No coupons: Secrets to beat rising food costs

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  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    March 27, 2012 11:20 p.m.

    We got a couple of goats a few years ago and it is great. Their milk (if chilled quickly) tastes better than cow’s milk, it’s fresh and more digestible and more nutritious than cow’s milk—makes great yogurt and ice cream. And, if we can’t do the milking there are neighbors who will do the job because they like the milk too. We also got a few chickens and so we have fresh eggs. The neighbors don’t mind at all. Goats don’t take a lot of space (you need good fences!) and they can be tied out and will eat grass in your yard while fertilizing the lawn. They also eat weeds from the garden and lots of table scraps. They’re clean, fun and are a great tension reliever.

  • TARDIS Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2012 6:54 p.m.

    Kansan by choice,

    In my experience, transitioning to a more planned meal lifestyle- I have heard several complaints from others about not having time, money, options, or ability. In my experiences I have learned that we all have the choice. I have been dead broke, poor, full-time student with no free time, jobless, in debt, and all the above- I still have a choice or can choose to get to a point where I truly have choice.

    Consider this, a bag of prepackaged hash-browns cost me the same as a bag of potatoes. 1 large or 2 small potatoes shreds to the same quantity. Clearly the prepackaged option is not the cost-effective choice and every last person paying a prepackaged price can afford this option.

    I have cooked for myself, two, and more. I've had far far far greater challenges in the home than planning and preparing meals. As you pointed out, not all options are available to everyone- but choice is real and prepackaged meals are very literally a convenience.

    Plus, corn (90% of Kansas) can make truckloads of stuff. I agree- It may not be easy, but typically is far cheaper.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    March 27, 2012 5:26 p.m.

    It is very easy to spend $60 per person a week on food. Think beverages if you want your kids to have milk for more than just cereal. Diapers. Food allergies can really make a dent. Lunch meat more costly than peanut butter. Meat more expensive than eggs. Some people can't just eat citrus without facing mouth sores. So the sale on oranges does the family no good that week and apples and bananas are purchased not on sale. Some prefer to eat some items organic.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 27, 2012 5:22 p.m.

    secret #1: elect Mitt Romney and get rid of Barack Obama. Oil drilling goes up, gas prices fall along with grocery prices. Pretty simple. Once again hope and change equates to getting rid of Obama.

  • Kansan by choice LAWRENCE, KS
    March 27, 2012 4:26 p.m.

    Gardening is well and good-but living in an apartment building does not allow for that. I shop at several different stores, and use the weekly sales ads for reference. I must use a basket when I shop, as I get paid once a month, and must shop for the whole month at one time. I love fresh veggies, when they are in season, but in Kansas the growing season is not always dependable.I use a few prepackaged mixes because I can't afford to buy all the ingredients for some dishes I like to have for meals. To do this I do a lot of shopping at WalMart and Aldi's. They have the best prices across the board for what I eat. I use coupons when possible, but most times they just aren't worth it.The people interviewed for this article make it sound so simple---I got news for you: shopping and cooking for one person is not easy. Variety is often sacrificed for what is available.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    March 27, 2012 2:05 p.m.

    So many wonderful ideas. For us, we are in a position to raise our own milk, eggs, and cheese, butter, etc. Not everyone is. However, what is important is often to be prayerful as to what will benefit your own family according to your circumstances. One solution does not always work for everyone.

    When we do eat out, once in a blue moon, we got to a fast food place that offers "a bag of burgers" (4 total) for $2.00. Since there are four in our family, this works out great, then we add to that a bucket of fries and share a couple of lemon-aides. Under $10 and we can have a fun family outing. We go out to the movies just as often, to the local dollar theater -- movies are second runs, but the ending are the same as first run films.

    We grown too accustomed to using money for entertainment and as proof that we are successful. I think we need to change our perspective a bit. Wasn't it President McKay who said --- "No other success can compensate for failure in the home."? Again, we need to re-think things.

  • TARDIS Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2012 1:19 p.m.

    My own grocery choices aren't quite perfect, but I've made at least a few improvements. My goal isn't entirely about saving money though- sometimes I support certain brands or companies because of their practices or if they are local companies. And I rarely buy in bulk if it isn't something that lasts a long time.

    1. Use hand-baskets most, smaller carts second, and large carts very rarely.
    2. Look at the quantity! Sometimes buying 2 smaller cans is cheaper and contains more. Sometimes not, but at least look at the numbers.
    3. Try new things. This may sound expensive, but it is easier to convince myself to not go out when I can make my own Naan bread, Gyros, Pizza, and other common restaurant items. Learning to make those things isn't only fun, but with practice you can make it more to your liking and better quality with food you can trust at a lower price tag. The more variety I can make at home, the more I save.
    4. Garden/food storage as much as possible. My goal is to eventually grow almost everything I buy, except raising animals (milk, eggs, meat).
    5. Haggle! Sometimes it pays off.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    March 27, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    Not all coupons are just for unhealthy foods. Supermarket coupons where if you spend 20 bucks, you get 2 bucks off, or something like that, will save you money. The temptation is to spend for things you don't need, but if you can keep your spending to the limits of the coupons they are a decent solution. Also some grocers have programs that offer gas discounts and that's one thing that helps a little too. You really just have to do the math, and many stores have a Cents/Ounce to help you see the very best values. So I guess if supermarkets were all evil, they'd hide that... ;)

  • Opi Provo, UT
    March 27, 2012 10:35 a.m.

