Saving Money Shopping

I have a question for all of you who are currently displeased with your current food costs.   When you think of your own food spending (groceries and restaurant spending combined) what do you think is the biggest reason you struggle to keep your food budget down?   Is it rising food costs?   Picky kids?  No time to cook?  Nothing in the cupboards?  An unhealthy obsession for Panda Express orange chicken?   Name your nemesis.

(Don’t forget the other posts down below this one.  I seem to be post-happy today.)

{ 69 Comments }

  1. The prices have gone up. Many staples that stayed relatively the same for years (it seems) have risen. Dried beans, flour, sugar, milk etc…….

    The kids are growing and eat more, too.

  2. Quantity! We go through SO MUCH FOOD!
    I’ve quit buying some “fun” things because of cost – but it has to be replaced somehow.

    And for heavens sake – my almost 13 year old boy – who eats more than three or four other kids put together! 🙂

  3. Cassie J. says:

    Trying to buy organic eats my budget $$ fast. The main thing I purchase is organic milk but it’s really expensive. $3.45 for a half gallon. And snacks! My kids are starving when they arrive home from school. I try to have healthy snacks for them but they want sweets to eat. A healthy balance is what I aim for each week. Love your blog!

  4. Unfortunately, I use restaurant eating as therapy! I have no trouble staying away from the mall, rarely shop for clothes, but if I have a bad day my favorite restaurants are hard to resist.

  5. I find that the leading causes of our too-big grocery bills are:

    -meat costs so much!
    -bottled water
    -having to buy several kinds of cheese, cereal, milk, bread, salad dressing, etc. to satisfy different palates (though i suppose otherwise we’d just buy 2x as much of 1 thing? still, it seems wasteful when we line everything up on the conveyor belt)
    -buying foods I might not ordinarily buy because they make for easy lunches at work (on the go, microwaveable, no refrig. needed, easy to eat with one hand)

  6. For us our biggest reason we struggle with our food budget is my irresponsible husband! He’s fast-food happy and too lazy to pack his own lunch. Even when I tell him we have no money, that still doesn’t stop him from getting lunch on the go (he goes to school out of town).

  7. I’d have to say that right now it is the convenience factor. I am having to spend more because of buying convenience foods. We just had our fourth baby (we now have four kids who are aged five and under!) and so I have no time right now to cook homemade like I usually do.

  8. That’s a tough one–but I think it’s because my husband and I love to eat expensive foods instead of eating out.

    Smoked salmon, raw milk, and artisan cheeses will bust my budget in a hurry.

  9. Lana Lee Ferguson says:

    Hello,
    What I find up here in Canada that if you choose to eat healthy it is very costly!! We made the switch over from conviences foods to healthy(from scratch) when we brought our two kids home from Ethiopia.. We saw the grocery bill DOUBLE not just because of two more kids..but chooseing to eat fresh veggies, whole pasta, buying beef and chicken from farmers instead of the store etc…..

    Lana Lee Ferguson

  10. LOL…”an unhealthy obsession with Panda Express Orange Chicken”…I am SO with you on that one!

  11. Kosher food–more expensive, but it is what it is.

  12. Dairy! Particularly cheese! And my three girls are growing, so they’re just eating larger quantities, especially CHEESE!

  13. I started to comment and then it turned into a post…lol…so please hop on over and see what I had to say 🙂

    http://fiveinthepottershand.blogspot.com/2008/10/food-for-thought.html

  14. Meat and eating out is what blows our budget. I am back to using coupons for the few processed items that we do buy such as cereal and snacks for lunches. We also have to buy special milk such as almond, soy, or lactose free. In the end though it probably costs just as much as the organic milk my husband was drinking before he had to eliminate dairy from his diet.

    This weekend I did the math on some recent meals that we ate out instead of making at home. On all of the meals that I calculated we could have had 2 meals of the same food for the same price.

