Grocery Shopping With Your Middle Finger

The Grocery Store is the only retail establishment that I visit more than once a month. But even then, we have a bit of a love/hate relationship.

I LOVE the grocery store, because it is the source of almost all of my food. Under its roof lies a world of unlimited possibilities. It can help me cook up almost any recipe on Earth, and by selecting the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones, I can ensure a fantastic level of health for myself and my family.

But I also HATE the grocery store occasionally, because about 90% of the products in there are pure crap. Colorful boxes and disposable plastic packages containing mostly ridiculous chemicals, colors, and artificial flavors, all mixed over a base of high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, and refined white flour.

These things are big contributors to our country’s startling waistline, and while I believe we should still be free to make, sell, and eat these products at our own discretion, it saddens me to see such incredible effort and environmental resources going into creating things that logically should not even exist.

The grocery store also earns my rage with its ever-tricky pricing scheme. Besides the mental filtering required to seek out that Healthy 10% of items not covered by the previous paragraph, there is also a wildly fluctuating game of price-gouging going on at my store (which happens to be Safeway).

Lucerne Organic eggs are sometimes $2.99 for a dozen when they are “on sale”, otherwise they are $4.59 and a competing brand becomes $2.99 instead, or some amount in between. Apples can usually be found for a buck or so per pound, except when you grow complacent and they jack them up to $2.49, resulting in you buying yourself a $15 bag of apples if you aren’t paying attention.

Today I needed tomatoes and they had temporarily risen from 99 cents to $3.99 per pound, so my little handful cost me $5.69! Later I learned there is not a nationwide Tomato Embargo as I had assumed – they are still 99 cents at the other grocery store, but Safeway just decided to give ol’ Mr. Money Mustache the shaft in the name of profit. (But now they’re paying for it in the form of bad PR, aren’t they? Take that, you $3.99-a-pound-chargin’ bitches!)

At least you can take comfort that some prices are always stable. Specialty items like little packages of Basil leaves and gluten-free bread mix and the comedically priced fitness supplements depicted in the headline picture of this article follow a year-round ridiculous shaftola pricing scheme.

So what’s a Mustachian to do in a situation like this? I like to call it Grocery Shopping With Your Middle Finger, and here are the main ingredients:

Know the Right Price: I’ve been the family’s main grocery shopper for years, so I know exactly how much all of my main staples should cost. Interestingly enough, I’ve hit grocery stores all across the US on road trips, and I find the prices are surprisingly consistent across the land. That makes it easy to shop efficiently, even while on vacation.

If prices are ever significantly above the “right” range, I discreetly stick up both of my middle fingers, swear under my breath, and move on to a substitute good if possible. Conversely, if prices are below the normal range, I’ll stock up like crazy.

For items with a long shelf life, this can lead to some interesting results, like the time I bought 20 jars of Classico pasta sauce because it had dropped from $3.50 to $1.50 per jar, or 20 boxes of Quaker Oat Squares cereal because it had temporarily been marked down from $4.50 to $1.00 per box. The cashiers raised an eyebrow each time, but each of these purchases saved me about $50 over the regular price for these products… and gave me a nice inventory at home to help reduce future trips to the store.

I like to think of it as a little algorithm:

  • If a food is overpriced, buy zero or the minimum possible amount you can live with
  • If a food is regular price, buy an amount to last until your next grocery trip (minimum 1 week supply)
  • If a food is underpriced, buy at least enough to last until the next expected sale at this level (4 weeks?)
  • If a food is drastically underpriced, buy a near-infinite amount, limited only by shelf life of food and available stock on shelves. If Bananas go to 1 cent per pound, you can’t really benefit aside from maybe freezing a few. But if my favorite cashews and almonds mix dropped to an all-time low, I’d probably buy at least a year’s supply (twenty of the two-pound jars or more).

Use Healthiness and Cost Per Calorie to decide what to eat: 

I love blueberries and raspberries, and they are good for you. But for most of the year, they are ridiculously expensive – as much as $5.99 for a tiny handful in a 4-oz container.  Those 64 calories are costing you 9.35 cents per calorie. To live solely off blueberries at 2000 calories per day, you’d spend $187 per day ($68,255 per year).

