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Thread: What are your tips for reducing grocery bills?

  1. #21
    insert random title here Array Randomnity's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    6w5 sp/sx


    Quote Originally Posted by mavericknm View Post
    So allow me to entertain you with a homemade sheppard's pie versus TV dinner.
    Recipe for sheppard's pie.

    The recipe calls for:
    Ground Lamb or Beef: 1 lb
    Frozen Green Peas: 1/2 cup
    Carrots: 1/4 cups, chopped
    Onion: 1 medium, chopped
    Garlic: 1 clove, diced
    Worcestershire Sauce: 2 tbsp (or replace it with your favorite steak sauce)
    Potatoes: 4 medium, peeled and sliced
    Onion Spring: 1 tbsp, chopped
    Cream Cheese: 1-2 tbsp
    Milk: 1-2 tbsp
    Butter: 2-3 tbsp
    Vegetable Oil: 1 tbsp

    I'm going to give you all the ingredients for free except the peas, carrots, potatoes and beef because any decent kitchen should have the majority of that stuff or you're a starving student and don't care about taste. Also those ingredients don't really add that much sustenance. So lets start pricing it out.

    Ground beef on sale for most places I've lived goes for $5 on sale. I realise that certain central states get this for $2-3 in which case frozen foods at my pricing loses out. I'm going to replace the peas and carrots with whatever bag of frozen veggies. We will use half a bag or 0.5 lbs which costs us $1. Potatoes almost universally go for 99 cents a pound. Lets be extra cheap and use more than the recipe calls for. The average weight of a potato is about 13 oz? So the recipe calls for 3.25 lbs but lets add an extra 2 potatoes and call it 5 lbs because we're dirt cheap and starving.

    So total price and weight of our fresh sheppard's pie comes to 6.5 lbs or 104 oz for $11 which on any regular day, would make me a very happy camper.

    But that's 10.57 cents to the oz compared to my 8.8 cents to the oz TV dinner. So in the end its about a $2 savings.

    For the heck of it, lets compare it to my beloved frozen pizza. If you stay away from the delicious thin crust stuff, you can get a kg of frozen pizza for $5 or 14.2 cents per oz. Gasp! That's excessive luxury.

    Concluding Remarks
    TL;DR i know...

    TV dinners can provide equal sustenance at a similar or lower price than even the most efficient home cooked meals. When we now consider that the only remaining trade off is time saved vs home cooked tastiness and nutritional value, I think I have a right to feel sad. If anything I just empathize with all the obese people.

    Brilliant! Combine with dash and dine and you're set!
    I make shepherd's pie alllll the time and it costs less than that for me.

    1kg meat - 4.39 for decent meat on sale, 6$ regular for the kinda gross meat tubes (probably fairly similar pricing in toronto)
    about 1/4 bag frozen corn - about 50c. Or maybe a half? I don't measure.
    1 box instant potatoes - 1.77-2$ (ok, you might consider this non-home cooked...I don't care, it tastes better and is faster for an equivalent price)
    1 onion - little, maybe 25c
    spices - negligible, maybe 10c
    garlic - negligible, maybe 25c
    I don't like peas and carrots in my shepherd's pie but those are not that expensive, maybe 50c for 1/4 bag frozen peas and 50c-1$ for the carrots depending how much in bulk you buy them.
    I usually throw in a "ball" of frozen spinach - negligible, maybe 25c
    I also add a bit of cheese to the top - maybe 50c worth or so
    (but adding cream cheese and milk to shepherd's pie? weird....)

    I do not weigh my food, lol, but I know I can get about 6-8 meals out of a shepherd's pie like that, and I eat a lot (I need 2 frozen dinners to feel satisfied). I won't buy frozen dinners for more than 2$ and they rarely go on sale for less than that (except the really really really gross ones like swanson which go on for 1$ but why even bother).

    So my analysis gives me 6 meals for 7-9 dollars vs buying 6-12 frozen dinners at 2$ a pop. And it's delicious . Also this particular recipe is extremely meat-heavy which is the main cost, and it could easily be cut 1:2 or even 1:4 with something like lentils or beans, drastically reducing the price for not much taste difference.

    But sure, it's possible (not mandatory) to spend more on home cooked meals than on frozen dinners. You just have to compare the nasty 1$ frozen dinners with decent quality home cooked food, especially with a lot of expensive meat in it. I just don't think that's a useful comparison.
    -end of thread-

  2. #22
    Resident Snot-Nose Array GZA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    Mircrowave dinners are out of the picture cause I do think they are too expensive (even though yes, they are occasionally surprisingly decent), but also my room mate is a skilled chef who loves/knows how to make all kinds of food. I just want to maximize our money's potential! Good food, little money!

  3. #23
    Senior Member Array Agent Jelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    Make a list before you go to the store. I have found this really helpful! Its wise to have an idea of what you want to eat before you go to the store. Also dont go to the store hungry!

    Buy generic brands (or at least try them). A lot of times they taste just as good if not better
    Eggs are so versatile and a great source of protein, always have them on hand!
    Buy a bag of potatoes. You can have a baked potato ready in under 10 minutes if you have a microwave. You can roast them, fry them, mash em! I love potatoes...
    Invest into spices/herbs. You can pan fry boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or boneless pork chops and have restaurant quality without the price. its all about working the magic
    Bookmark it will become your best friend! it helps me decide what I want to eat for dinner.

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