Our Frugal Grocery List Revealed
We’ve all gotta have it, we’ve all gotta buy it (except for the freegans among us), it’s a necessary part of life, yet the ways to consume it range from five star to down home. I’m speaking, of course, about every frugal weirdo’s favorite topic (second to greyhounds): food. Grocery bills and eating out can wreck a budget–or, they can be reined in and rational. I think it’s all too easy to assume that our groceries are a fixed expense, when in reality, they’re positively rife with opportunities for savings. Rife, I tell you.
I’ve discussed the fact that we don’t meal plan, shared how we’ve eaten everything out of our cupboards, divulged the dirt on frugalizing groceries, maligned food waste, exposed breakfast for the hidden destroyer it truly is, and given you the keys to our frugal kingdom: Mr. Frugalwoods’ epic rice-n-beans recipe. Yet over and over I’ve received the query: “but, what do you eat???”
Our total grocery bill for two adults ranges from $300-$330/month. That’s all in folks. Since we don’t eat out or get take out, this amount includes every scrap of food and drop of drink we consume all month long including alcohol and coffee.
Mr. Frugalwoods, our resident chef, cooks all of our meals–primarily from scratch–and doesn’t use many packaged or processed ingredients. We could spend less every month if we scaled back some of our produce, but that’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I am a frugal weirdo to the core, but some things are worth spending money on.
Full disclosure, I honestly don’t know if this is a totally boring topic or not, but folks have asked and hey, I’m all for transparency. So, here’s what we eat–and shop for–on a regular basis. I feel like this is tantamount to sharing pictures of your breakfast on Facebook, but then again, I have shared pictures of my lunch on Twitter… more than once…
Behold, The Frugalwoods Weekday Menu
- Oats (bulk, raw, $0.10 per serving):
- With a banana for Mr. Frugalwoods
- With dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice for Mrs. Frugalwoods
- Rice and beans ($0.39 per serving)
- Salad of organic mixed greens (no dressing)
- Organic apple
- Conventional banana (for Mrs. Frugalwoods; Mr. FW ate his at breakfast)
- More seltzer
- Green Tea
- Option 1: homemade hummus with raw broccoli, raw green pepper, and air-popped popcorn (if you’ve never dipped popcorn in hummus, you haven’t truly lived)
- Option 2: frozen salmon (don’t worry, we thaw and cook it first) with a salad of mixed greens and homemade vinaigrette
- With, obviously, seltzer
- Dried fruit (OK, this is super expensive even though we buy it in bulk from Costco. But, we both crave a little sweet at the end of the day and this is the best idea we have for a healthy, yet tasty, treat).
- Tea or hot chocolate (true confessions, I’m the only one who drinks the hot chocolate. Mr. FW is far more noble with his tea-only consumption in the evenings).
This menu plan (or lack thereof) works really well for us—it’s mostly healthy, the only meat is the occasional fish for dinner, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables. And, it’s uber frugal. Do we deviate from this? Absolutely! And six months from now, we’re likely to have a completely different rotation of dishes going on. But this beautiful system of efficiency and money-saving goodness is simply scrumptious to us.
Getting Frugal & Funky On The Weekends
We consider the weekends a time of “treat” meals, so we typically indulge in higher calorie dishes like pastas and the occasional–though infrequent–meat. We’re not going out for our Friday and Saturday night dates, so Mr. FW is known to cook such exotic things as:
Homemade guacamole (yes, we do buy packaged tortilla chips to dip)
- Pasta puttanesca (Frugal Hound’s personal favorite due to the nip of anchovy she gets every time he makes it)
- Homemade breads of sundry shapes, sizes, and persuasions (boules, loaves, baguettes, even the occasional roll)
- Homemade blueberry pancakes
- Scrambled eggs with onion, garlic, and greens
- Homemade scones
- Homemade soups: split pea, vegetarian chili, lentil, and more
Frozen pizza! This is the one glaring, gigantic outlier and exception to our otherwise processed-free/packaged-free pantry. We eat a frozen–and absolutely delicious–Costco pizza for dinner every Friday night. And we loves it. Is it healthy? Heck no. But is it a tasty treat and a break from cooking every single other meal for Mr. FW? Heck yes!
As the resident sweets baker, I’ve been experimenting with a number of different quasi-healthy/quasi-dessert recipes in an effort to wean us off dried fruit and onto a cheaper option. I’m trying to strike a reasonable balance between tasty and healthy, so if you have recipes that fit this bill, let me know! Recently I’ve made:
Banana bread: delicious but not terribly healthy
- Pumpkin oatmeal cookies: delicious but not terribly healthy
- Sugarless oatmeal spice cookies with applesauce instead of butter: not gonna lie, these don’t taste all that great… I think I swung too far to the healthy side. They’re sort of like dog biscuits…
- Chocolate chip cookies with applesauce instead of butter: probably my best success at incorporating good flavor with less fat
How Do We Shop?
Since it’s difficult to encapsulate what we buy in weekly increments, I went ahead and outlined what we buy throughout the year. I’m sure I’m forgetting things on this list, but this is the basic composition of our shopping list on an annual basis. This doesn’t account for fancy, outlier meals (such as Thanksgiving, which we host every year) or snazzy desserts I make for celebrations.
We unfortunately don’t have a reasonably priced CSA or farmer’s market in our immediate neighborhood. And, we lack the land to grow a garden and are still on the waiting list for the community garden (just a few drawbacks to city living…). Thus, we’re reliant on Costco and our discount supermarket, Market Basket.
Bought in Bulk Every Few Months (from Costco unless otherwise noted):
20 lb bag of basmati rice
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Spices (from Penzey’s Spices)
- Chili Paste
- Organic peanut butter (from the grocery store)
- Pasta (10 boxes in a pack!)
- Anchovies (used in pasta puttanesca)
- Olives (a tasty snack)
- Capers (delicious on pasta)
- Baking supplies: baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, almond extract, etc
Bought in Bulk Every Month (from Costco unless otherwise noted):
- 7 lb box of oats
- Quinoa: sometimes we have quinoa for lunch in lieu of the rice-n-beans
- Lentils: for lentil soups
- Split peas
Black beans: for use in the rice and beans
- Garbanzo beans: for homemade hummus
- Frozen wild-caught salmon
- Block of cheese!
- Crushed tomatoes
- Frozen pizzas: for Friday nights, woo-hoo!! These pizzas are also on-hand in case of emergency. Since we don’t eat out or order in, we need these babies in the freezer just in case something wild happens and we can’t cook dinner one night.
- Dried fruit
- 1 box of red wine (which sometimes lasts more than a month)
- 1 12-pack of beer (which lasts more than a month)
- Organic half-n-half (from the grocery store)
- Hot chocolate
Weekly From the Grocery Store:
Organic mixed salad greens
- Organic apples or pears (whichever is cheapest)
- Green pepper
- Avocado, cilantro, limes, tortilla chips (if making guacamole)
- Miscellaneous other vegetables for recipes
- Popcorn (kernels, which we pop in our air popper)
We eagerly await the glorious day when we’re on the homestead and can grow our own food (and hopefully not kill it all before harvest time…), but until then, we’re grocery-bound. Our methods aren’t perfect, but we feel like we’ve struck a reasonable balance between healthy, frugal, and relatively quick meals. What do you think?
How do you grocery shop? What do you eat? Frugal tips, tricks, and hacks welcome!
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Although I LOVE rice and beans (especially black beans), that dish has to be pretty much off our menu due to dietary/medical reasons related to the carbo content of the dish. But even without that very frugal option for our meals, and though we are heavy meat/pork/chicken eaters, our monthly cost for “groceries, pet stuff, and household sundries” runs around $400 for 2 adults, 2 cats, and 2 dogs. We don’t break it down any further because it all gets bought together and paid for on the same receipts at either Wal-Mart, Dollar General or the local grocery chain store (concentrating there on weekly specials and sale items).
We do have indulgences, and one of mine is K-cup French Roast coffee. I drink 2 cups a day. But, thanks to credit cash back rewards taken as store gift cards, I haven’t paid for a single cup in years! 😉
Same here with the lack of rice and beans option… it makes me sad!
Bummer on the rice and beans! But, everybody’s got to find what works for them. Alex–way to go on the cash back rewards, nicely done! We have Amazon cash back rewards and it’s such a great system. Gotta love free stuff!
Well, I guess it’s a *little* boring but I post my own grocery list every single week so I can’t complain 🙂 It helps me keep on track. Couple of comments to this: have you tried making your own tortilla chips? I suggest this not because it would be cheaper (it might or might not be, I have no idea) but because it’s *delicious* and quite easy. Just cut up flour tortillas and either fry them (in about an inch of oil) or brush with oil and bake. (In both cases you’ll need to flip them in the middle so they crisp evenly on both sides.) I’m also curious what kind of dried fruit you’re buying. Maybe not now, but after you move, a dehydrator seems like it might be a good option for you — you can buy in bulk during the summer, slice and dry at home, and then have supplies all year. Also, I think you should consider worrying less about calorie consumption — you’re both thin, and especially after you move you’ll need to eat enough to keep going as you work hard! So, I’m not saying eat beignets for breakfast every morning, but I think you don’t necessarily need to worry about baking stuff that doesn’t taste good. Personally, I’ve dialed back slowly on the amount of sugar that I put into recipes over the years, and I sometimes use yogurt instead of oil (or make similar moves) and swap in some whole wheat flour…things like that. But I flat-out won’t give up butter and real sugar/honey in favor of substitutes I find kind of chemical and gross.
It’s actually quite easy to make your own tortillas (both corn and flour). And for making chips, you can skip the press or rolling out round and just roll it out as thin as you can (and bake) or use a pasta roller (even better, because the thickness is exactly even). I make all my own crackers with the pasta roller, and will be doing tortilla chips next month when I finally make a new batch of salsa.
Oooo homemade chips! I’m in love with this idea, you guys. Thank you! Tortilla chips have been our one packaged thing (well, those and the pizza 😉 ) and I love the idea of making them ourselves.