On the other hand, I also love old-fashioned rolled oats*. These can be had for about 70 cents per pound in 9lb boxes at Costco. A pound of rolled oats contains 1714 calories – and fantastic ones too, rich in fiber, protein, and iron. This cost per calorie is 0.041 cents.

In other words, Blueberries are about 229 times more expensive than Rolled Oats!! If I lived solely on rolled oats at 2000 calories per day, it would cost me 81.6 cents per day to eat, or $298 per year.

You can use this cost per calorie strategy to optimize your eating – not compromising on health, of course, but just shuffling around healthy foods so that cheaper ones get eaten more.

As a few more examples, I personally eat loads of

  • mixed nuts at about $5 per pound (2720 calories per pound, yielding 0.18 cents per calorie)
  • natural (peanuts-only) peanut butter ($2.50/pound, 3000 cals = 0.08 cents/cal)
  • Whole milk ($4/gallon ,1760 cals = 0.22 cents/cal)
  • Bananas (0.69/pound, 500 cals per pound = 0.138 cents/cal).
  • Basmati rice (0.60/pound, 1600 cals =  0.0375 cents/cal)

Meat is more expensive, for example steak or chicken breast at $5.00/lb for 560 calories yields 0.89 cents per calorie – about 11 times more than the natural peanut butter, which is just as good for you in many ways.

Protein, of which I’m a big fan, can easily be supplemented with beans and rice, cheese and eggs, and 6 lb bags of whey protein powder that you can mix into shakes (also from Costco).

Avoid Cutesy little Containers of things that cost $8.00
Nowadays, organic and healthy food has caught on in a big way, especially among the affluent 20-to-40something crowd. When you combine a desire to do the right thing, with the typical free spending middle income earner, you get a highly profitable Sukka Consumer. And Whole Foods and Natural Grocers are right there to make the most of it, with tiny little jars of Mrs. McFancyPants’s Natural Ostrich Feather Butter for $18.99 and Jack McGillicuddy’s Organic Maple Elven Unicorn Syrup Crisp cereal for $77.59 for a 2-serving bag. When I visit the homes of middle-income people these days, I find the pantry absolutely loaded with these big-ticket small-quantity items, and then I understand why their grocery bills are $1000 per month.

Buying luxury health foods from small companies is a great thing to do if you can actually afford it – you’re stickin’ it to the unhealthy factory food system and Monsanto, while supporting the growth of healthier small companies. But if you’re not yet retired, you can’t afford it yet, so why not compromise by buying any reasonably priced organic food you can find at a regular grocery store, build up your ‘stash for now, and then switch to the boutique stuff after your first million?

I also eat fruits and vegetables at every meal, despite their higher cost per calorie, just for the sake of deliciousness and having a healthy balance. I just lean towards things like cucumbers, carrots, apples and bananas, rather than out-of-season blueberries and raspberries from New Zealand, except for special occasions.

To put it all into perspective with an example, let’s review the typical MMM family grocery list for one week. In the earlier “Exposed!” article, I found that we spend an average of $74 per week. Here’s the breakdown. Most foods listed are organic when available at reasonable prices.

Milk: 2 gallons at average $3 (since I only buy organic part of the time): $6
Eggs: 2 dozen at $3.50 each: $7
Bananas: 6 lbs at $0.70: $4.20
Apples: 3 lbs at $1.50 each: $4.50
Misc. fruits and vegetables: 4 pounds at $2 each: $8
Spaghetti (rice noodles gluten free): 1 lb at $3.50
Spaghetti sauce: 1 jar at $3
Chicken, Beef, or Fish: 2 pounds at $6: $12
Cereal, including oats: 2 pounds at $1: $2
Cheese: 1 pound at $3
Coffee: 1/2 pound at $7: $3.50
Various kinds of Beans, rice, whole wheat flour: 3 pounds at 0.60: $1.80 (I make my own bread, yum)
Apple Sauce: $2
olive oil: 4 oz at 0.25: $1
Miscellaneous stuff like dark chocolate, protein powder, spices, recipe ingredients, occasional ice cream, whatever: $10.

