: $14.58 for 3 Liters (Sam's Club)

Balsalmic Vinegar: $6.48 for 1 Liter (Sam's Club)

Vanilla extract: $6.88 for 16 oz. (Sam's Club)

Cornstarch: $2.35 for 35 oz. (Sam's Club)

Baking powder: $5.78 for 60 oz (Sam's Club)

Black Beans $16.80 for a 25 pound bag (LDS Cannery)

Pinto Beans $18.55 for a 25 pound bag (LDS Cannery) .742 cents a pound

Cannellini Beans $16 (LDS Cannery)

Kidney Beans: $1.25 a pound. (Winco)

Lentils: Brown lentils are cheaper than red or green, and easier to find. .79 a pound (Winco)

Oats: The current price I am seeing is $15.95 for 25 pounds at the LDS Cannery. Last year I stocked up for $15.35 for 25 pounds. A couple of months later Winco had a sale for $9.50 for a 25 pound bag, but I already had bought 75 pounds (which is what we use for the year). I am well stocked for all of this year and into next year, so when I run out, I will compare again.

In October 2005, I made a very large bulk order from Walton Feed that included red and white wheat, powdered milk, powdered eggs, and mung beans and alfalfa seeds for sprouting. I bought some powdered milk locally in May 2009 (Kroger Brand in a box), but that kind does not go as far as the kind from Walton, which mixes with twice the water as the kind from the store. I anticipate buying more powdered milk and powdered eggs in bulk sometime this year, so I will be comparing prices again. To read more about the different types of powdered milk, see my page here. I still have plenty of mung beans, alfalfa seeds, and wheat.

Swiss Chard
 

Items I don't buy because I eat them from the garden:


Grapes. I only eat ours when they are ripe in the garden. If I was purchasing these, .99/lb would be my limit

Green Onions. These are ready all year round in the garden. They can even be grown in pots. I harvest the outer stems and let my plants continue to grow; they will eventually go to seed and reseed themselves. I bought 2 six-packs of starter plants in 2007 and I haven't bought any since.

Swiss Chard: I harvest this year-round from the garden. I grow the Fordhook Giant variety.  I harvest outer leaves and it continues to produce all year long from the same plants (though growth is mostly stopped in winter; when it warms in spring they grow vigorously again).



Were there any items that I left out that you would like to see included? I'm sure I've forgotten some items. Let me know, and if they're something I purchase, I will add them to the list, or if not, I will respond why not in the comments.

175 comments:

  1. I am amazed at the differences in prices from region to region. We were getting red and green peppers all summer long, 3/$1, and they were huge and fleshy. I never pay more than .99 for a head of leaf lettuce (romaine, red or green leaf), and usually it's .88. We are like you, and grow what we can here - carrots, potatoes, apples, peaches, squash, pumpkins,green beans, etc. - and even though I'm not LDS, they do let me buy from the local cannery. I've gotten beans and oats before.

    I wanted to mention that if you can find a 'buying group', you can get deep discounts from Walton. I belong to one that is local to me (http://providentpeople.net). We fill one semi, sometimes two, and we hire our own truck, which saves a ton on shipping. Also, Walton give discounts as much as 40% for big orders like that. The amount of the discount depends on the item, but it's signficant. It takes a work on our end, but everyone works, and it's not bad at all.

    My family is much smaller than yours - just one child and the two parents - and I find that I can get us enough of things like AP flour, sugar, etc, at holiday time for a cost that is less than buying at Sam's. That's partly because our volume is lower than yours would be, and I can combine a sale and double coupons to make the price per ounce lower. That might be the better choice for smaller families. :)

    We do stovetop popcorn too! I've also heard that you can mill popcorn for corn meal (I put my mill on 'coarse' and get something between corn meal and corn flour - it's very good in corn bread), but I am not going to try it until I run out of the yellow dent corn I bought from Walton.

    I find herbs in the strangest places. Our ranch/feed store has great prices on them, for example. I grow some here at home too, and buy some in bulk from various places.

    Best to you!! :)

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    1. Normal sales prices on bell peppers have gone up to $1.49 to $1.99 PER PEPPER here! Winco was built last year and I have been very grateful for lower produce prices there (about the only thing I purchase there, and a few bulk items).

      When I bought from Walton Feed in 2005, I did a big group order like that, too, when they sent a truck.

      Lettuce has gone up to $1.49 a head here. Years ago it was .99, and even .89 sometimes, but no longer.

      Also, we live in the desert, so nothing is actually grown locally at our grocery stores. It all has to come out of state (quite a bit from California, as well as Washington and Idaho--the potatoes). Gas prices affect our food prices.

      Prices definitely vary by region! I have had readers lament my "lower" prices, but then tell me that they can find boneless skinless chicken breasts for less than I find turkey, so it really does depend where you live!

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    2. I've been grinding my popcorn and I love getting the finer texture. Last time I bought we got a 10lb bag for around $6. I hope we can find a good price when we run out in a few months.

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    3. Last time I was in Oregon visiting family, we stopped by a cash and carry. They had a 50lb bag of popcorn for less than what we were paying at costco. (costco doesn't have bags, just the 10lb jugs). So if you live near a cash and carry, you may want to check that out.

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    4. I grind plain popcorn (5olb bag from sam's club) to make cornmeal; which makes wonderful cornbread.

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  2. Thank you for posting this. Where I live in Alaska, things are so much higher priced that I now realize I was unrealistic trying to copy your $100 a month food budget. Yesterday, carrots were $4.99 for 5 pounds, for example. I do have a huge garden and can, freeze or dehydrate a lot of produce,but not enough to make it through the winter...Your listing of prices gives me a good way to calculate what it would take me to buy your $100 worth of food here, so will help me be more realistic. Thanks for all the work you put into this post.

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    1. Alaska prices are MUCH, MUCH higher. I would encourage you to find ways to grow more (possibly using trellises to grow upwards) using the space that you have.

      Also, if you can grow berries and you aren't, that would be a great way to get more from your garden.

      Next time, please include your name with your post. I'd like to know who you are!

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  3. I just bought some black beans in bulk from Emergency Essentials. I looked high and low and could not find a better price. I used a gift card to save so it wasn't too bad. I would love to find a better price on black beans in the Midwest.


    Honeyville seems to have an okay price on lentils bought I would love to find better prices.

    I buy a lot of stuff at Sams. However, sugar is a better price at Aldi's for me.

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    1. We don't have Aldi's here. I know several readers mentioned some lower holiday prices on sugar the last few months. Each time I compared to Sam's, and Sam's was still cheaper for us. We each have to do the best we can with what we have!

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    2. The every day price at Aldi is better for me over Sams. I also find that they have a great price on fruit.

      Sams is great for cheese, bulk rice, oil, and flour. I also buy tp at sams; however, the past few months I've found a better deal on Amazon.

      A lot of your prices are better than ours but being in the mid west we save a ton on meat. I can regularly get organic pork loin, pork shoulder, chicken breasts, bacon for under $2 a pound. Organic/grass fed beef from $2-$4 a pound depending on cut.

      You do such a great job with what you have. Keep up the good work:)

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    3. Hi Nora,

      I'm in the Midwest as well, and order quite a bit through Country Life Natural Foods in MI. I have purchased directly from the store when I'm in-state, but they also have several routes set up for delivery through the Midwest. I have been very happy with them. Just a thought! Their site is: clnf.org.

      Hope this helps!
      Shani

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    4. Thanks, Shani. I'm going to ask around and see if others might be interested in going in on an order with me.

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  4. Brandy have you checked prices that the business center Costco near NLV? I had a friend take me there last year and was amazed at the prices of some items. Also if you can check prices online at Sprouts or at ethnic stores. I price match some produce at Walmart. Red bell peppers were always on sale in the summer for 3/$1.00. I like the fact you know the qty your family eats per year. I am trying to keep track of this . Just an FYI the LDS church is building a huge pasta plant near my house. If pasta isn't offered at the cannery yet I wonder if it will be. My son and I were at the grocery store yesterday and he wanted grapes. I asked him to weigh the bag, it weighed 2.5 lbs. at $3.99/lb. I couldn't do it. Instead he agreed to navel oranges at .79/lb. I grow a lot in the summer and try to buy some staples at rock bottom prices, then I either can, freeze or dehydrate what I have. With almost 3 ft of snow on my front lawn I am anxiously planning our garden for 2013. BTW do you have a dehydrator ?

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    1. I don't have a Costco card; I only have Sam's at $35 a year. I know a lot of people like Costco more but I found that many of their prices were higher, and that they didn't have bulk popcorn, plus their membership was higher at $100 a year. People have told me that they "get it back" but it depends on how much you spend, and I don't spend enough.

      I have heard about the business Costco but I have never been with anyone who has a membership there to compare prices.

      Walmrt had peppers for $2.99 EACH the last time I went looking, but since Winco was built, I have found some good deals there. Price matching at Walmart has been a pain for me; I want large quanties and they make me unload every singe box for weighing, which means bruised produce for canning. The grocery stores and Winco will just let me buy the entire box and will use the weight amount from the side of the box. I haven't done oranges there because Walmart prices oranges individually and will not price match oranges per pound from another store.

      I never buy grapes in winter! Always apples and oranges. Grapes are too high and not as good when they are imported in winter.

      I don't have a dehyrator, but I am hoping to eventually get a specific one with Amazon credit. I don't dehyrdrate a lot of things so it hasn't been a priority for me.

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    2. Costco offers a cheaper membership at $55.00. Also, I believe that anyone with a Costco membership can go to the Costco Business Center. If you get the $110.00 Costco membership, you get 2% back on everything you buy there, and at the end of the year we usually get back enough to make our membership around $40.00 per year.

      http://www.costco.com/join-costco.html

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    3. I live in northern AZ and have both a Sam's and a Costco. I took my list and price-compared them on two different occasions after we moved have about a year and a half ago. Sam's was overall 15% lower, in addition to the lower membership rate. I do want to note that I have not ever lived close enough to either store to be in the habit of buying fresh fruits and vegetables there, so I did not compare those items. When I am in Sam's for my other items, if I see good prices on fruits or vegetables, I will buy them, but I have noticed that sometimes they are quite a bit higher than Walmart. You need to make sure you know what a good price is. Items that I compared included flour (white and bread), black olives, nuts, peanut butter, butter, a protein bar my husband eats, Tide (have since started making my own, most recently with Brandy's recipe), and toilet paper. I had more items than that, and my list on the two different days was different, but that's an idea of the kinds of things I compared. I know that prices vary by area, and may also differ based on the type of items that you buy, but that was what I found with the things that I buy at Sam's. I also find shopping at Sam's to be a generally nicer experience. Both times I went to Costco the checkout lines were huge and the people in the parking lot were very aggressive.

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    4. April, you and I have compared prices before, and I don't want to pay for both memberships, so even though I could walk to Costco, I still go to Sam's. You said Costco doesn't carry the bulk popcorn, which prety much sealed the deal for me. I do like the Costco baby wipes, so I have my mom pick those up for me, since she has a Costco membership and lives next door!