Regarding the dried fruit, C–I know you eat raisins, which are cheaper, but I hate raisins! We get dried prunes, figs, dates, cherries, blueberries, and cranberries. But, we actually didn’t buy them this month in favor of me trying out the baked goods experiment train. I like the idea of getting a dehydrator–I could see that really working out in our favor when we’re on the homestead and can grow the fruit ourselves.
Yogurt and whole wheat flour are great ideas too. I haven’t ventured down that path yet, but sounds like a good plan. I would just love to have desserts that are somewhat nutritious (like the dried fruit). I agree, I think we’ll be eating a lot more once we’re doing physical labor on the homestead. But as office lumps right now, we’ve gotta watch it!
Thank you both for all the great suggestions!
Pretty much any recipe can be subbed at least 50/50 whole wheat with little tinkering. The caveat is that many bags of whole wheat in stores are quite stale. King Arthur around here is reliably nasty, and most other major brands aren’t much better. The only brand I’ve been able to get consistent results with is “Dakota Maid”, which also happens to be ridiculously cheap at $0.50/lb.
Soon I won’t have to worry about that. I have a grain mill on the way and I’ll be able to grind my own fresh flours.
I don’t know if you’re still checking your comments this far back, but one of my favorite “healthy” treats is putting frozen mango in a food processor. It chops up the fruit in tiny bits, and if you keep processing past that point the bits turn into a soft serve “ice cream”. Its wonderful and needs no additional sugar. Bananas and avocados will do this as well. Bananas are especially nice with cocoa powder and natural peanut butter and avocados are good with lime juice (may need a bit of sweetener for this combo).
I’m with you on the butter, sugar, and honey. I know how to make butter at home, and what goes into it. I couldn’t tell you what makes up the synthetic substitutes. And their taste is no where near as good.
That’s awesome that you make your own butter! I’m not a fan of the synthetic ingredients either. I’d much rather know exactly what I’m eating.
Thanks for the transparency!! And it wasn’t boring either:) Its very motivating. Love the blog!
You are most welcome, Karen! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it 🙂
We’re trying to move to a more clean eating diet and at the moment, spend about £130 a month for our food which I’m happy with 🙂 we do have frozen pizza as well as the odd indulgence and good coffee 🙂
Wow–£130/month is incredible! I am super impressed!!!
This was an awesome post! We’ve recently introduced our Little Miss and her friends to air popped popcorn and it’s been a real hit! It’s so cheap, it’s so entertaining and yummy!
We were doing frozen pizza’s every Friday last year too. We’re on the fence on whether to reinstate Pizza Friday and whether to try homemade again. With the amount of cheese we put on our one attempt the costs are pretty even so frozen might win out. So yummy!
Love the air popped ‘corn! So darn cheap, hilarious to make, and tasty!
I love all types of pizzas–anytime and anywhere. The frozen ones we get from Costco are actually pretty tasty. Mr. FW makes a mean homemade pizza (dough and all), but I gotta give the man a night off 😉
Thanks for stopping by :)!
Sometimes it is nice to give yourself a little “treat” even if making it homemade might be cheaper in the long/short term.
I love reading grocery lists! It’s amazing what the same amount of money can buy with different cooking/eating habits. Food in our area is wonderfully cheap, so we have quite a bit more variety in our meals on the same budget as you.
That being said, I agree with the above commenter about possibly allowing yourself the use of butter when baking. As you probably know, our bodies do need some fat. The real kicker in desserts is the flour and sugar, not the butter (or sub a healthy oil like coconut).
One thing that stood out to me in your post is using premade hot chocolate mix. It’s super simple and cheaper to make your own! All you really need is cocoa powder and sugar, though the addition of a tiny bit of salt, powdered milk (especially if you already buy it), and even a drop of vanilla extract or dash of cinnamon makes it almost a luxury.
Thanks for sharing!
Oooo, thank you so much for the homemade hot chocolate recipe! I confess I’d never considered making it myself before! I like the additions of vanilla extract and cinnamon–sounds delicious. The packs of it I buy are super cheap, but, I’m sure they’re full of weird chemicals… Thanks for the tip, Marie!
You should try it! I made it from scratch the other day because I had a big tub of cocoa powder that a coworker gave me and didn’t know what to do with it. I’m never going back to premade mix again. It’s sooo much better from scratch! Plus, if you’re feeling extra fancy, you can make it with milk instead of water & powdered milk. Mmmm.
I’ll have to give it a whirl :)!
Did you like it? I was going to comment on the same thing. Equal parts cocoa and sugar stirred into hot almond milk with a dribble of vanilla is AMAZING! And if you stick a vanilla bean in a jar and add vodka, voila! A few weeks later you have vanilla extract. Never pay too much for the store bought stuff again. Reuse that bean over and over. Or even easier, put a vanilla bean in your sugar bowl and the sugar will be infused with vanilla. Then you don’t have to pay for the alcohol.
I like this kind of post – thanks for sharing. I’m just getting started on a more frugal lifestyle, so seeing the simplified grocery shopping giving me some ideas on how to simplify my eating/cooking routine. I’m at the use up the freezer/pantry stage right now, so once I work my way through that, I’ll be working on trimming down my weekly food purchases. I’m also almost done a successful 2 month no spending on clothes/shoes/jewellry etc. phase! 🙂
Woohoo Laura! Way to go on 2 months of no clothes buying! That’s awesome! And, good luck on the eat all the things challenge! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
It’s a difficult question because everyone has a different definition of “healthy” but I do make lots of “healthy” muffins. Mostly with healthy food, my goals are less processed, nutritionally dense, and minimum added sugar. Here is what I do:
1) replace white flour with white wheat flour. Nutritionally it is a whole grain, just a different type of wheat, but it’s closer in taste to white flour.
2) replace some of the flour (like 3 TBS) with ground flax seed. I
3) replace half of the oil or butter with applesauce, banana, or pumpkin. You can replace all of it, but I don’t care for the results. I do this mostly bc my husband slathers the muffin with butter regardless of how much butter is in the recipe.
4) cut the sugar to 1/4 of what is called for. You won’t notice bc the recipe will be sweeter from the added mashed fruit replacing half the fat.
5) you can go further- replace eggs with flax, yogurt, or more mashed fruit, for example. I don’t do this bc I think eggs are very healthy and also bc the results are not quite as good. But you could try it if you don’t like using eggs.
I share your definition of healthy, so these all sound like great ideas to me. We do eat eggs and I definitely like to keep them in recipes–that’s actually one of the problems I’ve been having in finding good “healthy” recipes–a lot of them omit the eggs, which I think are one of the healthiest parts! Thanks again for the tips–I’ll be back to my kitchen drawing board this weekend 🙂
“Dried fruit (OK, this is super expensive even though we buy it in bulk from Costco. But, we both crave a little sweet at the end of the day and this is the best idea we have for a healthy, yet tasty, treat).”
Have you thought about making a dehydrator? I made one for under something like $10… I made this but only did it for jerky. It was fantastic. They had a way to do it with fruit using aluminum window screens.
And to be frank, I’m pretty hungry looking at your meals. Maybe it’s the seltzer water that fills you guys? I have to stick with regular water for me. It’s fantastic and I just have to pay for the filter on my fridge.
When I’m eating clean (not a lot of processed foods), I find that I need a TON to fill in the gap. It’s unbelievable how many calories are crammed into the processed carbs. Like if you wanted to have the equivalent of rice and mushrooms, there’d be a ton of mushrooms! I find that when I’m including nice fatty meats, I’m much more satiated, and I end up not having to eat big meals at all. Lots of little ones.
Either way though, if it works for you, I’m not going to knock it. We buy our beef in bulk to minimize costs, and we got a chest freezer on Black Friday to store it all (the only item I bought!).
I’m intrigued by the dehydrator idea–we hadn’t considered that before. Thanks for the tip!
And, nicely done on the chest freezer!
It’s like you welcomed me into your home, threw open all the cupboards and let me poke around! Now if only this post came with a slice of Mr. FW homemade bread! Thanks for sharing!
Haha, you’re most welcome! Glad you enjoyed it! And, I wish I had some of his homemade bread right about now too 🙂
I have to say – impressive! It is amazing how low you can get grocery bills when you eat simply, and not pre-packaged food. I am trying to get Mr SSC into liking bean soup – made a black bean soup this week, which he ate for two dinners! And next week, I’m going to try a lentil… if I can just get him to eat vegetarian a few days a week, I think it will help the grocery bill quite a bit!
Hooray for beans! They really are a magically cheap protein source. Way to go on converting Mr SSC to veg meals :)!
My meal plan is pretty similar to yours, sans pizza, plus much more meat. I remember trying to stick with making veggie based dishes for a couple weeks– lots of chickpeas, lentils, mushrooms, and tofu involved– but I always ended up feeling suuuuper hungry. I pretty much just make a meal plan once a week and shop exclusively at the Whole Foods near my house due to convenience / they lure me in with fancy cheeses.
Oh Whole Foods cheeses…. not gonna lie, we sometimes go to the big Whole Foods over on Beacon Street just to scope out the cheese (and other) samples and then we’ll buy the tiniest block of cheese to munch on. It’s like going to a spa compared to our usual Market Basket 😉
Do you have a Trader Joe’s? They have decent prices on some nice cheeses.
I love reading posts like these! I spend about $400 per month on groceries for our family of 3. (I say “about” because that’s the goal, but I typically go a bit over.)
I have to admit, when I read your menu, my thought was , “I’d be so hungry!” Especially just eating hummus and veggies for dinner! But this may be why I’m a bit, ahem, better-padded, than you are. 🙂 Also, my very unhealthy-eating husband would rebel, big time. I do try to limit our meat consumption to 1-2 dinners per week (not including leftovers), mainly because meat is so expensive. Plus, since my daughter is super-picky and rarely wants to eat what I make, my husband and I end up eating leftovers for several days. One or two days is fine, but anything gets old by the third day. (Except maybe brownies.)
Thanks for this fun peak into your shopping cart and kitchen!