This is just a typical list, and it’s an estimate based on buying some things weekly, and other things on the quarterly gigantic $300 stock-up at Costco. The main things I might find noteworthy is that it adds up to the mid $70s weekly for a family of three, it’s mostly organic food and meat, and there is pretty much zero processed prepackaged stuff or desserts in there. It could be cut in half if we switched to non-organic food and dropped the luxury meats and coffee, but hey, as I always say, the MMM family leads a luxurious and decadent life despite the below-average overall costs :-) )

* Mr. Money Mustache’s Amazing Save $100 on Cereal Per Year Trick. Not everyone loves cereal, but some of us are addicts and could eat it all day. You know who you are. I have at least a couple bowls daily myself. Four years ago, I invented a trick where I substitute 50-75% of the cereal for plain rolled oats (uncooked, straight out of the container), then pour regular sugary cereal (like honey bunches of oats or raisin bran) on top of that. Mix it up, add some bananas, and you have a super-nice bowl of the good stuff! I actually prefer the texture and taste of this over regular boxed cereal. For every pound of oats you use up doing this, you save about $2.00, since cereal in boxes costs around $2.70/pound and oats are only $0.70. I kept track for a year, and found I had used 50 lbs of oats. I’ve saved $400 so far with just this trick, and it helped me sharpen up the abdomen as well due to the reduced sugar and higher fiber!

 An update, two years later:  Since writing this article, the adults in our family have switched to a lower-carbohydrate and higher-fat style of eating, with even better results. Instead of cereal, I have a heartier breakfast with eggs and avocados.  Less pasta and more stir-fried vegetables. If your current plan works for you, stick with it. But if you ever need to lose fat, try dropping all bread and sugars (including most fruit juice – eat the fruit instead) and see what happens.

  • cv April 26, 2013, 8:12 pm

    No one here invented cereal with rolled oats- the Germans did, and it’s called Muesli (German style); they also invented Aldi, Passiv haus and championed high percentage income saving. One of the most productive year of life I spent learning how to live lean is living abroad in Germany.

  • burnchar June 8, 2013, 11:30 am

    Mr. Mustache:

    While I know the organic/GMO debate can be tiresome, may I most sincerely suggest you read this Oxford talk from one of the antiGMO movement’s founders:


  • Samantha July 14, 2013, 9:43 pm

    Mr. Money Mustache – Can you do a post that gives us an idea of how you make that grocery list stretch into a week’s worth of meals for your family? Maybe my imagination is lacking, but I keep looking at your list and trying to figure out what your family is eating (especially for lunch!) Thanks!

  • Sarah August 12, 2013, 11:20 am

    I have to disagree with you when you say that you can’t really stock up on bananas. Recently, my husband found bananas for about $.20/lb (ridiculously cheap!) He bought maybe 15 lbs. For several days, our family of 6 ate bananas a couple of times a day. When they started to get too brown to eat, I filled up the dehydrator with them. Then I peeled the rest, and stored them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. I ended up with a gallon bag full. I use them in smoothies or pull out 2 bananas at a time to make banana bread. We could have probably used double what we bought.

  • Georgina September 6, 2013, 6:15 am

    Thank you very much for all the information and for the people who take time to add comments. I like all your posts but I do not always add: someone beats me to it. I would like to add a tip. I buy fresh tomatoes when they are in season, then I just tip them into the odd spaces in my chest freezer. They can then be used for sauces, curries and stews. They last well until the new season of bounty rolls around. Most importantly, they are very visible so they are used often.

  • Julie Garrett October 4, 2013, 5:23 am

    Another way to get reasonably priced, organic, local food is to join a CSA farm (community supported agriculture) and buy your food directly from the farmer. You pay up front in spring for a box of food delivered weekly or bi-weekly all season. It feels good to support a small family farm (!!!) and the food you get is super fresh and nutrient dense — better for you than the food that’s shipped in to Costco or chain grocery stores (also, lower emissions and better for the planet when you take out the transportation miles!). Some farms offer meat and eggs in addition to produce. To learn more, visit http://www.csacoalition.org.