    I totally agree. Couponing is for convenient, unhealthy foods. Cooking healthy food, from scratch does provide a greater value - both monetarily and in health.

    I would add that a few stores price match, and that way you don't have to drive around to each store that has a good sale.

    Buy grains and legumes in bulk, and produce on the sales. When we buy meat we divide it up in 1/2 lb servings and freeze it, to use it up slowly, one serving at a time. These things help us live the word of wisdom, and save a whole lot of money.

  • Michael De Groote
    March 27, 2012 10:05 a.m.

    Here are a few more tips from Woroch:

    5. Opt for large slabs of steak or chicken breasts and buy what's nearing it expiration date as those are typically marked down. When you buy meats prepared for stir fry and grill meals (chopped/diced/etc) you are paying for convenience.
    6. Make your own salad dressing.
    7. Shop on Wednesdays when grocery stores release new store circulars. They will still honor last week's sales, so you can more options of discounted goods.
    8. Use a basket instead of cart so you'll be more aware of what you are filling it up with and less likely to buy on impulse.

    What are your tips?

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    March 27, 2012 10:03 a.m.

    How on earth is the average family of four eating for $237 a week? My family of four eats for about $90 a week, and it's not like we're living on Ramen...we get plenty of chicken, pasta, fruits, veggies, etc, and red meat once a week or so. Oh, and that number includes non-food items that we buy at the store (pet food, toiletries, etc.). I'm guessing that the average family is probably eating out multiple times a week which is why they're spending so much on food.

    Here's a tip: Stop eating out - you'll be a lot skinnier and a lot wealthier.

  • Michael De Groote
    March 27, 2012 10:03 a.m.

    As long as this is an article about saving money with food, maybe other people have their own tips they may wish to share.

    Here are a few from Andrea Woroch:

    1. Buy vegetables and fruit in whole form. Pre-sliced, chopped and diced bagged produce is marked up by 30%.
    2. Bake your own cake and cupcake. Bakery items are marked up by as much as 300%!
    3. Shop high and shop low to find better deals. More expensive brands and products are displayed at the average shopper's eye level.
    4. Look for store brands and compare ingredients with the name brand item. Most manufacturers who create name brand cereals also make the generic brands too so you can get the same quality for less.

  • Rhonda H. South Jordan, UT
    March 27, 2012 10:03 a.m.

    Making food from scratch is not as hard as many people think; start with a couple basic recipes and get comfortable with them. Afterwards you can start learning to make variations on them. I love knowing exactly what is in my family's food; we eat much less sodium, preservatives, and artificial everything. I hardly ever use coupons.

    Another big 'trick' to saving money on food is in not throwing away as much. Have a Leftovers Night, save bi of food in a freezer bag to put into soup, cut down on what's thrown away off plates by cutting down the amount you put on the plates (especially for kids). I wrote a blog article you might find useful, on cutting food costs, called "Does Expired Mean Dead?", on TheProvidentHomemaker.

  • embarrassed Utahn! Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2012 7:46 a.m.

    Kefir IS NOT yogurt. Kefir is fermented milk. Why include this in your story and then disallow factual comments on the thread? Kefir is one of the healthiest things you can ingest, and it also contains some, albeit very little, alcohol. This is a fact!

  • embarrassed Utahn! Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2012 7:40 a.m.

    Kefir has been used for centuries as a way to ferment milk without refrigeration. It is indisputably one of the healthiest things you can add to your diet to boost your immune system and digestive function. It also can contain up to 2% alcohol particularly if fermented in a sealed container. If you don't believe this, do a little research. It is time to rethink some of our social knee-jerk responses to ingesting alcohol.

  • 3141 Columbus, Ohio
    March 26, 2012 9:46 p.m.

    Those are all really great ideas. I think another great way to save money is to grow the food in your garden. It tastes way better than those shriveled up, bland veggies in the grocery store and you don't have to worry about preservatives, pesticides, and the occasional e. coli outbreak. Most of the stuff can be preserved by freezing, canning, or drying and used throughout the year as well.

  • Tennor Orem, UT
    March 26, 2012 9:42 p.m.

    Good points here. I would add that couponing is unbeatable for non-perishable items such as soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

  • TARDIS Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2012 9:35 p.m.

    Awesome article!

    I have made a lot of similar food decisions over the last couple years- probably not nearly as many, but I have learned some valuable lessons. I used to eat out frequently, and now have learned to make every dish I've ever liked from a restaurant on my own. After refinement I make it better and healthier than the restaurant recipes anyway. I spend far less than I ever did on food. I hear so many people complain about not having time or money. After very little practice I spend less time than it takes to go out half the time.

    Sometimes people think my obsession with quality is snobbish, yet it costs less and is more fun making your own anyway. Besides, the lessons you can teach children, the self-sufficiency, the more informed food-management, and the health benefits alone justify this approach.

    I am also VERY pleased with the mentioning of the food pyramid. Big steaks, little veggies, no bread is not the answer. The pyramid is even more aligned with the Word of Wisdom. Plus it costs less! It's totally a win win scenario.