I had the same reaction – my partner and I eat probably twice this amount (eek). We’re runners who put in 15-30 miles per week, more during marathon training season. Our grocery bill goes up with our mileage, but it’s worth it to us for the health benefits. Right now I’m taking some time off from running, and I have to remind myself that I don’t need to buy as much food!
Amy–$400/month for three sounds pretty good to me! I honestly don’t even miss meat. Once we stopped eating it, we just got used to our new norm. We’ll still eat it on occasion though.
R–We are not runners, so we can’t eat as much :)! Totally makes sense that your grocery bill increases with your mileage. And, definitely worth it for the health benefits!
I definitely eat a LOT more than that in a day. And I’m pretty small, several years older, and have actually been losing weight that I wasn’t really trying to lose (because of working out and not having the time to eat any more than I already do!). We walk everywhere. EVERYWHERE.. Exercise 3-4 times a week (high intensity interval training or strength training) and go up and down 4 flights of stairs in our townhouse every day so I guess that’s why we need so much food? I won’t even share our grocery bill here. (it includes 2 kids who are young but also constantly moving). I haven’t been able to get it any lower—when I do get a lower bill on the big weekend shop, we end up running clean out of food by mid-week and have to re-stock.
We walk everywhere too–it’s such an awesome aspect of living in the city!
Thanks for sharing. I’ve been having a hard time determining a good monthly grocery budget (two adults and 2 big dogs). Does the $300-330 include your pet food and household items?
Hi Darcy, you’re most welcome! Great question–the $300-$330 does not include Frugal Hound’s food or any household items. I list those separately every month under “Household Goods Costco” on our monthly expense reports, which are all here: http://www.frugalwoods.com/category/monthly-expense-reports/
Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions!
This is a great post – not boring at all! I love reading about what people eat, haha. We currently spend between $500-$600 on groceries/food/coffee/restaurants each month for our family of four. It could be less, but we’re doing better than before now that we are keeping track!
A “healthy dessert” I used to make was freezing bananas (slice them first and wrap in tin foil before freezing) and blending with a bit of soy milk and cinnamon. It tastes just like ice cream, but it’s just bananas. It’s obviously a cold dish so for you guys it might be better to try during the summer! I also am a huge fan of no-bake cookies. Super unhealthy and I’m trying to find a version that’s better for you. But…they do have 3 cups of oats per batch 🙂
Your frozen banana concoction sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing! That’ll be a good one for the summertime for sure.
Thanks for sharing Mrs. FW! We do the large majority of our shopping at Costco as well, sans wind power though. 🙁 With the 5 of us we budget $575/month for food, which does include eating out…but with three little ones we abhor being “That family” at restaurants so we usually have money leftover at the end of the month. They’ve added a ton of organic stuff at our Costco over the past year or two which has been great because it’s usually pretty reasonable. We do a lot of veggies, whole grains and chicken/salmon. Our main indulgence is usually craft beer, especially now that I home brew. I just need to find a way to be more economical about it…as while I’m waiting for it to be ready I want to buy some to hold me over. 🙂
$575 for 5 people is awesome–wow! Costco really is such a great resource. And, it’s nice to see all the organic stuff they have now! Mmmmm craft beer….. Mr. FW has been enjoying Founder’s All Day IPA lately, which coincidentally, we get at Costco in their liquor shop. It’s about $16 for the 15-pack of cans and it’s quite a nice beer.
Man, you & Mr. FW can get Founders at your Costco!? The best, and I use that term relatively loosely, is Sam Adams. Looks like I need to talk to our Costco. 🙂
You definitely need to talk to your Costco! We were pretty thrilled to find that Founders–delicious and way cheaper than the liquor store. My beef with our Costco is that they don’t have good prices on boxed wine.
Definitely a fun experiment. Right after Mini Maroons #1 .was born, we started eating MUCH less processed foods. I try to use real food as much as possible. We tend to do worse during the winter though. The cold weather and dark nights have us turning to comfort foods more often than I’d like. Summer meals generally consist of a meat and some veggies out on the grill. I don’t like sending Mr. Maroon out in the dark (yes, we do have porch lights) and cold (yes, he could put on a coat) as often though in the winter. My monthly goal is ~$400 for two adults, plus one three-year-old that often eats like an adult. And soon we will be adding in some table foods for Mini Maroon #2… lots of fun! And MANY more baths in our near future!!
$400 for the three of you sounds pretty excellent to me! We can’t even find our grill right now… it’s out there somewhere in our shed, which is buried in snow ;). Someday we’ll grill again!
That’s exciting you’ll be adding table food for Mini #2–fun! Frugal Hound wishes we’d add table food for her too.
Great post! I always find it interesting to see what other people eat. I’ve tried to decrease down our grocery bill but haven’t figured it out yet. My fiance and I are very active, some might call us extreme, so we do eat a lot of protein, I want to incorporate more non-meat protein options in our diets. For your chic peas and beans do you buy them in cans or do you make them yourselves? I’ve played with the idea of making my own to cut down on the salt but I wasn’t sure if the time was worth it as I always see to find them on sale for .99 cents a can.
I know dried fruit is expensive so many one day you’ll find a dehydrator in the trash or on the side of the road one day 🙂
Good question on the beans–we buy them in cans. They’re very cheap from Costco (the garbanzo beans come in a gigantic can), so that has worked well for us. Good luck on your bean quest!!
I would LOVE to find a dehydrator by the side of the road :). I found a fondue pot and an apple corer by the side of the road in the fall, so fingers crossed!
An FYI – carbonation of any type robs the bones of minerals
Frugal Hound is cute in her house-wear!
I had this concern, too, but it hasn’t held up to science.
It’s always fun for me to see how other people navigate the grocery store…I could be into stranger things, right?!? When pomegranates were on sale around Christmas, we fully took advantage of that to satiate the sweet tooth, but typically I’m with you on the hot chocolate. Thanks for sharing your strategies for saving time and money–I love the simplicity.
Hahaha, I love seeing what people eat and how much money they spend too, so hey, as long as we’re in this together ;). Mmmm pomegranates sound lovely!
We spend about 500/month for a family of 5. My favorite hack is to buy the almost expired chicken breasts. Everyone else passes them up for the “fresh” chicken. They are not expired and still fine. They are within a few days of their date and they get marked down to 1.39 per pound! I immediately trim them and butterfly them and then freeze them in family dinner sized portions. I grab what I will need for one dinner and the rest can stay frozen. Some would scoff at the freezing part but I will do just about anything for 1.39/pound chicken.
Except $1.39 chicken is almost certainly cruelly raised and (to me) tasteless. I need to find a farmer that does good pastured broilers. Usually they’re not very expensive (often as little as $2/lb, and you get the bones as a bonus for making bone broth) and so much tastier, just haven’t finished my research on chicken yet as we’re mainly a beef/pork household.
I can’t say enough good things about Farmer Dave’s CSA – several pickup spots in the Cambridge/Somerville area (although times aren’t the most convenient). I’m out of the city now and growing most of my own produce, but when I lived in town we were coming out well ahead vs. buying at the grocery store. Plus the experimentation possibilities with random vegetables is endless!
Thank you for the tip, D! I will have to check them out. I’m woefully remiss in doing serious comparison shopping between CSAs, so that shall be my task for the spring :). Also, very nice that you’re growing your own produce now–I confess I’m jealous!
Ah, pesky allergies getting in my way.
On the baking note, I wouldn’t be so concerned about cutting out fat, our bodies need some and it also keeps us satiated. The sugar and the empty carbs are really the kicker.
You have me dreaming of dried mangos due to reading this, though. I love them and don’t buy them because I just eat them all. We have a huge bag of dates that we bought with a group order a few months ago, that have really been hitting the sugar spot lately. This week’s salads are topped with a delicious cashew and date topping 🙂
Definitely. Fat is very important, particularly omega-3 rich sources (plants have short-chain, which most people can convert; some people can’t convert plant omega-3 into the long-chain our bodies need, so good sources are wild animals, cod liver oil with guaranteed analysis, and grass-fed/finished beef and dairy, especially rich summer butter like KerryGold).
Dried mangos ;)!!!!
I’m cool with some fat, it’s just that most of these cookie recipes call for huge amounts of butter. Am hoping to sub out at least some of that. I need a good sub for sugar, or maybe just need to use less sugar because the sugarless cookies do not taste too good…
Applesauce is a common fat substitute. Sugar is harder, because it affects the texture quite a bit. And by the time you’ve taken out some fat AND some sugar, what’s left isn’t a cookie. It’s a flat muffin (at least that’s what I’ve found, and I experimented a bunch when I was younger). So just make muffins! Lots of really healthy ways to make a tasty muffin.
I totally made muffins with applesauce yesterday (for a frugal potluck we hosted last night) and they turned out pretty decent :)!
I love peeking in to see what people eat and how they grocery shop. Compared to you guys I eat a lot more I think per day. lol! It’s seriously a wonder I don’t weigh 300 pounds. I tried lite snacks like just an apple or a banana, but I’m starving one hour later. Like your frugal “weirdness” I think I’m a weird eater. ha ha! That being said, I think I can shave off a few things here and there.
You’re also the workout queen! So I totally think you should eat more! You beach runner you 😉
I live in Baltimore and have a tiny city patio as my yard space as well. As long as you get sunlight, you can grow veggies in self watering planters on the porch (I did diy version in 5gal buckets and Rubbermaid containers).
Nice! That’s a great idea!
I must try popcorn dipped in hummus!! I never even thought of that! I love love love Costco!
Oh it’s so good. You won’t be sorry 🙂
if I may, you can get your dried fruit (we prefer cherries & raisins) from amazon subscribe and save for infinitely cheaper than whatever you’re paying at costco, plus you dont have to leave the house to get it.
We pay just over 7/lb for dried cherries, you acn get a 10 lb (!!!) box of raisins for 3.25/lb .
Both much better than anything I’ve found in the store here. If you do subscribe and save and get more than 6 things (we fill ours out with toilet paper, dog treats & trash bags) you get 15% off the order.