  • Tom October 24, 2013, 12:44 pm

    an idea for one of your “get rich with…….” blogs could be a Nalgene bottle… I take mine with me everywhere I go and never have to go searching for a beverage or bottle of water to buy.. they are basically indestructible and you can take them anywhere.. I even take mine to airport (empty as you go through security and then you can fill up at a water fountain).. the $10 bottle saves you hundreds every year.

  • kathy January 15, 2014, 1:18 pm

    The majority of our monthly expense goes to food, unfortunately. When its eaten its gone and you have to ultimately buy more! A vicious cycle. However, I am always looking for ways to save on food. Hubby loves his meat and though he eats less than he used to, meat is expensive, and we don’t have the acreage to raise our own. I am vegan, but have fairly recently gone whole foods vegan, meaning I cook most of my meals and rarely buy or use packaged products. I also eat as much organic as I can due to chemicals, and where I live, our one local grocery store ultimately is Walmart. Yuck. We drive 30 to 50 miles several times a month to get better quality produce, but with that, our food bill is a bit high for 2 people. The local health food stores, as you stated, are triple the price of the grocery stores, but on occasion I have to resort to purchasing there if in dire need of an item. But I do purchase some items online with free or low shipping to save some money. We have no local farmers markets to shop at in the summer (again having to drive 30 to 50 miles to find one). We do garden and can or freeze a lot of produce, but in winter months, we love our fresh produce. Because we pack all our lunches for work and cook the majority of our meals at home, our grocery bills average about $100 to $150 per week. We have no costco’s, sam’s clubs, or any discount places in a 50-75 mile radius of us either. I wish I could get our bill down without losing the quality of the organic produce we eat.

  • AC February 4, 2014, 8:57 pm

    Last year I stumbled upon MMM and this article due to a google search I did on “cutting your grocery bills”. I’ve since poured through all the articles, but still found this posting to be the most beneficial. I am a finance geek and started using Mint.com in 2012. In reviewing my annual summary; I was surprised to learn that my wife and I were spending $2,000 per month on food and dining! We spent $1,000 per month on groceries and another $1,000 on dinners/drinks.

    Fast forward 12 months… Our food and dining costs are $650 per month.($400 groceries and $250 dining out) I’ve used the principles laid out on this site to dramatically reduce our food and dining expenses and dropped 10 lbs without even trying.

    I’d like to share a tip to make this even more effective. Menu planning! My wife and I sit down each week and prepare a menu for the week ahead. First we shop our pantry and Refrigerator/Freezer. We then make a list of groceries needed to round out the meals. This has multiple benefits: We buy less “junk food”, are more likely to cook at home since we “planned for it”, and throw less food away.

    BTW…I’m pretty sure we could easily cut our food costs by another 50% from here. Maybe we should make that a goal in 2014. Or maybe we will just decide to continue living luxuriously on 2/3rds less than we spent in 2012!

  • Vanessa February 5, 2014, 2:51 pm

    I’d argue that you can actually stock up on bananas when on sale- we freeze them and make lots of smoothies/almond-flour banana bread muffins and pancakes.

  • Vanessa February 20, 2014, 5:53 pm

    I’d love to see a post with the MMM family’s updated Paleo eating plan. I was so inspired by an earlier post that had me convinced that we could still eat well without spending so much on food. We eat a paleo diet due to our string belief that this way of life is best for our family’s overall health. We are not willing to compromise, so we eat high quality meats, fish, eggs, organic veggies/fruits, nuts, etc. and cook/bake with coconut oil and raw honey. I make everything from scratch and our grocery budget for our family of 4 is still $900/month. This is with extensive meal planning and raiding Costco’s organic selection once per month and filling in gaps at Trader Joe’s. We are active with 2 boys so I know we eat a lot (and we are all very lean), but I mean, c’mon, that’s still a huge grocery bill. I’d love to hear how the MMM family eats paleo or similar in less.

  • johnadamian February 24, 2014, 1:55 pm

    Your cereal trick just blew my mind.

    I love cereal so much, but I cringe when I look at the prices. This could very well save the day in my world!

