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What I'll Spend for Food

My Price Book


Prices on food have changed a lot in the last few years. As our income has continued to decrease, I chose to stick closely to certain prices.

With a $100 a month budget (for 9 people) to spend on food, including stocking up, I have become pretty strict about how much I will spend on certain items. For many things, this means buying that item in season once a year only, and freezing or canning it. I do not always have $100; sometimes I have nothing for the month, and sometimes I have $200. I have averaged spending $100 a month for the last 2 years. This does not include toiletries and diapers, for which I average $65 a month.

Here are the current prices above which I will not pay (that means if it's higher, it's not going in my cart). If there is a range of prices (say, .79 to .99) I usually will only pay .79 (or lower, if I can find it, and I look) but I realize that sometimes, the best price is .99. I will buy less at .99. I won't go higher than that:

(To those who use the metric system, I sincerely apologize. The United States measures in pounds and ounces.16 oz. equals 1 pound. 1 pound equals 0.453592 kg.)

Produce:

In general, I like produce to be $1 a pound or less, but here are my specifics:

Russet Potatoes: .10 to .20 a pound. I always buy these in a 10 pound or 20 pound bag, and I usually find them for .99 for a 10 pound bag in November, when I buy 400 pounds and keep them in the garage through the end of January/beginning of February. I will occasionally find more at this price during the year and buy some then, but not so many, as it is too warm to keep them for long.

Apples: .99 a pound is the highest I will go, but I aim for .50 to .79. I usually buy these in one week in fall and make applesauce. I have often found a good price for them in spring for one week, too, when I have also made applesauce.

Carrots: .45 a pound, usually in a 5-pound bag for this price

Bartlett Pears: .25 to .75 a pound. Some years they only go as low as .99 a pound. I will not pay more than .99 a pound. These are ripe sometime between July-September, and usually at the end of August. I have been seeing 2 different weeks of a good crop come in each summer; usually one July and one the last week of August/first week of September. I buy 80-160 pounds and can them

Peaches: .79 a pound. I get peaches in May and in July from our two trees, so we mostly eat those, but I will buy in July/August (whichever week they are ripe) for canning.

Bell Peppers: These rarely make it in my cart because they have gone up so much. In the last year, however, I have found 2 sales at Winco, and I bought these again.They were .10 each then; I will not go above .58 each, but I aim for .40 each or less. Other stores here usually only go as low as $1 each of even $2 each; I won't buy them at that price. They are very difficult to grow here; I try every year but it was so hot that I didn't harvest from putting plants in the ground in February until December last year, and then only a handful of TINY bell peppers (the heat makes them very small and prevents them from flowering). I will not be growing them this year.

Tomatoes: I do my best to grow these, but with the heat, they don't make flowers or set fruit for most of the year. I put plants in the ground after Valentine's Day. I will purchase them for .50  a pound or less if I can find them and my plants are not producing, and if I have the money.

Lettuce: In general I try to only eat lettuce from the garden, because it is so high, and we eat so much. If I decide to buy lettuce at the store, I usually stick to Romaine hearts, around $3 for 3.

Cucumbers: Rarely purchased (though I love them) as they are usually too high past my price point. If I find them for .33 each or less I will rarely purchase them. The only kind that does well in the heat in my garden is Armenian Cumumbers. I will be planting this type again in my garden this year.

Onions: .20 a pound

Clementines: $1 a pound, in season only

Oranges: .20  to .99 a pound. in season. I stock up when they are .20 a pound and I try not to go higher than .33 a pound. Oranges will last 3 months in the fridge or in my garage in winter.

Limes: I try to buy limes in a bag from the .99 store (my mom always picks these up for me). There are usually 12 limes in a bag. If not, I aim for .20 for less per lime.

Lemons: I grow Meyer lemons and freeze the juice. If I need lemons beyond that, I aim for .33 or less per lemon, and I can usually get the best price (.20 per lemon) by buying them in a bag.