Good to know! The Costco cherries we get are $7.99 for 1.25 lbs, so it’s comparable, but I should check out Amazon for food. We order just about everything else from there (using our Amazon cash back rewards Visa), but I confess we’ve never gotten food from them. Thanks for the tip!
We eat A LOT a like…except I drink Perrier LOL. But, I’m going to switch to a Soda Stream soon. I don’t eat pizza often after making it for 4 years in college. And, maybe just maybe I eat a lot of chocolate….The big thing that I notice from your posts about food is that you actually COOK your food. Crazy I tell you. I just don’t know how people who don’t cook can save money on food. I would be interested to see how they do it. But, I like to cook my own food!
Haha, yes! You’ve got to cook! Sodastream has been a great way for us to save but still indulge in the bubbly 🙂
You know, my favourite thing is to hear about the everyday details of people’s lives. When people are doing something extraordinary, like you two are, it is the little choices that they make that add up to significantly different lives. I know I suggested The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing before, but it is funny because they eat a very similar diet to what you two do. I think you would be surprised. And they love fruits and veggies. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much Shelagh! You’re very sweet to say that our groceries are “extraordinary” ;). We still have The Good Life on reserve at the library–it just hasn’t been available yet (I guess I should be excited so many people are reading it!).That’s very interesting to know about their diet, huh. Thanks, as always, for stopping by :)!
Nice variety in your grocery lists, and I love the meatless dinner options! A friend taught me how to make homemade guacamole a while back and it really is a treat. I also love my air popper and baking sweets instead of buying them. I made a frozen pizza last night actually, it’s not my top choice for dinner but I’m avoiding dining out this month and I’m also a little under the weather this week so the frozen pizza comes to the rescue when I absolutely don’t feel like cooking.
I’m with you on the rescue frozen pizzas :)! They really are a lifesaver when we just can’t face cooking–they’ve saved us from getting take-out more than once! And, hooray for homemade guacamole and desserts.
Okay that’s an impressive list / budget. Were I live there are many ethnic grocery stores where groceries are much cheaper than major chains. It definitely helps me save on food.
That’s great you have access to inexpensive grocery options–a key part of a frugal life! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Thanks for a few new ideas. Although, the kids can be picky. They only like fish if it’s the unhealthy, breaded, processed kind found in fishsticks.
I’m a bit surprised at the lack of variety in your weekday dinner menu, with the same lunch every day I expected that you would have more dinner options. Also, there’s no pasta – isn’t that usually a major staple on the grocery list of a frugal weirdo?
Fishsticks! I loved those as a kid too :). Yeah, we keep our Monday-Thursday dinners very simple since Mr. FW has to cook them after a long day of work and then whatever we’ve got going on in the evenings. So, it’s been easiest for us to just have those on autopilot (all part of how we don’t meal plan).
And then we do eat pasta on the weekends from time to time as a special treat. I LOVE pasta, but we try not to eat it too often since it’s loaded with carbs. But oh man is it yummy!
I love reading these kinds of details! Sounds like you guys have things mostly on autopilot, which is great. We spend a similar amount buying similar foods. Although we buy a little more meat and fruit. I make our beer and wine, so that’s a small victory in the cost category, but it makes me happy 🙂 Have you guys ever thought about home-brewing? It’s super fun and easy. Keep up the awesome work with the blog!
Thanks so much! Home brewing is near the top of our list of things we want to do once we’re on the homestead :)! Space and time are preventing us from getting started now, but it’s definitely in the plans for the future. That’s really cool that you make wine! Do you have a vineyard?
I have a Russian cookbook here that gives a recipe for beer made from Russian black bread. If anyone is interested, let me know.
Haha, I wish, but nothing so fancy! Actually, I’ve made much more beer than wine. But I currently have two batches of mead brewing (honey wine). It’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait at this point. I feel like DIYers like yourselves would really enjoy the process, not to mention the delicious products! After the move to the homestead, maybe a homebrewing post is in your future!
Oooo mead! Very interesting. I think that’ll be a fun thing for us to explore on the homestead for sure!
I was wondering how you store your rice from the 20 lb. sacks from Costco; are you able to keep it in the sacks, or do you put it into smaller containers? I’m also a Costco shopper, and have been tempted by those huge sacks. Just wondered how you managed to easily contain the rice once you open the sack. Thanks!
If it’s white rice, keep it in the sack as long as you don’t have a moisture or pest problem. If you do, get a 5 gallon food safe plastic bucket plus a gamma seal lid, or a few large glass jars.
If it’s brown rice, you need to either store it in the freezer or use it ideally within 6 months to avoid rancidity.
Yep, what Thegloblinchief said. We just keep it sitting upright in the sack in our basement. No vermin here, so it’s been a fine storage method. We would like to get some proper larger food storage containers, but haven’t taken the plunge yet.
Man I’ve got to move close to you guys so I can bum off your seltzer 🙂 I’m not obsessed enough to go all out with the CO2 tank (I don’t even have a Soda Stream), but after living off it for 2 years in Germany,
As for the rest of your grocery list, mucho respect. It takes a lot of work to go almost fully unprocessed. Now that I’ll be working from home, maybe I’ll copy your list 😉
Apparently I didn’t finish my first thought lol…anyway, after living off it for 2 years in Germany, I get it as often as my frugal “don’t buy anything” brain lets me 🙂
Haha, you’re welcome to come bum a seltzer anytime :)! The bonus is that the C02 tank is practically a conversation piece for visitors to our home.
Have you two ever counted the calories for an average weeks meals? You’re young so your bodies can compensate for not getting enough calories.
However, when your older things begin to fall apart. I know. Because, I am now 53 with many nagging issues. I too ate little most of my young adult
years. I never realized I was literally starving myself. I wasn’t hungry. I enjoyed my food. I thought I was doing a good thing. I was wrong.
During those years I maintained a weight of 110. I thought since my weight was stable that meant I was eating enough. Not so. The body will lower the metabolism in order to survive a famine. After years of this abuse my body could no longer compensate. I was cold all the time, fatigued, depressed, my hair started falling out, my skin was dry, brain fog, I slept 14 to 15 hours a day, I had zero motivation.
Thank God he brought me to the information I needed to fix myself. It has taken many years to find out what was wrong. I thought I was sick. I felt sick.
Little did I know it was my own doing. =/
I don’t want you to feel judged by me, I am not. You’re meals looks awesome. Healthy too. I just noticed that it sounds a little light on the calories. But, I haven’t a clue how much you really consume. Too, I just wanted to share so you never have to walk the path I did.
You’re meals look delicious. 🙂 Too, not boring at all to me.
Thank you for sharing that, Joy. I’m sorry to hear you had to go through that. I appreciate your concern as well, it’s very thoughtful of you. I haven’t done the calorie count, but we just generally eat until we’re full. And, we eat much higher calorie meals on the weekends (pizza, pasta, etc), which I think helps balance it all out.
Joy, I have hypothryoidism–just like a lot of older people who are prone to it. You’ve made a list of the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism. If you have thin nails that tear easily that’s another symptom. Perhaps it’d be a good idea to have a blood test to see if your thyroid level is low. You’ll find that your symptoms will be cleared up quickly–within a few weeks–if you take a thyroid supplement. It is inexpensive and will make a night and day difference in your life.
Low thyroid seems to be the problem and not the way you ate when you were younger. I’m not a doctor, but am speaking from experience.
Agreed grocery bills and eating out can wreck a budget! We shop at a local grocery store and Costco. We could certainly do better in his area as far as saving money and eating healthier. The downfall is typically time, not an excuse just our reality. We have made improvements in this area since getting our financial act in order, we eat out less and cook at home more often.
Time is a tough one. That’s primarily why we eat the same things every weekday–it’s just so much faster and easier! And, that’s great that you’re cooking at home more–way to go!
Wow! I am thoroughly impressed with the grocery budget AND the healthy food. I keep trying to cut back on processed foods, but my hubby is a little bit addicted to his CheeseIts and Diet Dr Pepper and he usually does the grocery shopping. I LOVE guacamole and I think I could eat it everyday, but unfortunately I would also eat other stuff with it. The Costco list is really helpful too! Do you buy your dog food from Costco? That was one of the reasons we joined Costco- we save SO much on dog food from there.
Thanks so much, Katie! We do indeed buy Frugal Hound’s food at Costco. I’m right there with you on it being worth the Costco membership all on its own! If we didn’t buy anything other than dog food, we’d still be way ahead! We get her the grain free Nature’s Domain brand with sweet potato and salmon.
You should buy your avocados at Costco, too! The ones they sell are beautiful and inexpensive. You get five at a time but if you can’t finish that many you can mash them up with lemon juice (1 Tb/avocado), ziploc bag them with all the air squished out and freeze them. Then you always are ready for guacamole!
Yum! We do sometimes get avocados from Costco, but since we don’t go every week, we have to supplement from the grocery store sometimes. Thank you for the tip on freezing them–that’s great to know :)!
I don’t know if this would be much cheaper than dried fruit, probably depends on quantity, but it’s delicious as a dessert:
1/4 c. yogurt (you can use unstrained homemade yogurt–thin is good for this)
1/2 lb frozen fruit
spoonful of sugar or preferred sweetener
Extra liquid as needed (water, milk, etc.)
Process in Cuisinart until smooth. This can take a while, so be patient. Makes 2 large portions or 4 dainty ones. Serve immediately or freeze–if you freeze it, be prepared for it to take a while to thaw. (Maybe a little microwaving plus 20 or 30 minutes). I think I got this from a Mark BIttman book, and it’s actually a half-recipe. You can use 1/2 cup of yogurt and a whole pound of fruit but I don’t have enough room in my freezer :-).
Ooo yum! Thank you! This sounds delish and like something that’d be perfect for the summer.
I have never tried dipping popcorn into hummus, but it sounds delicious!! We are big fans of popping our own popcorn! Hubby is the master popper! And I think it’s hysterical that you guys eat so well most of the week and then splurge on frozen pizza. I’m surprised you don’t make your own.
