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Ask DSM Readers: Save on Fresh Produce, Bread, Dairy & Meats

by Tara Kuczykowski on July 15, 2010 · 83 comments

Saving on Fresh Produce, Dairy & MeatPhoto by Faith Goble

Every week I'll pose a question for you to share your experiences and tips. If you have a question that you'd like me to post, I'd love to hear from you!

Recently, I received this question from Kelly:

I was curious to know how you save on things that don't usually have a plethora of coupons like fresh fruit, vegetables, butcher meats, milk, bread...

As a family, we're working to eliminate prepared foods and anything that contains high fructose corn syrup. Since we have five kids, we go through a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread or a bag of fruit very quickly, and I've been looking for additional ways to save on fresh foods as well.

How do you save on produce, meat, dairy and bread? Do you limit the amount of these foods that you buy in favor of cheaper processed foods? Do you shop at specialty outlets that offer these at a discount?

Join the discussion -- add your two cents to previous Ask DSM Readers questions too!

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Judy July 15, 2010 at 2:15 pm

For bread, we got a bread machine and I make a loaf of basic white bread or honey whole wheat about once a week. The recipes that came my bread machine work great for sandwich bread, and the bread lasts for at least 4 or 5 days at room temperature.

For us it works out to at least a 50% savings over buying a loaf at the store, plus I get the peace of mind of knowing exactly what's in it, with no preservatives.

It does take a bit more time - from idea to finished, cool sliced loaf and clean kitchen is about 20 minutes spread out over 4+ hours.


2 Kristy July 15, 2010 at 2:15 pm

If you live in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, or South Dakota and use Robert's Dairy products you can go to their website and log-in for great Qs.

They even have a Q for $0.55 off a Gallon of Milk. The coupons will come up as a PDF sheet and you can print it as many times as you like. The Milk Q is actually good until the end of the year!


3 Cindy July 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Oh my goodness, Kristy. Thank you soooooooooooo much for the heads up on Robert's website. I always look forward to getting their $0.55 coupon for milk in the newpaper clippings but just never even thought about going online. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. I almost always use mine at Dillons (since they will double up to $1.00), when it makes them cheaper than the off-brands or even at Walmart. Thanks again so very much!!! :)


4 Kristy July 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Glad I could help! Enjoy!


5 Peggy July 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I currently live in a VERY small town in SE Kansas. I moved here from central Ohio in 2009. So I am scrambling to find deals. I am use to a plethora of stores to compare prices and that isn't the case here. I do always look at the ads online for the 3 stores that are in my town. One store is Dillon's owned by Kroger, so my shopper's card still works here, also there's a Walmart, and one other small store that is locally owned and therefore much more expensive. Fruit has been very expensive here this summer. Especially cherries...about $8 a pound! So between the 3 I find the cheapest meats, vegs, fruits as I do my shopping one day a week and I hit all 3 stores unless there is no reason to. I also get great deals on milk at Walgreens. I check their ads every week online and they tend to be at least 20 or 30 cents cheaper on milk and it's not out of my way to stop there. I also get my printer cartridges refilled at Walgreens since they offer 50% coupons on the boxes they return your cartridge in. I never pay more than $6.50 to refill. Remember, I live in a small, small town. The next largest town is in Missouri about 30 miles away. So for me I bargain shop the best I can with the stores that I have. DSM is my savior though. Cashiers are always asking me how I get coupons for this or for that...and I tell them DSM!!! I get my best deals at Dillon's because I use ecoupons on my shopper's card and then paper coupons as well with their sales. Walgreen's stackable coupons are terrific for me. Granted I don't buy alot at Walgreens, but when they have a better deal on Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh lunchmeat than Dillon's or Walmart, I definitely use my coupons with their sales. You don't normally think of Walgreens for milk and lunchmeat or cereal, but Malt O Meal sells boxes at Walgreens as opposed to the bags at other stores. The boxes are double the size of a regular box and they are only $2. No coupons needed.


6 Abbygail July 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I use my garden to get cukes, peas, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, green beans, and lettuce (spinach usually, but did not do well this year). I also take advantage of when things are on sale. Just yesterday I found organic strawberries for $1.50/ quart. Aldi's also had really good prices on their weekly produce special. I freeze as much fruit as I can which isn't as great as fresh, but in the dead of winter it's better than I can find in the store. Also check out local U-Pick places. There is a local apple farm and blueberry farm where you pay quite a bit less than the store when you pick yourself. We also have a lot of road-side farmers who park at intersections or parking lots and sell their produce at good prices. My parents also have fruit trees and we get peaches and pears from them. Check with friends or church people to see if anyone has fruit from trees that doesn't all get eaten- most are happy to share.

As for meat, we buy a quarter of a cow once a year for about $350 for about 350 lbs and that lasts us the entire year and we have some to share with other family. This is a good friend, but I'm sure there are local farmers that do the same.