    With our last bulk meat purchase, I made the packages smaller but even for our family of 2, I find it hard to shop for less than $50.00 a week. But we don’t have a garden. I was thoroughly amazed at your buy nothing month.

  15. I would like to say that it is some other reason that sounds a lot better, but I think it is pure laziness and lack of planning. I don’t like to cook, therefore, I don’t like to prepare to cook. I make what is easy and many times, whatever is pre-made.

  16. We can go kind of crazy with eating out. It’s easy and stress free-everyone has what they want. When the kids ask “whats for dinner? and then” yuck” when they find out. Time for a reality check! Hey, you have food that someone else bought, made and served to you. Ugh!

  17. I’m interested to know what a family of 4 spends weekly? I feel like our budget is out of control- but can’t see where it is going. : ( Our budget breaker would be healthy packaged snacks like granola bars and instant oatmeal, etc.

  18. Dealing with food allergies is difficult because I have to be brand specific on certain things and have to buy special stuff for my dd. Also, trying to keep fresh produce in the house is difficult and the kids just keep eating more and more! I want to make our diet healthier, but I can’t keep up with everything and rising food costs. We rarely eat out and I cook mostly from scratch. I just feel like I can’t win and can never keep it under $400 a month.

  19. I have noticed that the price of meat, dairy (I prefer organic if possible) and fruits/vegetables has really increased in my area. As a result, I often go to multiple stores in search of the best deals (one store for the best deals on meat, another for the best deals on dairy…). It is a hassle, but is definitely worth it.

    I also find that I am able to control my food budget better when I actually take the time to plan out a good portion of my meals. I am less likely to use eating out as an option if I have yummy meals already planned.

  20. Lana Lee Ferguson says:

    2nd Comment…
    I will chime in on what a family of four spends…. We buy 1/2 a beef which costs $656.00 CDN cut and wrapped and we buy 35 chickens costing $481.00 both meats will last one year. We purchase both from local farmers.

    Above that we budget $125.00 per week…so that is on average $500.00 per month..not including the previous mentioned meat.

    In a year we would spend over $7000.00 in groceries!! I am sure it will go up though since our two kids are only 7 years old!!

    Lana Lee (Saskatchewan, Canada)

  21. No time to cook! Or at least, I’m not prioritizing my time well enough to cook a great meal. Tonight, it’s hamburger helper and canned peaches. I tend to buy what’s easy to make.

  22. Price of groceries and a large family are wreaking havoc, but our biggest issues are eating takeout and convenience foods and waste. I am working on these issues.

    Jennifer

  23. i’ve been reading you for a while, but haven’t commented! I think food is much more expensive here in Australia. There are only tow of us and I spend up to $150.00 per week. Easily. My fruti and veg bill is around $60.00. Organic milk costs $7.00 for 2 litres. Granted, I don’t skimp on anything – I always buy good quality – but if I didn’t do that it would still be around $100, easily.

    For us, it is that produce and good quality is so expensive. I think if I cought all organic (probably 40% right now) it would be closer to $200. My husband eats a LOT – so that is another factor.

    Valerie

  24. On the end of Valerie’s comment… we just moved from Australia to the US. When in Australia we were spending upwards of $900-$1000AUD/month for our family of 4 (though the now 10-month old wasn’t eating anything in Aus). Now that we are in the US, and prices are VERY different (cheaper) here, I am trying to get our original $1000USD budget/month down to $600-$650/month. I am getting closer each month.

    I learnt how to cook from scratch whilst living in Australia, and not only is it much tastier and better for you, it is also a lot cheaper. The bulk of our spending is on fruit – we are all MASSIVE fruit eaters. I spend at least $40-$50/week just on fruit, and it’s all gone at the end of the week. Our other downfall is bad planning – at the end of the day I’ve completely forgotten or just haven’t gotten around to preparing my husband’s and my dinner (I plan the kids separately). So i call him and ask him to pick up a pizza at Ralph’s, or the like, and he inevitably grabs a few more things (he’s still obssessed with all the “different” snack foods we have here compared to Australia as he’s not from the States). So there’s another $15-$20 we weren’t going to spend.