Hooray for popped popcorn! Yeah, the frozen pizza is our cop out cheap meal. Since we never eat out, it’s the one night that Mr. FW doesn’t have to cook at all. And, at $3 per pizza, it’s still pretty inexpensive. Plus, it’s delicious 😉
Couple notes: frozen pizza? Ewwww. I make pizza from scratch, for $2ish a pizza depending on toppings. It’s super easy – so easy I’ve learned to make a huge batch of 4 14″ pizzas in one evening, which gives us dinner for two nights, or is a good dinner to feed groups in one evening. I made my pizza for the last local Mustachian meetup, so fellow frugal weirdos can vouch for its quality 😉
It doesn’t take that long either. For a smaller batch of 1-2 pizzas, start to finish in under an hour. I can email you my recipe if you want.
I’ve personally rethought bananas. They’re incredibly damaging to the countries which grow them (read up on the huge amounts of pesticide residue/runoff from banana plantations) and aren’t sustainable from a petroleum perspective. Yes, they’re yummy, but the cheapness is because so many of the costs are externalized. I don’t miss them anymore.
On the dried fruit, I personally hate all the added sugar or preservatives in many of them, and they’re spendy. My strategy next year is getting a BIG dehydrator (you two would probably be just fine with a $10 Goodwill one, just check to make sure the model hasn’t been recalled) and drying my own. Then get your fruit at-peak, ideally direct from a farmer. Pickyourown.org is a really good place to start. I’ve got a whole list of farms around me bookmarked now that I’d never heard of before. Many of them grow some of the odd fruits I want to grow, and others grow common fruits but have either really high quality or good prices, or both.
Oh, and I personally find Penzey’s horribly overpriced (and I’m from their home city. Their main plant is literally two miles away.) I have the fortune of getting nearly all of my spices for free from my wife’s business, but Amazon often has what I can’t get for quite reasonable.
Depending on what you need, email me and I’d be happy to send you extra spices for the cost of shipping. Sometimes I have so much laying around I can’t use it fast enough before it ages and loses flavor.
Haha, I hear ya on the pizza. Mr. FW makes a delicious from-scratch pizza, but, the frozen pizza is our one cop out/cheat meal. Since we never eat out or get take out, it’s his one night off from cooking. And, at $3/pizza, it’s darn cheap! The frozen pizzas are also our lifesavers on the rare nights when Mr. FW can’t cook–like when we’re coming back from a trip and our flight lands at 8pm and we return home ravenous to an empty fridge. They’ve basically replaced take-out for us, so it’s more that they’re cheap and easy than anything else.
Good call on the dehydrator, that’s definitely something we hope to do in the future–especially when we’ve growing our own. Yum.
Thank you for the offer of extra spices–that’s very kind of you! Appreciate all of your insights and thoughts as always. Thank you!
To the person wondering about storing rice in those big bags – – they pretty much stand up by themselves. I buy Jasmine rice at Asian grocery stores in 50 lb bags and just store the rice in the cupboard in the bag. Frugal peeps you might want to look into bigger bags of rice. Instead of ~$20 for 20 lbs of rice you could be paying ~$35 for 50 lbs!
50 lbs of rice is awesome! Nice! Haven’t seen any 50 lb bags at our local Korean grocery, but I’ll have to keep my eyes out. Thanks for the tips, Jen!
I know you mentioned CSAs in your area were over priced (they are in mine too:( )but have you checked out bountifulbaskets? I use to get them in the west. Wonderful selection out there. Here it’s too far of a drive (like 45mins) so i cant do it. But it might be an option for y’all!
Ooooo, I haven’t checked out bountiful baskets before–thank you for the tip! I’ll have to investigate 🙂
My husband and I hit right in the same monthly grocery spending range, but for us it’s because I coupon and meal plan! I honestly enjoy doing both. I’ve gotten to where, by spending roughly an hour every weekend on planning and clipping, I save a pretty consistent 30% off our grocery bill. I’m starting to think that embracing the super-easy, consistent meals might be a big relief, though, rather than always cooking from recipes (even though I enjoy it). I can definitely relate to how Mr. Frugalwoods needs a Friday frozen pizza break, as I do all the cooking here.
We have a separate line item for eating out. It’s something we enjoy, and I don’t envision us giving that up. But if we ever had to, we could certainly live off of just the food I buy at the grocery store without increasing out budget in that category.
Nicely done on the couponing! We’ve never been couponers, but I’m super impressed by the folks who make it work. And I do like to give my chef Friday nights off ;). Thanks for stopping by!
I’m glad to see you guys change it up on the weekends! Like Chris mentioned above, I have to admit that I am pretty hungry looking at your meals too. Joy mentioned a calorie count which would be interesting. Way to go for using up every single scrap of food!
We shop mainly once a week (we means I). I use Natural Grocer’s for the organic produce, organic meats, organic frozen veggies (what a variety they have!), then a regular store for other goods usually (canned, dry). We have not ventured into bulk once a month shopping mainly because we don’t have a Costco here and I haven’t figured out how a co-op works yet. Sometimes we need an in between stop for fillers.
Husband and I have been doing some vamping of our meals. I am mainly the cook and chief food analyzer. As an effort to optimize health and endurance/fitness, we’re reading The Big Book of Health and Fitness (also the Endurance one) by Maffetone. So far it means cutting out processed sugar and refined flour. We are analyzing our protein/fat/carb intakes (beans and rice turns out to be way too carby for this method and if you add chicken to up the protein things are not broken down sufficiently – lots of science so far, but I haven’t cut RnB out all together). Husband has been a fairly successful ultra runner so far with an average diet, so he wants to experiment with optimizing things. I’m all for it. I’m reading the health/food book and he’s reading the endurance/fitness book by Maffetone and then we compare notes at the end of the day.
I’ll admit it’s not the most frugal menu, but as I learn what works for us I can work on refining menus and optimizing costs!
Breakfast has (lately) been a piece of sprouted grains toast with labneh, 1/4 avocado and fried egg in coconut oil on top, plus side of fruit. When we’re short on time it is oatmeal. That sounds pretty filling right? I cannot make it until noon without a banana due to a rumbling tummy though. Lunch at noon (reheated leftovers – stir fries, curries, or hodge podge salads are common). Dinners are always made for that night and create leftovers. Labneh would make a good dinner dip for you guys, easy, cheap and has protein too. I’ve found low fat/full fat do not taste any different. Strain a whole quart of yogurt through something the fineness of a pillow case for 24 hours. Dump in a pyrex lidded dish. Drizzle olive oil on top. Use on sandwiches, pita chips, veggies, toast – YUM! I cannot have cheese so this is a the closest I can get to something cheese tasting.
PS When we’re visiting friends, they always have homemade seltzer water on hand and really like it. A friend’s 3 year old called it “bubble aide” so now that’s what we all call it now!
PSS I second a dehydrator! We have one and use it often! Dried kiwi and mango are like nature’s Jolly Ranchers.
I’m impressed with your ultra healthy diet–nicely done! We’ve done different diets over the years and arrived at this mostly meatless version in 2013 or so. We’ll surely adjust this meal plan at some point in the future, but we’re usually on a food jag or another for awhile before switching to something else.
Bubble aide is a great name! Oh man do I love seltzer… and dried fruit :)!! Thanks as always for stopping by and sharing.
Thanks for the comprehensive breakdown. We are working on a kitchen garden in our yard so we can grow our own veggies and herbs this summer. That should cut down our grocery cost significantly moving forward.
A kitchen garden is a great idea! You’ll have to keep us posted on how it goes!
Oh, oh – I have a good recipe for you.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I am going to this weekend. I will use my freezer bananas. I freeze my bananas when they are past eating (I do NOT like to eat mushy bananas – blech). And it is based on none other than your old friend OATS. I am quite sure you must have a 50 pound sack of rolled oats in your Frugalwoods larder 😉 Let me know what you think. I have been super impressed by how inexpensive, easy and TASTY other recipes of Mel’s have been when I tried them.
Thank you for that recipe, Sara! Looks delicious and like exactly the type of thing I’m looking for. YUM! We have a 7 lb box of oats, does that count ;)?
I did end up making this over the weekend. The taste was good, but I do have a tweak… I have texture issues, so mooshy is not good for me. When I made this per the recipe in a 9×9 pan, at 18 minutes it was still mooshy and never cooked all the way in the middle. It may have had to do with the size of my bananas. Anyway, I made it again (I told you taste=yummy :)), but used a metal 9 x 13 pan. This batch turned out much more appealing for the texture freak that I am. I also used mini chocolate chips instead of the full sized ones in order to allow for maximum chocolate distribution. Delicious!
Mmmm, sounds divine! Thanks for sharing your tips and her site–I poked around a bit and looks like some great recipes on there. YUM!
My fave for breakfast is Steel Cut Oats, I was so excited when Costco started carrying Bob’s Red mill products so I bought a ginormous bag of steel cut oats and when I get back from vacay, it’ll be my new challenge to eat that every single morning until it’s gone. That should save me a few pennies lol! I like to put shredded coconut, some chia seeds and maple syrup in mine. I’ve also started shopping for avos and fruits at Costco as well, quality is very good and they’re slightly cheaper than the grocery stores. Thanks for the peek around the kitchen!
Mmmm steel cut oats are delish! And, I’ve been so pleased with Costco’s produce as well! I just wish it didn’t come in ginormous quantities–I don’t need 15 organic apples at a time 😉
My favorite, semi healthy treat/cookie that I make once a month is fudgey cocoa no bake cookies. Oats, skim milk, peanut butter, regular butter (most unhealthy thing on this list) and cocoa powder. Gluten free and a little goes a long way. And they are freezable.
On the dehydrator POV, my favorite is flaxseed crackers made with flaxseeds, water and a little bit of soy sauce. Eater beware, you can’t eat too much or it plays havoc on your GI system.
Flaxseed crackers and no bake cookies both sound fabulous! Thanks for sharing!
