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Groceries seems to be one of the expenses that there is a lot of variability. When my spouse was laid off, I was able to cut my expenses before from about $1200 to $400 a month. Now we are up more than that since I have less time to look for the deals. I have however found some very time saving/money habits along the way and will use this thread to share. It's my mini blog, as I don't have time to blog on a regular basis. Perhaps this thread will lead to a blog, book or something else . :). At the very least maybe this will help others save a little money.

My priorities are health, taste, the finances when it comes to food. Some things I post here may not be the cheapest or the fastest but they will be good.

Feel free to add your own tips.

I will add to this thread when I have done something that I have discovered at home.
 

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This morning, I made a Nanking cherry compote/syrup. These were actually picked last summer from the person I buy my raw organic honey. The land owner said he had cherries that he didn't know what to do with because he is never home. He invited my family to do some picking, we ended up with about 3 ice cream pails full.

I washed them, and pitted them (that was a pain) and made some sauces and things. The rest, I froze in two cup portions in ziplock bags. That one hint, freeze you bulk goods in the potions you think you will most often use. Go on smaller side because you can always combine two portions.

This morning, I took a bag, boiled, added some agave (sugar is fine), vanilla, and thicken with corn starch.

I served it over French toast on a loaf of bread that is going stale. It was a big loaf, so I ended up making it all, and the rest will be frozen on a cookie sheet. Fast break fast for the kids on school days. They get sad that they don't have cereal often. :)
 

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Just made a nice beef stew for Sunday dinner ... small cheap beef roast cubed, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, turnip ... 2 servings each for dinner (haven't had stew in a while) with 6 servings into containers for lunches. Agreed, beef's a bit expensive these days but ...
 

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Best thing to do is shop by the pound, not by the price or what you assume...

For example, many people think stewing beef is cheap, but I was at Costco the other day and it's $11/kg. Their vacuum packed top serloin sells for $9/kg (exact prices may have been a bit different).

Many stores sell precut cheese all for the same price (say $5/block) but the weight of the blocks can vary quite a bit, sometimes by almost a pound. Walmart sold turkeys like that just before thanksgiving. They had price points $10, $15, $20 for three different sizes under 5kg, 5-10kg and over 10kg (or something similar)...you could get quite a bit more turkey if you looked through the pile.

Of course, picking up a few turkeys when they are on sale, or right after thanksgiving, can fill up a freezer pretty cheap as well.
 

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For example, many people think stewing beef is cheap, but I was at Costco the other day and it's $11/kg. Their vacuum packed top serloin sells for $9/kg ...
I mainly get a small boneless roast for stew because it is much more tender than stewing beef, and as a bonus, as you posted, the roast is less expensive ... stewing beef - tough, stringy, a total waste of time, space, and money :hopelessness:

We also buy a whole salmon which is often on sale and have the butcher (or whatever the title of the guy is that works the fish counter) cut it up into steaks ... for a small fee of course ... for freezing.

Shopping for two at a reasonable cost can't help but require a bit of "bulk" buying and freezing now and then.
 

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I've foudn the slow cooker to be a great way to prepare food if you don't have a lot of time. Simply throw the ingredients in and let them cook for 8 hours.

An easy pulled pork recipe: Buy a pork shoulder, which is a relatively cheap cut of meat. Put it in the slow cooker, then pour in a can of root beer or dr pepper (non-diet). Cook on low for 8 hours, then just pull it apart with two forks and add sauce (I like sweet baby ray's bbq sauce). If you want you can add more seasoning like onions or whatever but I don't bother.

There are lots of slow cooker recipes here: https://www.reddit.com/r/slowcooking
 

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We find that the cheapest way to shop is without a shopping list. Save for the staples like milk, eggs and bread, we generally don't have a shopping list. The Walmart/Superstore flyer is our shopping list--we'll buy whatever is on sale. It's like the TV show Chopped. You get a pre-determined basket of goods and you figure out how to make the week work with those goods.
 

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While some of the ideas have become outdated with the rise of the availability of information on the Web, the 'Tightwad Gazette' anthologies are great resources on affordable ways to cook meals for less money.

Yes, for us, meals are built around what is on sale at the store, or what was loaded up on when that meat item was on sale or ridiculously discounted as it neared its price sticker date.

Other things take a bit more work, but are worth it, and makes something nice without shelling out for meat.

One example we make is called Barley Lentil stew. About $4 in dried barley soaked up a day before, and about the same value in lentils which don't need soaking. Saute onions, toss in pepper to taste. and chop up any vegetables that are hanging around in the fridge, or buy a frozen diced vegetables to toss in. This makes about 20L worth - so eat a hearty meal fresh with bread to sop it up, and lightly pressure can if that is your thing, or freeze left overs in old ice cream tubs, etc, , or just stick this into left over jars in the back of the fridge for a week or two for short term storage.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
We find that the cheapest way to shop is without a shopping list. Save for the staples like milk, eggs and bread, we generally don't have a shopping list. The Walmart/Superstore flyer is our shopping list--we'll buy whatever is on sale. It's like the TV show Chopped. You get a pre-determined basket of goods and you figure out how to make the week work with those goods.
I keep an ongoing list of items that are staples, that we may need to stock up on, so when they go on sale, I will buy. I also go through the flyers weekly, and make note of the sale items which I need to pick up on. We cook based on the sale items too. However, since I buy in bulk, I do my own thing of Chopped for the week, but also do a little Iron chef, where I come up with freezer meals with that theme.
 

