grocery shopping






Depending on what kind of person you are this post will either be fascinating or boring.  I'm always fascinated by how people spend and manage their money so you know what camp I'm in.

Last week I got a question in the comment section asking how I am able to spend $50 a week on groceries for the 2 of us.  To be honest I usually spend a lot less than $50.  I'm able to do this because I do most of my shopping at the .99 store.   I started shopping there when we were broke and I continue to shop there because it is smart.  I supplement what I get there with a trip to Trader Joe's or the farmers market.





A lot of people think the .99 store sells food that is past its due date (everything I bought had a minimum of 10 days til the expiration date) or is in some way inferior, but they are wrong. All products sold there meet all local, state and federal safety, labeling, environmental and all other laws and regulations.  If you purchase something that you feel is inferior in any way they will happily refund your money just like your local market would.

On Saturday's shopping trip I was able to purchase enough food for 2 weeks of breakfasting plus several dinners and lunches.  They don't always have vegan yogurts so that was exciting. I'll put a few spoonfuls of yogurt and chopped nuts over the fresh oranges and grapefruits my neighbor just gave me. Fresh apples and oatmeal will make up the other breakfasts.  We go through a lot of spinach in smoothies and the frozen mango is great paired with it. They always have fresh basics like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, shallots, mushrooms and so many other veggies that are perfect for soups and stews. A lot of the produce there is organic too.

The dinners I plan to make with this haul (and also use existing food I bought last week) will be 2 nights of spinach, black bean and potato enchiladas (5 lbs potatoes purchased last week for .99) with green sauce, vegetarian chili for at least 2 nights. 2 nights of spaghetti and salad. And 2 nights of black bean/veggie tacos.  1 night of fresh steamed veggies over mashed potatoes. Lunches will be a combination of salads, veggie sandwiches, leftovers and soups.  As you see our meals are quite mundane but they are healthy and filling.

Also, I buy other products there too.  Cleaning products, greeting cards...all sorts of things.  The savings really are dramatic.

If you are not on the west coast and are unfamiliar with the .99 store, here is an ABC News report on a man who lost a ton of weight (250 lbs!) eating at the .99 store.  I love his light bulb moment when he cleaned out his refrigerator. Made me (almost) want to jump up and throw out the chips I had just bought!  Also it's a good video because it shows the great choices available and that the store is clean and not what you might expect.  Here's the video.

Alrighty then, have you shopped the .99 store?  If so what are some of your favorite products?  Are you put off by the .99 store?  Do tell.


111 comments

  1. The .99 cent stores here near me do not have fresh produce. They sell other food such as canned food and boxed stuff but no fresh stuff. I was surprised when I read that you could buy fresh produce at yours. I am on the east coast and I've checked out .99 cent stores and other "$1" stores in the area where I live and none of them stock fresh food. I've bought cleaning products and other items like paper products in there but as far as food goes, it's only canned stuff (not organic) and boxes of stuff like cookies and processed foods. Aren't you lucky to be able to buy all that food for .99 apiece! Glad you have that available.

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  2. You are the second person this week that has recommended the .99cent/dollar stores for food shopping. I live in Florida and I don't think the stores around here stock as much as the ones by you. I have not been in one in a long time, but I am going to check it out just the same. Once again, thank you for being an inspiration to us all. I love your blogs on saving money.

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  3. I like this post. This kind of stuff fascinates me too. The canned beans are a staple in my house. A few years ago I asked what days the produce is delivered, so now I always know when to go for the freshest produce.

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  4. This shop-concept does not exist in Vienna. Lucky you!
    And the Silk-yoghurt even appears to be GMO-free. Win-win!

    Since going vegan the expenses for groceries went down to approx. half the money we used to spend. Mainly because all the nice snacks are not vegan. And the cheese ...

    From my experience eating vegan is a good start when you need to save money and want to get/stay healthy. :-)

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  5. I don't know it and don't think we have a version of it but I do like your grocery pile, I eat a lot of veggies and surprisingly they are pretty expensive here, it's cheaper to live on processed foods which is terribly sad for society.

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    1. Yes, I saw a thing on TV about this. The reporter for a TV station was doing a piece. He followed one maybe-borderline/low-income family. They tried to shop wisely at some place like Von's or the other big market stores. Not only was it time-consuming for them with a bunch of kids and working jobs on shifts so as not to pay for a babysitter, the grocery store ticket was much more for these people than their McDonald's one. So, no time to your day, exhausted, easier to drive by the cheaper fast food (not all fast food is cheap) and everybody eats in the car so that by the time you get home, it's chores and homework and barely make it to bed on time. On the processed end, yes again, I know of a few people who are scraping bottom, living on ramen and rice and pasta (or Hamburger Helper, short on the hamburger). I say, get a sack of dried beans and cook 'em up, because that and a corn tortilla sounds better to me, but...

