People often think that because I'm cheap, I don't really enjoy life. In fact, it's just the opposite. Because I don't need to spend a lot of money to enjoy life, I don't need to spend a lot of time getting a lot of money. But, you do need to know how to get the most enjoyment with the fewest bucks, and that's what this section is about.

Cheapskate on Aisle Five

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You might have heard about my seemingly radical approach to grocery shopping: I try to only buy food-stuff that costs under $1 a pound. That's right, Under $1 a Pound, Year-Round. Of course, as my poooor wife says, "If you are what you eat, then my husband should be reduced for quick sale."

I write a lot about this simple approach to grocery shopping in my book, and before you call me crazy, thing about it for a minute. My approach forces you to eat lower on the food chain, and in fact lower on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid (see Whole grains, legumes, in-season fruits and vegetables can generally be scored for under $1 a pound if you know how to shop smart, and those are the things we should be eating the most of to maintain strong health (and that - maintaining strong health - is the #1 way to spend less and enjoy life more).

In fact, most of the stuff that's hardest on our health - like fatty dairy products, red meat, and especially processed foods - happens to also cost the most per pound. As I like to say, "That's proof positive that if there's an Intelligent Designer at work in the Universe, he's a cheapskate!"

And no, I'm not a vegetarian, as you can see from the above photo. In my part of the country (Washington, DC metro area), I can always find chicken, turkey, and some cuts of pork on sale for a buck a pound. Of course milk and eggs, when computed out on a per pound basis, are also my allies in the DMZ (Dollar Maximum Zone).

I had a chance to prove myself when I was on my book-tour-by-bicycle the other week in Cincinnati and went grocery shopping with Polly Campbell, food editor for the Cincinnati Enquirer. You can read Polly's account of our shopping trip at:

posted by Jeff Yeager at 8:00 AM


Blogger Chris said...

It's interesting that you don't ever give a shout out to Aldi. No more sales and circulars, just everything at a very low cost.

July 20, 2008 7:56 PM  
Blogger Jeff Yeager said...

Chris -
Sorry, no Aldi's in my part of the country (Washington, DC), although I know my parents shop there back in Ohio, and if MY MOM shops there, it's gotta' be a good value.
Thanks for posting.
Stay Cheap!
-=Jeff Yeager

July 27, 2008 2:01 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Jeff -

Just some "food" for thought:

When I took up cheap as a way of life nearly a decade ago, one the first things I did was to reduce the amount of meat in our diet. With time we ended up with next to nothing for a food budget that included very little meat in it.

2 years later, I was fat, sick, tired, and very nearly insane.

I went on the much derided Atkins diet in an act of desperation and found that my health almost instantly improved. I'm now 3 years out from that choice and am a normal weight, have a tremendous amount of energy and am hardly ever sick. The "sane" part is still up for debate. :)

I'm not advacting the world eat what I eat, but I think it's really important to realize that grain products (even whole grains) are *not* healthy for all body types.

In fact, most grain products cause allergic type reactions in me. The only "safe" foods for me personally are vegetables and meats, including supposedly "bad for you" red meat from which I derive most of my iron. (Anemia is not fun....)

My personal experience and research has led me to conclude that USDA food pyramid does not represent balanced nutrition. Rather, I feel it represents the successfully lobbing of agribusiness wanting to sell high margin, easily stored and transported food products with a "good housekeeping", er government seal of approval.

At this point in our lives, one of the few things we do spend money is for high quality food. This one area of life has given me back hundreds of times what I spent.

September 10, 2008 3:52 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Amy --Here, Here!

I had an almost veggie diet due to money issues. I was sick and tired all the time. Then I met my very carniverous fiance and started eating steak four times a month. It made a huge difference in my health and energy.

I still don't have the money to afford steak that many times a month...but luckily I'm marrying someone who does. LOL However, I think animal proteins in general would do the same trick --- and eggs are pretty inexpensive.

March 8, 2009 2:11 PM  
Blogger mother bird said...

Yes! Finally! Someone else giving a shout out to Aldi. Come on, people. Recently they had a dozen eggs for .54 cents! I get so tired of hearing my friends go on and on about how they love Giant and Wegmans and all those "trendy" food stores. I think they get so dazzled by the glitz in those places, it clouds their eyesite so they can't really see what they are paying.

March 23, 2009 6:40 AM  
Blogger Quitting Sugar: a food blog. said...

What is the true cost of those cheap meats an eggs -- on the environment and your health? How can a hormone-free, cage-free turkey cost a dollar/pound? I think North Americans have come to expect cheap meat 3 times a day, which is not only realistic, but completely unhealthy. Besides, what is more important than good health? Why are we not willing to pay more for something grown sustainably and that is ultimately better for us in the long run?

December 27, 2009 8:32 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Coffey said...

Hi, I love your other posts, and I'm a lover of frugality too, but I have to part company with buying cheap food if it means unhealthy food. Conventional meat and dairy is so unhealthy, loaded with hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals, etc. Conventional fruits, vegetables and grains are also loaded with pesticides and chemicals. I do spend wisely, beans, organic fruits and vegetables on sale, grains, etc. in bulk, no meat, I'm a happy vegetarian, but organic dairy. I eat strictly organic, yet spend less on food then most buying conventional, so I'm frugal too, but there is a limit. I always say, pay the grocer now or the doctor later. Being healthy is frugal.

April 17, 2010 11:20 PM  
Blogger kayjoshhope said...

Sorry, Jeff I am a coupon fan. Some dollar store's will even take coupons. So, why pay a dollar when you can spend $.25 or even get it free? I can not tell you the last time I paid for toothpaste over $.17.

April 26, 2010 7:24 AM  

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