Dairy and bread are easier to come by for coupons, but I always can find at least some items on manager special. The expire dates may be near, but we can usually get it finished up before it spoils. Bread seems to have a very long after expire date life for me when I store it in the fridge (it freezes ok too).


7 Julie June 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I love all Abbygail's ideas. We also garden, but don't forget fishing and hunting. These are great sources of natural, and usually lean, meats. My husband hunts, but I have a girlfriend who has a brother who doesn't like game, but loves to hunt. She and her husband get the meat for her family's freezer.


8 Mel July 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I shop at a bread outlet and get Sara Lee Bread for 75 cents a loaf! I also get hamburger and hot dog buns for 89 cents a pack. We save a lot of money this way!


9 Avary July 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Mrs. Bairds' outlet stores are amazing!


10 Amy Campbell July 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

As a stay at home mom of a three and 1 year old, we are a family of 4 that is able to make it work by being very frugal. We save on meat by purchasing 1/2 cow from a local farm- grass fed delicious beef with no hormones! We have rounded our experience buying from a farm by recently including a couple of chickens and fresh eggs! The beef goes for only $2.45 per pound, and that includes processing. When was the last time you could buy ANY beef for that price? It has made a HUGE difference in our grocery bill.
As for veggies, my step mom grows some, but we visit farmer's markets and buy what is in season. (and only what we will actually use!)
We are not big milk drinkers, so that really isnt a big expense for us. The bread I make myself- and it's much better tasting than anything made in the store!


11 July 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I started my own veggie garden this year and so far I've harvested cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, pepper, carrots, beans, peas, lettuce and zuchinni. I'm waiting on the tomatoes right now. This has been awesome as I have plenty left over to share with friends and family. In terms of meat, my local store Giant, PA has coupons that I can print from their kiosk, I also sign up for their emails and they will contain Giant coupons that I will stack. I buy in bulk when at their lowest price and freeze. For fruit, Giants does have coupons at their kiosk and online that is stackable and maybe next year I'll consider growing water melon and strawberries. I cannot emphasise the fun, enjoyment and nutritional value that an organic garden brings to our family.


12 Melissa July 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm

For bread, we buy Sara Lee at Sams. 2 loaves of bread for $3.78 I think. They also have the sandwich thins in a double pack for about the same price. Aldi is super cheap for buns and bread, but it doesn't work if you want to avoid HFCS.

I have used the coupons Kristy mentioned for Roberts Dairy items. Cottage cheese - which I buy every week - was $1.69 then with the doubled Q I got it for less than $1.

I used to buy milk at Sam's Club, but when my kids started showing signs of hormone issues - like my 1 year old developing pediatrician suggested we make a switch. I have found a farm fresh milk at Hy-Vee, Hen House, and Price Chopper in Kansas City. Lately I have been able to get gallon for less than $3 a gallon. It is normally $4 a gallon, but still considerably cheaper than the organic our pediatrician recommended. And the baby's issue has gone away.

I normally go to 3 or different stores to get the best prices on fresh meats and veggies. Well today I had Wal-Mart price match my ads from 4 different stores for all our grocery and fresh produce. I got the dole sweet pineapple for $1.49 by matching Aldi's price and using the 50 cent off coupon. So even though I spent more on mushrooms - because they are always cheaper at Aldi - I saved myself at least 2 hours time.

As for meat, we bought a whole hog with my parents and brother. We ended up with 1/4 of a hog for about $90. I don't really know how many pounds of meat we ended up with, but I filled my large cooler. We buy hamburger at a local locker for $2.49 per pound. Sometimes that locker will have specials on other things and we take advantage of them when we can. And our steaks normally come from Hy-Vee. We really don't skimp on meat. I won't buy any meats with growth hormones, nitrates/nitrates, etc. When I find a meat on sale I will stock up - like bags of chicken breasts were on sale for $4.50 - which is about 1/2 the normal price. I bought two. When pork roasts were $0.49 a pound I bought 3 of them.

Those are just my ideas.


13 jennifer July 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Ditto on the organic milk!!! It's twice as expensive= if you can't afford it, have them drink half as much milk. If it's out of the question, drink water. You aren't depriving them, you are helping them!!!


14 erin July 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm

When organic is $6.50 and the regular hormone free/rbst free is $2.50 - I'm choosing the cheaper one, and so are plenty of other families. There is always an alternative. For example, mixing half a gallon of powdered milk with half a gallon of real milk to stretch it out a bit longer. You can buy organic powdered milk, btw.

There's no need to go extreme and withhold nutrition from young children, ever. JMO.


15 Kristy July 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Thanks everyone for the info on the Hormones in milk. I checked out Robert's and they have no added hormones. YEA!


16 Tonya July 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Merita bread outlets are definitely worth a visit - we get loaves of White/Wheat bread (perfect for picky kids) for 79 cents!