      Sadly, I knew of someone who was collecting the giveaway ketchup packets at restaurants who would mix it with hot water for soup.

      Sometimes they don't have the greenspace to grow a garden but, you know, you can grow tomatoes in a pot. But I agree, the situation is very sad. I lived on the Gulf Coast for a time and we could get quite a lot of good produce coming up from Mexico (although I'd worry about pesticides), but in-laws in the Midwest struggle to find decent produce and, as you said, it's expensive.

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  6. Janet, I made the comment on your post inquiring about $50/week and accidentally did so as "Anonymous." In any event, thank you for posting this! I'm divorced with two kids and am hoping to keep us on a vegetarian/vegan diet for less than $300/month (excluding pets). We don't have a .99 store, but we do have a chain called Grocery Outlet that sells food on consignment, as I understand it. They do sell produce, some of which is sketchy (i.e. garlic from China), but most of which is fine. I have to be careful there as I can get sucked into the vortex of snacky things, which leaves me walking out $30 poorer with bags full of Newman O's and whatnot. :) Anyhow, knowing what you buy and what meals you're planning with what you have on and hand and have bought is a huge help!

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  7. We do not have anything like your 99 cent store here. I think food is quite expensive here and fresh fruit and veggies are something I buy in abundance. Your weekday meals sound pretty good to me and not boring at all. Funny thing but we had baked potatoes and steamed veggies for dinner on Friday and I thought we were the only ones to eat this way!

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    1. I visited a nutritionist once...a series of visits...and she was very keen on baked potatoes topped with fresh or frozen veggies, or even topped with chili. Yet, in mags and other stuff, we're told baked potatoes are high-glycemic and fattening. Yeah, sure, if you load 'em with butter and cream. Personally, I love a baked potato doused in nonfat yogurt.

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  8. Great post :-) am always very curious about what other people have in their shopping baskets..... sometimes I get in the queue behind somebody with a very full trolley just to check what they are buying .... My favorite supermarket is German based chain "Aldi" which has by now become quiet a trendy place to do your shopping (which made the owners some of the richest people in the world a few years ago...) - but also in the distant past used to have a reputation of only being for poor people and their goods not really being high quality etc. Unfortunately here in Holland the choice and quality at Aldi is not as good as in Germany, but I go home quiet often and stock up... Overall we spend about 40 Euro a week on groceries - that covers all breakfasts, cat food as well and all my lunches (hubby has lunch in his canteen, I prefer to bring my own to work) - we do eat out though about 3 times a week, but still compared to a lot of my friends/colleagues I know we are doing pretty well with the grocery costs.

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    1. I live in the Midwest, not far from Chicago, and Aldi BY FAR is my favorite place to shop. Very reasonable, and I prefer their brands of some things over national brands. Their food is REALLY tasty and much cheaper across the board. Plus, you bring your own containers and pack your own bags, which I also love.

      Fun post, Janet, and got me reminiscing. At one point during a drawn-out divorce, I was convinced I was poor (turns out not soooo poor), and my local friends brought me every morning the greens and goods from their garden as they were worried I was not eating while working 2 jobs. Its what I ate every day for months. Now, not a huge fan at all of fresh foods, probably b/c I was forced to eat it so much. Its very odd and telling how we associate food with times in our lives and often base our opinions of them on these very things. All quite interesting!

      Thx for the post and for getting my brain thinking so early on a cold winter's day - all b/c of the .99 store (which we do not have here)! :D

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    2. That is funny, didn't realise ALDI made it to the US and also Australia I see in some other comment! In the UK they have been voted by the public as best/favorite supermarket for a couple of years in a row now. The bring your own bags etc is I guess a very German thing as well - already nearly 20 years ago I think supermarkets started charging for plastic bags and people started bring their own shopping baskets - I remember when I moved to Ireland in 97 people were laughing about me arriving at the store with my basket...

      Just because I had nothing better to do I just did a quick online shop at our local supermarket - Albert Heijn - which is known to be quiet expensive - but surprisingly my bill is only about 25 Euro for all the items (as similar as I could get to them) in Janet's shopping basket, that's cheaper than I thought it would be

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    3. Did anyone say this already...but didn't I read that Trader Joe's was named after a Joe in Southern California/USA in the 1950s but the store chain was bought by some leg of ALDI in the '70s?

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    4. @Lor Hubs and I fell in love with Marianos in Chicago -- love love love it. (Their liquor section is great too). There was a Marianos close to our Chicago hotel when we stayed there last spring, and we were kicking ourselves that we didn't go there earlier on our trip (we were there a week), the deli/hot buffet were both awesome, fresh and we bought quite a bit of produce to take back to our hotel to have for snacks. Far less expensive than eating out, and healthier!