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    5. Shiela, Costcos is closer to me, but Sam's is not very far.

      I generally don't buy produce at Sam's, because I find it to be higher. Costco is MUCH higher on produce but they also carry organic produce. I compared several items before and April and I have compared items since then. So far I still am keeping my Sam's Club membership :)

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    6. Brandy, I have heard that if someone gives a non-member a Costco gift card, the non member can use it...and just pay cash for any overage/difference. I don't have either membership - we are just too small a family to have either pay for itself....plus Sam's does those occasional 'anyone can shop today' days and we go then for a few things that are better priced for us.

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    7. We have a Costco card, only because my husband is provided one by his work. I go there a few times a year, mainly for t.p., ziplock bags, and occasionally chicken, fish or cheese. I don't think the chicken is cheaper, usually it's because I need a lot for a specific reason (like mother-in-law-s large group birthday party) and my stores don't have any on sale right then. Right now, cheese isn't on sale around here, hasn't been for a while, so I'm heading out there to see what it costs there in the next week or do.

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    8. I go to Costco because they carry things that we use. We had a Sam's Club card for two years but I only went there once. They didn't have what I wanted and I didn't like it. I like to buy organic when I can and Costco has a lot of organic items as well as things like coconut oil and Kerry Gold butter that Sam's Club doesn't carry. I love their brand of detergent too. Prices vary from region to region and some things at Costco are cheaper than Sam's and vice versa. For us Costco is a better fit and it's nice that it's very close to home as well. It really depends on what you buy.

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    9. I have to add as well that Costco has great coupons and if wait to buy things with coupons then it's even cheaper.

      Does Sam's have coupons?

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  5. Do you ever buy watermelon or bananas?

    Thanks for pointing out that peas are a good source of protein. I checked the label. The fiber and protein helps balance the carbs, so I won't be as quick to avoid them.

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    1. I'll add those two above; they are rare purchases for me. Bananas are usually higher than I'd like to spend, so sometimes I will get some if I find a great deal, but they are almost never advertised in a store flyer, so I have to be at the store to see the price. If the children each eat 1 banana, that's one bunch right there; we fly through them very quickly when I get them. Watermelon is so high here except for rare summer sales, and again, we fly through it, so it's rare. It really depends on if I have the money to spend on these two items. I'll add them to the list with prices.

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  6. Brandy, I don't know if you have GFS Gordon Food Services in your area but here they carry kosher salt and spices in bulk so when my Sam's club has stopped carrying an item I can usually find it there. Rebecca

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    1. I don't know, but thanks for the suggestion! I am going to check Walmart for the Kosher salt and also I will be checking on the more unususal spices (that I used to purchase from Herb Products Co.) at San Fransisco Herb.

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  7. I love your insight! Thanks for sharing the why. It helps those of use trying to change old habits. Love your site and share it with my readers.

    PreparedLDSFamily.blogspot.com

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  8. I have been buying spices in the bulk section at Winco since they opened here. Last week I got a year's supply of basil for 42 cents. I grow tomatoes and bell peppers in Phoenix, but agree that it is a challenge. I learned to plant them in late Oct. (when the 100+ degree days were over); cover them during our rare frosts; and we would have fruit in the early spring. We made one bell pepper plant last for almost three years by planting it in an area that was shaded during the summer. Our climates are a gardening challenge!

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    1. That is a great idea on pepper plants! They have them at our nursery in mid-late February, but mine would have made it if I had cloched it. What a great idea! Maybe I'll try again! Mine are in a place that gets afternoon shade.

      I go through a LOT of bulk spices.

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    2. I buy spices in the bulk section at 2 local grocery stores--Fred Meyer, and Thriftway. They are very, very inexpensive. Sometimes I order them from Oregon Spice, through Azure Standard, which is a natural foods co-op. I just keep re-filling my small bottles.

      I cannot imagine living in a place where you can plant peppers in February!!! It sounds like you pay for it in the summer, with the high heat, though. I live in Oregon.

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  9. Will you be making this a page on your website? I would love to reference it frequently.

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    1. Possibly. I figured there might be a lot of questions, so I put it on here, at least to begin! Plus, prices change so much! It used to be on there; I WOULD like to have it back there again.

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  10. We have 7 children too and 4 of them are growing boys that can eat like crazy! My shopping drastically changed when they finally built an Aldi's here. Their prices are definately the best. I don't pay for my Sam's Club anymore because I didn't feel I used it enough to justify the money per year. We have a GFS too and it is like a smaller version of Sam's with NO membership fees. I don't go there very often but their bulk yeast price can not be beat and only matched by Sam's that you have to pay membership for. We have a local Buelhers grocery chain that I know the day they mark their dairy down so I make a trip every so often to get cheap milk or cheese that we can eat so quickly the expiration doesn't matter. Have you ever tried to grow watermelon? We did the last 2 years and they grew very well in our region (Indiana). I am not sure how they would do in yours. It was nice to eat watermelon every week in July and August ( we produced at least a dozen this year!) At $4-$5 a pop at the grocery it was worth them taking up so much space! Amy in Indiana

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    1. Watermelon is hard to grow here because of the heat; it won't flower because it is so hot here (116º in the summer, cooling to around 104º at night; we run the a/c until the end of October. Our last frost date is February 15th.) A LOT grows in Indiana that won't grow here because of the heat. Also, I have a small garden, and watermelon takes a lot of room, unless I had a bush variety. It will be 90º here in April.

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    2. I've been able to grow Watermelon in Nevada in spite of the high temperatures. They just need a lot of water. I haven't grown big ones, but smaller ones (can't remember the variety) and they were good!

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  11. Do you have any Mexican grocery stores in Las Vegas like we do here in Phoenix? I ask because our growing seasons are very similar, and thus we see a lot of the same prices at the major grocery stores. However, we have four Mexican grocery store chains here: Ranch Market, El Super, Food City, and Fry's Mercado. They have better produce prices overall and on Wednesdays they have a variety of produce marked down deeply. It's well worth it to make the extra stop if I'm in the area.

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    1. There are some at the south end of town, about 45 minutes away. I'm never down that way except for an occasional speaking engagement, so it's not worth the drive for me.

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  12. Brandy-
    I have followed your blog for a while, but this is my first time commenting - anywhere. I am so impressed by the good sense, creativity, and generosity of you and your readers.

    Let me add Sprouts Farmer's Market to the list of stores that have good produce deals. I just checked their website and they have two locations in Las Vegas.

    A fruit that is easy to grow for us (zone 5 - Salt Lake City) is the quince. It's a somewhat different, scrawny tree that we harvest after frost. Our tree is mature, over 25 years old, but it produces so much that the last few years I have been able to donate over 150 pounds of fruit to the food bank as our family has decreased in size.

    My best to you-
    Lusia



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    1. Luisa,
      I just looked up Sprouts; both are at least 35 minutes away one way, which wouldn't be cost effective for me.

      We area zone 9 here; I don't know if we have the chilling hours for quince here. They are a fascinating fruit, though!

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    2. We have Sprouts where I live too, but like you, it's too far for me to drive/save, so I just price match at the walmart that's 2 miles away. :)

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    3. We are in a completely different part of the country but it takes us 30 minutes to get into either town at the bottom of the mountain we live on. No grocery stores up here on the mountain, just a few over-priced convenience stores that we very rarely stop at. However, I called one of the local convenience stores to ask if they had any cupcake liners because I forgot to pick them up when at the grocery store last and I needed them for the cupcakes I needed to make and take to our church's fellowship meal after service. Surprisingly, they were cheaper on the cupcake liners than any of the stores in town. I may stop in there again and stock up a few pkgs of liners so I have them on hand.

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  13. Brandy, It just amazes me that living here in Ca.where 90% of fruits and vegetables are grown,and I still can't find them for that low of a price in season or on sale. We have two grocery stores in our town Raley's too expensive, and Food Maxx, the closest Winco is 35 miles away and even their prices aren't that reasonable. I have to have my sister in Carson City buy me case lot items from Smiths then haul them over here where I live.

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    Replies
    1. It's all about the overhead. Land, gas, electricity, rents, salaries, benefits...all are more expensive.

      I live in So Cal, and the local paper had an article once by a woman who went to the east coast on vacation, and found Santa Maria strawberries for less than she paid here, living <100 miles from Santa Maria.

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  14. Great post! I am preparing to do my first ever monthly shopping trip next week. I'm planning to look at your Sam's list in preparation. Thanks! You are amazing! I feel so silly that we are having a hard time feeding our young family of 5 on $400 a month. You give me hope that we can do it. We have a small garden but live in Utah where we only have a short harvest. I still have do much to learn.

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    1. There is SO MUCH that you can grow in Utah. Are you north of Salt Lake? If you are zone 4 or warmer, then you can grow quite a bit. Make sure to plant berries and fruit trees to really get your money's worth in your garden.

      Swiss chard grows to 15º. It's getting down to 20º here this week; the Swiss chard, lettuce, and green onions are all still growing fine without any covering. You can grow even more if you cover your rows. If Elliot Coleman can grow year-round in Maine, you can certainly do it in Utah! Don't forget to plant a fall garden with cool season vegetables, too!

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    2. Wow! See what I mean!! I have lots to learn about gardening! Thanks for your advice. I'll research it more.

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    3. If you are in Utah County, then you have the same climate I do. WE can grow a lot of food in zone 5b-6. I have good luck with using glass cloches over tender plants in the spring, & over lettuce in the winter. The soil here is mostly clay & rock, but you can dig in leaves in the fall, & kitchen refuse like peelings & eggshells, & it doesn't take long for the soil to change over to productive.

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    4. Because I live at a little higher elevation, my growing season is much shorter than when I lived about 35 minutes from where I do now. I recommend Territorial Seed catelog for a lot of varieties that can be grown in a short season.

      I am getting used to the shorter season (about 2 weeks on each end of the summer, so 1 month less than I had before).

      I do grow and scrounge as much as possible, from my garden and relatives who garden, to can many, many jars of fruit and veggies during the summers. I keep a detailed list of how many jars of this and that I canned or froze and count again in late spring to see how many I need to do for the coming year. For examply, we can eat about 100 quarts of green beans a year. So, I plan to grow and can that many.

      My husband is currently raising 9 pigs. One will be for us, and the other 8 will be sold. After he is finished, we will have our pig for "free" and, because he did so many this time, he will probably make some money as well. Of course, his labor counts for something, but he enjoys going out there at 6 am each morning before work:) Or so he says. It helps us so much. He raised 7 chickens to butcher this past fall and it was successful, so he probably will do it again this spring.

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    5. I have also read that Kale is very hardy and have been thinking it might be fun to try experimenting with it this year.

      Thanks, Brandy, for mentioning Eliot Coleman. I am from Maine and just looked up his info. I might have to see if I can find any of his books at the library.