We tend to do our bulk grocery shopping at the beginning of the month and then do maintenance shopping the rest of the month. We don’t have a set menu but we do have Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday! The kids look forward to it! My daughter and I love the gluten free frozen pizza from Costco and the hubby and son make their own with premade crusts, spaghetti sauce, cheddar and mozzarella. My son likes it better than any takeout or frozen pizza. Lol! I made up a batch of guacamole last night … yum! We spend a lot on groceries accommodating all of our different needs. It’s usually about $1,000/month on all expendables.
Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday both sound pretty good to me! And homemade guacamole is always a treat 🙂
Spring is coming & its a good time to get excited about gardening.
When you move to your land, I know you will end up trying to grow things.
so my two cents is that you play/learn about growing now.
I think in the end you will be happy you did.
you can find things on craigslist or trash or pinterest that will be good
containers to use. lots of places to get inpiration.
for you i think Rosalind Creasy will give you ideas.
you can go to produce are & buy
Bunching onions with roots & plant them & get a crop
small Beets, carrots, etc just to get something planted & watch it grow. :)))
Thanks for the links! It’s hard to imagine now, but spring will come and the 9 feet of snow on our patio will melt some day… 🙂 It’s a good point to keep an eye out on CL for pots and other containers. I’ve added it to my saved searches!
I couldn’t eat as little as y’all! I’d starve.
As far as shopping I do Coscto (best deal on organic eggs!) Kroger, Trader Joe’s,Whole Foods (bulk grains, house brands, produce and yogurt on sale) Big Lots, Ollie’s and in season, farmer’s markets and produce stands. I eagerly await the new Wegman’s and I have heard we might also get an Aldi’s.
Sometimes we go for a drive during the summer and hit all the local produce stands. I’ve found great tomatoes, peaches, etc. and occasionally brown eggs.
If Mr. & Mrs. Mandalay or others, who live in my area want to know my fav locations, give me a shout out!
On the last day of the season, we went to a produce place in Hanover Co. VA. The night before they had had a staff and neighborhood block party and had tons of leftovers that they boxed and bagged and gave us absolutely free! We got bbq, potato and macaroni salad, greens, sweet potatoes and bags and bags of potato rolls. We had enough bags of rolls to take some into people at our workplaces. We had more than enough food (15 pounds or more!) for lunch and dinner for days and to give to my partner’s brother!
I am a Southerner by birth and residence and I will ALWAYS like my bbq and pig products and such.
I’ve heard tell of Wegmans, but never experienced it first hand. People talk about it like it’s a religious experience! 🙂
I’m with you on southern bbq. I’m a carolina pulled pork partisan. Vinegar based sauce only, please!
Thanks for this post. It really motivates me. I do no have a complete list of what I buy because I normally buy what’s on offer. I now know that a list would help me with budgeting on groceries and it would simplify my life. I have to work on it!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Great post! I love that you prioritize certain food items, such as organic apples and greens, and that you eat very few animal products.
My grocery list is very minimal, but I do prioritize buying certain “dirty dozen” produce items organic and eat very few animal products and processed foods. I basically fill my grocery cart with fresh and frozen produce and bulk dry goods and make all meals from scratch. Same as you, most of my meals are repeated throughout the month, but delicious, fresh recipes never seem to get old. I spend about $120 per week on groceries for two adults (all our meals). I definitely spend more on breakfast most because I have a green smoothie, but this is a nonnegotiable. Nothing else gives me the same energy!
Being cheap is important, but shortchanging your health never works out in the long-run. And in the short term, eating crap can lower productivity and negatively impact mood, which is certainly not worth the cost savings. Spending a little more to eat well pays dividends over time!
Totally agree on the importance of eating well! We could spend less if we bought less produce, but that’s not a trade-off I want to make. Our health is too important!
The food looks so good!
It tasted so good too!
Frozen pizza… Come on, man.
OK, see, I knew I would get some gruff over the pizza. Here’s the thing:
a) It’s darned tasty. Seriously. It’s honestly delicious.
b) It takes about 2 braincells to make, which is all I have to offer on Friday nights.
c) it tastes good with a nice piney IPA
d) I do add herbs and diced garlic to it to spice it up
You mentioned Penzey’s. They are not cheap but they regularly give freebies with purchase and the quality is superb. Mural of Flavor beats Mrs. Dash by a country mile. I also love their magazine/catalogue. It has recipes and stories from customers.
Penzey’s has a huge heart in addition to selling first quality dried spices and herbs, extracts and such.
Yeah, I’m a Penzeys fan. They aren’t the cheapest, but the quality is worth it in my opinion. Plus I try to buy in bulk as much as makes sense.
Little story. The rare two Penzeys. So, if you are in Wauwatosa, WI and the store is still open you will find a tiny neighborhood store full of spices. You will also find the original Penzeys who will give you time and stories. They love their spices. Story goes that the parents did not want to expand and let the kids do it. Last I was in Milwaukee both stores were excellent but I have never ordered online.
Aldi’s is coming to Central VA sooner than I thought. One will open in Spring. They are planning to open about five stores here. I plan to check them out and see if I like their merchandise and if their prices are truly so much cheaper than other stores. Sounds like they might be a bit like Costco without the bulk items and electronics, etc. Hells Bells, you can buy almost anything at Costco. LOL!
The Facebook comments on the local news site were so crazy. People were bitching about having to put a quarter to get a cart (which is returned) and take their own groceries to their car and bring their own bags. Lazy, lazy, lazy and spoiled!
One thing that bugs me is when I go to a store in decent weather and see able-bodied people too damn lazy to return carts to the cart corral or the front of the store. They leave them in a parking space or shove them on the areas around it,
Greetings, fellow RVAer! (waves)
I knew that Aldi’s was supposedly coming to Henrico County, but the news about the Boulevard store is welcome to me. I’ll definitely check it out when the time comes. I can’t see FB because it’s blocked at my job, but after Ukrop’s became Martin’s I don’t know of any supermarket where the groceries are brought to your car so I have no idea why people are bitching about that.
I think Aldis can be hit or miss. Their produce is usually bad, but occasionally you find a spectacular deal. Their basics are very cheap indeed (cooking spray, saran wrap, etc…) and their canned beans are usually a very good price.
Impressive grocery spending
Back in the day, meaning back when we were accumulating, we dehydrated fruit. Washington State has an abundance of apples, peaches, apricots, and berries, and in season you can buy flats of them for dirt cheap. A dehydrator on Craigslist could be a good investment, and then your fruit isn’t covered in sulfur dioxide and sugar
We (meaning Winnie) also made home made kombucha, kimchi, and other misc fermented stuff
Also, try this for pizza dough. It is 10x better than frozen pizza, and putting some tomato sauce and grated cheese on your own dough takes the same amount of time as opening a box
You just make the dough in 5 minutes on the weekend, and you can have fresh bread every day and pizza dough on Friday
Thanks for the dough recipe. I will have to try it next month.
A dehydrator is actually on my craigslist saved search list right now. I’m guessing it’s the sort of thing people get, don’t use, and then want to get rid of. Hopefully I can pick one up for a song. We’ll see.
I hear you on the dough. The worst part? I’m actually a baker and I often have dough in the fridge. I know, I know, I should hide my face (wait, I already _do_ hide my face on the blog) but it’s as much a 0 thinking adaptation as it is a time saving one.
Though I haven’t given it a fair trial and I suppose I should. When I do, I’ll throw a dash of curry powder on one side of crust in your honor 🙂
Go Curry Crust!
So my lunch all week has been my previously mentioned take on rice and beans. It’s slowcooked chicken thighs in tomatoes (or salsa), some corn, your fave beans and spices. Serve over rice… I make it on Sunday and then it will get me 4 lunches for about $8 ($2/serving which isn’t bad considering there is chicken in there). I’m always thankful when Friday rolls around and I can treat myself to something new, only to reset it on Sunday again 😛
As for “healthy but yummy” baked goods, I really liked a recipe I had for oat flour, banana and greek yogurt muffins. There’s no added sugar, flour (or gluten), and no oil. Sounds like they’d be gross, right? They’re not half bad for a healthy muffin. And I know you have oats laying around! I worked off this recipe – http://www.runningwithspoons.com/2014/06/24/banana-oat-greek-yogurt-muffins/ and modified a little bit here and there. If you don’t want chocolate, raisins or other dried fruit would probably fit better with the flavour profile (because I used strawberry flavoured greek yogurt).
Oh yum, thanks for the recipe! We’ll have to give it a try. I think we’re on a “different baked good of the week” kick and muffins may be next week’s good!
Here’s another vote for homemade hot chocolate!! I live in Northern Michigan, and consider it a necessity this time of year. 🙂 Here’s my recipe, in case you are interested. Since you like spices in your oatmeal, I bet you’d be a fan of this spicy hot cocoa – feel free to adjust the spices to your tastes (I often leave out the ginger). To make, I usually put a splash of half and half in my mug and thoroughly mix 2 Tbsp of the mix with it, then fill with boiling water.
2 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
Oh wow. That sounds absolutely decadent! I really like spicy hot chocolate, I had a spanish teacher in high school that made a really legit version I and was hooked for life.
We’ll definitely give this one a try, thanks!
I’m another one who can’t do the rice/beans thing. We tried, and next thing we knew our pants were getting tight. 🙁
We actually don’t spend a lot on groceries, though. While beef has gotten ridiculously expensive, pork and chicken are pretty reasonable at Costco. Our neighborhood grocery store, Farm Fresh, can be a great source of cheap meat in the nearing expiration section if I hit it when it opens (six a.m.). I’ve gotten ground beef for $1/pound, veal for $1.50/pound, pork about the same. We have a chest freezer so I grab everything I can when I come across it. A lot of supermarkets around here will have sales on store-brand frozen vegetables, usually 4/$5. Right now I’m trying to clean out the chest freezer so we haven’t bought meat at all since about December. Yeah, I’m proud of myself. 😀
High five! I bet that freezer really comes in handy! We have a second fridge (that the previous owners left in the basement) that serves sorta the same role for us (it has a freezer on the top) but I do wonder about how much electricity it is using. Might be costing us more than it’s saving us.