17 Lindsey July 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I usually bake my own bread. We like the multi-grain or the herb and cheese loaves, which cost several dollars at the store, but I can make them for about 25% of the price, and baking bread is much easier than people think. It takes about 15 minutes of easy work, and we get delicious results!

We also have a bread/bakery outlet store here, where items are about 50% the price they are at the store. On Mondays, they have a Monday Mania sale, so they reduce their prices by 50%, so we always try to plan to make our bagel, english muffin, or sometimes bread purchases for Mondays.

Milk is something I don't really see many coupons for, but it seems to be much cheaper here than in other parts of the country. I live in Indiana and buy my milk at Meijer, which usually costs $2, but sometimes we have to pay as much as $2.29. When visiting family in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri, though, I found that their milk was more than $3 a gallon (and all their groceries were more expensive in general). So I'm happy to pay just $2!

For fruits and veggies, we buy what's on sale and in season. I have a small garden, and we also go to the farmer's market and do u-pick farms like Abbygail.

Meat we watch for sales. Every month there seems to be a good deal on a different type of meat, so when that sale comes along, we stock up on whatever it is. This week chicken will be on a great sale at Meijer, so we'll be stocking up on that to get us through to the next big sale.


18 Kristen July 15, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I am glad that my kids are past their major milk stages! Milk in NW Arkansas is over $3.50 a gallon at Wal-Mart. It's EXPENSIVE!


19 Dianna July 15, 2010 at 3:36 pm

It is so much cheaper in the chicago land area too. My family routinely buys milk for 1.99 mostly at the speedway's, but here in central arkansas it is 3.73 at walmart and it is the cheapest. I get mine at Sams in Little rock when I go twice a month. It is over a dollar cheaper a gallon. I hadn't thought about the hormones in the milk there, so I will have to look into that. I know most store brands of milk have quit adding hormones.


20 Candice S July 16, 2010 at 1:58 am

How do you find a Bread Outlet? I live in a big college town with about every store I could dream of here, but I googled bread outlets and came up with zilch. Any tips? My family goes through tons of bread even though there is only two of us, I would love to find a cheaper way to get it!


21 Abbygail July 16, 2010 at 9:33 am

ask someone at the store in the bread dept. Most of the bread that is at the outlets are loaves that are from the store that are at their sell by date. instead of marking them down in the store, they take them back and into the outlet store. Around me there is an Aunt millie's and a Hostess store.


22 Shawna July 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

For those of you that are buying the whole cows and pigs, how did you find a reputable person to buy your meet from? Did you know someone, or find a flyer? Hope this isn't a silly question.


23 jennifer July 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm

If you lived in SW mo, you could buy from me!! Haha! This might seem crazy but you could check out craigslist. We are in a homeschool co-op,we do our own for school projects and these cows are BABIED! You could ask around at church too, etc.


24 Pamela January 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I live 35min from Joplin,Mo would be interested in buying meat if you are serious?


25 July 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm

The easiest way by far is to stop into a meat processing place and ask them. They will often buy a cow and sell half and have half or even a quarter on is what they is their business, lol! If you are wondering where you can find a meat processing place, just ask any guy who deer hunts who he takes his meat to for processing. Some guys do it them selves, but most have some place do it for them. If the processing place does not have it on hand, they will know of someone local that you could buy from.


26 sara s July 19, 2010 at 12:32 am

We found a great local, affordable farmer on craigslist.


27 Deb March 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

We raise our own beef, and I deal with the processing plant yearly. If you ask them they will wait until someone else wants a half or fourth of beef and will split the cost (or you could find a friend). Cost is usually about 2.50-2.75 lb. That is steaks, roasts etc., it addition to reducing the cost of the beef, you get it packaged the way you want. If you like your steaks 3/4 inch or 1 1/2 inch thick and 1 or 4 per package, they will do that. If you like your burger packaged in 1/2 lb or 2 lb packages they will do it. Processers will do this for beef, pigs, lambs etc. The animals in this area are hormone free so I don't inquire. However if you want organic, they usuall know a producer that would provide an animal. I know there are those who advertise organic beef.


28 Shirley July 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I get fresh vegetables from they're available in AZ, UT, OR and WA... and a few other places too. For $15 (+a small fee), we get two small laundry baskets full of fruits and vegetables. REgularly, we get a head of romaine lettuce and apples (two things we go through pretty quickly). But we've gotten blueberries, strawberries, yellow squash, zuccini, butternut squash and eggplant (which the kids ate thinking it was meat!) Getting these has helped me expand out from what I normally cook for dinners and such.


29 robyn July 15, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I love that she asked this! we recently started eating more "whole" foods and very little processed. one of the things we do to help with keeping the costs of eating healthy down is join a produce co-op which keeps our supply of fresh fruits and veggies aplenty.