    I use to love eating rolled oats for breakfast anyway. I’d throw in some shredded coconut, blueberries and shelled Hemp seeds to take it up to the next level of healthy eating. I’m excited about this idea…./end transmission.

  • AZMike May 28, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Ahhh yes – Only the mention of Quaker Oat Squares could make me respond to a three year old post. They are my financial kryptonite. Spousal unit just brought home 10 boxes from a rain check sale …

  • Erica May 29, 2014, 5:21 am


    I too would like to make the switch to a lower carbohydrate, higher fat diet. Do you have any suggestions for saving money on that type of diet?


  • Thomas June 21, 2014, 12:16 pm


    I’m a new reader and loving it so far. I have heard of people getting together and making an online spreadsheet (Google docs or whatever) of grocery prices to maximize their middle finger-ing. Do you know of any of these in the Denver area? As a brand new Mustashian I don’t have an equally frugal friends (yet!)

    Thanks for all that you do!

  • CheerfulAdventurer July 9, 2014, 11:13 am

    My second MMM article with ALL comments from the first to the last! :-)

    I’m a bit sad to realise that I’m single (in a European metropolis) and for a 1-person-household most of your approach yields little.
    – I DON’T need a car, bike often jolts and breaks the sensitive groceries so I walk to shop with my backpack – no room to explore remote discounts
    – in the neighbourhood there is ONE market which is large enough to kill all other retail but small enough for the traders not to compete,
    – I often eat out – I don’t mean restaurants but friends’ and family members’ home – which makes shopping even less frequent,
    – I don’t need a house to live in (flat is enough) so a garden is not practical,
    – even the least amount of food practicable at once easily spoils (either as scratch or ready) before used up, and I don’t need a huge freezer (inviting guests is a smart and funny solution)
    – most of your tricks I already know and either I apply them or in this situation they’re not worth it,
    – finding & learning new recipes – when you’re over a certain amount – takes time which I could spend with more MMM articles. :-)

    These complaints come BTW from a person who left parents’ house with close to zero kitchen knowledge and became a full household manager from books and advices in the first 1-2 years. :-)

    I see my possible next step in cultivating a plot in an urban community garden, or joining a shop-from-farmers community, but both operate a bit far from my home in the city. Bottling, preservation etc. seem awfully boring on my own (although I know that some women do it with satisfaction).

    OK, now I’ll leave comp to fry my dinner dough! :-)

  • Doug August 7, 2014, 4:23 pm

    I mostly agree with you, but I have to disagree on the whole farmer’s market thing, Mr. Save-the-World-from-Environmental-Catastrophe. You hate on SUV driver’s all the time, but you apparently don’t mind if your veggies are joyriding across the continent in an 18-wheeler. You will thank those of us that are spending a tad bit extra to keep local farmers in business when gas goes to $20/gallon and your artificially cheap Costco veggies go to $10/lb.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 8, 2014, 8:08 am

      I hear you, Doug. I buy local stuff too and like the farmer’s market. I just try to keep it in perspective: 1500 miles in a transport truck might use less gas per veggie than 15 miles in a Chevy Silverado, depending on how much each driver carries. And bigger farms (organic if desired) can be more efficient – amount of land used for farming is even more important than fuel used for transportation.

  • Lorrie August 11, 2014, 2:41 pm

    I love this article! I am now saving so much money by using your shopping tips! I disagree with the part at the bottom though about cutting out bread and pasta. I lost 100 lbs and I ate whole grain bread and pasta in moderation. It also helped that I meal planned and exercised. I don’t doubt that you can lose weight eating the way you are talking about but you can also lose weight even with eating a non -paleo diet. I would say weight loss is mostly about variety and moderation with food. I think it only makes sense to completely cut out gluten if you are allergic. Like how I cut out dairy because I am lactose intolerant.

  • vr September 5, 2014, 3:05 am

    Good article (again)! Had to google up what rolled oats mean but it turned out it’s the same thing that I eat every morning with my ‘nordic kind of sour milk’ straight out of the box, with bananas and apples. What I have noticed is that there in the US you have shit loads of that fructose corn syrup stuff added to almost everything that comes out of the factory, we have had that one coming here for the last few years but mostly the industry uses more natural and healthier ingredients. Partly because the EU has been driving hard to increase the safety and healthiness of food products.