Broccoli: This had become too high for us, but when Winco was built last year, I went looking for this item specifically, as I had heard that they have lower prices on this item. I have found it for .49 to .79 a pound for just the crowns at Winco. When I found them that low, I bought a whole lot, blanched them and froze them. Before that I was buying frozen broccoli from Target with a $1 off 4 coupon, making it .75 a pound (and mostly stems).  We can eat a pound or more per meal. I had not been buying much the last few years, especially when it went to $1.49 pound here, which is too high.

Peas: I have been buying frozen peas for $1.89 for 2 pounds on sale at Fresh and Easy. This is .95 a pound. My family really loves these peas and we are starting to eat 1 1/2 pounds at a meal. Remember that peas are a great source of protein.

Corn: I usually buy canned corn on case-lot sale or on holiday sales in November. .49 a can to .58 a can. Corn does not grow well here; it it too hot for ears to form. Corn doesn't like temperatures of 116º for months.

Grapefruit: .25 to .33 each. These are only this price in season in winter; I will buy a lot then if I am able to do so.

Bananas: We eat through bananas really quickly; a bunch of bananas has 6 bananas, so they are all gone in one sitting. I don't buy these very often, as they are usually .59 to .79 a pound here, but when I find them for .49 a pound or less I will get them if my budget allows it.

Asparagus: We all love asparagus. I planted some in my garden and I have had 2 plots die that were producing in the past. I will only buy them for .99 a pound in season; they don't go lower than that. I planted a lot more asparagus plants last year, so in a few years I hope to be harvesting again.

Watermelon: My family likes it, but it is pricey, and I find it is only best in season. I will buy it maybe once or twice a year at .25 a pound (usually around the 4th of July).

Honeydew and Cantaloupe: I will rarely buy these ins season at .49 a pound or less,  but not as often, as they are usually much higher than that.


Dairy:


Cheddar Cheese: $2.50 a pound (Sam's Club, often $2 a pound in spring/summer)

Mozzarella Cheese: $2.50 a pound (Sam's Club, often $2 a pound in spring/summer)

Sour cream $1 a pound (Smith's)

Milk: Milk has become a rarity here, but I will occasionally buy it for $2.79 or less.

Butter: I buy unsalted butter for baking from $2 a pound or less (Sam's Club and/or holidays). Last year I found it really low in summer at Sam's Club and stocked up. I rarely use it as it is very expensive compared to margarine.

Margarine: I like spreadable margarine for putting on toast, potatoes, pasta, and using in cooking. I pay around $2.65 for a 3 pound tub of Blue Bonnet or Gold N Soft. This is a regular price at Walmart for this size.

Eggs: .99 a dozen. Prices are rising rapidly on these and sometimes the lowest I'm seeing is $1.25. I will rarely make an exception to go that high. I usually wait until they are .99 a dozen (about every 3 months)  and I buy 13 dozen and I make them last as long as possible. The American Egg Board says that eggs are good for 4-6 weeks past their expiration date, so don't be afraid to stock up!

Pasta


Pasta: .49 a pound to $1 a pound. About the only pasta for which I still pay $1 a pound is Farfalle. I can usually get everything else for .49 to .79 on about 3 sales a year.

Meat:


I don't buy meat over $2 a pound, and I generally stick to meat under $1 a pound in order to have meat and stay within what we have to spend.

That said:

Turkey:  .49 to .79 a pound (I stock up in November for the year; this is our main source of meat)
Ham: .79 to .99 a pound (I stock up in November and December for the year)
Whole chickens: .69 to .79 a pound

Boneless skinless chicken breasts: These have become rare for me to purchase. They normally go on sale for $1.99 a pound, but once or twice a year we may see $1.69 a pound. If I have the money, I will stock up then. I saw this price recently but was unable to do so.

Pork Loin Roast: This has gone up in recent years. I look for sales of $1.89 a pound to $1.99 a pound, which are getting harder to find. I love this cut of meat but we only have it a few times a year now.