30 Noelle July 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm

We visit Freihoffers Outlets for bread. There are always discount tables where items are 3/$3. Since the items on these tables are random, I stock up when our favorite Arnold breads are included in those markdowns and then freeze.
We also eat produce based on what's on sale that week. This year we have also had more success with our garden and are eating some lovely zucchini and looking forward to more veggies.
We also have a local market that has great prices on meat and produce and also runs great sales.
Don't forget to check and see if you stores have a markdown area for produce.


31 Lauren July 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Thanks for this. I'm looking for ideas. I find produce is a substanial chunk of our spending now that other things have been reduced and ti isn't something I'm prepared to cut back on. If I can get a good deal on frozen veggies to substitute in some cooking, I'll do that, occasionally canned, but most of the time there isn't an easy substitute for us.
Thankfully milk is not too expensive here :D


32 Lindsey July 15, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Frozen and canned vegetables are actually usually fresher than the fresh produce because they're frozen or canned immediately after picking, whereas the produce in the store has often been sitting for a long period of time for transit, artificial ripening, etc. So frozen veggies are often a better deal for freshness and price.

Several times a year the grocery stores in my area will have Green Giant steamers on sale, and I can combine the sale with double coupons to get veggies for free-$.25.


33 Lauren July 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm

They're not fresh if they're frozen :D
Flash frozen does keep all the nutrients and so is a good option if I can get them cheap enough, no where here doubles which is an issue. Canned is an okay substitute but you loose nutrients in the canning process :( But sometimes that is the best deal and when cooking in stew or something they do quite well.


34 Beth September 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I'm with you Lindsey - I once did some advertising work with a frozen veggie company and am sold on the value of frozen over "fresh". And like you, I stock up on them when they are on sale with lots of Qs. Veggies are close to free.


35 jennifer July 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I can testify that anyone can make thier own bread. I don't own a bread machine, and I don't think I would use it if I did. I found a great recipe ( i use land o lakes wheat bread, search it, it's awesome!) and after 2 times making it I'm hooked. It makes 2 loaves at a time. Another thing with homemade bread, use an electric knife, your pieces won't be 2 inches thick. We also ground our own flour. It can be frozen, and if you don't own a flour mill but know someone who does, buy a bag and offer to give them some in exchange for using it.
We did a baby spring mix on the side of our pumpkin hills, that is the easiest thing ever. We may not use tons of variety in veggies, but that was something very expensive we bought.
Another thing, glean! We didn't plant zucchini this year for the express purpose we are always gifted with some. On the same note, share what you have!
I would really encourage anyone to use their library and check out some of the cookbooks on preserving. We save big money by buying in season (blueberries now) and eating tons fresh and preserving (mainly freezing) for other uses. I loved the prudent homemaker's website for an example of how to maximize what you have!


36 Amy Cummings July 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Our grocery store will have a great bread sale about once a month, a loaf of Sara Lee honey wheat for $1.67, I will usually stock up and freeze. If I use the bread within a month of freezing it thaws perfect.

Milk is tricky because we go through alot and my husband is particular about his brand. I will definately be checking out the Roberts website for cottage cheese, etc.

Fruit and veggies are something that is abundant this time of year for good prices. My MIL has a large garden and we love to help can and do things to save for later in the winter.

We buy our meat from my husbands parents who are producers and it does cut down the cost immensly. We can buy a 1/2 a beef and it lasts us a year. There are websites, if you google, where reupatable farmers are able to put their information on.


37 Kella July 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I also have the same question as Shawna. I live in a town that has a ton of farm land. About every other house has a farm. How do you know if they sell their meat that way?

For veggies, I go to a local gardener that sells mature garden plants. Everything you could think of. Tomatoes, squash, watermelon, lettuce, peppers, herbs, etc. He sells them less expensive than what I would pay for a seed packet! $1 per plant no matter what the vegetable is!! Things that I know I would never be able to grow, because I am not an expert at gardening, I go to the farmer's market for!

Meat is a little harder. I always wait and purchase in bulk during sales. I keep a notebook of the sale prices of different meats and believe that I have gotten down the cycle. But the quarter of a cow option would be awesome!

I always buy organic milk, so that alone makes the milk over $3, but I ALWAYS use a coupon with the milk. I normally get the $.55/1 Horizon milk coupon from their website. It's always available.


38 Abbygail July 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

they only way to know is to ask. Most farmer's would be glad to make a little $ and give you some meat in the process.


39 Kelly July 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

This was my question and I'm so happy to see it posted! The ideas are great and learned some useful things... but I'm still a little stumped:

* I live in the suburbs of VA and it's hard to find people to share a 1/2 or 1/4 of beef or pork.
* milk is about $4.50 a gallon.
* the weather here has been in the 90 and 100 degree marks and all vegetation is DEAD. We are on a water restriction and I can't even water my grass, so growing vegetables is almost out of the question.

Any more ideas?


40 July 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm

We're in a drought too up here in PA but there are ways to keep that veggie garden growing. When I use water to boil my vegetables or clean vegetables I save it and use that to water my vegetable garden. I also installed a rain barrel, its amazing just one rain shower will fill that barrel pretty quick!