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  9. OMG! That is so wonderful! It would be nice if every area had such a great store.
    Good on you for shopping there. I hope the chain grows rapidly throughout the states.
    Thank you for sharing this with us. I didn't know such a store existed. :)

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  10. Not put off per se and nice if this works for the producers, but I wonder how any farmers can make a living, never mind organic farmers at these prices! Even the cheapest mass-produced food, sometimes of doubtful provenance, is nowhere near this cheap in Switzerland. We do have very stringent laws on quality, so I don't mind paying a bit more for seasonal food instead of shopping at German cutprice stores which don't pay or treat their staff well, as well as sketchy origins of their stock in many cases - by law they do have to sell Swiss bread and meat, though.
    Otherwise, your shopping list and meals are much like ours, even though we are not vegan!

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    1. .99 stores get their products/produce when other big chain stores have over-purchased for their stores. so obviously lots of stores are over purchasing. i'm also told they have contracts directly with manufacturers to get their surplus. so all in all i think its a good fit b/c otherwise the food would go to waste.

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    2. I just looked at that ticket in-depth; it's amazing the amount of food bought for $18. And healthy food.

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  11. I just wish we had a 99 cent store. Truly amazing savings! I'm on the east coast and we have NO discount grocery stores, we pay about 3 or four times what you paid for each item. GReat post

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  12. I'm from the East Coast and had never heard of this. What a great idea! I live for the summer and the farmers' markets that abound. A while back, I found a blog (and now I can't remember where) whose writer would clean out the fridge each week and post what she had wasted. It was an eye opener. As time went on, she wasted less and less. Waste bothers me, but I waste food big time! Wish I lived in a place like France where I could shop daily for the evening meal. A little harder to do here where you have to drive to the store and the weather doesn't always cooperate.

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    1. Interesting blog concept! Id read it just to make myself not feel so bad. :\

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  13. Yes, my hubby is the one that discovered all the great stuff at the 99-cent store. We now go there once a week and then onto Sprouts, Traders and the supermarket. The interesting thing in this post for me was getting a glimpse into your meals. We do many repeats like you. I like this new focus on the blog, very inspiring.

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  14. We have more than we need of $.99 stores in my town and not enough other kinds of stores; however, last time I looked, none of them carried produce; only canned and bottled food. My cousin lives in a neighboring town where there are dollar stores who carry fresh produce and she buys exclusively there because she's trying to keep a family of five well-fed and healthy on a limited budget. Wish'in & hop'in I lived somewhere that had a farmer's market and a dollar store with something other than bad-smelling plastics. And I live in the heart of agriculture in SoCal; go figure. (On the topic of SoCal and the West...permit me a segue...could we be any hotter? I am so sick of wind, heat, single-digit humidity...90 degrees Faren. in my garage yesterday...yet friends to the North/East are buried in their own kind of snow hell. Wacko weather.)

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  15. I'm in your camp -- I am fascinated by how people spend money. We have dollar stores here, but they don't have any fresh foods, only packaged and canned foods, some name brands and some off-brands. Oddly, I have only been in a dollar store a few times, and there's one within walking distance of our home. I might start checking them out to see how much money I can save, especially on items like cleaning products. Thanks for sharing your grocery strategies with us!
    Claudia

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  16. Janet, thank you for the wealth of info about $.99 stores; I had no idea and feel better now about re-thinnking and shopping at them. Mother used to get all her greeting cards there and it's quite the place to go to if you're decorating for a party; a lot of seasonal decor, too. Will you be sharing your recipes for the enchiladas and chili or are they already here on the blog somewhere? This was a GREAT post from you; thanks again. So much 'food' (couldn't resist) for thought as we all try to start the new year right.

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  17. Janet: Great post!!! Do you read the labels? I wouldn't buy toothpaste from China!!!! LOL

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  18. your post is both interesting and useful. love it! here in the New York area there are $.99 stores but they don't carry fresh food. I did purchase some spices once which were a good buy. there is a Trader Joe's several towns away but I rarely get there.mostly shop the local supermarkets. summer through fall I like to buy my fruits and veggies at a farm about 5 miles up the road from me. I believe it is the last working farm in the area. they also keep chickens and bees. I know this isn't vegan but they are naturally raised and I don't buy them anywhere else. right now they are closed for the season but you can still get the eggs when the farmer and his wife are at their greenhouse. I tend to eat a lot of very simple meals too, like baked potatoes and steamed vegetables, and I love roasted veggies of all kinds. and a lot of salads. I have a fairly good collection of cookbooks, even after some serious culling. one that I come back to time and again is one I obtained a number of years ago, the 5 ingredient vegetarian cookbook by Nava Atlas. in fact tonight I think I will make a curry with sweet potatoes, chick peas and some spinach inspired by the book. a warm dish on what promises to be a frigid night!
    Darby

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  19. I envy people in the U.S. and England where there are that kind of stores. We don't have anything similar in France. A few years ago, I was on holiday in Montreal when I realized I'd lost my reading glasses. I bought a pair in a 1dollar store and kept it for months before they broke. They looked nice as well ...