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My latest shopping are found a pork loin sale $1.88 lb. bought 7 lbs roast. Sliced it into a whole bunch of pork chops, some for grilling, another meal for freezing, then pounded out two meals in pork schnitzel. They are are freezing now. Was able to get 20 servings from under $13. I also found some apples that were looking a little sad (hidden u dear my fruit basket), and there was an apple sale, so I bought a few more, and made the best applesauce. It went great with the pork,and the kids won't stop eating it.

I may run and getting anothe pork loin to stonily slice, and marinade to make Tocino pork. I am running a little low on freezer space because of the French toast. We will have to see.
 

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There is a price checker app which my niece uses all the time, best part is many stores accept the app so you don't even need to bring the ad with you unfortunately I can't find the email where she mentioned it.

Redflag deals would be a good place to check out, as I don't live in Canada at the moment I don't spend much time there.

For feeding an army I had a missionary friend in Madrid who used to host large groups for dinner each week, and on top of that he had three teenage boys and a daughter, yet he managed to spend less than my wife and I on food. This interested me so I really paid attention to what he did and there where several tricks he used

1. Go shopping only once a week
2. Buy only the cheapest of the cheapest - with a few exceptions he bought only the no name store branded products*
3. Cook with lentils and beans
4. Use very little meat, I remember one meal in particular where he served slow cooker lentil stew and he put in 2 potatoes 2 carrots and one sausage This was a meal for 7 adults people

The key really is to find bulk stuff that’s cheap to buy and easy to cook, But it’s mostly about avoiding meat.
 

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Consume what you buy ... off topic, bigger picture consequences http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/food-waste-costs-canada-31b-a-year-report-says-1.2869708 ... I just casually mentioned to someone that most everything comes to town by truck ... if we weren't so wasteful (food, clothes, you name it) there'd be half as many ... ok, a bit of an exaggeration ... fuel burning trucks on the road ... her response, but what about the truck drivers? Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against trucks, my stepson got his C1 on a Friday in July, started working the following Monday, a flatbed for now, just saying ...
 

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^ Actually consume what you buy is a huge one. I admit as a bulk buyer I have over bought on things. That was part of the reason for this thread. I have learned more creative ways to reduce the wastage of food which leads to the frugality.

Some more tips that I do sonce you added....
Yogurt that is near or just past expiry, I freeze if int he individual containers, or often if it's Ina tub, I out on ice cube trays and freeze for smoothies
The leafy overs of a little vegetable, , pasta, meat that we didn't finish, get frozen in ziploc, they get added into my home made soups
Vegetable peelings (cleaned) get thrown in to another freezer bag, and used for vegetable stock.

We have been trying to reduce our trash, which is hard with kids, but any food that has been left over and not reached their plate I try and figure out if I can do something with it.
 

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Rice and Quinoa are my go-to staples for keeping costs down. A cold quinoa salad is a tasty and cheap meal or side dish!

I just bought a 10lb bag of carrots for $0.99. I can't wait to make carrot soup out of that sucker.
 

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I just bought a 10lb bag of carrots for $0.99.
How??? I've never seen a 10lb bag for under $5. I just bought a 5lb bag for $2.25 last week on steep discount and that's the lowest I've EVER seen carrots.
I do recall vegetables on ultra discount at St. Jacob's market in Waterloo, late in the afternoon as all the sellers are closing, but 10c/lb for any produce is exceptionally low even for them...
 

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This was at super store. There were skids throughout the store full of 10lb bags. I had to double check that I had the mass correct....I can confirm it is in fact 10lbs!
 

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Rice for sure, but where can you get cheap quinoa? We love it, but it's expensive anywhere. Even costco is expensive.
Bulk Barn. Never buy it in the fancy box with small quantities. When ever I stock up on ingredients, I stock up on quinoa as well. As you know, a little goes a long way, just like rice!
 

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Putting up apples at the moment. Bought three bushels of their left over after Apple Day in exchange for a donation to the local scout group.

So far I have done runny apple sauce for spreading on the dehydrator, sliced apples into apple crisp, sliced apples canned in light syrup for making apple crisp mid winter, thick apple sauce into jars and can for baking and eating with pork, or just as is later on.

This weekend I have plans for more thick apple sauce to make into a few varieties of apple butter batches - one with sliced cooked up lemons, and one with cinnamon and nutmeg and mace.
Plus more runny apple sauce into 1.5l jars to do more apple fruit leathers on the dehydrator later in the winter - so much nicer to smell them drying than just running the humidifier.

Once the dehydrator trays are done with the current apple sauce batches, I will grind up some vitamin c tablets and dissolve them into water to make a dip , and place dipped apple slices on mesh trays in the dehydrator to make dried apple for cooking with oat meal next summer when we go camping, etc. The vita C dip keep the drying fruit from browning.

As we get closer to Christmas I will use up the last of these apples to make up apple pies to serve over the holidays and to freezer to eat over the winter.
 
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