    We have the luxury of picking our own blueberries, red- and blackcurrants, lingonberries, rowanberries, etc straight from the bushes and forests here in Finland. “Every mans right” allows you to go to the forest to pick up berries and mushrooms even if the land is owned by someone else (not to someones backyard of course), and you get very good exercise in the process. Nothing beats having 50 litres of freshly picked blueberries, other same amount of lingonberries and a couple bottles of freshly made natural apple juice without any added sugar in the freezer for those dark and cold winter days :)

  • claire November 7, 2014, 6:40 am

    Dang that’s a good snag on the Quaker Oatmeal Squares. I love those things.

  • Ddub925 December 20, 2014, 5:21 pm

    MMM Have you looked into one of the most badass, healthy, and cheap way to nourish your family….harvest your own wild game meat! Venison is delicious! An should any anthropromorphic inspired comments come my way, consider that If your an omnivore you should definitely take responsibility for what you eat.

  • David February 16, 2015, 12:14 pm

    I discovered MMM in December 2014 and have started reading from the beginning. This is one of the rare times I can dispute one of MMM’s claims. I can benefit if bananas go to 1 cent per pound. I make banana chips in a solar dehydrator. The discounted overripe bananas make the best chips and the less they cost the better I like it. When they come out of the dehydrator shelf life is no longer a concern.

  • WilliamB March 25, 2015, 7:44 am

    (Coming via a link from The Frugal Girl)

    I disagree about those 1 cent/lb bananas. If you have a freezer, you can freeze them for smoothies, breads and muffins, and frozen treats. Just peel them and freeze them whole. A few months ago I got 52 lbs of bananas for $2 and am still rocking that bounty.

  • Stevie February 17, 2016, 8:32 am

    Food is easily our biggest expense, granted we eat mostly organic meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. I have come to terms with our massive grocery bill because I value local, organic food and the health benefits associated with eating this way. We also don’t spend much money on eating out. In most cases when I’ve come across ways to save money on groceries, it involves big boxes of mac n cheese, canned food, very little produce, etc. I am baffled by your low bills because it seems like your diet is similar to ours. We definitely eat more than 2 lb of meat a week, but in other ways it looks similar. I am a meticulous meal planner, stick only to what we absolutely need for 3 meals a day/7 days a week. Our fridge is empty at the end of the week with no food waste. Yet we are still paying about $150 a week for me, my husband, and a toddler. We alternate between Whole Foods, and a regular grocery store, and I honestly don’t see that big of a cost difference between the two. Do you think that Costco is the secret to your significant savings?

  • Lady Locust August 8, 2016, 3:11 pm

    Say, I have started “at the beginning of time” and am now up to this point. Glad to see that little update at the bottom. Curious to see what else has happened in the past 4-5 years:)

  • Another Longmartian September 22, 2016, 3:13 pm

    I realize this post is old but I am new to the MMM game after just paying off my student loans less than a month ago.
    I wanted to mention- try shopping Sprouts on Wednesdays instead of Safeway. They overlap their weekly ads so basically all fresh produce is on sale on Wednesday. I’ve bought blueberries for $0.70 before (often times sell for $2.50 at other stores). Plus- the bike path goes right past it. Win, win!
    It is worth mentioning- lots of other people realized how great Sprouts is, so you need to go before noon or all the Wrinkleys and SAHMs will steal all of your fresh, delicious and cheap produce.

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 23, 2016, 3:36 pm

      Hey, thanks for the tip about the bike path, Mary! I have actually NEVER been to Sprouts, because of the lazy excuse that “It’s way on the other side of town surrounded by car-clown-mecca Hover Road and giant parking lots”.

      But looking more carefully on Google Maps, it looks like a perfectly nice bike ride after all. I’ll go check it out soon.

