Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Last week my sister and I were sitting together in front of Good Morning America. This, alone, is noteworthy for many reasons.

  1. I live in Colorado and she's in St. Louis
  2. I don't really like to watch TV in the morning
  3. My adorable niece was there and she usually gets my undivided attention

Anyway, one of the "hard-hitting" exposes was about the cost of groceries. They had an expert nutritionalist come in and show how she is combating the rising prices of food and still cooking well. She boasted that she was able to get a week's worth of groceries for $75 for two people.

My sister and I looked and each other and in the exact same moment we rolled our eyes and said together, "puh-leese". I could EASILY get a week's worth of groceries for 2 people for $50. Easily.

Here are my top 5 tips to combating the rising prices of groceries and still eating well:

  1. Plan before you go. This is crucial. Before I go to the store I make a list of absolutely everything we'll need for the week. I don't buy any excess (unless its on killer sale). I hate throwing things away. Plus, if you have a concrete list it is easier to avoid "splurge" item because you know there is no need to even walk down the ice cream or cookie aisle.
  2. Stay on the outside of the grocery store. In my local store the produce, meat locker, dairy case and bakery are all around the perimeter of the store. The one exception to this rule is generally the canned goods, baking and Mexican food aisle (we love Mexican food in our family). Boxed and processed foods are WAY more expensive.
  3. Eat produce that is in season. In my experience, protein is not the most expensive purchased category, produce is. The way to get more bang for your buck is to plan meals around vegetables that are in season. My subscription to Bon Appetit has REALLY helped me learn what veggies to use when.
  4. Buy the cheap meat and learn how to cook it well. Save the ribeye steaks and beef tenderloin for a special occasion. I read a book written about French Laundry's Thomas Keller. The book said his specialty was making the typically gross parts of an animal (the offal) taste dreamy. I am nowhere near to his level, but that gives me courage that I can make those cheap country-style pork ribs taste great.
  5. Eat your leftovers for lunch. Ok, I have to be honest, I really hate leftovers. But, the ear doctor loves having them for lunch. Turns out that he's started to get a reputation at work for having something fancy in his lunch every day. They sit around a big table and peer over into his sack to see what he's got. Two meals for the price of one? Yes please.

Feel free to add any tips of your own in the comments section.


Jethro said...

We've got you beat. $350/month for our family of four. That is $87/week, but it is for four people. My wife is amazing!

Maggie said...

My tip is having vegetarian night at least once a week. It may not be some people's style (my husband), but that meal totally takes our cost down. Can anyone say black bean and tomatillo quesadillas? Yumm!

cady said...

i usually spend $70-$80 for two weeks worth of groceries for the two of us. i'll go from store to store (we have three grocery stores within 1.5 miles of each other) depending on what's on sale at each.

Anth said...

Great summary. I also ditto what Maggie said. I have found going meatless once a week keeps costs down. I don't really know what I spend on food, since it's just part of my household spending. I don't break down my receipts by food and household expenses. But I too rolled my eyes at the $75/week boast, because I know it's less than that!

I want to add don't be afraid of the clearance section of the meat aisle. You just freeze the meat once you get home from the store and use it at your leisure. My latest deal was country-style pork ribs for 65 cents a pound.

My produce costs have really gone up since I had a kid because I want to eat healthier since having her - set an example, and have good things around for her to eat. I try to shop the sales on produce. When I remember, I head over to the local produce shop, they sometimes have amazing prices (though also gourmet local cheeses...so tempting!).

Jessica said...

I am not sure where exactly I'm going wrong. I spend, depending on the week, $65-$80 a week for the two of us. I plan a weekly menu and detailed list and only occasionally grab something that isn't written down. I normally plan 2 meat meals and 2 veg meals. I'm amazed when people have such low grocery costs.

*I do know one of my problems now that, for the first time, I paid attention to my husband's ridiculously priced deli turkey meat. If I could convince him that it hasn't improved his life things would definitely be cheaper, ha.

Anonymous said...

I'm not afraid of coupons. Yes it can be a pain, but it has helped cut down the cost. And now don't shoot me for this one, but Wal-Mart really is hard to beat especially since they match all competitor ads! However, I don't usually buy my produce at WalMart. Finally once summer rolls around we are huge gardening freaks--my kids even run a booth at the local Farmer's Market with the produce that they grow. What we don't sell, we donate to the local food bank or store (freeze, can, turn into jam, etc.)
I'm seriously jealous of Jethro's family--we are a family of 4 and spend $600/month, but that includes school lunches ($2.50/day) and dog food for 2 dogs.