41 Lindsey July 15, 2010 at 5:27 pm

We use water from our dehumidifier to water plants. It's too late this year for that to work for you, but in the future, that could help.


42 Amanda Y. July 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Yes, you can save the water from your air conditioner and use that to water plants, and we have had a lot of luck with a rain barrel (total cost maybe $35)


43 Kathryn Rodriguez July 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

I don't know if you have an Aldi store in your area, but I just discovered this year that I could buy my strawberries and blueberries for preserving cheaper there than if I went and picked them myself! I've started buying nearly all my produce there--I get a rotation of different kinds of fruit based on what's on sale--and their sale prices are fabulous (recently got blueberries for $1.09 a pint, strawberries for $1.39 a quart, pineapples for $1.69 each, etc.)


44 Deb Pritchett July 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm

This may not be very popular (after reading many comments here) but being a vegetarian is a healthy way to live/eat. And because I buy so many items every week using multiple Q's, our grocery bill has been hugely reduced over the last 2 years.
With all I save in other areas, I can afford good whole grains, fresh fruits & vegetables. We eat almost NO processed/pkgd food products (A BIG YUK!!!)
Healthy is the way to go-pays off as you age too of course. And no weight problems here. :)


45 Katherine July 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

We are in the middle of a vegetarian month, and I love it! We normally had been doing vegetarian about half the time, and once our "no meat month" is over, we will probably continue to be mostly vegetarian. We have been doing a ton of soups/stews/casseroles, and Italian veggie dishes that are so flavorful you don't even notice there's no meat.


46 Kristin July 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I will just agree with what so many others are saying…. I live in North Dakota and have a Walmart and the rest are locally owned grocery stores so I have zero options! My two most used small appliances; Bosch Mixer (like a Kitchen-aid but different company) and my vacuum sealer.

Plant a garden and learn to preserve it. -freezing or canning
Eat your own fresh produce and preserve what you can’t eat fresh. 6 tomato plants can make enough salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce etc to last until the next growing season. Don’t know how or want to know how to preserve….

Tomatoes….core a fresh hole tomato, keep the skin in tact, place the whole tomato on a cookie sheet and freeze. When frozen place in a ziplock freezer bag when ready to use run under warm water, the skin will melt right off and throw the tomato into soup, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce or anything that calls for whole or diced tomato’s.
Zucchini…shred and freeze, it will be mushy and juicy when unthawed, just drain and squeeze the liquid off then add to muffins, cakes, breads or eggs.
Peppers/Onions…dice or cut into strips, freeze and you have your veggies for fajitas or anything else in the winter.
I could go on and on about this.

Buy a beef/pig or find people to split it with….this saves an unbelievable amount of money plus so convenient.

Bake your own bread. I have a Bosch mixer, it does all the mixing, kneading etc, just let rise, form and bake, doesn’t get any easier then that. Check out for step by step bread baking instructions with great photos.

Like one reader said about the Midwest, we are a dairy farm area yet our milk is SUPER expensive. $4.00/gallon at Walmart, my CVS is the cheapest at $3.20/gallon. I know I won’t get a savings on milk so knowing my savings on the things above does make it easier.

STOCK UP ON SALES. I only buy my Golden Plump Chicken breasts when they are on sale for BOGO and stack with manufacturer coupons then I usually buy 12 bags at a time.


47 Jaime July 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm

We get a giant bag of fresh seasonal veggies from our local CSA. If I need more I head to the farmers market. The grocery store is a last resort for us. I also buy grass-fed beef, pastured pork, lamb and free range chicken from a local farmer. Check out You can find local farmers, farmers markets, CSAs, ranchers, etc. If you cut out the middle man (i.e. the grocery store/processed food manufacturers) you will save more and get better quality local foods too. It's a win/win!


48 Alina July 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Our Farmer's market runs from 10-2 pm so I go around 1 pm when the market is almost over and the vendors are anxious to get rid of their produce. They are willing and usually drop their prices dramatically.


49 grace July 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm

i hate to spend more than $2.50/lb for any meat and with a few exceptions, i don't. about 3 or 4 times a year our kroger has whole sirloin tips on sale for $2 - $2.5/lb. have them cut 4 to 6 steaks off the face of it, the rest either keep whole for a roast, cut into chunks (for stew,strogganoff,etc), or ground for some very lean hamburger. oh and the steaks are huge when cut this way, like the size of a dinner plate so each could feed 3 or 4 ppl.
i always look for other meat sales and stock up. recently our iga had 12 oz bacon for $.99. they ran out quickly but i got a raincheck, went back 2 weeks later and bought 30 packages. so i'm set for bacon for a while. last year they had a big meat sale: whole chicken $.39/lb, mixed pork chops $.59/lb, whole boston butt $.79/lb, whole ribeyes $2.99/lb. i think i spent about a $150 and almost a year later i still haven't used it all. if you go fishing you can bring home some cheap fish. or if that's not your thing, encourage your hubby to take it up as a hobby

for produce, we have a small garden like some of you. we don't grow all we need but it helps a bit. for the produce i have to buy i usually check the sales or buy from aldi's since they're usually pretty reasonable.