Ground beef: I did not purchase ground beef at all in 2011 because it was too high. A friend of mine pointed out a sale in 2012 for $1.99 a pound. I bought 20 pounds once in 2012.

Bacon: A rare purchase, but I can sometimes find a store sale at $1.49 to $1.99 a pound. I will freeze any that I buy

All other cuts of meat have risen above my price point, so I have stopped buying them, as they are too much for our budget. I used to be able to buy pot roast for $1.89 a pound, but now I cannot find it lower than $2.49.




Bulk items (purchase place listed behind them in parenthesis):

Bulk items vary in price depending on the year and crop production. They have risen quite a bit in recent years from what I have paid in the past. Stocking up on these items can help you weather price changes for a long time, as these items last quite a while. I looked up current prices online to give you the most recent prices that I am seeing. Some are higher from when I stocked up on these last year.


All-Purpose Flour: $8.23 for a 25 pound bag/ .33 a pound (Sam's Club)

Bread Flour: $8.27 for a 25 pound bag / .33 a pound (Sam's Club)

Granulated Sugar: $12.34 for a 25 pound bag/ .49 a pound (Sam's Club)

Brown Sugar: $2.97 for a 4 pound bag/.75 a pound (Sam's Club)

Powdered Sugar: $2.98 for a 4 pound bag/.75 a pound (Sam's Club)

Yeast: $4.68 for 2 1 pound bags/ $2.34 a pound (Sam's Club)

Salt: I buy a 4 pound box at Sam's Club. I have bought Kosher salt the same way but Sam's no longer carries Kosher Salt, so I will be looking this year.

Spices: I generally buy most spices at Sam's Club. Prices vary per spice. I also grow several things for fresh usage in my garden, including basil, parsley, thyme, tarragon, and more. You can see my garden list here.

San Fransisco Herb Company for poppy seeds, mustard seeds, and cream of tartar, all just under $2.50/pound.

I have bought spices in the past from Herb Products Co. I looked them up recently and they just went out of business after 30 plus years. When I run out of the herbs I still have, I will have to search for new sources for several of htem.

Popcorn: Until last year, I paid $17 for a 50 pound bag of popcorn (Sam's Club). That lasts up one year. The month after I purchased it, I noticed a different brand and a new price of $25 for a 50 pound bag. Corn production was poor prior to that, so I will have to see what prices are when we are getting low this year (around June). For those who are wondering, we use this stovetop popper. We've had it for 4 years and it has been great. We use it at least once a week.

Long-grain White Rice: (Sam's Club) $9.23 for 25 pounds currently. We go through 50 pounds a year, though this looks to be increasing. That is .37/pound.

Basmati Rice: I bought a lot of this several years back and I haven't bought any since then as we are still well-stocked.

Vegetable Oil: $6.78 for a gallon (Walmart)

Olive Oil: $14.58 for 3 Liters (Sam's Club)

Balsalmic Vinegar: $6.48 for 1 Liter (Sam's Club)

Vanilla extract: $6.88 for 16 oz. (Sam's Club)

Cornstarch: $2.35 for 35 oz. (Sam's Club)

Baking powder: $5.78 for 60 oz (Sam's Club)

Black Beans $16.80 for a 25 pound bag (LDS Cannery)

Pinto Beans $18.55 for a 25 pound bag (LDS Cannery) .742 cents a pound

Cannellini Beans $16 (LDS Cannery)

Kidney Beans: $1.25 a pound. (Winco)

Lentils: Brown lentils are cheaper than red or green, and easier to find. .79 a pound (Winco)

Oats: The current price I am seeing is $15.95 for 25 pounds at the LDS Cannery. Last year I stocked up for $15.35 for 25 pounds. A couple of months later Winco had a sale for $9.50 for a 25 pound bag, but I already had bought 75 pounds (which is what we use for the year). I am well stocked for all of this year and into next year, so when I run out, I will compare again.