    Inspired by Mary’s 30 days of nothing I’m trying to eliminate this unnecessary spending!

  25. I feel the need to stock up. I always buy five times more than we need; we never eat as much as I buy in a week.

    Another downfall is convenience foods like canned chili and frozen pizza. I just went through some rough weeks with my husband injured where I depended a bit more on convenience food, and now I have to wean myself off of it!

    The last thing is fruit. It is heavy, and the pounds add up fast. I don’t know how the three of us go through so much! I guess I should plant some trees.

  26. It’s my first visit to your blog… I will be back! For me it is the rising cost of food. I am buying the same types of food but I am spending more. I also find myself NOT buying as much fruit and veggies because of prices and that kills me.
    It costs more to be healthier…

  27. I would say rising food prices, food allergy needs (brand specific is a must in our home), and just plain quantity of food eaten.

  28. Prices going up, lack of time to cook, and lack of motivation/inspiration. I seem to go through phases where I am ultra-motivated to buy the best deals and make meals for as cheap as possible. Then I get a little worn out (like now) and get a little more careless with my shopping and drive to cook. Read: we have done Papa Murphy’s twice in about a week or 10 days.

  29. Rising costs of food prices is driving us insane! I saw cheese finally went back down the other day to 8 cups shredded for just under $8 (cost for block vs shredded is the same). I didn’t even look at the milk prices, it’s something we have to have anyway (I only have 4 kids). I’m doing ok on meat except ground beef (we cattle ranch, so I have steaks and pork in the freezers). The bread we like though is nearly $3/loaf. Its ridiculous! But even though I have tried other cheaper brands, two of my kids won’t even think about anything else. Weight Watcher frozen entrees take a little bit out. For hubby. So the rest of us can eat the kinds of food WE want and he can still have something healthy.

    One of my big problems is that we don’t have a day-old bread store, or anything like Costco out here. The nearest Sam’s is 2 hours away. It’s pretty much Walmart and that’s it.

  30. Definitely rising prices. I also like to try new and unusual recipes, which is not always compatible with keeping food costs low.

  31. Several things impact our grocery bill — 2 teenage girls who eat more than me most days; a husband who is a runner, swimmer and cyclist so he eats a lot; I work full-time so I do purchase some convenience items and also the rising cost of food. Not too long ago I could feed us for $400/mo (that’s a family of 4 w/2 kids ages 15 and 12) but now it’s $500/mo. We eat out occasionally, probably 2x month as a family and hubby and I eat out probably 3x a mo individually for lunch. I know we could do it for less but that would require me spending much of my weekends in the kitchen and I prefer to be spending time with family doing activities and making memories. It’s worth it to me to spend $ to make time for my girls.

  32. I think my budget killer is similar to many of the above comments. I spend a “little” money here and there on fast food ($10-$15/wk) and then convenience foods (granola bars, packaged applesauce, little boxes of raisins) which are mostly used for school and work lunches. We’re mostly vegetarian so meat isn’t so much a problem for me… We have a family of 5 (but one is a baby) and I budget $80/wk. for food. We’re able to meet it most times, but every now and then it gets blown by the above.
    I wonder if your grocery costs are very different depending upon what state you live in. We moved north from a middle state and I was sticker-shocked by the price of food!

  33. For us it is rising food prices, mainly dairy. We get all of our meat for $10 a week (occasionally a few dollars more, but I won’t spend more than an average of $15 a week). My son won’t eat much meat anyways, so I give him more cheese and he loves his milk! Milk used to be like $1.50 a gallon when we got married and rarely drank milk. Now with a kid it has risen to almost $4 a gallon!

    We rarely buy convenience foods, but when we do it can get pricey.