i find Qs for dairy items pretty often, except milk. i've found that aldi's milk is almost always the cheapest, even cheaper than the other stores' sale prices. and it seems to not spoil as quickly.

i find Qs for breads pretty often too. they freeze well so, buy'em cheap and stack'em deep


50 rachel July 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm

We've started a vegtable and kitchen herb garden. We're also going in on a 1/2 of grass fed steer that will last us, a family of four, well over a year. We stock up on milk when it is on sale and freeze it along with our bread--that we get from a very good discount bakery.
I'm wanting to learn how to can process our produce!! Until then, I take my extra fresh veg and herbs to friends. They usually have planted items that I haven't and share their surplus too.
And ladies, let's not forget the power of the almighty SLOW-COOKER for cheaper cuts of meat and making left-overs new again!!


51 Michelle July 15, 2010 at 5:04 pm

For now its utilizing ranch/farmers markets & bread outlets. They're almost always better than the grocery stores.Those, combined with my freezer, make the best savings combo for me :) Personally, after working as a butcher, i don't like to buy meat in regular grocery stores or walmart, cause i know the turnover is low or the quality is poor. Typically, i go where turn over is high n just buy in bulk (costco).This is just personal preference really. Long term, i plan on growing most if not all of our produce, but just starting out on that plan. For now its learning about gardening, canning & more about freezing.


52 Pamela July 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Price Match all local stores and go to WalMart and get the best deal of the week!


53 Michelle July 15, 2010 at 5:13 pm

you know i price match very seriously. Track prices & what i spend/save with ad matching& coupons ( on average 18-19% a trip), but normally the ranch market & bread outlets still beat them. And since they don't have an ad, you can't have walmart match their prices.


54 Lindsey July 15, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Our Wal-Mart doesn't have the best prices in the area, except for on a few things. Generally for us, Meijer has better deals, plus they double coupons and have their own store coupons, so price matching wouldn't get us as good of deals.


55 Michelle July 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Hey if it works sweet! :)


56 Pamela July 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm

I see. I'm in the midwest, so to find bread for .88 at Food 4 Less or Ultra Foods is a steal. I try my best to match meats at 1.69 lb (and that's good), and have been inventive with meatless dinners, creating better dishes out of leftovers, and tring to be innovative with staples such as potatoes and rice. If you want to seriously cut your grocery bill, it will definitely require revamping your meals, and eating what's on sale for the week. Our local grocery stores (it seems to me) produce spoils quicker than Walmart, so if I can get it at walmart through price matching, I try to. I also stockpile, this makes it easy to pull things out of the cabinet when you don't wanna go over your budget.


57 Glory July 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

One thing we do is buy from a csa. We get a huge bag of fresh produce for $16 a week. It is enough to feed a family of four.


58 July 15, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I bake my own bread on occasion. But I have really cut my costs by using my Walgreens RR and CVS ECBs! When I do a few transactions and have some of these left, instead of rolling them and getting 12 bottles of shampoo or something (exaggerated of course!), I will use the RR or ECBs for eggs, bread, and milk. It has really made a difference. Another positive about this is that our CVS stores around here beat Sam's, Walmart, and local grocery stores on milk prices by far!


59 cheryl July 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

i had 3 stores i routinly check the prices on and make a list for each store. however last week when i went to krogers i was told by the cashier that they no longer take coupons printed from the internet. i e-mailed corporate krogers but have yet to receive an answer. i now have two stores to shop at. we also have several fruit and veggie open air markets that we frequent. my grand daughter insists we buy a watermelon every week!


60 Joy July 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Our Price Chopper about once a month or so does B1G2 free Freihoffer's bread. So I stock up our big freezer. I only buy bread when it is on sale like this. Too bad Freihoffer's doesn't have Qs. :(

I am lucky that my Dad has a huge garden. So in summer I get plenty of zucchini, cukes and tomatoes (sometimes corn) from him. I also planted my own cherry tomatoes that are doing great this year. My peppers not so great.

I also visit u-pick berry farms for strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and then I freeze the berries. In fall, we do u-pick apple orchards.

Sometimes Aldi's has cheap produce that is pretty good quality. Their baby carrots and bananas are usually the cheapest.

As for milk, with three tween boys I go through a lot now. So not sure how to save there. LOL.

Dh also works for a food distributor so every now and then after a food show I end up with several 5 lb bags of various shredded cheeses. The cheese has been kept refrigerated during a food show, but can't be put back in inventory so employees get to bring unopened packages home. I break up the 5 lb. packages and freeze in smaller bags. Luckily, cheese freezes well. I haven't bought mozzarella cheese in months. I have huge gallons of ketchup, too. LOL.