In October 2005, I made a very large bulk order from Walton Feed that included red and white wheat, powdered milk, powdered eggs, and mung beans and alfalfa seeds for sprouting. I bought some powdered milk locally in May 2009 (Kroger Brand in a box), but that kind does not go as far as the kind from Walton, which mixes with twice the water as the kind from the store. I anticipate buying more powdered milk and powdered eggs in bulk sometime this year, so I will be comparing prices again. To read more about the different types of powdered milk, see my page here. I still have plenty of mung beans, alfalfa seeds, and wheat.

Swiss Chard
 

Items I don't buy because I eat them from the garden:


Grapes. I only eat ours when they are ripe in the garden. If I was purchasing these, .99/lb would be my limit

Green Onions. These are ready all year round in the garden. They can even be grown in pots. I harvest the outer stems and let my plants continue to grow; they will eventually go to seed and reseed themselves. I bought 2 six-packs of starter plants in 2007 and I haven't bought any since.

Swiss Chard: I harvest this year-round from the garden. I grow the Fordhook Giant variety.  I harvest outer leaves and it continues to produce all year long from the same plants (though growth is mostly stopped in winter; when it warms in spring they grow vigorously again).



Were there any items that I left out that you would like to see included? I'm sure I've forgotten some items. Let me know, and if they're something I purchase, I will add them to the list, or if not, I will respond why not in the comments. Last modified on
Tagged in: Know Your Prices

Comments

  • Kim May 31, 2014

    Hi, With rising food prices, can you do an update...

    Hi, With rising food prices, can you do an update on how much you spend for your food? Do you find that you are spending more. I have 3 grown men and three boys that I'm trying to keep fed along with with 2 grand children. I'm having fun! :)Blessings,Kim

  • The Prudent Homemaker October 05, 2013

    I know about them. I don't buy chicken real of...

    I know about them. I don't buy chicken real often at that price; I've been trying to limit most of our meat purchases to around .69 a pound or less. More expensive meat is a treat.

  • Angie W October 05, 2013

    Have you heard of Zaycon foods? They are online an...

    Have you heard of Zaycon foods? They are online and when they have an event in your area they can be really reasonable. You have to buy in bulk but the meat is fresh and really good quality. I think they Ground beef is to expensive but the boneless skinless chicken breast is 1.89 a pound and for my area that is a really good price. I will often grind the chicken myself because then I know the fat content.

  • Hernandez August 10, 2013

    We have both a Sam's & Costco card& li...

    We have both a Sam's & Costco card& live close to both. I don't buy much produce at either one except for bananas. I get great deals on produce @ Sprouts & the 99 cnts. store. We only eat butter;margarine is not good for our bodies. I have a price book to keep up on prices. We shop more at Costco than Sam's. I do luv the longer hrs. @ Sam's. We luv the return policy for Costco. We are now a family of 2 as the boys have left home. But we buy in bulk to save & for food storage. I also luv Winco. You can get good prices there on spices, canning & kosher salt, canning jars. Sprouts also has good deals on bulk spices.

  • Loyda Coulombe August 03, 2013

    Loving all the posts ! We moved to Arkansas from ...

    Loving all the posts ! We moved to Arkansas from the PNW and boy oh boy we are in Walmart world.. Walmart and Sams.... Aldis is here but I do have to say that their prices are not any cheaper. Someone posted on FB Aldi's avocadoes were .50 each so I went in... Well they were SUPER small.. pretty much buying 2 equaled one at Wally. I do miss Trader Joes, Winco, Albertsons, Walmart, health food stores that have bulk. Heck any store that offered bulk. Oops we do have Harps but they are much higher.. Although their beef is TEN times better quality than Wally.

  • The Prudent Homemaker August 02, 2013

    Not much fishing in the desert :); one would have ...