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  20. My most favorite food item to buy at the 99 cent store is the Earthbound Farms organic salads/greens. On Sat. I went to the 99 cents right after Whole Foods and found a new Earthbound Farms salad mix called Zen. When I made up my salad containers for the coming week, I mixed it in with some salad greens I purchased at Whole Foods, and the Earthbound Farms greens were much fresher and crisper than the Whole Foods greens. Otherwise, I buy the Earthbound Farms spring mix, baby spinach, arugula, romaine leaves, etc. All organic. As for the expiration dates, I have seen the same Earthbound Farms products at other stores for up to $6 with the dates closer to expiration than the ones at 99 cents. Some other favorites are coconut water (especially Nirvana and O.N.E. brands), Izze sparkling juice, and key limes. (I live in Northern CA.)

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    1. yes, yes, yes! same here. oftentimes i see salad mixes at trader joes and my local market that don't look as fresh.
      i love all the earthbound farm products too. i too love the ONE coconut water. another one of my favorites is the Anderson's Tomato Soup. it is vegan and at our local gourmet shop it sells for almost $4 a can! i also use their laundry detergent. it works really well and is .99 - which is just amazing to me.

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    2. I don't mean to be hogging the blog again, Janet, but I am interested in that tomato soup because of the controversy about BPA lining in canned goods, particularly the acidics like tomatoes. I'd found a Tetra-pak by Pacific Foods of Oregon but it just doesn't have the taste I'm missing from a good 'ol can of Campbell's Tomato Soup, which I used to buy by the case when I could get it for $.50 a can. My husband did some research on the subject...when I donated many of our canned goods, including beans, which had any kind of tomato in it, and he kind of freaked out...and he feels the verdict is not out on BPA yet you can even find plastic food containers now, or glass containers with plastic lids, which claim to be BPA-free; makes me wonder why Campbell's hasn't done anything about it. I just don't know what to do about BPA except to rinse beans in the can or whatever. Proponents say that BPA was created to prevent botulism 'way back when, at least to my understanding. I think, for disaster(s) and sheltering-in-place, it's so important to have long-life canned goods, but now what, thanks to BPA. (A earthquake fault line pretty much runs thru the middle of my town.)

      Is Anderson's the pea soup people? Where is that restaurant/place up north...Lompoc? Can't remember.

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    3. yes it is the pea soup anderson people. i've heard and read about the bpa in canned tomatoes and think about it but i guess i don't worry too much about it b/c i keep buying them. except in summer when i use fresh!

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    4. Vicki - I love a good old can of Campbell's too. We switched to Trader Joe's after reading that their tomato products, including a wonderfully creamy tomato soup, are packed in Tetra Pak and are reported to be BPA free.

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    5. Thanks; good to know. I'd heard Trader Joe's also carries the equiv. of canned tomatoes in a jar; I love glass! Trader Joe's I love too, but it's in another town; however, I've just decided it's worth the once-a-week trip over there with a couple of other destinations. I think my all-time favorite comfort food (turning a blind eye to the carbs/fat/cals) has to be Campbell's Tomato Soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Warms me up just thinking about it!

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  21. Having moved to England 18 years ago, I've never seen a .99 cent store. There are Pound stores around here, but they don't tend to sell food, or at least if they do it's snacks and such. When I did live in the states I bought things at the 'dented can store' at the day-old-bread shop, at the farmers' market, at the wholesale grains store and every where else the Tightwad Gazette suggested I look before I restored to the grocery store. The only things that put me off were outdated items at the dented can store; not the food, Iwas prepared to risk it with frozen bacon and the like, but out of date contact lens solution worried me and out of date contraceptive foam scared the dickens out of me! I do hope no one ever relied on that...could be such an expensive 'savings'!

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  22. I'd love your spinach/mango smoothie recipe. I drink smoothies all the time but haven't found a green smoothie that I like.

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    1. it's a big handful of spinach, a banana, 1/2 cup of frozen mango, a sm squirt of agave, a dash of cinnamon and enough coocnut water or filtered water to puree. i have used almond milk with it too and it's delish!

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    2. Can't wait to try it. Thanks!