61 Joy July 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I forgot to add that meat is something I struggle with each week though. It is our biggest grocery expense especially with three growing boys plus dh. I sometimes splurge and buy big family packs at BJ's and divide it up to freeze. But usually need to have extra $$ to do that. I do buy hot dogs when they are B1G1 free or B1G2 free at Price Chopper and with Qs. Oscar Mayer now has nitrate free variety, too. But lately the boys aren't interested in hot dogs.


62 Lisa July 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I save a bundle on produce by checking all the local grocery store ads online and recording the lowest price for each item. Then I go to Walmart Superstore, they price match and generally have a copy of each store ad at the register. Just today I purchased Bing Cherries which were marked $2.98 lb at Walmart for the competitor's price of $1.88 per lb.


63 Heather July 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

The advice I can give is rebates. I buy beer rebates on ebay each month and are usually good on meats and fresh produce. They have tons more of rebates for other things too like $20 off groceries when you spend $20.01 and many more. I have saved tons using these. The rebates are valid for certain states (varies depending on what company puts them out) and most of the time a beer purchase is not required which means you only have to buy the fruit or meat and so on. To find them on ebay search "beer rebate". It takes a few weeks for the checks to start coming in but once they do and you send them out more frequently you will be getting checks every week or so. Other than that making your own bread products (pizza crust, bread, rolls, etc) will save you money and contacting companies for the milk you buy might get you some coupons sent in the mail. I hope this helps.


64 Heather July 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Also not sure what the price of bread is at your walmart for the store brand but ours is $0.75 for whole wheat and $1.25 for white.

You can also check your local dollar store. Ours gets bread that will exp soon and they sell it for $1 ea. They have a limit of 4 per person per day but if you are going to freeze it $4 for 4 loafs is not a bad price at all.


65 Ruth July 15, 2010 at 9:26 pm

overage, overage overage! :) I make it my game to use enough coupons with overage and/pr catalina offers to pay for all my dairy/meat/and produce. Most weeks I can make it happen by using this site and the slick deals forums to order plenty of coupons in advance. I don't have a dog or cat or wear dentures-- but the items for them often provide overage-- so I buy lots and lots and use the overage to pay for my things I don't get coupons for and then give them to neightbors/old folks homes, etc. :) Also, I grow a garden. Right now on home depot's website you can get a basic 4x4 square foot garden for $9 shipped. If you use the square foot method and grow vertically where you can, and buy the seeds and compost/peat on clearenece in a month or so when all the garden centers are getting rid of them for the season, you can grow hundreds of dollars of produce in a garden you will use year after year for less than $50-- and then continue to use it year after year by adding your home compost to the mix to keep it fertile.


66 Kelly July 15, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I just looked on the home depot website and couldn't find the 4 x 4 for $9. Can you help me out?


67 bmomma July 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm

there's a 4x4 cedar raised garden kit on their site.. but that's more like $40. not including soil, seeds, etc : )


68 Jessica C July 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Sorry if I'm repeating anything anyone else wrote, quickly skimmed through but didn't read all in detail. I think for me, couponing means cutting down the grocery costs to the point where when it's time to buy from the outer edges of the grocery store (milk, eggs, produce, bread etc) we can actually afford to buy MORE good stuff because I coupon so effectively. If it weren't for coupons I'd be forced to buy more packaged, boxed, processed junk and less fresh. I can't change the fact that produce companies rarely if ever put out coupons but I can get a box of cereal for .75 cents with coupons instead of $3.00 and put the other $2.25 toward fruits and veggies. Not very helpful in answering the question, just an opinion. :)


69 Mindy July 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Just a quick milk note. If you live in Michigan any milk that goes through Michigan Milk Producers must be hormone free. It has been that way for a couple years now. Since basically all the milk goes through them it is basically all that way.


70 Ashley July 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Wow thanks for that post! I was reading about the issues posted above with hormones in milk but glad to hear I shouldn't have to worry about it since I am in MI.


71 Ana July 16, 2010 at 2:13 am

We have also been working for over 2 years now to eliminate all HFCS, preservatives and dyes from all of our foods. I buy Narture's Own Sugar Free bread loaves at the Dollar Tree, I try my best to eliminate milk also (unless raw) so I stock up on almond milk anytime I can, we buy most of fruits and veggies at Sam's Club. I'm working myself to finally make it to a farmer's market one of this weekends and see how that works out financially.


72 genie July 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

I'll have to second the idea of eating a lot less meat. We eat a lot of beans and quinoa and maybe buy any sort of meat once a month. We found organic quinoa for $2.50/pound at Costco, which ended up paying for the membership fee with the cost savings on just that item. (We eat a lot of quinoa.) Costco also has a lot of other good stuff, like dried fruit and nuts, for much cheaper than the grocery stores. As I make home made granola bars, we go through these types of items really fast. Also, buying yard eggs is a great way to get better quality eggs for not too much more. They go for about $2.50/dozen around here, but are more at the farmers market.