      Thanks also for putting all this information together. We struggle to keep our grocery budget at $100 a week! It has really inspired me to make my own price book since prices are quite a bit different here.

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  15. LOVED reading through this. We are in a totally different area than you are (Pennsylvania) but it was fascinating to read what your buy prices are. Most of them are close to what I set as my buy prices. I'm blessed to have an Aldi close by, which has saved me a lot and also we live in Amish country and have several Amish bulk food stores where I can get things like oatmeal, brown sugar, wheat germ, spices, and other baking supplies for at least as cheap and sometimes cheaper than you can at Sam's and the like.

    Don't know if Heluva Good products are carried in your area or not, but they fairly often have coupons on their website and by combining the coupons with sales I'm able to get their cheese for $2/lb. or sometimes less. That's about the only way I can get cheese for that price.

    Thanks again for sharing this!

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    1. It's great to know that you can get similar prices there. I think a lot of areas in the country have deals if we just look for our local resources!

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    2. I also live in PA. I like to go to the green dragon, which is a big market where you can buy different produce in the summer. This past fall I was able to buy bananas for 19 cents a pound. I bought all they had and brought them home and dried them. I also purchased 11 huge heads of broccoli for 10.00 and froze that. I grow a large garden and hope to put in some fruit trees real soon and nuts. I can what I grow and freeze or dry the rest. I am totally amazed at how little you spend. I have 110.00 every 2 weeks for grocery and house hold iteam's. Carla

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  16. It's amazing how prices differ region to region and week to week. Our Fresh and Easy never had potatoes for $1/ 10lb. Here they were $2. (I still bought some.)

    I can get $0.49/lb for carrots. Broccoli was $0.99/lb last week, but this week it was $1.99/lb. I can almost always get lettuce for $0.99 a head.

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  17. I also buy popcorn from Sams club. Did you know it makes a really good cornbread? Grind it, (I have a small hand grinder), Sift out the outer husk (feed it to chickens), and now you have cornmeal. The only extra you have to do is add baking powder and salt. Plenty of recipes online for it. Thanks so much for your list.

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    1. I know you can do it. I have also heard that the Costco business place in town sells cornmeal that tastes better than grinding the Sam's Club popcorn. I haven't done either as I am the only one in my family who likes cornbread.

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    2. I never thought to grind the popcorn. We use cornmeal for breakfast and other things. It has been too expensive to buy, but my mom gave me my grandmother's cornmeal and we've been using that. I will try out grinding my popcorn! Thanks

      Penelope

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  18. No, Gordon Foods, restaurant type supply, doesn't extend that far. Its over in a few states by Michigan. Sams is probably a bit cheaper, but Gordons doesn't require a membership. I bought some salt there, 25# bag, for a little over $3. It sits in a 5 gal bucket in the pantry (for two people who will have high blood pressure shortly).

    I can't grow peppers either. . . and I'm in Michigan. We don't eat them fresh so I watch for Meijer to put them on the discounted produce rack. I can usually score a good size bag for $2, green or otherwise. I just chop them up and throw them in the freezer. I also dehydrate a few. Carrots seem to be a lot of bother for what few I come up with. The "deer carrot" deal I got this year will probably mean I never plant another carrot. I plant a lot of green beans. They seem to grow well and can up easy.

    Milk irritates me. The places with the better prices seem to have milk that doesn't last date wise. Aldi is one of them for me. Now, that said, if you are using a lot of milk it isn't a problem. We don't and I've decided its more cost effective to use powdered.

    I hope you get an Aldi, they do usually beat Walmart and Sams pricing -- they are actually all in the same parking lot for me. :)

    Frankly, I think this blog should be mandatory reading material for anyone with a family. Very few have the money to just go buy whatever catches their fancy without regard to price.



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    1. We can't grow peppers well either, the bell type. No problem with the spicier peppers. My husband is determined to grow bell peppers but they are ridiculously cheap in the summer at the grocer and just huge. The ones we get in the garden are small, very thin skinned and bitter. Probably about the size of an extra large egg. I personally don't like bell pepper unless chopped up fine and well cooked. But he likes stuffed peppers. I think the money he wastes on pepper plants would be better spent on some lovely huge peppers that I can stuff and put in the freezer for him to have as he wants.

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  19. I am always so interested to see how prices compare, I live in Pennsylvania, in a Philadelphia suburb. We have a tiny yard right up against the highway(we were pretty clueless when we house hunted and the traffic volume is quite high.) Our backyard is unpleasant but we are working on it. This spring we are putting in a privacy fence. We grow peppers( semi-successfully) because they are my husbands favorite and a green organic pepper is 2.50 cents here. Ick. Red or yellow or purple are even higher. We grow herbs( it's amazing, my parsley is still going strong!), cucumbers, lettuce, string beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, strawberries( the squirrels eat them all, we are going to try netting this year), sunflowers( the squirrels AND the birds eat those but at least they are pretty),we have tried beets, and will try again. This year we are only planting cherry tomatoes because we can get regular for such a cheap price at the farmers market and process them all at once, we are trying carrots again, and broccoli, as well as potatoes in those potato bags. We decided the CSA we belong to has a strain of green beans that is much better than ours, PLUS they have all you can pick. So this year we are planting lettuce, carrots, potatoes, strawberries( with a feeling of doom), more herbs, peppers, and yellow and green squash. Apparently they are prolific and we all like them and we rarely get enough from the CSA. For some reason we grow ABUNDANT jalapenos and they are much, much, MUCH hotter than the ones in the store. I had hoped to stuff them but they would blow our heads off. I have no idea why home grown are so much hotter. Last season was a dog's dinner, we had an infant, my husband broke his foot ugh- this year HAS to be better. I pay 3.69 a half gallon to 4.29 a half gallon for organic milk, we go through around 1 and 3/4 of a gallon a week. The best price I can find on organic butter is 3.99 a pound, sometimes I see it as high as 7.00 a pound! I pay 8.00 for a jar of peanut butter,4 for a head of cauliflower, bananas are .69 a pound. Organic bread flour is extremely costly, I pay 7.99 for a five pound bag of organic bread flour. It has taught be to be very respectful of food and careful of waste. With meat, well it depends what is on sale. Generally I pay five dollars a pound for meat. I get 120 dollars a week to spend on the household. We have a pretty set menu since I already know what we can afford to buy and what we just can't. I am very aware that a bad month for us means I have to buy regular bread flour and that is a great problem to have. As prices go up and up
    I either eliminate, substitute, or make my own. Having home canned tomato sauce has been a huge savings, as has having jam and salsa and making my own bread.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't know if Azure Standard delivers to your area, but you can get 50 lbs of organic flour for $29. You'd have to look it up on line to find out.

      I also save tremendously by canning and freezing.

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    2. They don't yet, but I am hopeful they will get here. I asked a few months ago and they said they are considering expanding. Before I realized they did not I sent away for their catalogue and was so excited. They have some excellent pricing and are great if you already know what you like and can commit to a case. But Whole Foods also offers a case discount which you can combine with a sale and coupons so I am just waiting for staples to go on sale and then I am going to start stockpiling. Whole Foods can actually be a very reasonable place to shop for organics as long as you don't get carried away and buy hand harvested chocolate sprinkled with vegetarian moondust. They have great frozen veggies that are dirt cheap, for organics. They have great prices on bulk dried beans as well. Not so for nuts and dried fruit. I almost never buy fresh produce there. My biggest savings has been on diy. I can make liquid organic hand soap for like.. 23 cents a bottle which is amazing compared to 3 dollars for 12 ounces of Mrs. Meyers or Method. It's slightly slimy but for 23 cents I don't care. Plus I can custom blend the scents sooo with lemon grass and peppermint oil for the summer to repel bugs and tea tree oil so it's antibacterial without anything creepy in it.Whole Foods also has the lowest price on milk that I have found. I stayed away from them for a long time because I thought they were overpriced, but with good planning I can find some great deals there. http://www.thefarmersnest.com/2011/11/liquid-hand-soap-diy.html I use her recipe, but when you blend it ONLY use a hand blender. Anything else will make a big mess. I tried a regular blender and it was a...bad idea.

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    3. Celia,

      I think we are in the same boat because I buy organic as much as possible and use natural cleaning products.

      Do you have a Costco near? They have a lot of organic and it can be quite inexpensive. I buy my coconut oil (Nutiva) and butter (Kerry Gold) there, as well as organic produce and other things.

      I also shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Whole Foods has some really good deals, you just have to watch for them. Last year I was able to get HUGE organic mangos for $1.00 each. They were the biggest (and best) mangos I've ever had. Whole Foods organic coconut milk is always a good price here at $1.99 per can.

      I also shop on amazon for things like organic corn meal, flour, etc.

      I make my own foaming hand soap out of natural ingredients -castile soap, glycerin, almond and essential oils. I've made the kind the you make with bar soap, but wasn't happy with the slimy consistency.

      It definitely costs more to eat organic, whole foods, but in the long run I think it pays.

      Swanson Vitamins is a great resource for natural products as well.

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    4. Celia,

      Are you near a Wegman's and,if you are, have you checked their prices? I shop at one in Maryland and our organic milk is $5.69 per gallon. I know there are several locations in the Philadelphia area and you might get some of your organic items for less than Whole Foods.

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    5. WOW. 5.69! I do not have a Wegman's near here, but there is one close to my sister's house and we go there twice a month. Organic milk usually has a long shelf life. We will go look! Usually I stay away from Wegmans because it is so tempting. Ugh, I just paid 4.49 each for three half gallons of milk today. I have been looking at Costco, we have one about 40 minutes from here but that is on the way to visit other family, so we are thinking about joining and then we could stop and stock up every other month.

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  20. I forgot to add, I am really loving your suggestion to cook with powdered milk. My grits come out much better and so does my oatmeal. Much better than with fresh milk, which does not make sense but is still true. I tried making hot chocolate with it, but I did not care for it.Maybe if I let it sit overnight.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If you mix half powdered and half regular, that might be more palatable in your hot chocolate. One way I economize with milk is to buy full fat and then water it down by adding a quart of water to it. My husband likes that better than powdered.

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    2. Hmmm, I will try that. It would be awesome if that works. Dairy is the largest percentile of our food budget.

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    3. Dairy used to be a much bigger part of my budget, but I have had to cut it drastically. I have experienced the same thing with cooking oatmeal with pwodered milk versus fresh milk. I can also use less milk (and lately we have used none).

      I have tried making your own yogurt yet? There is a great savings there. Also, you may want to try making less of your meals that call for cheese.

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    4. I have that as a goal for this year. Everyone says it is very easy. I found an out of the box yogurt maker on clearance for 40 dollars this Christmas but I could not buy it because I had no way to carry it since I was shopping with the children. And I did not know if that was a good price or if it was just a gadget since I have read of people making it in their crockpots. I do want to explore it, but I also need to figure out what to store them in since my husband takes one to work every day. I was thinking maybe those teeny glass canning jars? We spend between 12 and 15 dollars a week on yogurt.

