Jun 032012
 

Last week I shared a couple of tips to buy food on the cheap. Now I will reveal another way to save.

I shop at Costco. Buying groceries in bulk is a great way to save money. A tray of 48 pork sausages only costs $13. Three loaves of bread for only $7. They always have food items on special as well. For bulk perishable items I would split them up into smaller portions and freeze them. Below are some groceries I bought from Costco this year. Some items have already been partially consumed. By the way, I don’t recommend reading the rest of this post on an empty stomach.

It costs $55 a year for the privilege of shopping there but you get two Costco cards, and it’s totally worth it if you split the cost with a friend. It’s good to know where to buy cheap groceries like those ribs from the previous post for only $3.08. And all those food from the produce market; 2 potatoes for just 65 cents. But what kind of recipes can we prepare from these cheap ingredients? Well by mixing together different items from different stores we can make some pretty cheap, healthy, and delicious dishes. I’m not a very good cook, but I’ve been taking pictures over the last week of what I’ve been eating at home to demonstrate some simple recipe ideas anyone can make.

As you can see these dishes used the ingredients mentioned earlier in this post and in the one before so the numbers are all calculated based on real prices. Most meals like these only cost around $1 to make. So if we eat 3 meals a day, plus a snack, then each month our grocery bill would only be around $100. But in reality it may fluctuate because sometimes we can treat ourselves and spend more. But other times we might skip a meal or go to a restaurant instead which won’t count as grocery spending. The point is if we wanted to, we could live quite comfortably on $100 a month for all our food needs. Not bad, considering the average Canadian spends over $300 a month for all food expenses, (includes eating out.)

My BMI is around 23 so I’m not underweight. I normally consume around 1800 calories a day so I’m not malnourished either. I would say my diet is pretty balanced overall. So spending less doesn’t necessarily mean depriving ourselves of anything important. Last week I mentioned the average consumer spends about $205 a month on grocery shopping but I only spend half as much as that. Now you know how. And you can do the same (^o^). Just remember these 3 simple suggestions. 1) Buy fruit and veggies from small produce markets. 2) Buy meat products when they go on sale. 3) Buy everything else from a wholesaler.  Just because we live in an expensive city doesn’t mean we have to spend a lot of money to enjoy what it has to offer (^_-)

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Jeremy @ Modest Money
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Just a warning, don’t assume that everything is cheaper at costco. They prey on that assumption and overcharge people for all kinds of things. For example, with your pasta sauce, I instead go for superstore PC brand and it is much cheaper and still pretty tasty. With bread, I rarely pay $2.33 per loaf. I’m usually fine with the bread from the grocery store’s bakery for under $2/loaf. I had also bought some spaghetti noodles for $1 a bag. The bag was probably about 1/3 of that box in your photo.

Liquid
Admin

Thanks for the tip. I think that’s a great point people shouldn’t over look. I shop at Superstore on occasion too. I like their 99 cents breads they sometimes have at the store’s entrance. The smell of freshly baked goods make people want to go in their store.

Crystal Evanisky
Guest

i have to agree with jeremy too. Pasta sauce and the pasta are two things that i never buy at costco. When the sales are on locally, i can pick up the same pasta sauce for .50 cheaper. Pasta will usually go on sale for $1.00 a box so you can buy 7 boxes for that price. Handisnacks are also one item i don’t buy there. and soup cases. Local sales will result in cheaper prices. Having said that, I love to shop at costco for lots of things too. Meat is a great deal there and good quality. i don’t buy meat anywhere else. Also things we really use in bulk those prices can’t be beat. I love how you broke your meals down to cost. Thats very interesting to look at.

Liquid
Admin

I really like pasta so that’s good to know :). I think local shops and other wholesalers are totally worth checking out for any specials or deals. I’ll keep an eye out for those $1 a box pasta packages around town.

Daisy @ Add Vodka
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I’m not a huge fan of costco, if simply because I dont’ like paying as much for branded items – I’m perfectly content buying store brand for some things and Kirkland stuff is a bit more expensive than say President’s Choice.