    Not much fishing in the desert :); one would have to drive quite far away to hunt or fish (and then you would need a boat for the Lake), and IF you get a tag for hunting (it's a lottery which you pay to enter, and it's actually in Utah, not Nevada, for those who live here and go to the closest place to hunt) it is quite costly; meat turns out to be about $3.50 and up a pound.In other areas of the country those things could be a lot less money, but here they are not close and costly.

  • Angel August 01, 2013

    Price differences are obviously huge on the differ...

    Price differences are obviously huge on the different coasts... I bought a bag with 8 bell peppers yesterday for $1, and they usually go by the pound. Do you hunt/fish? (sorry just found your blog) We're a new family just starting out, we don't even have enough money for our own home yet, but we're pinching every penny possible, which is why I found your blog.

  • Janet Marie Huff July 31, 2013

    Hi Brandi, this is most likely not in the right pl...

    Hi Brandi, this is most likely not in the right place......but wanted to say thanks!! I read somewhere on your blog or site about 49 cent crayons once a year, and noticed our local grocer had them this week for that price.....was able to afford 2 of them!! Appreciate knowing to keep my eyes opened for that bargain.

  • Janet Marie Huff July 31, 2013

    Thank you Veggie Mom for this recipe of better but...

    Thank you Veggie Mom for this recipe of better butter. We have made: 1/2 cup olive oil with 1 stick of butter.....mix when at room temp. But I'll try this, and I have some vitamin E in capsules!!

  • The Prudent Homemaker July 13, 2013

    Bleach, vinegar, water, dish soap, baking soda (in...

    Bleach, vinegar, water, dish soap, baking soda (in bulk). If you do a search on the blog for "windows" you can see how we clean our windows for pennies.

  • Maria July 13, 2013

    Can I ask what you do for cleaning supplies? I lov...

    Can I ask what you do for cleaning supplies? I love your recipes and tips. I have started to use these in our family and it is helps. Thank you for sharing.

  • Veggie Mom June 23, 2013

    Brandi, I really enjoy your blog...it (along with ...

    Brandi, I really enjoy your blog...it (along with your website) is beautiful to look at, thoughtfully arranged, and full of useful information. I can't imagine how you can possibly get done everything that you do for your family AND tend to your blog/website. May I suggest a tip jar? You have provided a very valuable ministry--and I'm assuming by the lack of obnoxious ads that you are not trying to get rich from it--but I would be happy to donate a small amount now and then. As frugal as you are, even 30.00/month profit (after the cost of paypal) would benefit your pantry.

  • Veggie Mom June 23, 2013

    Hmm, I realize this commment is way late in the ga...

    Hmm, I realize this commment is way late in the game, but I was just catching up on some old posts of yours today... Have you ever heard of the "better butter" recipe? It's found in the New Laurel's Kitchen (p. 93 in my addition)1 C. vegetable oil (I use canola)1 C. butter2 Tbsp. water2 Tbsp. powdered non-fat milk1/4 tsp. lecithin1/2 tsp. salt (optional)blend softened butter with rest of ingredients and put in tub... allow to firm up a bit in fridge. Makes 2 cups of spreadable "butter"...costs less than butter, tastes delightful, and has no hydrogenated oils like margarine does.p.s.I never had lecithin, so would just prick and squeeze one or two vitamin E capsules, which are quite cheap.

  • The Prudent Homemaker June 17, 2013

    Hi Danielle! There are no Aldi's here. A 3-pa...

    Hi Danielle!There are no Aldi's here. A 3-pack of bell peppers on sale is $2.99 here. Bananas are usually .79 a pound. Eggs are $1.79 or more regular price.We have a lot of stores here with a lot of competition. Recently a Winco was built in our area, and they have had some amazing prices on produce, which has been a great blessing to us.It's great that you have such low prices, especially in a state that taxes food items. We do not have sales tax on unprepared food here. (We also have no state income tax).

  • Danielle June 17, 2013

    Hi! I am new to your blog and absolutely loving it...