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  23. Janet you are so lucky having access to cheap food! You would gasp at the prices of veges in this country. Figs were recently $50 a kilo! I wish we had a 99c shop here. It costs me $50 usually to make a meal. Seriously!!! xxxx

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    1. I read an article today that said Brisbane is the 13th most expensive city in the world. Eeep. Sometimes I think I'm mad to be planning a move back!

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    2. I don't find Sydney, Australia, too bad. Aldi stores are by far the cheapest I have found that are close to me. Our local Coles is bit yikes! for vegetables - I won't pay $13 a kilo for tomatoes Don't understand why this happens every Christmas that tomatoes shoot up in price. However, Aldi still have them for top price $3-4 a kilo. Don't understand that either! PS to Faux, figs have been very reasonable in Sydney at Aldi. Madness.

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  24. i wish we had a .99 store selling fresh food xxx

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  25. Yes, yes, yes... We love the 99cent store. The produce department is sooooo great...just so great as well as other things... I bought a giant bag of q-tips there too, some of the cutest plaid Christmas paper as well. The drive for us is well worth it. One rather neat thing I have found is the toddler tshirts there, the type with the snaps make excellent doglet shirts for our fur angels to keep warm, the cut of them left un-snapped is perfect for a little dog.

    I will be sharing this blogpost with my family here, they will love it that the Gardener's Cottage lady also enjoys the 99 cent store. : )

    Blessings!

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    1. cute idea for the doggie sweaters. Love that place.

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  26. These prices are incredible. I've just spent £24 on our weekly organic veg box order (one medium veg box + fruit bag + 6 eggs). And sadly no mango.
    You have it sooo good Janet. Thanks for this post.
    I'm off to search your archives for your mashed potato and gravy recipe.
    (I hope this doesn't pop up twice - the first time I tried to comment it disappeared)

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  27. This is all new to me. Looked up 99 cent store in my area and found one not too far away. I thought these kinds of stores only sold non-perisable groceries. I value your advice Janet, so I think it will be worth my time to go check it out!

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    1. I think you are going to be happy you checked it out emily. report back on what you think ok?

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    2. Me, too. Mine is 10 miles away. I used Janet's link! I plan to hit it once a week along with the Trader Joe's there...all on the day of the farmer's market on that end of the city. My husband and I rolled it around tonight; he's not sure it's worth the fuel but I aim to do some conparisons. I'm sick of limited food from one monopolizing store in my very small town. I never would be doing this without Janet's post/comments although I knew my cousin produce-shopped at a $.99 store; I think I thought the food was probably inferior and hoped she was doing the right thing. Turns out, like Janet said, it's the smart thing. I'm so grateful for this tip. Our food bill has to get in line once and for all.

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  28. We don't have this store in Ontario that I know of. For a family of four I spend about $150 a week for 3 meals a day. A head of cauliflower can often be $4!!! Horrifying! I find prices here to be frustrating and oddly enough the farmer's market can be even more expensive. I am all for buying local and organic but now I feel like I'm being taken advantage of! My husband came back after this Saturdays shopping furious about a $25 medium sized chicken. I've been trying to think of ways to cut down on costs; I think simplifying meals like yours will have to be in the near future.

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    1. wow you and others here are paying so much. that just kills me.

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  29. Such a simple, healthy menu! My goal for 2014 is to simplify my diet and I
    thank you for all your recipes and tips.
    Betty (I see there is another Betty!)

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    1. i'm wondering if we have two vicki's too?

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    2. Oops; methnks one is commenting too much. Guilty here. I'll try to withdraw a little. I said I would, then I didn't. It's such a substantive, friendly blog, so temptation to dive in multiple times is great. Sigh. Sorry again!

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  30. I'm unfamiliar with the 99cent stores. (We do have Dollar General, etc. but no produce.) I enjoyed this post. Always like to learn :)

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  31. I didn't know we had a .99 store till I clicked through on your link!! I phoned and they do have fresh produce and food. I had no idea. I'll be checking them out for sure. I have no problem saving money at all. Thank you Janet, another wonderful tip.

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    1. jennifer i think you'll be thrilled. please report back your findings ok?

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  32. The 99 cent store sounds great! Wish we had one close to us. The meals you have planned for this week sound good! I would love to have your vegetarian chili recipe, if you don't mind sharing. I live Ohio and we are having bitterly cold weather. I made homemade tomato soup yesterday and it was delicious and exactly what we needed on such a cold day!

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    1. i have no idea why my search bar is not working. grrrr

      but anyway here it is...super easy and delicious.

      http://thegardenerscottage.blogspot.com/2012/11/chili-with-secret-weapon.html

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    2. Thanks Janet! Can't wait to try it! :)

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    3. Thanks Janet! Can't wait to try it! :)

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  33. Wish we had .99 store in Florida! Fantastic savings and a yummy menu!