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    5. Celia, you do NOT need a yogurt maker. Try the crockpot method for almost hands-off simplicity. http://food52.com/blog/3593_yogurt_at_home

      As far as your husband taking it to work, it depends on how much he eats. A tiny canning jar is 4 oz., which is less than an average 6 oz. yogurt. A half-pint jar is 8 oz., which would leave you an equal amount of yogurt plus room for anything he might want to put on top, or just a little more yogurt. Half-pint jars are not hard to find.

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    6. I make yogurt in the crockpot. I follow the method from here http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html

      It works very easily for me. I like the one Brandy suggests too. Just haven't done it that way.

      Milk at sams's or costco for me is regularly $2/gallon. I know I'm luck with those prices. But we have lactose issues.

      Penelope

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    7. Thrive from Shelf Reliance carries a dry milk called "Instant Milk". It is far more palatable than regular dry powdered milk. In fact, when it's cold, you can tell a difference from regular milk, or at least I can't. Here's a link to the product: http://www.shelfreliance.com/milk-powder.html

      I am not a consultant for Thrive. I just really like their products.

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    8. I made yogurt by simply using a pot to heat the milk up and then I place it (after I have stirred in the starter) in a thermos that has been warmed with hot tap water (and then the water is poured out). I then just sit in on the counter in my kitchen for around eight hours, but it in the fridge overnight and it is ready to use. It is very simple and I was able to use things that I already had and requires very little electricity too.

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    9. Celia, I make my yogurt using powdered milk (from the LDS cannery)and following the recipe on everydayfoodstorage.net. It's easy and turns out great. Also, I follow her instuctions for making my milk from powdered milk (adding a small amount of sugar to each quart) and she has other great ways to use powdered milk. Teri

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    10. I just made yogurt Saturday for the first time in years. We actually had a yogurt maker in the basement leftover from the ... had to be somewhere between 1979 and 1981 that we got it.
      Don't know why stopped using it. We actually don't eat that much yogurt , just use plain in cooking instead of buttermilk, and as a topping in place of sour cream. The brand is SALTON and it has 5 ceramic cups that fit into wells and a cover. Plug in. They turned out just fine...I used 2% milk and some plain greek yogurt as starter.

      Now I will just have to make sure we eat it up...I ended up with the 5 containers (about 5oz each) and a 1/2 pint canning jar. The canning jar I just covered and set in the microwave and closed the door and turned the over the stove light on it. That usually makes enough warmth in there that I put my bread to raise in.











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  21. Brandy, your price list is similar to mine with the exception of potatoes and meat. I've never seen potatoes here for less than 34¢/lb and turkey and ham is much much higher here. A few years ago I could get turkey for 69¢/lb, now even at Thanksgiving it never went under $1.49/lb. Same for the ham. But I can get whole chickens for 99¢/lb, boneless chicken breasts for $1.68/lb, and pork loin for $1.69/lb.

    I didn't have any luck growing bell peppers last year either and we had a hot summer. This year I'm going to grow a short season variety that is native to New England and see if I have better luck.

    I had a Costco membership that lapsed last March and have chosen not to renew it. We were using it mostly for the Optical Center but recently found that Target's Optical Center takes our insurance and is less than half the price of Costco. Costco's prices have gone up so much that it isn't worth it to me anymore.

    The Diamond brand kosher salt is around 99¢/13 oz. can at my local grocery store-Shoprite- and there are always coupons for around 50¢ off. Shoprite doubles the coupons so it makes the salt free. They also sell it by the box and I believe the price was $1.99 for 3 lbs.

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  22. Hi Brandy,

    Just a thought for you when you're researching new spice suppliers. I order quite a bit through Bulk Herb Store and am very happy with each of their items. Their site is: BulkHerbStore.com. I don't know how they compare to other sites price-wise, but their quality and customer care are top-notch.

    Thanks for this list! I'll be using it more in-depth later... when I'm done lesson planning. This is my unapproved break in the planning. :)

    Have a lovely evening!
    Shani

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  23. Can I be nosy and ask why you only have a hundred dollars for food?

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    Replies
    1. Have you read my story on my website? You can read it here: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/about/living-on-food-storage

      A law was passed in October 2011 in Nevada that almost completely stopped our income last year; they rescinded that law a year later and we are starting to see house sales again now--not just my husband, but the 50+ agents who work for him.

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    2. Have you ever considered asking your husband to do a guest post on real estate? I monitor our neighborhood monthly in the hopes that the prices will start to creep back up. We are praying to break even and get out before my son starts school otherwise we are looking at three hours in the car every day.

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    3. Celia, our market here is different from the rest of the country because of some very specific reasons. Most houses here are underwater by a HUGE amount. Most of Las Vegas was built in the last 10-20 years.

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  24. Just curious, is there a reason why you buy bulk flour as opposed to grinding your own wheat? I had always assumed it was cheaper to buy kernels.

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    1. I grind my own wheat when I want whole wheat, but I don't want whole wheat for everything. I prefer white flour for bread, cookies, waffles, pancakes, and crepes. I use whole wheat flour a lot less often.

      I have seen whole wheat prices vary a lot; I have seen them go as high as $1 a pound a few years back. They are not that high now. Right now the LDS cannery has 25 pounds of wheat for $11.45--which is actually higher per pound than flour at Sam's Club.

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    2. Since you have a mill, I'll put in a plug for pastry wheat - it's much less 'wheaty' than hard red or hard white. I mill it and use it in muffins, breads, etc. all the time - it's much lighter. Also...durum/semolina flour makes the most gorgeous bread....golden and beautiful! It's my most favorite. :)

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    3. Laura -- I just "discovered" pastry wheat and I'm loving using it in muffins, waffles, cookies and the like. It mills up so soft and the flavor isn't whole wheaty at all. I get mine through Azure Standard. Now I think I need to try durum/semolina flour.

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    4. I don't know if this would work for you or not but we are able to buy our wheat "locally" (we do have to drive around 40 miles but we only do it once or twice a year and a couple of families take turns) from a grain elevator. We are able to get 60 lb. bags for $8-$20 each (usually closer to the lower than the higher). We have gotten to the place the we use mostly whole grains which is better for us and for us quite cheap as well.

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    5. Abbi, you must live in a colder area then we do :) I live in the desert; we have summers of 116º plus, ground so hard you have to jackhammer holes to plant trees, 2-4" of rain a YEAR. Wheat doesn't grow here.

      But, for those who live in wheat-growing states, that is a possibility!

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    6. Brandi, how do you keep you bags of flours fresh when it is so hot? How do you keep bugs out? We have a refrigerator in the garage that hold some of my grains and flours and rices, but the white flours I just keep on the shelf. I put a bay leaf or 2 in.

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  25. Looks like you have a great plan for your family. Everyone's families and budgets are different & I think we can all learn something from one another. ~smile~

    The prices of food are soaring & I can't wait to grow an abundance of food this year for my family. Hope the rest of your weekend is grand!

    P.S. Please come visit my blog when you get a chance, I would greatly appreciate you stopping by!

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  26. Is there a cash and carry where you live? I know here (seattle area) they are sometimes cheaper than the other stores.

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    1. I have never heard of that store, so apparently not!

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    2. In Oregon, we call it United Grocerers, Cash and Carry. there is one in Newport, and one in Clackamas, maybe more. It costs no membership, but sells things in large quantities. My husband uses it to buys things for work occasionally, and has picked up a few inexpensive things for me from time to time. Like a gallon of tomato paste for beween 3 and 4 dollars (last summer, can't remember exactly). When I make tomato sauce from garden tomatoes in the summer, I thicken it with paste, then can it so I don't have to boil it down all day. I freeze any leftover from the gallon and use it later for more sauce or recipies.

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  27. This is such a great resource! Thanks for posting it! You didn't mention soups. Do you buy cream of chicken, etc?

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    1. I do, but I haven't bought any since November 2009. I am still using those. I buy a year (or, evidently, more!) on sale in November for the whole year. My mom bought us a few more for Christmas in 2010, but we're still working through the others.

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    2. I've found it much more cost effective to make my own cream soups. I make a mix and then use it as needed. Here's more about it: http://www.parents.com/blogs/thrifty-frugal-mom/2012/04/17/tasty-tuesday/tasty-tuesday-homemade-cream-soup-mix-2/

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  28. Thanks for sharing your prices Brandy!

    Many of our prices are similar though our produce is slightly higher overall (whole fruit never went below $0.99/lb for anything this year and 10lb russets are now 2/$4 which is the cheapest they've been for a while). We did have peppers 3/$1 a couple of weeks this summer and sometimes the discounted bags of colored peppers were much cheaper per pound.

    For meat we get chicken thighs, wings and legs for $0.99/lb regularly and occasionally family packs of pork - ribs, chops and roast - for $0.99-$1.49/lb depending on the store and the sale (it's been $1.49/lb the last two times but the 3 times before that it was $0.99). I can also get whole chickens for roughly $0.69/lb a couple times a year. We usually don't buy beef but my buy price for beef is $2.49/lb - I've bought beef 3x in the last 5 years since my cousin usually gives us venison and/or bear for free (they usually get way more than they need and process their own so they can't donate it or sell it). I recently bought 5lbs of stew meat on sale for $1.99/lb and divided it up into 8 meals for us.

    I appreicate the comparison and thanks again for all you do!
    Lea

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    Replies
    1. That's so high for fruit of any kind. Where are you? Maybe someone near you can give you some more ideas.

      Do you grow fruit? Have you tried gleaning fruit?

      Delete
    2. Acutally here that's realy normal - and has been for years. Anything under $1/lb is rare. We can get grapefruit and oranges for abour $0.50/lb a couple of weeks in late January/early February. Once in a great while I've seen pears or apples ofr $0.79/lb but that's been a few years. I'm in the Twin Cites, MN. I have seen cheaper prices at Aldi but I have never had that produce last more than 1 or 2 days without going rotten or moldy so I quit shopping there. Not sure if it's the Aldi's in the part of town I live in or the part of town I live in overall.

      I grow rhubarb, raspberries, grapes, strawberries and melons. Since we're moving in a year or two I'm not planting anything that takes a while to mature at this point. We have friends and relatives who give us blueberries and apples as well as more grapes and raspberries. The U-Pick and Farmer's markets are much more expensive ($3/lb-ish) but are organic so it's a toss-up of what we're going for. Our CSA does include strawberries, raspberries and melons so we're certainly good for those.

      I would love ideas for more inexpensive fruit here but, as I said, I'm leary of Aldi since their produce molds so fast in my experience. I shop at Rainbow Foods, Cub and Super Target (on rare occasion, their prices are by far the highest). In my part of town Rainbow has the best overall prices for what we buy but I've found that Cub has better sale prices on what we buy.

