Community Talks: Keeping Food Costs Down

Steal some budget-friendly tips from Community users.

We asked you, the Community, what you’ve been doing to counteract tight budgets. And boy, did you have a lot to say! Your responses were innovative and informative to both us and the rest of the Community. Read some of the budget-friendly ways Community users are keeping costs down, then share your suggestions on the Message Boards.

Cutting back on extras and waste
After rejoining Weight Watchers, MEREDITHSG noticed that “since I started meal planning, our food costs are actually going down. That's because instead of buying whatever pretty produce or newest snack I think looks good, I have a game plan of what I need and when I'm going to use it.” She says she eats as many vegetables and fruits as she did before the economic trouble hit, but cutting out cheeses and desserts lowers her monthly food cost.

CNWALL14 saves money by never wasting anything. This Community user suggests that you “only buy the amount of vegetables that you can consume before they go bad, and only buy what is in season.”

SARAH0820 advises others to “cook from scratch as much as possible, make double batches when you can and freeze, either in single-serving containers or in another large batch.”

“Before Weight Watchers, my [husband] and I were emotional overeaters and had to have the cupboards full to accommodate whatever mood we were in...a bad day at work, celebrating the end of the work week, tired, whatever,” says JACKIEOH. “After learning it for myself, I was able to point out to DH how this was not only destructive, but expensive, and we decided not only to change the bad eating habits, but also to address its cause. Now I create the weekly menu before shopping, only buy what we need, then stick to the plan. Easy!”

MS.LEFTY says, “I grow fresh veggies in my yard every year — tomatoes, beans, peppers, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and eggplant. I also try to combine trips to save on gas — for example, when I need something I can't get at ALDI’s, I stop at the Wegman's down the street from my work on the way home, or the Super Wal-Mart in my neighborhood.”

Shop around
MOMJOYX3 says, “I read all the grocery store ads for the stores that are near me. For example, one of the stores in my area might have London broil on sale for $1.67/lb, and a store one block down has boneless/skinless chicken breasts for $1.78/lb. I list what the stores have on sale then plan my week's meals around that.”

AROLEM recommends checking out ethnic neighborhood grocery stores. “I find these are often much cheaper than big chains, and they have interesting varieties of foods you might not have seen otherwise. For instance, I buy my spices in bulk at an Indian grocery for a tiny fraction of what McCormick's costs at the grocery [store].”

Coupons and rebates
PATNOTPATSY says, “I share coupons with friends and trade them at our library. The first things cut from our budget were junk foods like chips and cookies.”

“Since food prices are skyrocketing, I used part of my stimulus rebate to fill the freezer with lean meat, frozen vegetables and fruit and anything else that I can think of along with grains, etc. in the pantry,” says THORDAWGGY. “A small chest freezer can be [purchased] for $150 to $175, which is well worth the price and great for apartment dwellers too. A FoodSaver vacuum packer can be [bought] for $90 to $125 and is worth the money also.”

Community user DEB2990 saves money by “supplementing fresh fruit with less expensive frozen or canned in juice which I rinse off. For proteins, I’m using less meat, using cheaper cuts, eating more eggs, canned tuna, legumes. [I'm] buying flash-frozen vacuum-sealed fish instead of fresh fish…and eating out [less].”

HURRYCANE avoids pre-bagged salad mixes and washes and bags lettuce at home, grows her own fresh herbs and tomatoes, uses a calculator when shopping to [find] the best price per ounce, and searches for recipes using foods and spices she already has on hand.

Shop for Power Foods
Community user THIBOM points out that the Weight Watchers approach to eating Power Foods “is based on bulk foods and cooking from scratch — which is cheaper than convenience food cooking. The recipes are designed to be flexible enough to allow for in-season fruits and veggies from your own garden or farmers markets.”

KAY_CARLSON says, “I find I get more food for my dollar from Power Foods as I do not spend money on the frozen dinners and prepackaged snacks. I’m also eating less meat and more beans with rice or grains. When I do eat meat, I fix a recipe in which meat is not the main ingredient, like stir-fried rice.”

Community user BROKETEACHER dished out the following tips: a 70-cent can of beans provides three servings, eggs are cheap, grains don't break the bank, and dried herbs last forever. “But most importantly, I remind myself that failing health costs more than healthy food.”

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