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  34. Wow, my jaw absolutely dropped when I looked at that grocery bill - I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and the price of food here is astronomical - mind you, it's also winter most of the year. A bag of spinach can be close to $4 here, cauliflower is almost $4, grapes come to usually around $6 for a small bag, canned tomatoes are usually about $2 for the cheaper brands. It is extremely hard to eat on $50 per week here - one would need to be a super diligent shopper and drive a lot to find deals. I don't know how families do it. There are only two of us and just to make dinner costs usually around $20 to $35 per night....and we don't even eat a lot! I have been to the U.S. many times and my hubby and I never cease to wonder how inexpensive things are....and don't even get me started on alcohol. A bottle of wine in Calgary is double the price of what the same bottle costs in Trader Joe's. I love California with all its fresh, locally grown produce. I only get locally grown produce in Jul, Aug and Sept otherwise it pretty much all comes from overseas or the U.S.

    By the way, your meal ideas are AWESOME. Maybe think about doing a detailed post on a weekly food plan that includes all three meals. I am hopeless at that kind of thing.

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  35. WOW! I'm shocked. None of the 99c stores around here have food, not that I've done a lot of investigating, but the ones that I've been to, anyway. If they do, it is usually canned goods - no fresh green vegetables, etc., so this is shocking to me. Thanks for sharing! :)
    xoxo,
    A

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  36. Love this post! We can't buy produce at the 99 cent store but I will use your great suggestions! Thanks for the inspiration.

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  37. I don't think we have these here. "Cheap" food in our area is usually very processed as that's what is subsidized by the gov-- corn sweeteners, etc. I buy most things organic and local-- we have oats, cornmeal wheat as well as veg-- so it's not cheap, but if you look at what a serving of food should be, it's a good deal and supports farmers, many of whom I know.

    For other things, we have one Trader Joe's in the whole state. I get dark chocolate with almonds, other nuts, frozen baby peas, some coffee and lemons there.

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  38. I've never heard of a .99 store. Ours is a 9.99 store.

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  39. We have a "Dollar Value" store here in New England. More an more people are buying groceries there. For my Christmas party cheese tray, I bought boxes of dollar store crackers and they were delicious - perhaps made by the same companies as the gourmet brands as they were so similar. Ours does not have produce but everything else. I buy pasta, canned soup, canned beans, tuna, spices plus paper napkins, Kleenex, dishwasher liquid, wrapping paper, Christmas ribbons, etc. One can eat from the dollar store if they supplement with a good farmer's market. I would love to see our small grocery chain run out of town as they charge ridiculous prices because they are the only game in town. We need a Wegman's to do it though. I praise the dollar stores for what they are trying to do.

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    1. Hi, Donna; had lost track of you. Your literary blog, A Lovely Inconsequence, is one of my faves. Now that I've found you again, much catching up to your posts! Hope you're not too cold in that polar vortex.

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    2. just looked at her blog. so lovely. thanks vicki for pointing that out.

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    3. Thank you so much! Sometimes I feel as though my blog is just speaking into a great white void! But somehow, I keep at it as it is a kindred life I am after and something inside me makes me continue. Thank you VIcki and Janet! By the way, tonight as an experiment, I made a meal for my daughter and I using only Dollar Store items. Mind you, my store does not carry produce. I made a delicious salad called "Greek Salad": couscous (garlic flavored), garbanzo beans, chopped olives, feta (all from the store). With it, I made small pockets from whole grain bread and cheese. (Spread a touch of butter on slices, add a mere sprinkle of parmesan, ground pepper, bit of olive oil drizzle, fold them over but don't break them - I attached mine with toothpicks, bake them for a few minutes, not too long because of the tooth picks). They make wonderful "scoops" for the salad. Also, we shared a bottle of mineral water from the store too. Complete meal. Cost was $7 for two and I have plenty of olive oil, pepper, cheese, bread etc. left over so the total cost was less than purchase price.

      It is so cold here, the INSIDE of my car this morning was frosted over too. We must be careful to bundle up with hats, scarves, etc. Blessings to you!

      Donna from http://alovelyinconsequence.blogspot.com/

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  40. We have all kinds of dollar stores up here but they don't carry produce. Lucky you!

    S
    xo

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  41. Hi! Do you have a recipe section on your blog? Just want to make sure I'm not missing it? Thanks and LOVE your blog!

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    Replies
    1. yes jennifer. scroll to the bottom and under labels click on "food."