      Thanks for any ideas!
      Lea

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    3. rinsing fruit with water and vinegar really helps with the molding..its spores..one moldy fruit can infect a huge area...they vapourize.

      celina in virginia

      Delete
  29. Great information, thank you for sharing. I am in Wa and going to try to have a bigger garden this year. Still working thru trial and error of what grows well here. I tried peppers last year with little success. They are also too expensive here so I don't really buy them... last time I checked I think they were $2 each.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I quit buying them at $2 each. That's just too much. Now when I've seen them at Winco (which opened 10 months ago) on a great sale, I've bought them and cut them up and frozen them. Then when I'm having stir fry, fajitas, or something else where I want peppers, I can take them out and cook them.

      Delete
    2. We have Winco but not close to us. Next time I am in the area I will have to stop and check out some prices.

      Delete
  30. Thanks so much Brandy. We're in SoCal, and it is nice to hear from someone who has food prices more similar to ours. Your site is so inspiring, and whenever my steam runs low when it comes to saving money and such, I come to your site. I'm so excited you've started to blog. Thanks for putting your prices in one place. It really helps me have a better idea on what the good/great deals are,

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi,
    I was looking on line for rescued food and ran across this

    the 3000 club .com they rescue food in Arizona. I guess it is $10 for 60
    pounds of produce. Just a quick look and looks like it is in Phoenix and
    Tuscon maybe some of the readers are from one of those areas. Hope this helps someone.
    Patti
    from San diego

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing info about a gleaning group. They are wonderful things.

      Delete
    2. It's called "Market on the Move" and here is a blog post about it from The Centsable Shoppin', which is a great deal blog here in Phoenix

      http://www.thecentsableshoppin.com/market-on-the-move-60-lbs-of-produce-for-10-locations-for-111/

      Delete
  32. Thank you for sharing your numbers. It varies so much across the country.

    I was really banking on a certain store for produce this year (for when or what I couldn't grow) and saw their current ad was for going out of business. *sigh* Not sure how I'm going to deal with that one just yet. They were consistently 1/3 the price of the other grocers. I guess my price produce points will need to be adjusted.

    Penelope

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Buy Low in Provo??? Yep, I'm seriously bummed. We will be eating much less produce.

      Delete
  33. Hi Brandy, thanks for sharing your price lists. It is facinating to read about the different prices throughout the country. I live just south of Charlotte, NC. I shop at Sam's when I have the money to stock up. I, too, noticed that the price of the popcorn had gone up. I have two of the "whirly pop" style of poppers...popcorn is one of my favorite snacks and I prefer it in the popper versus the microwave. I found the first one for $8 at a thrift store and bought a nice stainless steel one from Lehman's last year when it was on clearance.

    Valerie in NC



    ReplyDelete
  34. I love this post! I have learned so much from you since I found your site about 1 1/2 years ago. I gained so much inspiration and confidence about canning from you and another blogger that I canned/dehydrated/froze over 400 quarts of produce Summer 2011. I found that I overdid, drastically, and we're still enjoying the "fruits of my labor". I think I got a smidge carried away for my family of four.

    I, as another reader has mentioned, am blessed to have an Aldi nearby. Recently when they put 5 pound sacks of potatoes on sale for .79, I bought 75 pounds of them. I diced, blanched and canned most of them but also quartered, blanched and canned the rest. I have found that we use them alot more than I thought we would. There's alot of recipes that use potatoes on Pinterest, some of which we probably wouldn't have tried had I not had the stockpile of potatoes.Aldi's produce prices beat everyone else's around here and allow us to have fresh fruit and produce, at very reasonable prices, during the garden off months.

    I am southeast Tennessee and we have good garden weather here. Even in the midst of a really bad drought last year, my tomatoes prospered to the point of having so many I couldn't use them all. There's only so many times one can eat Caprese' salad for lunch :) We were abundantly blessed last year with tomatoes, squash of every kind, and silver queen corn. We've also been blessed in the meat department. My 17 year old son recently got two bucks with a combined weight of 400 pounds. Our freezers runneth over with venison. It's been a challenge for me to get beyond thinking about Bambi but it is a blessing to be so prepared. I've utilized the ground venison in place of ground beef and have found it to be significantly lower in fat then beef, and quite honestly, no different in taste when it's cooked in the slow cooker.

    Thank you for this blog. We are faced with the challenge of paying off a large amount of debt this year and I was having a pity party over my $65/week food budget for four people. You are an inspiration to us all! I am now the proud owner of a month's worth of meal plans that I will carry over into the next few months. Having a plan, hopefully, will eliminate alot of frivolous spending in the grocery store.

    Blessings,
    Denise

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    Replies

    1. Potatoes keep a long time, if you keep them cool and in the dark. We have had a 50 lb bag of potatoes my husband bought from a local farmer for 32 cents a pound in October. It is still in excellent condition(what's left of it), just in the garage. I don't know if you have conditions where you live that make them spoil faster. I did also can 7 quarts when I was given more potatoes. I only used 1 so far, since I have so many fresh ones to work with.

      I cooked 14 meals over the holidays, and then hurt my arm to the point that the kids and husband are doing what cooking is being done. They are using those meals up and I am so grateful I did it. When we had a similar budget to yours a few years ago, I would sometimes cook 30 meals at the beginning of the month. I always had something good for dinner each night, and could add to it from the garden and canned and frozen things I had. I also made my own bread at that time.

      Delete
    2. We have been doing a $50 per week challenge for a few years. It started with 4 people and is now down to 3. It helps me to focus on eating healthier foods. If you plan a menu and stick to your list, it can be done and you can eat well. In Montana, we pay higher prices than these, but we can still stay in our budget. It is a challenge when it comes to stocking up through! Having a garden helps out.

      Delete
    3. We buy large bags of potatoes in the fall. Russets grow very well in the state and all the farm stands sell them pretty cheaply. They last in our garage very well, just standing up against the wall that attaches to the house. They may shrivel a bit toward the end, but so. I will buy a cheap bag of potatoes anyways if I see them in the store...around the holiday very cheap.

      Delete
  35. Funny you should post this today...i was just telling my son about the lowest price I would pay on something I got today.

    2 years ago I went to the store with a notebooka nd calculator and wrote down every item I buy and calculated the cheapest size to buy. (It took me over an hour). I made a list on my computer and used this as my grocery list for about 6 months. I would then check to see if things were really on sale as sometimes the size I was purchasing was still cheaper. It helped me create my "lowest price'.

    Since then I have been couponing and usuing sale ads. I shop three stores each weekend and have fianally created a stockpile. I was jsut telling my son today that although he loves mangos I will not pay $2 for each one! He will have to eat appples ($1 a pound for Honeycrisp) or clementines. I was able to get bananas for .52 a peound today and yams for .69. I have started to use powedered milk in my baking as milk is $3 a gallon when you buy 2 at a local gas station. White potaotes do go for $1 for 10 pounds around the holidays. I was abloe to get 6 pounds of brown sugar for $5. I should have gotten more when it was .99 at Christmas time. Butter was $2 a pound for unsalted and salted.

    I have found that all baking items (flour, sugars, coconut, baking chips, etc) are the best price between Thanksgiving and Christmas and so I stocked up this year.

    All of this takes effort and time, but after you have done it for awhile, the prices are in my head and I know when a deal is really a deal.

    I am currently waiting for ketchup, tomato paste and ground beef to go on sale :)

    Thank you again for the great posts!!!!!!
    Emilie from Upper Michigan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emilie - Ketchup and other condiments often have the best prices just before Memorial Day and then again around the 4th of July. They're catching the outdoor barbecue crowds with those sales.

      I also use coupons. I've been able to get lots of bottles of salad dressing, relish, pickles, and marinades for free with them, but never ketchup.

      Delete
  36. Thanks for the list. Like you say, we have all differents pricing depending on our locations. Some stuff are more expensive then yours and some are lower.

    Milk for an instant is expensive here (NB, Canada). A gallon in 6.39.
    Gas is 123.9 a Liter.

    I, however, got Pork Shoulder Roast at 0.99 a pound yesterday :)

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  37. Very informative! I would love to see your weekly menu. It would be nice to see what your family eats at each meal.
    Melinda

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    Replies
    1. Melinda,

      I have 4 1/2 months of menus on my website. I base my meals from those, but I do not follow them exactly in order by any means. You can see my winter menu (4 weeks of ideas)here: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/menus/winter-menu

      Delete
  38. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for all that you do!
    Your website and blog are full of extremely valuable information!
    You are always soooooooo nice and helpful!
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you !!!!

    You are a blessing to all!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I loved reading this post and the comments, too. I live in the Midwest where grocery prices are pretty reasonable compared to some of you ladies. Still, I've noticed prices going up lately. I thought I'd put in how I get free produce. We have a local produce buying club in St Louis (communityhelpingscoop.com). Since I coordinate the pick up day for my site, I get a free produce basket. It is a big, blue IKEA bag stuffed full with produce -- the contents vary but it is all high quality bought directly from the produce distributor. The more who order, the bigger the basket -- the power of group buying. I love working the pick up -- it's only 2 hours of my time every other week and it's fun chatting with the people who come regularly and discussing what to make, etc. I don't know if other cities have similar produce coops but it's worth checking out if they do. Especially if you can work the pick up and get yours for free. :)

    For bulk items, I order from Azure Standard or go to Sam's club with a friend who is a member though I would love to visit an LDS cannery. Sounds like good prices could be had there. I am not LDS so I understand how this isn't really possible for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course it is - you don't have to be LDS to shop at the cannery! Mormons will sell to or help anyone. My parents served a humanitarian mission at Bishop's Storehouse (a huge welfare plant in Salt Lake that has a grocery store, a dairy, a bakery, and lots of other stuff). Most of the people they helped weren't LDS. At Bishop's Storehouse you work for a couple of hours to pay off your bill; the canner works like any other business, you pay money for the goods recieved.

      Delete
  40. I was curious if you play the drug store game at CVS & use their extra care bucks to help buy things you need? By doing this I have stockpiled at least 2 yrs worth of health & beauty aides for my family of 5 at very little cost. This would also be a great way for you to stock up on those diapers & wipes. Just thought I'd pass this along but maybe you already do this & have never metioned it or I missed it. My sister (she's the one who told me about your blog) & I love your posts & so enjoy them. I am amazed that you only spend $100 a month for a family of 9.

    Shanna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's taken a lot of learning and changes to be able to get to this point. Last January I spent a considerable amount of time redoing my website (about 50-60 hours a week for the month) and I also redid all of my menus, because my old menus had become too expensive for me. I was unable to use them for planning. I thought a long time about what was working better for us, and I wrote out a better menu for us that I could afford.