    Hi! I am new to your blog and absolutely loving it! I am wondering though if you happen to have an ALDI where you live? Here in Missouri I can often find a 3 pack of bell peppers for $1.29 and sometimes down to 99 cents for 3 of them. Bananas are between 29 cents to 54 cents a pound all year and usually hover between 29 and 33 cents for most of the year, cantaloupes are normally 99 cents each, eggs are never more than $1.49 a dozen and last year for about 3 months in the spring and summer they were 79 cents a dozen, and a gallon of vegetable oil is $6. ALDI has great prices on most things in their store and their weekly produce specials can't be beat. They also have butter always at $2 per pound and margarine at 79 cents per pound, so if you have one check it out! I also make my own vanilla extract. It is very easy and cheap. I will buy a gallon of cheap, cheap vodka for $6-$10 dollars depending on the store and the sale (I usually look for these sales around the holidays and buy one) then I order a pound of vanilla beans on amazon for $8. For a total of $18 I have vanilla extract for several years. All you do is cut open the vanilla beans and allow them to steep in the vodka for several months, shaking occasionally. This also makes a great frugal Christmas/Birthday gift that people love. In fact, my family members and in-laws request a pint of my homemade vanilla extract each year because it is that much better than store bought! They never have to know how cheap and easy it is to make. ;)If you don't happen to have an ALDI around you you can to to their website and request one to be built in your area. They are really great stores with a lot of money saving potential!

  • Gluten free frugal April 04, 2013

    I wish I could get these kinds of deals - we only ...

    I wish I could get these kinds of deals - we only have one store and one big box near us and they don't offer anything close. I have to eat gluten free, so that throws more expense in there.My 3 kids eat like horses and I work full time outside the house until 6:00 several nights a week, so cooking elaborate dinners and lunches is just not always possible.Any advice!?

  • Lindy March 24, 2013

    In Oklahoma I have tried to go by some of things t...

    In Oklahoma I have tried to go by some of things that you have purchased at Sam's club such as spices. We do on occasion have drum/thighs for $.99 cents for a a package. I have been getting hamburger meat in the tube again. Freezing fruit when I get it, You said you in the post that can Apples do you freeze apples for pies? Your blog has helped me so much when it comes to buying food and ways to save money.

  • Traci Best January 25, 2013

    I've been shopping primarily at Sam's Club...

    I've been shopping primarily at Sam's Club with fill ins at Wal-mart, Gordon Food Service and Honeyville Grain this past year and a half. (Family of 7) I adore Sam's...but they really had me wondering about them over their pepper prices this year. My store carried a bag of six small green or six medium/large colors for around $6. The green price made me mad...and I was amazed at the same price for the colored peppers. They were always two or three times that price at Kroger years ago. I've started buying a 5lb bag of green peppers at GFS once a month for about $6. This usually nets 16 cups or so of chopped peppers...which is about what I need. (We make a LOT of homemade pizza around here!)I love Sam's for the low prices I can count on...but I'm careful to continue to shop around a little. I get the best prices on my #10 cans of fruit, veggies and tomatoes at Sam's...but a couple things I still buy at GFS even though it is a bit higher so that I can get exactly what I want. (Pineapple tidbits verses chunks.) GFS always has sliced apples in water that I can use to make cobblers and pies. The price is comparable to buying fresh and peeling/slicing myself.

  • The Prudent Homemaker January 22, 2013

    Lisa, I've tried cutting them, but they ALWAYS...

    Lisa, I've tried cutting them, but they ALWAYS die on me when I prune them shorter.

  • Lisa January 22, 2013

    Brandy, we go through a LOT of peanut butter in my...

    Brandy, we go through a LOT of peanut butter in my house! My husband takes a peanut butter sandwich every day to work and sometimes my children will take one for school. The majority of the time though I'm baking with it, whether it be cookies or even dog treats. Shoprite has their store brand peanut butter- 18 oz jars- on sale this week through April 6 for only $1.69/jar or 9¢ per oz. which is a MAJOR stock up price for me. I'll be buying several jars!

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