    We only eat out once a month (if that) and it’s usually around $15.

    We do not buy any organic foods, we simply cannot afford them, but I know that would kill our budget.

  34. Some of the staples (milk, flour, rice, potatoes) rose quickly a year or so a go, which hit us hard.

    I like to try new things, and wind up buying “exotic” (read: “expensive”) produce to try it out.

    A 6yo son that eats like a teenager.

  35. We have cut out eating out for the most part so I would have to say that the biggest thing is the grocery store. I went today and what used to cost 80 or 90 dollars cost me approx 120. Luckily that will get me through all week, plus a meal to take to our pastor, wife and family who just moved. But still! 30-40 dollar increase per week in about 7 months is really killing the food budget. I learned a lot last month though and if any of these meals makes too much I’ll skip cooking the next day and have leftovers-NO WASTE! is my new mantra.

  36. Dairy and produce. How do I keep it down: eat less cheese, as much as it pains me. Cheese is so pricey, I keep it for special occasions and for dog training anymore. Milk on the other hand, I am not cutting out for any reason. I need the nutrients in it. As for produce, I don’t try to eat fresh produce every day, and I buy stuff that is under-ripe and that I am willing to eat when it is over-ripe. Then I make it my eating priority to eat that until it’s gone so I don’t waste any. Say, bananas. I buy groceries once a week, I buy six bananas, I’m the only one eating them since I live alone. So I eat bananas at every snack for two or three days. Once they’re gone I go back to less perishable snacks such as cookies, until it’s grocery day again. That way there is less waste and I’m actually getting more servings of fruits and vegetables. I don’t know if it saves me money, but at least I use my money more wisely.

  37. I think buying the healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies, organic food, and other healthy stuff without preservatives.. that stuff is the most expensive for me.

  38. Meat is a big offender. I try to stretch a pound of hamburger into two meals but it’s hard. And I HATE handling raw chicken, so I need it as dish-ready as possible. I want to open it up and cook it, not wrestle it for half an hour. That convenience costs $$$.

    This sounds crazy but YOGURT. My boys are so picky (we’re working on that) and they only like the kid kind…which is crazy expensive. But it’s so convenient for their lunches.

    There are other things, for sure, but those are the things that come to mind. Improvements I’ve made, however:

    Stopped stocking my fridge with Diet Coke. Cans are 4 dollars a twelve pack!

    Stopped buying cookies for the boys. I make them or we get one when we go out. I do have Graham Crackers which I can feel better about by serving with peanut butter.

    Stopped buying bottled water, especially since temps are cooler and we don’t reach for it as often. We use our refillable bottles much more often.

    Sorry if I rambled a bit!

  39. I was buying a few small items yesterday (goodbye $55.00) and I was shocked/amused to see the kilo blocks of cheddar cheese on ‘special’ for $10.00. I remember when the special was $5.00 – only about three years ago. Crazy. Now, the normal price is around $12.00 and this ain’t fancy cheese.

    We do grow some of our own veggies, but honestly? I don’t know fi that saves any money for us. When you add up the cost of soil, water, fertilizer and so on, it is rather $$$.

    When I read American blogs talking about food prices I always think how cheap it seems over there! House prices, too.

  40. I’m allergic to many preservatives and sulfites that didn’t used to be in most food. Now they are everywhere. We have to purchase organic a lot of the time, just so I have something to eat!

    We have, however, canceled our subscription to “Bon Appetit.” We just can’t afford to cook those recipes. (Nor do we really have the time anymore.)

    We’ve also been working on reducing waste. I attribute my new-found focus on this to you and also Jeanna of Days to Come.

  41. our #1 problem would definitely be eating out. i wish we were better about it. we work on setting limits, but it should be eliminated except for special occasions. IMHO.

    but i’m the main perpetrator, as I have migraines and struggle to cook dinner every day. too often, i’d rather order pizza or go to a restaurant. the alternative is often a nearly-made freezer meal, which also costs a lot unless i’ve made it myself.