      I don't do CVS or Walgreen's; they usually are out of anything great by Monday morning or whenever I can go (I don't shop on Sundays) and they don't usually restock during the week, or if they do it's still empty of the great deals when I go. CVS is further and not worth the gas for some of the deals, and ofttimes they are just too small of a container for our family. I spend an average of $65 a month for diapers and wipes for 2 children, toliet paper, and other non-food items, including toliet paper, toiletries, OTC medicines, etc. I have been finding better deals than I used to by shopping at Target (I read Totally Target for great deals there, including Target coupons on store products) and I have found some great deals on toothpaste and deodorant at the grocery store (Smith's) which was a surprise to me that I happened on accidentally. I have a good stock of these items. I didn't used to have a great supply of toothpaste, but I've since learned :) I am always looking for less expensive ways to get what I need, and I've continued to make changes to keep our expenses low and to get them lower.

      My husband just checked out some toliet paper at Sam's Club recently (one they didn't carry before) and we priced it out by the length of all the rolls, and it is less than what I've been getting, now that the price went up at Target. I will be trying that out the next time I purchase toliet paper. I'm still working to lower our expenses; there are so many things I'd rather have than to spend more money on the same things!

      Delete
  41. I just discovered your website. Thank you for all the wonderful information. I'm from NJ and our prices are significantly higher on just about everything. I have a membership at BJ's warehouse club (the closest Sam's, Costco, and Aldi are too far). I'm determined to lower our grocery bill, though with 2 teenagers it's not easy. Thanks! Maggie

    ReplyDelete
  42. Brandi,
    have you ever checked the prices on Winco's bulk herbs and spices? I buy alot of herbs bulk online (I am an herbalist) but I do find that often their bulk herbs and spices are cheaper per pound. I live in Idaho so maybe my prices on those are better. They seem to vary seasonally but I find I can buy larger amounts at certain times of the year. I applaud you for not accepting food stamps I think often if we buy correctly and store foods we don't need too use those services. Have you ever considered trading garden produce that you have extra of (I realize this might not be alot) for things like milk or bartering sewing? I live on a ranch so we have our own milk and eggs etc but I love bartering for things I don't have or want. It makes me sad that you have had to cut back on milk so much with growing kids are you able to get coconut for a decent enough price to make your own cocunut milk that way its really good for kids too. I used to buy it in bulk and make my own in college to save money not sure how economical that is now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anna, with all the plugs for Winco spices, I will have to double check the next time I need some. When I went to compare their prices on bulk items before to Sam's and the cannery, I found that Winco was higher on everything. I will check spices in more detail when I get low again; I'm pretty well stocked now.

      I have to tell you about milk. I LOVE milk. I used to buy 16 gallons every two weeks when it was just my husband and me. Cutting back is okay! Also, I cook with powdered milk and evaporated milk as well. When I make Ranch dressing I use milk too, or yogurt, crepes, etc. We also have cheese.

      They gets lots of other sources of calcium, too, including:

      Swiss chard
      Turnip Greens
      Figs
      Apricots
      Blackberries
      Raisins
      Broccoli
      Pinto Beans
      Lentils
      Spinach
      Mung Beans
      Parsley
      Lettuce (they eat a lot of salads; they love salad!)
      Pomegranates
      Oranges
      Grapefruit

      I have found coconut milk to be extremely expensive. I only really like it in Thai cooking. I have been looking for less expensive sources so that I can make a few meals more often, but it is a lot more than milk from what I have seen.


      We don't really have enough garden produce to trade; our garden in the desert doesn't produce that kind of excess; we can if there is anything extra and we usually eat that. My children are very active and they eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.

      Delete
    2. Brandi, definitely check out the bulk sections spices and see what you think I am curious what you find price comparison wise. 16 gallons is ALOT of milk hee hee. We have a dairy goat and a milk cow so we have alot of milk but even we don't drink that much lol. I barter some our milk for other things though and give away alot to people that need it wish I could give some to you. I used to make coconut milk out of flaked unsweetened cocount that I bought at the dollar store or an asian food store (they had really good prices.) I also would skim the coconut cream and make coconut butter. There are directions online for doing that. This was about ten years ago and milk prices were really high and I was a broke college student with an out of control immune system. It worked out to be cheaper to make and drink coconut milk then dairy milks. I have no idea if that is true now, I still make coconut milk though for using like you in Thai cooking and for vegan friends who visit. Your kids always look very healthy in all your pictures and I am sure they are fine I just know how much kids like milk but yes we can get calcium from alot of sources. Winco has bulk flaked coconut don't know if they are the cheapest though.

      Do you have a grocery outlet anywere near you and do you ever shop there? I occasionally find wonderful prices on staples there and cheese really great prices on cheese sometimes.

      Also have you ever considered using cloth diapers or does your water bill make that a non-savings? I know that water bills in Las Vegas are outrageous. So just curious; I have read your website from the beginning and reccomended it to so many because it emphasises doing beautiful things with what you have something I need encouragement on occasionally. Thanks again.

      Delete
    3. This is kind of off subject..but I just wanted to chime in about the milk too. I have 2 of my 7 kids are allergic to milk protein from birth and have not been able to drink it. I was worried and talked to their pediatrician and he assured me with a balanced diet they can get plenty of calcium. I am careful to make sure we get lots of veggies but they are very healthy! Amy from Indiana

      Delete
  43. Thank you again for posting your price list. Living on the Oregon Coast everything except seafood has to come over the coastal mountain range. Our prices are about the same as yours. I will have to say that we have been able to save a lot of money just applying a few of your methods. We have saved enough to pay off credit cards and able to purchase a new vehicle. Yes we still have monthly payments but at least we can afford them. Thanks again for all of your informative postings weekly.

    Tammy
    Oregon Coast

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hello,

    I do so enjoy reading your blog and I admire the work you do. I'm trying hard to learn more and be more wise with our shopping and groceries and such. It is becoming so frustrating and discouraging to go to the store and pay $50 and have such a small amount in my cart. I find that when I run around trying to get the best deals at different stores, though, I pay for it in gas. We do have an Aldi's that I'm going to try again for most of my purchases. One of our children has food allergies, so I can't do all of our shopping there.

    Perhaps someone already asked, but could you tell me which veggies I could grow in cool weather? We are in Ohio and it is too cold during the winter outside, but we have a "breezeway" that stays just cool...I don't really know how to get started.

    Is swiss chard bitter?

    Thank you!
    Amy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find I do better getting a large amount in my cart for less when I get large amounts of produce at a super deal (which I then can and/or freeze for most of it).

      Some cool season vegetables:

      lettuce (some will germinate at soil temperatures of 40º)
      Swiss chard
      Sugar Snap/snow peas
      parsley
      green onions
      Beets
      Broccoli
      cabbage
      Kale
      cauliflower
      radishes
      spinach
      parsnips
      turnips
      rutabegas

      Some of these germinate better at warm temperatures but will grow well during cool weather. This makes them ideal for fall planting, but you could also start them on a grow mat and transistion them gradually to the cooler temperatures.

      Swiss chard is never bitter, not even when it has bolted after growing for a year and it's 110º. It's very mild. If you've ever bought a container of mixed green lettuce, chances are that it had baby chard leaves in it. The small leaves are better in salads; I use the large leaves steamed and in soups.

      Delete
  45. The price of a 50# bag of popcorn at Sam's has gone up even higher, to $28.98. Yikes! Like you, I was used to buying it at $17 a bag.

    On a happier note, our Sam's has finally started selling pinto beans. A 25# bag costs $18.23, which is by far the best price I have found in our area.

    Love your website & your blog!

    Courtney

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    Replies
    1. Oh my! Now that is a bad corn crop! I remember watching wheat do that; it went up to $1 a pound and it was hard to get any from anywhere. It came back down a few years later.

      I wish I had bought 2 bags now, and I'm still so glad we bought some right before it went up!

      Delete
  46. I didn't read all the comments but how do you not buy milk?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Sorry I just found your answer about milk.

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  48. Thank you so very much for this list. It is prompting me to revisit my own price list (been a while). It also makes me feel much better about prices I've been paying....seems like I'm at least on pare with you for most items. I made a mistake not stocking up on flour at Christmas....just kept hoping that prices would go down to the $1.81 for 5# of flour....hovered around $2 and I didn't buy....now it's over $3.50/5# bag. If my price list had been more uptodate, I might have observed the pattern. Oh well...we learn, we learn. This post is simply wonderful info though...thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  49. If I remember, you live in the Vegas area, right? You might want to check out Sprouts if it's not too far (there are 2 in Vegas). We have them all over here in Southern California and the produce is CHEAP! This week, for example, we have apples for $0.49/lb, Bell Peppers (red & green) for $0.33/each, cucumbers for $0.33/each, oranges for $0.50/lb (which is up from last week at $0.20/lb).

    Also, see if your Sam's carries bananas. I don't have a Sam's, but the current price at my Costco is $0.40/lb. It was $0.33/lb until about November when the price jumped.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bananas at Sam's are outrageous; I never buy them there as they always are so high, and then they never ripen! (I did buy them a few times a long time ago and it was so WEIRD that the didn't ripen). Anywhere else I buy them greeen and they are yellow by the time I get home:)

      I replied about Sprouts above; they are about 35 minutes away to the closest one, so not worth the drive.

      Winco is close to me, though, and they have some good prices on produce. They don't have ads and their prices can change daily, so it just depends if I make a trip there, or if my mom calls me and says she saw something for a great price over there. This is a new store (built 10 months ago) and their produce sales have been wonderful for us. I have tons of bell peppers in the freezer because of sales from there; I was able to get 60 green bell peppers one days for .10 each! I prefer red and yellow but I will buy green at that price!

      I did get oranges for .20 a pound there some time back; we are still eating those, and apples that I bought in October from there, too.

      Delete
  50. Many of your prices are what I will not go above as well. I rarely buy bell peppers or cucumbers anymore, as the prices are too high on them. I haven't seen red, yellow, or orange peppers for less than $1 each, and even that price is rare. I also have recently cut out celery, because it is almost $3 a bunch now. I have not found potatoes that low this year at any of the grocery stores, I have been paying $2.99 for a 10 lb bag, and that is the lowest price I have seen anywhere. We buy bananas alot because our boys love them,and the best price I can find is 55 cent a pound. I am looking into getting our Sam's club account started back up for this year, as I would love to buy the flour, sugar, yeast, and rice in larger amounts. I have also been waiting on sales for eggs, but they are really going for longer stretches between sales. I will buy around 5 dozen when I find them for 99 cent a pound, that is about all I can fit in the fridge. Do you freeze any eggs? I haven't tried that but heard it is possible. I have quit buying the boneless chicken breasts for the most part, the lowest price I find on whole chickens is 99 cent a pound. I also have started cooking with the leg quarters for things like soups and casseroles. They are occasionally on sale for 69 cents a pound here, and I buy a 10 lb bag then to use. I will only pay $1.99 lb for ground beef, sometimes ground turkey is on sale for that price, and I will buy it then. I always look for markdown meats. Some of the meats we love but no longer purchase due to costs are cube steaks, roasts, and pork tenderloin. I do still have several pound of deer cube steaks in the freezer, so we have been using that. For milk, I aim for $2.99 or less. Last night I found milk at Kroger for $2.19 a gallon, so I bought several gallons. Right now there is not enough room in our chest freezer to freeze any, so I just purchased what would fit in the fridge(3 gallons).
    Oh I wanted to ask you- do you purchase any canned meat items(such as tuna, salmon, chicken,etc..)? If so what is your price point on those? I used to hold out for sales on tuna for 50 cents a can, but prices have gone up so high now the lowest I have seen is 79 cents a can. I still have 4 cans of salmon in the pantry, but the lowest price on it lately has been $2.50 a can, so I don't see buying it anymore unless a rare sale comes along.
    Also-what is the price you will pay on canned vegetables? I have not read all of the comments yet, so if you have answered any of these questions already I apologize!!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Brandy- just thought of another couple of questions!! Do you buy peanut butter or have a price point for that? My children LOVE peanut butter and it has gotten really high. Also for breakfast items, such as pancake syrup, do you have a price point or make homemade syrup? Or do you use other toppings? I live in Georgia so I am sure the prices may be slightly different, but I am just curious!!! And for things like cake mixes and frostings, do you stock up at a certain price or just go with homemade? I will try to buy several cake mixes when they go on sale $1 box, but lately the sales have been $1.25 box.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't buy cake mix or frosting. I have made some homemade but I really don't like cake (unless it's cheesecake!)

