How Can You Eat Cheaply in California?

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There’s this attitude out there that one must be rich to live in California or that one certainly can’t save money and reside in the Golden State. However, being born and raised here and then having lived in the MidWest for five years, I can attest to the fact that frugality and California really are compatible. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that though property is more expensive in some parts of the state, I really don’t see much of a difference between Kansas City and San Diego.

Except, of course, the beach, mountains, and exceptional weather.

In fact, having travelled and shopped throughout the state over the last year, I’m convinced you can make it here, even on a limited budget. Many things cost less here.

Today I have the privilege of guest posting over at $5 Dinners where I dispell some of the myths and encourage you that $5 dinners are most definitely possible in the Golden State.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Deb says

    Okay, your post at $5 dinner mom couldn’t have come at a better time! I currently live in Dayton, OH close to where Erin lives. We just found out we are moving to Southern CA and everyone keeps telling us how expensive everything is going to be! I am subscribing to your blog b/c I am going to need your advice!!! Thanks!

  2. I can relate. I grew up in the midwest, moved to Ca for 7 1/2 years and now my husband and I are back in the midwest. Housing is definitely more, but produce is a lot less in!! It about broke my heart to pay $.59lb for bananas here… I’m used to paying $.18-.30lb! And, grapes and strawberries are incredible too! In Ca, I can get a big flat of strawberries for $4, and grapes as low as $.67lb. Here, they are well over $3.00 and they aren’t even from the US. So, I guess I’ve traded cheaper housing for higher priced groceries!
    Love your picture of the beach too! I miss the cool ocean breeze!

  3. Sarah says

    Awww, love La Jolla Cove!!! We were just there a couple weekends ago. We live in Phoenix and having moved from the midwest, we also were terrified of higher-cost living. We ended up buying a house in at the end of ’08 when the housing market was down about 33% so we got a great house for about the same price as we would have in the midwest!!! I thought gas was more but right now it’s about the same. Groceries are so much less, the weather is gorgeous, lots of outdoor activities, and there are so many wonderful long weekend roadtrip opportunities: Sedona, Grand Canyon, San Diego (our favorite), Vegas, and L.A.!

  4. katie says

    i just read your guest post at $5 dinners and i totally agree! I’ve lived in CA my whole life and I feel like i can get amazing deals when i try 🙂 farmer’s markets are actually great places to get deals (go near the end, when they’re packing up, they don’t want to take it all home again!) and stores like fresh and easy have a last chance section where they sell the items that are expiring that day or the next for over 50% off. thanks for the ideas and i’m glad i found your blog!

  5. Brandette says

    We were born and raised in Southern CA. We moved to Indiana 4 years ago now. We never looked back and are so happy with our decision. Although most people don’t understand the appeal to leave CA, it is definitely higher in costs to live there….at least in Southern CA. Housing is much much more and the ratio of cost of living to what the normal person earns is small. I do agree with the other posters views on produce though. We have a very hard time finding exceptional produce like we could in CA. We definitely miss all the wonderful fresh fruits and veggies all year round. But, we wouldn’t give up our fully paid for house and all the snow for good produce. Indiana works for us.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      So glad you’ve found a situation you like!

  6. Laura says

    I live in San Diego too and you couldn’t be more right. I find deals on groceries here all the time. Produce is inexpensive if you know where to shop. Plus you can garden pretty much year round. There’s nothing better than growing your own tomatoes.

  7. centsability says

    I am so very happy to see someone from my beloved state espousing the thrifty lifestyle! I think we learn how to stretch our dollars so we can enjoy some of the good life that’s out there for us. 🙂 I remember a cousin from Florida asking me why on Earth we stay here. As I rattled off my list of (many) reasons I found myself asking, where on Earth else would I live?? There are pros and cons here just like anywhere else.

  8. kelly says

    ok i need some help!!!i am the mom to 7 great kids and i currently live in MO(having moved here from my homestate of NY last year.)it is my HUGE desire to move to San Diego.(everyone telling me DONT GOOOO TOOO EXpensive!!!!)can i be a imposition and anyone give me the name of a local newspaper or something online i can look at(to show doubting hubby)of prices of houses(rent or buy) we are making a decision this year of where to go so maybe this could help.thank you!!!

    • dawn says

      I would try craigslist san diego , for (for apt complexes) and the san diego tribune for classifieds
      or the mls listings or zwillow.

      I also found when we were going to relocate here (san diego area ) that these 2 sites helped get me up to speed on areas to live etc.
      and yelp san diego along with great
      good luck

  9. I live in Pasadena CA and produce is CHEAP here. I get a HUGE box of Organic Produce freshly picked for 33 bucks a week. It is overflowing and it pretty much the bulk of what feeds our family (of 6 …although one isn’t eating yet) for the week. I spend about another 40-60 a week on milk, meat and pantry staples.

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