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  42. Again I am so jealous. Here in Oklahoma we don't have .99 stores. We have Dollar Stores which are good for batteries and cleaning products - but they don't sell fresh produce. The older I get, the more frugal I get. So when shopping, I find there is less and less that I really want to buy. Shoes and purses I can resist. But I must admit, if and when I do splurge, it is at the grocery store. I have an entire cabinet full of exotic spices, legumes, and nuts. That said, your menu sounds an awfully lot like mine. We pretty much eat the exact same things! And someday I would love it if you could share your Veggie Chili recipe with us. Mine is getting a bit boring. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. i highlighted my chili recipe in the blog post. just click it on.
      all my recipes are in the food section of my labels at the bottom of the blog page. :)

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    2. I didn't even realize it was highlighted. thanks! I'm going to make a batch this week! And again, thanks for all your inspiration. We are trying to pay some bills off too, and it really helped when I went grocery shopping today and thought of this blog and all your helpful tips. And in full confession, I didn't buy all organic. But a good portion of it was, and for now, that will just have to do.

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  43. I live in a town that had a $.99 store, but now it is the Dollar Store (inflation) and it is everything you'd think a .99-1.00 store
    would be: crowded with crap, dirty, no order, just chaos with people filling their carts with junk food and junk toys.
    I watched the video and I can only wish and pray THAT kind of $1 store will appear around the corner.

    Janet, you have inspired so many people to improve their lives...how does that feel? I've read all your blogs and
    have seen how each has evolved to where you are today with fabulous information for people who really are so ready
    to make changes for the better in how they eat, live, what they wear and how to treat others (with kindness). I'm so thankful to have found your blog.
    My new year is going to be so much better because of what I've learned from you. Thanks, kid. Kathleen (66)

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    Replies
    1. hi kathleen. thank you so much for your sweet words. x

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  44. I haven't been to a 99 cent store in years, but maybe I should revisit. I used to buy gift bags and cards there mostly and never really checked out the food products too much - it seemed a bit scary, I have to confess. Now you've got me thinking…maybe I'll go tomorrow and have a look again. My big goal, beginning 2014, is to eat out less and save money - so you've got my full attention! Cant' wait to hear more from you on living more frugally :)

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  45. Wow, spinach and broccoli for only a buck, you can't beat that. I wish my local dollar store offered fresh food. I just paid $2.50 for a head of broccoli yesterday :-(

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  46. My local .99 cent store doesnt carry fresh foods either. How I WISH it did. The only reason I don't eat even more fruits and vegatables (because I love them) is the price. At my dollar store they do sell processed and canned foods and snacks such as chips andcookies but the only thing I have ever purchased was some chocolate once. Unfortunately it did not taste good at all. The place is great for gift cards and party supplies and stocking stuffer type gifts at Christmas though.

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  47. Janet,
    I really hope you publish a book. You have so many great tips for living simply and thrifty.
    Does Larry know how darn lucky he is?
    pve

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    Replies
    1. patricia i'll write a book if you'll do the illustrations!

      no i don't think he does. :)

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    2. OMG, what a perfect pairing. I love pve's work! This would be an awesome book. Books have definitely spawned from blogs. Just look at The Pioneer Woman; she even has a TV show.

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    3. her work is awesome and i think it'd be perfect!

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  48. I have never heard of these stores, but your enthusiasm had me curious. Nope, no stores in IL. I do pay attention to what and where we spend our money. I was raised to be frugal and it sticks with you.

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  49. I wish we had a 99 cent store here- sounds great. I'm wondering, are you okay with buying non-organic food? Lately, I've been buying only organic (some health issues) but it's killing my budget. I thought the farmers markets would help, but they're almost as expensive as Whole Foods here in Seattle. Do you have some great ways of getting pesticides off of produce? And I love hearing about your meals- that's how I eat when it's just me.

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    Replies
    1. of course i prefer organic and try my best to buy it but i'm dead set serious about my mortgage so i will do what i have to do. i wash everything really well...even things labeled organic. :)

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  50. Hi Janet, This is a vegetarian chili recipe that I make frequently. http://www.crumblycookie.net/2009/02/20/vegetarian-chili/
    I'm going to try adding a can of tomato soup to it next time. That sounds like a good trick to make it creamier.
    Kim

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  51. I'm in England and I just wanted to say that we only eat organic food and our food bill regularly hits the £100 / $150 per week mark (for 2 adults)... but I can't bring myself to eat pesticides, herbicides, fungicides etc etc :-((. But it's so bloody annoying having to fork out so much for food. Do you worry about eating non-organic food?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. really i don't worry too much about it. i wash my veggies really well and i figure i'm 56 and have been eating organic foods for about what, 6 years or maybe a little more? i think i'll live but if given the choice i'll always choose organic.