      I rarely buy peanut butter; my children have taken after both their parents in that they don't really like peanut butter sandwiches. I bought some at a case-lot sale several years ago and we're still working through it; I rarely use it.

      Syrup--I have only bought syrup again for the first time in 5 years just a few months back; I bought it in bulk at Sam's Club. Some of my children like syrup, but most use powdered sugar on pancakes and waffles.

      Delete
    2. Brandy, we go through a LOT of peanut butter in my house! My husband takes a peanut butter sandwich every day to work and sometimes my children will take one for school. The majority of the time though I'm baking with it, whether it be cookies or even dog treats. Shoprite has their store brand peanut butter- 18 oz jars- on sale this week through April 6 for only $1.69/jar or 9¢ per oz. which is a MAJOR stock up price for me. I'll be buying several jars!

      Delete
  52. Wow! I just LOVE your blog. It's my morning "mommy time." (I have five children age ten and under and also homeschool.) I learn so much from you and all the other readers. I am also really encouraged by so many others in similar circumstances. We don't drink a lot of milk either with expense and also a few of us intolerant. I just make sure we are eating other calcium rich foods. My kid's diet is really healthy and unprocessed, so I don't worry at all. Do you have stores that mark down "day old" produce? That is really how I feed my family produce. Much of the food needs to be eaten in the next few days or frozen or canned, but that is never a problem. I regularly purchase 6-8 large red peppers for $1. Cantaloupe is $0.50. watermelon was just a $1. I run into the stores only to check those clearance racks if we're going by, or my husband will on his way to or from work to save fuel costs. I also go to produce "flea markets" in our area, where, again the food must be sold or it won't last. A case of asparagus was just $2, cucumbers 15lbs. for $1. The trick is that you never know what will be available and you must be prepared to do food preserving of some kind in the next day or two. Thanks for all you do! I am so inspired by you!
    Amanda

    ReplyDelete
  53. Most of these prices I have not seen for years. Like since the 70's. I know bananas are pretty cheap, they are usually .42-.47 in range. I think they are the loss leaders for the produce section. Pomegranates on sale are 2.99 , normally 3.99 each. Apples run between 1.49 and 2.99, even in season. Celery is
    at least 1.99, lettuce 2.99, pineapple whole over 4.00. Lemons on sale are .69 each. Oranges are pretty cheap now 5.99 for 8 pounds. Broccoli is 1.99 a pound for crowns, 1.19 a pound with stems. I usually buy the with stems as I slice them for stir fry and like to peel and eat them raw. So I don't mind stems.

    I hadn't been shopping this year until Saturday when I had to get some things for my mother's 84th birthday party. She decided she wanted meat loaf which she said she had not had since moving to her senior apartment. I dont normally use much meat, as I have mentioned, so I picked the ground chuck and it was 13.81 for a little over 3 pounds. That was a shock. I doubled the recipe from the Better Homes and gardens cookbook and got 2 large loaves that did not shrink much.

    I did not have to buy potatoes or onions as those I have in storage, along with green and red cabbage for cole slaw, also in storage. I had to buy carrots as ran out of those (I don't like them canned or frozen so when I run out of storage have to buy).
    They were .99 a pound.

    I did buy several 8 lb bags of oranges at 5.99 each. They are on sale now and won't go cheaper. I need to make my marmalade soon. Lemons I said were .69 now. They are usually .99 each.

    I also bought strawberries, 2 quarts for strawberry shortcake and a container of vanilla ice cream. I can't read my receipt...it is smeared there. I think they were 1.99 each as they were right by the door when walk in. Usually means on sale. But they were some of the best berries I've seen. I put all my strawberries to jam, I don't like them frozen, or actually I don't like the way they are when thawed. They look grey to me. So I splurged...it's my mother!!

    Now I will go back to not shopping again. Until husband's birthday in February.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The prices you are quoting for things are the EXACT SAME REGULAR prices that I see, too.

      I look for when the items are on sale for lower, which, like I mentioned, is sometimes just one or two weeks out of the year, and THEN I stock up. Also, if you have other stores in your area, you might want to look there.

      You mentioned that apples are $1.49-$1.99 in season. So, you buy 40-160 pounds when they are $1.49, if that's your lowest price, and you make some into applesauce and can it, and you put the rest in the fridge or in a cool garage (which is where I keep my flour; my pantry in in the garage with insulated walls and a window a/c). Consider another variety if they are lower priced.

      I see those same prices on lemons, too. Look for the bagged lemons. Look at another store. See if your dollar store carries them in a bag.

      Pomegranates are the same price, too ($3.99 each). I don't buy them at the store; I grow them and I glean them from others who have trees and don't want all of them.

      I don't buy whole pineapple; it is that same price and it is cheaper to buy canned on sale for $1 than to pay $4.

      Lettuce is cheaper to grow. A packet of 750 seeds runs about $4-$5 from the seeds companies, and sometimes less. Even if only 3 of those seeds grow for you, you will come out ahead of buying lettuce. You can grow lettuce in a pot if you don't have a garden.

      Carrots are normally .99 a pound here, too. Look for the bags with more than one pound, and compare stores. Most stores here have them that price, but if I buy a 5 pound bag, they are less at 2 stores.

      Don't think that I'm seeing these prices all of the time. I'm not. I'm willing to buy 200 pounds of something the week it is on sale and can it, or buy lots of peppers and freeze them. I wait for the sales on peaches and pears that are ONCE a year, and then I go buy them.

      Delete
    2. I agree that celery is quite expensive. It is actually a better deal to buy dried celery and us it throughout the year.

      The only time I buy fresh celery is before Thanksgiving, when I usually buy several on sale.

      Delete
    3. I still have storage apples. My husband buys them in fall from the orchards north of here. They weren't as cheap this year as others as the crop was less due to drought. I make lots of applesauce and apple jelly. One daughter can't eat raw apples . They cause her stomach pain. The apples we bought are the keeper ones, I use gleaned apples for sauce and apple pie filling as those are usually bruised or spotty.

      We do buy the canned pineapple...one son and I can't eat the fresh as is too acid.
      We don't get good peaches here. We are not in a fruit belt. I just buy canned ones for peach cobblers. Occasionally we take a chance and buy fresh and they just don't ripen well. Yes the carrots come in 5 pound bags and at that weight they are much cheaper. I restock my storage with those.

      I don't go the dollar store...full of junk from China...knick knacks and decorations. No food. except snack stuff and candy.

      I found a good deal on lemon juice awhile ago. They were discontinuing the Minute Maid frozen lemon juice at the store...comes in bottle each bottle equivalent of 6 lemons I think. They were 0.50 each so I bought all they had. The entire back of my garage freezer is lined with the boxes..I must have bought at least 30. Since I do a lot of Greek cooking I use a lot of lemon juice. Also lemon bars and lemonade.

      My biggest crop I grow is tomatoes...24-30 plants each year. I plan a years supply (Oct through August ) of juice, salsa, tomato jam and marmalade. We use a lot of tomatoes and it's another thing I can't eat raw. Sweet corn is very good here and very cheap. I can get 12 ears for $1 at the peak of the season. I preserve enough corn also for 10 months and make lots of corn relish.

      Being disabled, I stick with one store I know and it is a store when things go on sale there is no limit to how much can buy. Not limited to one can or one box or one pound as other sale ads I see. My husband is the one who frequents the farm stands in fall and comes back after a drive with a 10 pound bag of cranberries (dirt cheap around here) and 10 heads of cabbage, a 100 pound bag of onions, 5 pound buckets of tart cherries, jugs of honey and maple syrup,
      for example. 50 pound bags of potatoes.

      Did you know you can freeze a head of cabbage? If you like to make cabbage rolls this is an easy thing to do. When thawed, the leaves are all softened just as if you had steamed them. They roll up really nice.

      Thanks for your advice and research.

      Delete
  54. Brandy, I really appreciatd that you took the time to put together your price points for all of us to read. It is really helpful to see the guidelines others use.

    I am a bit surprised that nobody commenting has mentioned that they stock their freezer with meat by hunting and fishing. My husband and daughter have filled our freezer with venison, turkey, pheasant, dove, goose, squirrel (I won't eat them, but husband and kids love it fried), fish of all kinds and frog legs. The cost of a hunting and fishing license where I live is $19. This allows you to have a very large amount of protein for a small amount of money. While there are limits on turkey and deer per season (two deer, two turkey), there are multiple seasons per year, and if you have more than one hunter in your family you will likely get plenty of meat. My husband does his own processing and butchering of meat, as it saves money and he is very particular about the way the meat is treated from the time the animal is taken until the time it is packaged in the freezer.

    If readers are not comfortable hunting themselves (and I totally understand that) check to see if anyone you know hunts. I have been shocked to hear people say "Oh, I always get a deer/turkey/duck/goose but I won't eat it, so I just give it away or throw it out". Let them know that you'd love to take the meat, if they'd just bring the animal directly to your house after they take it, so you can get it processed fast enough to keep it tasty.

    There are many ways to prepare wild game that keep it from tasting gamey. I urge everyoe to give it a try!

    Melissa (in the midwest)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa,

      Several of my readers have mentioned hunting and fishing in their frugal accomplishments for the week.

      For us, it would actually be very expensive to do those things. A hunting license is several hundred dollars (a fishing license is seperate) and you have to drive several hours away to hunt. You have to pay extra on top of hte license for a deer tag, AND there is a lottery for getting one; it may take several years before you get one.

      Fishing--it is quite a drive to find a place to fish when you live in the desert. You have to have a boat if you go to Lake Mead. You have to pay an entrance fee to go into the state park ($5 a car) to go there.