  42. Definitely rising grocery costs as well as trying to eat healthier. Fresh fruit and veggies are fairly expensive. We do several meatless meals a week, and I typically only buy ground beef and chicken – we rarely buy any “fancier” meat. We’re a family of 4, and typically spend $500/month. This includes diapers, shampoo, toilet paper, etc. – anything you’d get at Walmart.

  43. Honestly, the reason I struggle to keep it the grocery bill in check is overbuying and consequently overcooking and overbaking. I love to cook and bake and with only 2 of us (and DH eats school lunch) we can’t eat it fast enough. I don’t tire of leftovers, I just have too many. I also bake a lot for church, Sunday School, the office, Small Group…basically any excuse to make some bars! My chest freezer is full to the brim, even though I just came off 30 days of Nothing! Still working on the stockpile.

  44. I am trying, trying to save money…. to buy just the basics and cook from scratch, buy store brands, etc. HOWEVER my husband has much different tastes than me and gets ‘bored’ with what I buy, then goes and spends another $30 on “his food”…

  45. just another mom says:

    I have 2 teenagers and 3 preteens. One thing I have noticed is they eat more now, all of them. Tag that along with the rising cost of everything and you have me stressed out in the check out line. We are also trying to break the convience food factor and make more of our meals homemade. To those that say eating healthier is cheaper, hogwash. It is more expensive.
    Ok that is part one. Part two of the struggle is my husband. He figures he works a hard job so he ought to be able to eat whatever he wants. And that would be ding dongs, hoho’s cupcakes, candy bars, and mountain dew. I’m the last one to find out how much money he spent on this junk. What to do?
    Oh yes I am guilty to. Someone else mentioned it above. That their favorites restaurants were their form of therapy. Me too! That is when I can actually get away from all of this madness!!

    I do have to agree we all spend a lot, if not to much, on food.

  46. I can find the deals and do good with what I spend. My problem is keeping the kids from eating more because there is more. I have to ration it. I think I need a lock for the pantry. I did come up with a good idea because they know I hide stuff so they look in all kinds of places to see if I hid anything. I am going to get a rubbermaid box and put in extras and cover them with sanitary pads, I have a million free from Walmart. That should keep them away.

  47. Normally? Eating organically.

    Right now? Pregnancy. No desire to cook or grocery shop means too much eating out.

  48. I would have to agree that the most difficult thing for me currently is the desire to eat organically and the super high prices of organic foods here in the south. There are rarely any coupons for my favorite organic foods and I just don’t feel that cutting corners and eating less than the best will do us any good in the long run. My hubby always says- eating this way (organic and vegetarian) may be expensive, but it’s cheaper than chemotherapy or a heart bypass- a bit extreme, but also very true. 🙂

    Hope this helps!!

    Jenn W
    One House Schoolroom
    http://www.OneHouseSchoolroom.com

  49. Our food budget is astronomical for our family of 8. Now that one is in college and the 2 6-foot boys are at school all day, it’s a tiny bit better. Summer was a shock with all of them home! We’re talking $1500 per month, or more.

    Since the Month of Nothing, I’ve been doing better. We’re poised to spend only $1200 this month simply by keeping track of expenses at the store and shopping with menus all planned. There is a strict limit on how much I can spend in a week. And I haven’t stopped buying meat or certain organic items. I don’t have a garden either. Just being restrained and not “stocking up” has made a difference.

    BTW, I tagged you for a photo game at my place. I hope you don’t mind! Maybe we’ll see a pic of your beautiful family.

  50. My budget is pretty stable right now. We brought our preemie home 3 weeks ago and we are under strict orders to stay home. No quick trips to the store or out to eat. I cook what is here and that is what we eat.

    I think I’m am spending about $175 a week for our family of 10. That includes everything but I only have one in diapers right now.