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    2. I choose organic when I can, not so much for my own health, but for the health of our environment. It is said that pesticides pollute our lakes and streams, contaminate our drinking water, and now there are even claims that they harm wildlife such as frogs, bees, and fish. That said, sometimes the organic vegetables in my store just aren't fresh, or way too expensive. So I do the best I can when I can. A couple articles: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/mar/27/pesticide-bees-scent-food-neocotinoid
      http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-frogs-pesticides-sierra-nevada-20130726,0,5060885.story#axzz2pmo0WFXs

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  52. I want to be your neighbor and shop the .99 cent store with you.
    Book? Publisher? Let's do it. I can see it.
    pve

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    Replies
    1. I'll be first in line to buy that book!

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  53. Janet, I am so glad you did this post! I spend a ridiculous amount of money for two people on food. And that counts shopping at Trader Joe's, Target, Sprouts, the Mexican market nearby (cheap) and sales at Vons or Ralphs. (Whole Foods only once every 6 to 8 weeks but only buy things on sale or items I can't get elsewhere) I did save quite a bit a couple months ago when I tagged along with my daughter on a trip to Costo. But some of the quantities are too much for just us two.

    A friend of mine shops at the 99 cent store. I wish I had one a little closer to us, the two nearest stores are both about 6 miles away. I used to go there a long time ago when I first stopped working and then I sort of just quit. Guess I need to re visit very soon!

    One question, does your weekly total include beer or wine? That's another budget buster!

    Linda
    xo

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    Replies
    1. we barely ever buy either. and when we do its at trader joes so nothing expensive. but the .99 store does carry both!

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    2. Many nights I either skip the wine or pour very little but my husband has to have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner. He is under a lot of stress so I guess he is entitled! :)

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  54. I envy your 99 cent store - I dont think we have something like that in London even though we tend to have so many different types of shops. I do feel like I am missing out. I would have no qualms once i tried it once and it isn't a great risk as at 99 cents it isn't a great loss.

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  55. Awesome shop, Janet! We're guilty of buying too much and then wasting...we can't seem to get it right. I love always having a full fruit bowl on the counter but it doesn't all get eaten. I've gone back to baking since we were wasting $ on banana breads. Also, making my own salsa saves $. We were buying the local made (delicious) brand but at $8 container, it was adding up.

    I feel for the single mom who is on a budget. I remember worrying about grocery costs with my kids (both teens at the time, who eat a ton). Coupons and 10% off days saved me. Interesting comments today!

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  56. Hi Janet,
    I live in Northern California, just got home from the .99 store, spent about, $20.00 on fresh produce, dairy, paper products and toiletries. Whoa, I saved big time! Thanks so much for this post!! I had forgotten our store sells fresh produce...really silly on my part, since the store is near my gym that I frequent 3 times a week! This WILL be a part of my weekly grocery shopping! Saving money feels so Good!!!

    Renee

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    Replies
    1. hi renee, so happy to hear this. was the produce section good? were things fresh? so exciting!

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    2. Janet, I felt the produce section was great! Both in selection and freshness. Lots to choose from (hard to beat a basket of blackberries for .99 cents! I just ate the entire basket.. cheaper and better for me than a candy bar!). I actually had to restrain myself from buying too much, the husband and college son (home for winter break) have weird schedules this week, so basically I just bought food for me! but, watch out next week when the family is eating at home more... we'll save lots of money! By the way, I too, shop at Trader Joes, as well as Safeway, Fresh n Easy AND I live within a few miles of Farm Stands that I frequent weekly during the Summer.

      Again...Thanks for the inspiration!

      Renee

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    3. that's so good to hear. i find this all so exciting for you and your family!

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  57. Here on the East Coast there is the "Dollar store" no produce, but many cleaning products, flour, sugar, frozen veggies, frozen fruit, nuts and nut butters, cookies and chips, pasta, etc. I save a LOT on many basic items, including such things as specialty light bulbs, batteries, stationary, pens, paper goods, and so much more. I get almost everything there except fresh produce and oils. I just discover this recently when a Dollar Store opened up within walking distance to my home 4 months ago.. Wow, what savings! Great post, Janet

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  58. Nice job on the shopping; I wish we had the $0.99 store here in the Northeast. We are a family of 5 and have $300/month for all grocery, paper goods, cleaning supplies, and health and beauty items. We try to eat a mostly whole foods diet, which is definitely tough but doable on our limited budget. We also love mundane, healthy, and filling meals (like Meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, and so forth). Thanks for sharing :)

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  59. Janet, I found a blog I though you might enjoy www.mynewroots.org. Recipies galore!
    Do you have an email address to share?
    Thanks, Lisa

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    Replies
    1. lisa, sorry it took so long for me to answer here but i completely forgot!
      i will go have a look at the site and no i took my email down b/c i was getting too many angry/mean emails to deal with. but if you ask a question in the comments i try my best to remember and answer them. :))

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kindness is never out of style.

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