      So, perhaps the reason that this isn't mentioned for many people is because it is quite a cost, not including the equipment (gun, several hundred dollars, bullets, fishing rod, bait, etc.)

      Delete
    2. I just had red deer for the first time in December and it was really good, however I'd want to cook it well a few times myself before I packed my freezer full!
      I don't know all the laws in my area, but I do know that not every place is hunter friendly:(

      I can say though that many hunters will take their animal to be processed and then never pick it up, I have an Uncle who gets lots of cheap deer that way.

      Delete
  55. A few years ago I saw (in an issue of Southern Living) a way to help tomatoes produce in the southern heat, specifically San Antonio. The gardener shown used tomato cages on top of which he laid a piece of lattice. This shaded the plants enough that they would continue to produce all summer long. I tried to find a picture on Southern Living's website to refer you to, but I couldn't find it. I hope this is helpful.

    On an unrelated note, thank you so much for this post, it's very helpful. I am really enjoying your blog and website. :)

    Blessings, Joy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you can shade them, but that only works to cool them about 10º. Afternoon shade IS helpful here. The problem is, come June 1, that isn't enough to cool them past that. You can also spray them with water to cool them, too. Our temperatures are extreme here. At night it is still 104º at 2 am, and 113º at 8 pm. Even in the dark, it's too hot for them to set fruit. They won't flower; they just grow 8-10 feet tall instead.

      The extension service teaches a class specifically on tomatoes here, which is where I learned about growing here.

      Delete
    2. Brandy, I have heard that you shouldn't let your tomato plants get that tall. You should keep them to no bigger than 5' tall so that their energy will be focused on making fruit. I followed that advice last year and it rang very true. Maybe it's worth a shot...

      Delete
    3. Lisa, I've tried cutting them, but they ALWAYS die on me when I prune them shorter.

      Delete
  56. Hi!I am very blessed to live in Erie, PA.In this area there are many farms. So compared to your dessert area food prices our food prices are cheaper here than in your area.In PA there are many areas in which people can hunt and fish. The hunting and fishing licenses are very affordable.Many people fish on Lake Erie all year long.It has been to warm for ice fishing but people are still fishing from the shorelines.Pat

    ReplyDelete
  57. I live on the coast of Florida, a tourist area, and grocery prices have really gotten high. I have a Save-A-Lot store in my neighborhood where I have started doing most of my shopping. Bananas are always .49 a lb., and they have the best prices for potatoes and apples. I do not garden, I have fibromyalgia, and it is just too physically demanding. I used to can when someone gave me figs or pears, but I would have to have a huge spurt of energy to do that now! I have tried the once a month shopping,the food did not last, and the thought of cooking a months worth of meals at once is too overwhelming. I just do the best I can day to day. I constantly compare prices and use a coupon if I can. I really like your blog. Cannot even imagine trying to do all that you do!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Brandy, maybe you already have this on your site (I haven't checked yet), but I'm curious...what is the best way to store your bulk goods? For example, do you leave the 25 lbs of flour in the bag it comes in? Also, is there somewhere that says how long past the 'best by' date things last (like your cream soups?) Thanks for posting this list, it really helps, especially with stock up prices for canning fruits.

    Maura

    ReplyDelete
  59. I've been shopping primarily at Sam's Club with fill ins at Wal-mart, Gordon Food Service and Honeyville Grain this past year and a half. (Family of 7) I adore Sam's...but they really had me wondering about them over their pepper prices this year.

    My store carried a bag of six small green or six medium/large colors for around $6. The green price made me mad...and I was amazed at the same price for the colored peppers. They were always two or three times that price at Kroger years ago. I've started buying a 5lb bag of green peppers at GFS once a month for about $6. This usually nets 16 cups or so of chopped peppers...which is about what I need. (We make a LOT of homemade pizza around here!)

    I love Sam's for the low prices I can count on...but I'm careful to continue to shop around a little. I get the best prices on my #10 cans of fruit, veggies and tomatoes at Sam's...but a couple things I still buy at GFS even though it is a bit higher so that I can get exactly what I want. (Pineapple tidbits verses chunks.) GFS always has sliced apples in water that I can use to make cobblers and pies. The price is comparable to buying fresh and peeling/slicing myself.

    ReplyDelete
  60. In Oklahoma I have tried to go by some of things that you have purchased at Sam's club such as spices. We do on occasion have drum/thighs for $.99 cents for a a package. I have been getting hamburger meat in the tube again. Freezing fruit when I get it, You said you in the post that can Apples do you freeze apples for pies? Your blog has helped me so much when it comes to buying food and ways to save money.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I wish I could get these kinds of deals - we only have one store and one big box near us and they don't offer anything close. I have to eat gluten free, so that throws more expense in there.
    My 3 kids eat like horses and I work full time outside the house until 6:00 several nights a week, so cooking elaborate dinners and lunches is just not always possible.
    Any advice!?

    ReplyDelete
  62. Hi! I am new to your blog and absolutely loving it! I am wondering though if you happen to have an ALDI where you live?

    Here in Missouri I can often find a 3 pack of bell peppers for $1.29 and sometimes down to 99 cents for 3 of them. Bananas are between 29 cents to 54 cents a pound all year and usually hover between 29 and 33 cents for most of the year, cantaloupes are normally 99 cents each, eggs are never more than $1.49 a dozen and last year for about 3 months in the spring and summer they were 79 cents a dozen, and a gallon of vegetable oil is $6. ALDI has great prices on most things in their store and their weekly produce specials can't be beat. They also have butter always at $2 per pound and margarine at 79 cents per pound, so if you have one check it out!

    I also make my own vanilla extract. It is very easy and cheap. I will buy a gallon of cheap, cheap vodka for $6-$10 dollars depending on the store and the sale (I usually look for these sales around the holidays and buy one) then I order a pound of vanilla beans on amazon for $8. For a total of $18 I have vanilla extract for several years. All you do is cut open the vanilla beans and allow them to steep in the vodka for several months, shaking occasionally. This also makes a great frugal Christmas/Birthday gift that people love. In fact, my family members and in-laws request a pint of my homemade vanilla extract each year because it is that much better than store bought! They never have to know how cheap and easy it is to make. ;)

    If you don't happen to have an ALDI around you you can to to their website and request one to be built in your area. They are really great stores with a lot of money saving potential!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Danielle!

      There are no Aldi's here. A 3-pack of bell peppers on sale is $2.99 here. Bananas are usually .79 a pound. Eggs are $1.79 or more regular price.

      We have a lot of stores here with a lot of competition. Recently a Winco was built in our area, and they have had some amazing prices on produce, which has been a great blessing to us.

      It's great that you have such low prices, especially in a state that taxes food items. We do not have sales tax on unprepared food here. (We also have no state income tax).

      Delete
  63. Hmm, I realize this commment is way late in the game, but I was just catching up on some old posts of yours today... Have you ever heard of the "better butter" recipe? It's found in the New Laurel's Kitchen (p. 93 in my addition)
    1 C. vegetable oil (I use canola)
    1 C. butter
    2 Tbsp. water
    2 Tbsp. powdered non-fat milk
    1/4 tsp. lecithin
    1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

    blend softened butter with rest of ingredients and put in tub... allow to firm up a bit in fridge. Makes 2 cups of spreadable "butter"...costs less than butter, tastes delightful, and has no hydrogenated oils like margarine does.

    p.s.
    I never had lecithin, so would just prick and squeeze one or two vitamin E capsules, which are quite cheap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Veggie Mom for this recipe of better butter. We have made: 1/2 cup olive oil with 1 stick of butter.....mix when at room temp. But I'll try this, and I have some vitamin E in capsules!!

      Delete
  64. Brandi, I really enjoy your blog...it (along with your website) is beautiful to look at, thoughtfully arranged, and full of useful information. I can't imagine how you can possibly get done everything that you do for your family AND tend to your blog/website. May I suggest a tip jar? You have provided a very valuable ministry--and I'm assuming by the lack of obnoxious ads that you are not trying to get rich from it--but I would be happy to donate a small amount now and then. As frugal as you are, even 30.00/month profit (after the cost of paypal) would benefit your pantry.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Can I ask what you do for cleaning supplies? I love your recipes and tips. I have started to use these in our family and it is helps. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bleach, vinegar, water, dish soap, baking soda (in bulk). If you do a search on the blog for "windows" you can see how we clean our windows for pennies.

      Delete
  66. Hi Brandi, this is most likely not in the right place......but wanted to say thanks!! I read somewhere on your blog or site about 49 cent crayons once a year, and noticed our local grocer had them this week for that price.....was able to afford 2 of them!! Appreciate knowing to keep my eyes opened for that bargain.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Price differences are obviously huge on the different coasts... I bought a bag with 8 bell peppers yesterday for $1, and they usually go by the pound. Do you hunt/fish? (sorry just found your blog) We're a new family just starting out, we don't even have enough money for our own home yet, but we're pinching every penny possible, which is why I found your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not much fishing in the desert :); one would have to drive quite far away to hunt or fish (and then you would need a boat for the Lake), and IF you get a tag for hunting (it's a lottery which you pay to enter, and it's actually in Utah, not Nevada, for those who live here and go to the closest place to hunt) it is quite costly; meat turns out to be about $3.50 and up a pound.

      In other areas of the country those things could be a lot less money, but here they are not close and costly.

      Delete
  68. Loving all the posts ! We moved to Arkansas from the PNW and boy oh boy we are in Walmart world.. Walmart and Sams.... Aldis is here but I do have to say that their prices are not any cheaper. Someone posted on FB Aldi's avocadoes were .50 each so I went in... Well they were SUPER small.. pretty much buying 2 equaled one at Wally. I do miss Trader Joes, Winco, Albertsons, Walmart, health food stores that have bulk. Heck any store that offered bulk. Oops we do have Harps but they are much higher.. Although their beef is TEN times better quality than Wally.

    ReplyDelete
  69. We have both a Sam's & Costco card& live close to both. I don't buy much produce at either one except for bananas. I get great deals on produce @ Sprouts & the 99 cnts. store. We only eat butter;margarine is not good for our bodies. I have a price book to keep up on prices. We shop more at Costco than Sam's. I do luv the longer hrs. @ Sam's. We luv the return policy for Costco. We are now a family of 2 as the boys have left home. But we buy in bulk to save & for food storage. I also luv Winco. You can get good prices there on spices, canning & kosher salt, canning jars. Sprouts also has good deals on bulk spices.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Have you heard of Zaycon foods? They are online and when they have an event in your area they can be really reasonable. You have to buy in bulk but the meat is fresh and really good quality. I think they Ground beef is to expensive but the boneless skinless chicken breast is 1.89 a pound and for my area that is a really good price. I will often grind the chicken myself because then I know the fat content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know about them. I don't buy chicken real often at that price; I've been trying to limit most of our meat purchases to around .69 a pound or less. More expensive meat is a treat.

      Delete

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