Wow! I’m super impressed. My grocery bill is astronomically high for two adults and a one year old. I’m embarrassed to even say what it is. It’s the area that we need to improve most on but my husband and I have differing views on what is good to eat. I tend towards more vegetables and eat mostly unprocessed foods (with the exception of chocolate) and am slowly weaning him off of processed foods. One big expense is we eat quite a bit of meat. I could never convince my husband to cut it out completely but there is certainly room for improvement. We also have vastly different jobs (he’s a plumber and I’m an office rat) which makes lunches a bit different and he tends to eat a lot more with all the manual labor.
Anyways, we can definitely learn from your example. Thanks for sharing!
So glad it was helpful! Nothing is perfect for everyone, so don’t feel bad about trying to find a balance that works for you. I’m also a fan of small steps. Makes things seem manageable. Maybe try one meatless day a week (though don’t advertise it like that!) and see how it goes? Lots of hearty soups are vegetarian and fill you up just like meat will.
We eat way too much processed/fast food. I pretty much just deal with dinner. Protein bars/shakes for other meals because as a depressive I just don’t have the mental space.
I really wish I liked oatmeal. I want to, I really do. The taste is fine, but the consistency gets me every time. For whatever reason, my stomach is finicky about certain textures/consistencies. Very frustrating.
Tim’s stomach is finicky in general. If something doesn’t sound appealing and he tries to eat it, it’ll come back up. I didn’t believe him when he first told me that; then I saw it in action. Eesh. Which is why it’s well-nigh impossible to know what will sound good. Lately, at least, he’s mainly been content with frozen meals and cereal. There’s still a fair amount of fast food, but substantially less than usual. I call it progress.
Try toasting it in a toaster oven or oven very lightly before cooking . Undercook it a bit. Try adding a few ground nuts. Also I use maple syrup (get that at Costco) for sweetener.
Huh, would never have thought to toast oatmeal. What an interesting idea!
Anything that moves away from the fast food is good progress. Sometimes it’s worth reflecting on the direction you are heading rather than how far you have to go 🙂
As an aspiring early FI-er, good coffee is often in conflict with the budget. I noticed you guys seem to enjoy coffee (as per the blog) and have a popcorn popper. Have you thought about home coffee roasting? (http://coffeegeek.com/guides/popperroasting). You can buy green coffee beans here: http://www.sweetmarias.com . You’ve got the seltzer problem solved. A coffee project might be a fun project to tackle next. Great blog BTW!
I’d love to roast my own coffee! I have a saved craigslist search for coffee roasters since the batch size of the popcorn method would just be too small for our consumption. I want to roast coffee, but I don’t want to have to roast it more than once a week 🙂
But yeah, totally on board. Just need to find a decent roaster at a price that doesn’t put my ROI at 3 years 🙂
Is that banana picture from your local grocery store? I can’t get over how cheap they are. We pay around $1 a lb here. Sometimes more.
Yep, those are from our local cheap grocery store Market Basket. That’s their normal price, we sometimes get them for 0.39/lb. I think they use them as a loss leader since they are by far the cheapest we’ve found.
If you need bulk spices you could also consider Mountain Rose Herbs or World Spice Merchants; great quality and very affordable.
Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll check them out!
Great post. I really like Costco but we don’t have one close by so we only stock up there every 2 months or so. We buy mostly our meats, diapers, toiletries, and cheese from there. I really like making pan fried ramen noodles to save money. I buy the Maruchan low sodium chicken, use two packs but either discard the flavor packets, or only use 1/2 of one for the two packs, then I mix in 2 -3 cups of water, sunflower oil, random vegetables, and spices then, cashews and/or an egg when the water is almost gone. Very tasty and cheap. Not sure if it is healthy but it is the lowest cost dish I make, especially if I don’t use cashews. I wasn’t a big fan of the Costco Frozen pizza, but we have a store named HEB in Texas that has decent cheap (about $2 each) frozen pizzas so we sometimes eat those. I highly recommend the organic frozen mangoes from Costco. Great as a snack or in smoothies. If I could cut down on meat (chicken sausages are my weakness) and my wife ate less cheese we could cut about $100-$200 of our monthly groceries.
We’re big fans of ramen too! We actually luck out by living near a great Korean grocery. We get their “fancy” spicy ramen and it’s 100x better than the maruchan ramen I grew up eating. I add a bunch of veggies and it’s a heck of a dish. I think it’s about .80/pack, plus probably $1 of veggies. Makes a great cold weather meal!
I don’t know if any of these are any good, but I just saw this link on Facebook and I remembered I recently read your grocery post. All supposedly healthy dessert ideas. 🙂 http://greatist.com/health/desserts-unexpected-healthy-ingredients
Oooo yum! Thank you so much for the ideas :)!
Dessert idea: Avocado, cocoa powder, honey (or other sweetner of your choice) and if you want a real splurge coconut shavings. This is basically like chocolate mousse, and with the avocado really healthy. Cocoa powder if you get dark dark powder, is also not that bad for you. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EKLPLU4/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1944687682&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B001E5E0Y2&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0K5GC9HKQSHR6NKP3KKY
That sounds like a great idea! Thank you! I’m a big avocado fan, so I’m going to have to try this.
I would be embarrassed to walk by you in the grocery store and have you see what’s in my cart. Seriously. We eat like we’re five year olds whose mommy and daddy have told us to go to the grocery store and buy whatever we want. I think you can imagine the result. Trust me, there is neither oatmeal nor hummus in there!
Hahah, sounds tasty! And, I don’t judge!
Good post! Grocery sounds like a very trivial topic to read about but it was very entertaining to read your post. Keep ’em comin!
Thanks so much!
Frugalwoods` you should post some recipes starting w/ the baked bread
Yum! We should! We’ve posted our rice and beans recipe, but haven’t ventured beyond that yet…
Great post, with exactly the right amount of information. It really helps to see this level of detail. Food is the main way I waste money, I know. But this post inspired me. You make it seem not only doable, but not unpleasant. Thanks!
Thanks so much! I’m glad to hear it was helpful and not too boring ;). Food used to be our #1 category for overspending and it took us awhile to hone it down. But, it really is feasible and not at all a sacrifice. Thanks for reading 🙂
This is the most helpful food post I’ve seen. I’ve been looking for about 6 years since finding my husband and son had intolerances and the grocery bill went sky high. It’s easy to compare because so many meals repeat. And the lunch seems realistically filling. So we spend $800+ for 4 of us. My son has eaten adult portions since he was 5. We do eat meat and add in variety for things like sunbutter. Right now we are enjoying our oatmeal with as many blueberries as we like since there is a upick down the road.
I don’t really see dairy on your grocery budget, and that might also explain your low grocery budget—especially if you purchase organic dairy like I do because I’m concerned about the growth hormones in regular dairy products, it really adds up. Being pregnant I’ve had to add a lot more dairy to our grocery list. Do you think your grocery budget will change at all being pregnant?
You’re very observant! We didn’t used to eat much dairy because it is more expensive, but you’re right, with the pregnancy I’ve started to eat much more. I also buy organic milk, which I’ve been able to find at our discount grocery store for $3.89 per half gallon. So, yes our bill will definitely be higher from here on out, but hopefully not by too terribly much :).
FWIW, the local grocery stores have their flyers online, and they also have “accessible” (IE, text) versions too.
So I copy what I want into a the description of Google calendar entry for the store & sale period using Auto-create.
It gets copied to my android phone automagically
Then it’s easy to remember what to buy each week, and I can even search thru past weeks for previous sale prices.
I do shop the sales for seasonal & staple items.
My husband and I are also uber-frugals living in Boston – we get all our produce from Haymarket, where we buy more produce than we can carry for $15-20 a week (grocery store suppliers sell their weekly leftovers for pennies on the dollar!). Thanks to Haymarket, our combined monthly groceries rarely top $200 and allows us to eat a healthy and produce-heavy diet 🙂
The haymarket is amazing, but a bit inconvenient to get to from our house. We also tend to try and eat mostly organic produce, which at least when I’ve been there has been hard to find at the haymarket. But there are some amazing deals!
You can get a reasonably priced dehydrator and make your own dried fruit. LOVE my dehydrator!! You will end up saving in the long run.
I am loving this blog! We live on a family farm and raise our own beef, corn, tomatoes, squash, peppers, etc. We also work full time, so the farm is our “fun” thing. You might want to check out some of Kristen’s recipes over at The Frugal Girl blog. She’s a baking kinda girl that keeps it on budget and uses up any food that’s getting too ripe. Honestly, she can make a dessert/cookie/muffin from anything! Thanks for the blog! You are a tremendous encouragement to me!
So, I don’t know how you prep your banana bread but I do have a recipe for one that doesn’t require any sugar or butter.
Here goes! You’ll need three mashed up bananas (the riper the better of course), 3 tbs of honey, 4 eggs, 3 tbs of coconut oil, 1 oz of backing powder, some dashes of cinnamon (optional). Mix all of this together until it’s nice and airy. Then mix in 7 oz of flower. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes & enjoy!
im loving this site.
thanks so much.
I had to share this
soak 1 cup almonds overnight, rinse
blend 1:4 with water, strain in cheesecloth or nutmilk bag. voila! almond milk, now for the cookies:
blend the wet almond meal with dried fruit, 1-2tbs nut butter, vanilla, sea salt, 1tbs coconut oil, 1/4 cacao or cocoa in a good blender or food processor.
roll into little balls.
raw, super healthy, can incorporate any number of ingredients from coconut to seaweed to black beans. they freeze well and travel well.
can be made with any raw seed or nut or combo thereof.
Do you eat only one of the two options for weeknight dinners ?
Thank you so much for this helpful guide. I once managed to spend only $22/week for an abundant amount of groceries, including lots of chemical-free produce, so the budget I proposed to my partner recently was along these lines. Alas, that dollar amount was from back when I shared groceries with nine other people and received lots and lots of free produce from helpful farmer friends. So now I’m realizing that ~$200/month for two hungry adults (who like to eat rice and beans, but also like fancy stuff like guac, olives, and fruit) just ain’t gonna cut it. Seeing your numbers helps me give myself permission to cut the grocery bill a little slack. After all, food is a big part of quality of life.