"A recent study conducted by Mother Earth News has found that eggs from pasture raised hens have higher values for a number of nutrients than USDA data for eggs from hens in confinement houses. Pastured eggs contain: 50% more vitamin E; 4 times the beta carotene; 35 times the omega-3 fatty acids; and half the cholesterol. And, they contain 10.5 mcg of folic acid (that is 10.5 mcg more than USDA’s data for eggs).

A recent study funded by the USDA shows meat from chickens raised on pasture contained: 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat, 28% fewer calories, 50% more vitamin A, and 100% more omega-3 fatty acids." From

Personally, I don't find VALUE in cheap foods with lower nutritional content! If I am going to buy meats, I get the free range/pastured, no hormones type and buy locally if I can. That's especially true of eggs, which we eat a LOT more of. There's a study done at Mother Earth News about the nutritional content of farm eggs verses the normal store eggs...

Makes sense to me and my kid has never eaten anything other than whole wheat pasta or anything - so she has no idea how nasty white pasta even tastes!


73 Nilufer July 16, 2010 at 11:56 am

I do alot of our grocery shopping at ethnic markets. Their prices for fruits and veggies usually beat any chain supermarkets. I can 10 lbs of onions for a dollar! Or half a pound of blue berries for $2. Ethnic markets also carry a larger variety of produce. We are big on plain youghurt, so I buy a 4 lb tub for $4!


74 Ashley July 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Wow I can't believe how much everyone is paying for bread!!! For atleast the past couple months Meijer (if you live in an area with meijer) has been running specials on Sara Lee bread and buns....I have been getting them for .45 cents a loaf or package of hamburger/hotdog buns...well that is after my .55 cent coupons that I had for them. Also milk normally always goes on sale for $1.99 at Kroger or 2 for $4 at Meijer.

As for produce farmer's markets are the way to go for us. Great prices and great produce! I am also going to try my hand at freezing/preserving some stuff for the winter.


75 Paul September 25, 2010 at 8:24 am

There are several ways in which I have greatly slashed the cost of my family weekly food bill.

1. Grow own veg - I don't have a big garden, but grew in pots this year sald leaves, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. It was really easy to do and supplied us with many weeks of fresh, healthy food.

2. Plan a weeks worth of recipes at a time - I like to plan ahead and by producing a shopping list of what I need I feel I save money in the store - the trick is to STICK TO THE LIST !! Difficult i know, but try shopping after you have had a meal and don't feel quite so hungry - you don't feel the need to fill up with so many snacks.

3. Make things such as stews, soups, and curries in large quantities and freeze in individual batches - it is surprising how many meals you can get from one large cooking pan.

4. Buy the cheaper 'shop brands' as opposed to the more well-known brands - very often both foods come from the same source, but you pay more with the branded item. Crazy but true !


76 Amy September 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Great conversation! One I love reading and helping with!

I keep VERY good track of the produce sales, noting which place has the cheaper cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, etc. Then, I put the flyers together and head over to Walmart to price comp. LOVE it! I love getting an Aldi's flyer, but don't get them very often for some reason. When it's berries or something, I buy a lot and freeze some, make bread and muffins with them, etc. I love having a chest freezer!

Love the idea of buying the meat in big amts too! I don't eat meat for the most part, because of digestive issues, but my family def. does. Wonder if there's a way to buy up some turkeys and chickens as well.Then again, I'm not willing to do much more than take the skin off of them. No necks/gizzards, etc. :D

We eat a lot of fresh produce, but there are some great frozen and canned ones too with no additives, so I use them when it's significantly cheaper.

Thanks for the great convo!!!


77 Heather October 4, 2010 at 11:03 am

We found out that the butcher at the grocery store will ground meat for us at no charge. We often find cheap steak and have him grind it instead of buying ground beef. It is usually better quality and much leaner this way.


78 Lauren November 17, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I'm a bread machine advocate. I make 1-2 loaves a week and my husband and I devour them. I really enjoy the bread a lot more than store bought honestly. For fruits and veggies... There is one place in town that offers $.19 per lb bananas, so we eat a lot of bananas.. Buying in season also helps. For meat I watch for great specials, stock up and freeze them. Sometimes hamburger helper does $3 off your next meat purchase which helps. I believe Target does a $1 off coupon once in a while. Dairy. I agree with the previous posters Roberts suggestion. It's fantastic.


79 Dannette January 30, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I am new to couponing but so far have done pretty good with them...For Breads and buns and Little Debbie's. We use a local Colonial bakery and they have their own store where i get GREAT Deals. And for Little Debbie snack cakes its the same. And buying 1 cow and having it slaughtered will supply our family for a year. The stores that I shop are Ingles,Bilo, Walgreen,CVS, and The Dollar General or The Family Dollar Store.


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