Liquid
Admin

I’ve noticed the lack in quality of Kirkland brands as well. I try to buy third party when there are options.

Phil
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Phil

Costco can be hit and miss. Bottom line is you need to know your prices… Costco regularly has good sales on regular buy items, like Nature Valley bars, salsa and egg rolls. Bulk things like i said can be hit and miss. Being from Ontario, I tend to shop Food Basics (a division on Metro – which is a nice stock to own). Their veggies tend not to be supper glossy, and more “real’. I shop the reduce goods on wednesday mornings, as thats the day they re stock the fruits and veggies 🙂 Always a great way to save. Also make sure to only shop the outer ring, becasue thats where the real food is (non-taxed foods are typically alll found on this outer ring). As to costs, I get meat from a local farmer, fresh veggies in summer there too, so averaged out throughout the year for my family of 3, with 3 meals from restaurants included each month we total $480/month on food. Cheers, and love your blog, and the fact that you comment on almost all entries…

Liquid
Admin

That’s really cheap for a family of 3. Good for you guys ヽ(^。^)ノ. Keeping track of even the amount is already a good step to managing household budgets that more families ought to do. One thing I don’t make proper use of is buying food directly from farmers or fishers which doesn’t have the added cost of a retail distributor. I don’t know if Sobeys or Metro have stores in Western Canada but I haven’t seen any in Vancouver yet. More competition is always good for the consumers.

Phil
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Phil

Funny that Van does not have a Sobey’s… It is a company based out of Alberta, I believe. We have them here in Ontario, but I’m not a fan of their food quality. Metro is from Quebec, and they have very high quality no name brand food, branded – “Equality”. Local food is still best and cheapest, typically. If you find a good resteraunt you like, you can always enquire where they get their food from. many times, you’ll find that they source local, and some of those local places you can purchase direct from as well.

Liquid
Admin

“Equality”.. that’s quite a fitting name for a high quality no name line of products. Speaking of cheap ideas, one thing I forgot to mention in the original post is that for many Canadians living close to the US, shopping across the border can have many benefits. Even multinationals like Walmart and Costco are quite a bit cheaper in their US locations. And while down there people can also fill up on cheaper gas. Locally grown blue berries are really popular around here when they’re in season. People can pay to go into farms and pick them themselves. Nice tip on inquiring about food at restaurants, especially one you might eat at more frequently.

young
Guest

Haha I see Sunrise market there. HOLLAHHH!!! That’s the best place to buy you can get such cheap groceries there but sometimes they don’t last very long.

I love my cheap grocery markets near my place- they even give me a free newspaper most of the time too!

Liquid
Admin

Free newspaper ftw! There are so many of these cheap groceries stores around our city. I’m surprised not more people shop at them.

Markdown Vulture
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Markdown Vulture

In my bizarro neighbourhood of the GVRD, the small stores are more expensive than the big chain stores. I love to raid the clearance/markdown sections of the big supermarkets because I like surprises and challenges like, “OMG I have a crapload of bananas – now what?” Plus I don’t want to see good food go to waste – I saw a documentary once about how much unsold food is thrown away and I just about cried. Just to give you an idea of my latest markdown finds…

Bananas, $0.25/lb – frozen mashed bananas = “vegan ice cream”
Peppers, $0.75/lb
Apples, $0.40/lb – a crapload of apples turns into a big pot of applesauce to make me happy for a whole week
Semolina, $0.89/kg
Halva (a lovely Middle Eastern sesame-based dessert), $0.88/lb (normal price $3 to $4/lb)
Artisan bread I can usually get for under $2/loaf
White nugget and purple potatoes $0.37/lb
Pears $0.60/lb
Haagen-Daaz $2.50 for those tubs that usually go for $7 and up

Yeah, so I’ll end up eating peppers every day for a whole week, so I challenge myself to find different ways to cook them.

By being a vulture, my food bill comes to about $100 per month like you.