Many thanks for the inspiration!
Just listened to your mad fientist interview, and have been enjoying your articles since! Because you like bananas, try cutting them in half, drizzling honey on them, and broiling for 2 min. or so. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Delicious and super cheap – makes a gooey decadent dessert. This could be a good replacement for your dried fruit.
Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods! I’ve been following your blog for a good while now and it’s quite inspirational and encouraging to save frugally and in my own way! Kudos to you!
Anyway, I was wondering what are your thoughts about Farmer’s Markets? Would you feel more comfy haggling with local farmers for their produce? Would you find better deals there? I’m always a big fan of eating healthy and knowing where my food comes from is a big deal to me, so I often wonder if shopping there instead of a grocery would be even worth it in terms of being frugal.
Thanks much for your blog!
Hey, if you’re still looking to check out tasty healthy and vegan desserts, you should check out Chocolate Covered Katie! She makes lots of great desserts. I have a goal to reduce my sugar intake this month as part of a challenge from my college, and I’ve already planned out a few recipes from the lovely CCK. You can also check out the Post Punk Kitchen cookbooks by Isa Chandra Moscowitz for other awesome meals/desserts.
You can totally make your own hot chocolate mix. Alton Brown has a great recipe for it that you can tweak, it’s literally 5 mins of measuring and mixing, store it in giant mason jars, lasts for like 6 mos. I think it cost me around $4 to make almost 40 servings, which is a lot less than the packets you buy at the store. The ingredients are common stuff like cinnamon, cocoa powder, stevia (or sugar), powdered milk. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/hot-cocoa-recipe.html
You can also make a super healthy banana bread. Try the one from Veganomicon and adjust from there. Some changes I’ve made to their recipe include substituting a mixture of half wheat flour and half oats instead of white flour, using apple juice instead of applesauce (with the wheat flour you need more moisture than the original recipe calls for), using a flax egg instead of a real egg, adding half a can of pumpkin, using almond milk instead of regular milk, subtracting the sugar and subtracting the molasses (I tried a batch with it in and it was terrible!). I also double the recipe (with my changes) so that it bakes in a cake pan rather than a loaf pan. This way it’s easier to cut it into bars, which hold together better than slices from a loaf pan. I bring it to work for breakfast often. Bananas you can get for about 19 cents a lb at Aldi, as well as very cheap oats, wheat flour and other baking goods, so this really gets to be a cheap breakfast. I haven’t calculated the cost per serving but I’m sure it works out to about 75 cents or so…maybe less because you end up with about 12-15 thick bars the size of cake pieces, depending how you cut them. I let it cool for about 2 hours on the counter once baked, then slice into the bars and package them in sandwich bags individually, and then throw into a big bowl in the fridge. Actually considering you get your fruit right in the bread, you don’t really need something on the side for nutrition. It’s pretty filling as well.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZUY148/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1 – Veganomicon book which contains the base recipe.
Could not live without sweet potatoes, they show up in everything. Most recently, a black bean quesadilla…but here is the big tip. Put several potatoes in crock pot, no liquid, on high 5 hours. Carmelized beauties! At breakfast with eggs, lunch in chili, dessert with yogurt and honey…..
We live frugally and riveted in our Airstream!
Just stumbled across this informative, engagingly written, and thoroughly entertaining blog post…when researching whole bean coffee options! Reminds me of the “voice” in The Joy of Cooking. Anyway, thought I’d pass along a tip. In baking cookies…rather than applesauce, substitute banana to replace the fat. It works great, makes/keeps them moist. They won’t last long! Cheers!
Just found your blog today while googling to see if anyone could tell me whether Costco coffee would be worth it. (Like you, I want to save money, but I won’t give up enjoyable coffee for the sake of a few dollars.) Anyway, for a healthy/yummy dessert recipe you should try chick pea blondies! I don’t have a link for you because I don’t recall exactly which recipe I used when I made them, but they were great!
So what are the extra things (such as the BLOCK OF CHEESE) for? Do you eat it separately or use it for exciting weekend food?
Penzey’s = highway robbery. No Asian markets in town?
Thank you so much for sharing! Can you post more grocery hauls, recipes, and your weekly meals? I am trying to get out of debt and trying to cut my grocery budget.
Coffee, weekly?? It takes me 3 weeks to go through a can.
Love the list!
I buy a canister of 30 1/2 cup servings old fashioned oats from Aldi for $2.39 and enjoy an 8 cent breakfast. Sometimes I add a spoonful of peanut butter and a dash of cinnamon and sometimes I eat it minimalist style. This allows me to splurge and spend, say, $2 on dinner and not feel guilty!
I think I can beat everyone. I spend £14 a week for two adults, not including non-edible (cleaners, toilet paper… and animal food) We don’t eat meat, though. I make everything from scratch and work two jobs, so it can be done. We often joke that we spend more on animal food than human food in this house.
Thanks for this article! I’m in college and am starting to live off campus, so I’ve been searching for ways to save money on groceries but still be healthy! Will definitely be using yours as a template! 🙂
I have lived in the South of France for 42 years among back to the landers (68-ards) whose ethic is frugality & organic, ecological living. We mostly avoid supermarkets in favor of farmer markets, local organic co-ops and barter. I buy my bread (and swap my honey) from a friend who grows his own wheat, grinds the flour weekly and bakes whole meal bread. The focus is organic not money! The supermarkets buy from farmers, wait till they’re dependent then squeeze the prices so that their clients are forced to lower standards using many pesticides. Now not many earn a living wage. The increasing numbers of hypermarkets then open boutiques creating monopolies that put all the small shops out of business (the latest is launderettes) and small shopping centres are dying.
So while I’m glad Frugalwoods are aiming to move to a rural life and eventual autonomy and I admire your courage in being fruga, I’m hoping you’d consider depending less on supermarkets by researching small organic growers who’d be glad of your business. With other friends we started our own co-operative and , if you do the same, you may be glad to be one of its suppliers when you have a surplus on your smallholding.
I have been reading your blog in Treehuggers and will be going back to making lists and planning meals.
So, I’m new to this blog (listened to an interview with you for On Point on NPR today!) and have read six or so articles so far, and am extremely excited to share them with my boyfriend. We’re young adults (I’m 27, he’s 25), planning to get engaged and married, and I am personally caught in a downward spiral of debt and consumerism. Him, not so much so- he has a career job in his field and is already naturally very frugal. I am not like that at all. I’m just finishing a second bachelor’s degree and still feel I won’t find a job in which I’ll feel fulfilled. My boyfriend works in his “dream” career but I watch him struggle daily with his emotions and sadness in relation to work. With stressful school work and balancing working full time myself, I try to make myself feel better by spending money I don’t have on useless things (either my boyfriend’s money or on credit, or money I should be saving). Everything about this blog and lifestyle is extremely appealing to me, as my boyfriend and I also dream of someday (soon hopefully!) living on a homestead in the woods.
My main question in relation to this article is this: we are both vegan. We mostly already eat with the same standards as the frugal idea- not buying expensive pre-made things, cooking every meal at home, buying the cheapest item and eating relatively healthy. Is anyone else eating a vegan lifestyle who adheres to these ideas and strategies? I’m curious about grocery choices for things we can’t really get cheap anywhere- tofu, for example. Yes, I know tofu isn’t outrageously expensive, but was wondering if any other vegans have any tips for this kind of thing. Any suggestions would be great!
Would love to see an update to this with the change in your living circumstances since the original post! 🙂
I saw one comment about Penzey’s and thought I’d add to it…First off, disclaimer, I only heard about the place two days ago (not giving it much thought the last three times I’d read this post). Someone pointed out the brand-new store when I was up in the city, and my thought was “how can there be a store that big selling only spices?” Now, I live in the Southwest, so even our Safeways are geared towards Hispanic customers & foods, and all our stores (now) have a rack of bags of spices next to the typical jars. Until recent years, nearly every bag was $1, be it for a half ounce of white peppercorns or 3 ounces of cilatro flakes. The cinnamon only comes in one variety, and it’s the Mexican one, milder than Asian types. My understanding is that Asian markets have similar set-ups and prices (although not everything has English on the label). As for vanilla and lemon extracts, several cookbook authors have shared their methods for producing their own extracts, with vanilla beans bought online in bulk for about $1 per bean. Those prices have risen slightly since the secret came out, but I’ve spent less than $30 on my vanilla ingredients in the 5 years since I started making it, and have enough for the next 4 1/2 years or so, unless I start baking every single day (it’s more like twice a week now). Like seltzer and coffee, spices are something we think always has to be bought the same, till we realize there are other options. I love the idea of growing my own food (cinnamon tree in the yard, maybe?), but so far all I’ve managed is cactus and mesquite flour. My food budget is higher than I’d like–about $ 550/month for five people (three teens) and we eat meat more often since we started buying half-a-cow from a local rancher each year (that’s about $100 averaged into our “monthly” food costs).
Oh! You mentioned searching for the baked good with a perfect healthy-tasty balance… and man, do I have something for you! Try this: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/double-chocolate-zucchini-bread/
I make a few changes when I make them: first, I double the amount of zucchini without changing anything else. It’s a muffin, it can take it! (though it might just have a longer baking time, check with a knife), and I cut the sugar in half (makes no difference to me, but if it isn’t sweet enough to your taste then, you can just add a little honey or jam as you eat them and adjust next time) and I add a few chia seeds on top of each muffin (for looks and the bit of extra omega-3).
It’s a whole breakfast in a muffin! but it’s sweet and decadent enough (if you love dark chocolate) to be eaten as a dessert too :O
Let me know if you try and enjoy! That blog has a lot of good recipes, and I just systematically halve the sugar in them.
I also have a spice + veggies+ fruit muffin that’s a little powerhouse and even healthier, but it requires more explanation. Maybe I’ll write things down here and/or make a video if you’re interested.