  • Be September 27, 2016, 10:31 am

    I have to disagree that one cannot profit from stocking up on bananas when they are on sale. I buy a lot then, when they are at the perfect ripeness that I won’t need to add any sweetener to my future smoothies, I freeze them.
    Never a wasted banana again.

  • mrsfrozzie October 13, 2016, 11:11 pm

    I know that I’m commenting years after this was originally posted but I thought I’d add that you can even save on apple sauce by making your own (if you’re not already doing that). It’s super easy. All you need is apples and water, that’s it.
    You peel, core and cube your apples, put them in a saucepan with a dash of water. Slow cook until the apples are all mushy, let it cool a bit then blend it. Voila! You can even add a bit of cinnamon and spices if you like.
    If you like your apple sauce on the sweeter side, use a sweet kind of apple. Easy, peasy.

    I should add that, having never been to the US, I can’t say for sure that what you call apple sauce is the same as Australians call apple sauce. But if it is, the recipe above will do the trick.

    Ps: I’m slowly making my way through your posts but I wanted to say thank you for setting up this blog. My husband and I consider ourselves frugal but reading your blog has been a fantastic motivation to get that extra step. In the last few weeks, we’ve cut down on some non-essential spending we hadn’t even realised was there (meat being one of them; we still eat meat but much less and have integrated a good number of vegetarian meals into our diet). We’ve also made a point of leaving the car at home more often. We’ve always done a fair bit of walking but usually only as a leisurely activity. We’ve stepped that up (no pun intended) to also include errands and work commute). So thank you for giving us the motivation!

  • T.J.B. December 4, 2016, 8:37 am


    Love the blog, been reading now since Thanksgiving weekend (you were recommended by a friend). I’ve been reading posts sequentially, starting at the first and have made it to “Grocery Shopping With Your Middle Finger” and felt the need to comment.

    First, Aldi is the way to go. I am a single dad, and spend about $60/week for my daughter and I to eat. This is half of what my grocery bill would be at the local chain. I, too, have done a calorie/cost analysis of our food intake and it is quite alarming as to the difference in making our lunches and dinner v.s. the cost to eat meals out at a restaurant. When reading this post I noticed a possible mathematical error. Rather, the decimal is 2 places off with “cents/calorie” for example in your Meat reference, $5.00, 560 cal @ $0.89 cents/cal. Wouldn’t it actually be $0.0089 cents/cal? Essentially, almost a penny per calorie, being there are more calories then pennies in the $5.00 lb of meat. Not trying to be nit picky, but you strike me as the kind of guy that strives for perfection.

    Regardless, I am hooked! I’ll be reading so long as you are posting. I have catching up to do, both in reading to the current post and with growing my Jr. Mustache. Some of the posts are a reminder of where I have made mistakes, others where I feel I am doing good. Hind-sight is 20/20, but there is no time like the present.

    Thanks for creating such a use-full tool for all to enjoy.


  • FMaz January 11, 2017, 5:57 pm

    A gallon of milk where I live cost $11.

    Can’t compete with the prices you have down in the States….

  • Vicky March 20, 2017, 1:46 am

    Frozen blueberries much cheaper….add them to a bowl of hot porridge oats and they defrost and at the same time cool down the porridge quicker so no Goldilocks situations. Delicious, especially with some grated apple or cinnamon

  • Alex Puthoff July 28, 2017, 8:21 am

    Just reading through your archives now and chuckled with joy when I saw the update saying your family switched to Low Carb High Fat two years after this post! I’m a huge fan of the Ketogenic diet and believe it fixes many of the health problems in this world. Keto on brother! (I realize there’s probably posts about this change in detail later in this blog, so I’ll keep reading and enjoy them when I get there!)

  • Amanda Mapp November 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    Do you guys really only get through a kilo of meat a week? You guys are borderline vego! Great money saving technique though! Side note: six organic eggs cost $4.85 in Australia. We end up buying lower welfare eggs because the free range (somewhere between cage eggs and organic) have such shady guidelines that it’s impossible to know if the chickens are actually any better cared for and you pay heaps more. Sad to say we often end up buying cage eggs nowadays after years of paying heaps more for organic or free range. The cost difference is just huge. You can regularly get a dozen cage eggs for under $3 and often cheaper. Aldi is life for Aussie Mustachians. As long as you can avoid accidentally buying a guitar and a bbq while you’re there! I hear that’s a risk with Costco too?

  • Sadie12 January 31, 2018, 8:49 am

    I admit I didn’t read every comment, so sorry if this is a duplication…

    Aldi’s For the Win, as many folks have already noted. Amazing prices, very limited selection…which isn’t a bad thing. Too many choices causes stress IMO.

    When we need more or different items than Aldi’s offers, we do the Kroger ClickList. Basically it’s online shopping, and they bring the bags to your car. I know Mustachians may find this counterintuitive…how can you pay someone to push a cart for you in an air conditioned palace of plentiful food? And then pay them to bring it out to your living room on wheels and PUT IT IN YOUR TRUNK?

    But stay with me…there is a method to the madness.

    1. It’s cheaper, even with the $5 service fee. I avoid impulse purchases that occur even with a carefully prepared shopping list. I avoid the clever and insidious in-store marketing efforts. I can shop all the store specials and clearance specials online. I can see my total before I pay to be sure it’s within my budget. I can run and check the fridge or pantry to avoid ending up with, say, 4 bricks of cream cheese, which has totally never happened to me.

    2. It takes a dreaded task off my mental radar, freeing up mental room for more stuff. Who wants to fight the crowds? And it also means I don’t put off grocery shopping until we run out of food and have to order emergency pizza. Three nights in a row. Which has also totally never happened to me.

    3. It contributes to successful meal preparation at home. I have what I need on hand all the time to make home cooked meals, which, unless you are surf-n-turfing it every night, is automatically cheaper than eating out. But if you want to be even thriftier, I have heard that WalMart offers the car delivery service for free.

  • MusTallchian May 31, 2018, 4:49 pm

    It may be time for MMM to reconsider his villainous implications toward Monsanto and GMO’s in general. Using science to improve pest resilience of crops simultaneously reduces waste and conserves resources, both pillars of Mustachianism. The “natural” and “organic” food industries are often just as guilty of spouting self-interest marketing propaganda as any other. We as Mustachians are far too intelligent than to ride fear monger trains, no matter who is the conductor.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 31, 2018, 7:33 pm

      Yes, I fully agree, Tall. I have nothing against genetic modification or efficient farming. My issue with Monsanto is more in their track record of coverups, political lobbying, suppressing competitors with unethical means, etc.

      There are many companies that do this (even some that make products I like), but the culture of secrecy and corrupt influence is one I am always against. It seems to be more common among older and larger companies – they seem to rot after a certain date.

      • MusTallchian June 1, 2018, 4:28 pm

        Ah, I understand. Science good, corporate (preferred humorous profanity adjective) monsters bad . . . agreed!

        PS – Cannot thank you enough for starting this blog and sharing your path to freedom with the world. MMM = Nobel Prize as far as I’m concerned.

  • Anonymous September 6, 2018, 8:32 pm

    Just wanted to add my two cents about meat and produce( pun intended). For meat, we’ve done two things over the years…

    1) Make friends with hunters and fisherfolk, or become one yourself. They’re usually happy to share their catch with people who offer to help butcher or cook.
    2) Get a vacuum sealer like a Foodsaver or some such. We found one at Goodwill for a few dollars. When meat goes on sale for a super low price, we stock up, pack it all, and fill the freezer. On average we go two to three months without having to buy meat chicken or fish, and “shop” the freezer meantime.

    For produce, check out farmer’s markets and stores that carry produce from local farms…seasonal stuff will be cheaper, and two stores near us have “discount” bins filled with stuff that’s too ripe to sell and must be prepared or eaten right away, usually for around 25-50 cents a pound. We also found a CSA that sells rejected produce the stores won’t sell for cosmetic reasons.

  • Sam McInturff October 3, 2018, 6:05 pm

    If bananas went to $0.01/kg, I would get like 15kg, cut and freeze them, and add them to smoothies for the next year lol. Frozen banana improves the taste, texture and temperature of smoothies massively imo. Watch the sugar though.


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