I've been asked several times recently about how my family of five can live on just my husband's full-time ministry salary. So I thought I'd post a few things we do to save money in hopes that you, my fellow shop-savvy friends, will comment with some of your best money-saving tips!! Obviously the best way to save money on things is to never spend it in the first place, so a lot of what we have done is just completely eliminate unnecessary spending. I am going to limit this post to saving on groceries and will address baby items, entertainment, etc... in later posts. And while I appreciate a frugal homemaker, as of yet, I do not make my own laundry detergent, farm my own food (though the fresh kind is the best kind!!), or sew my own clothes (well, I have made the girls a few skirts...). So I think everything we do as a family is pretty practical - at least by our standards. Also, let me say, that none of my "tips" are anything new and special, but hopefully some of them can be an inspiration to try to save even more money. And so, well, here goes:
Saving Money on Groceries:
1. I do not generally buy processed foods. On occasion, I will take advantage of a great sale stacked with coupons, but we prefer homemade for taste and nutritional value as well as a way to save money.
2. Our meat consumption consists of chicken and turkey. I have started substituting ground turkey for ground beef as well. I only splurge on ground beef for grilling hamburgers because who wants to eat a turkey burger??!! I do buy beef roast when it is on sale because it is a fast meal for Sunday afternoons. However, chicken and turkey are healthier options anyway.
3. I do use coupons when I can, but at this season in my life, it usually requires more time than I have. I follow a few coupon blogs and generally only take advantage of the sales and deals that are posted as I don't take the time to figure them out for myself. I could definitely do better in this area, though, I have stocked up on LOTS of freebies by playing the drugstore game! :) And it really is fun! And I sign up for a TON of samples...I use a separate email address so that my primary account doesn't get an overload of spam. As a stay-at-home-mom, I especially enjoy getting those treats in the mail! :)
4. I shop sales, stock up, and FREEZE food if necessary. I do this mostly with meat, fruits, and vegetables, as well as staple non-perishable items. Most of my grocery shopping is stocking up on whatever is on sale...I then use what I have available at home from previous weeks to plan my menu. I usually only have to buy a few items to complete my meal plan. Guess I could add here that one night we eat breakfast for supper which is super cheap, and one night a week we eat leftovers. Another night I scavenge my pantry and fridge and get creative!! That's usually the night before grocery shopping! So that's three meals I don't have to plan!
5. Honestly, we just eat very simply. I do not fix elaborate recipes that call for expensive ingredients. I use recipes as a guide and for ideas, but rarely fix it exactly as stated. One day, I might. But for now, to save money, we have simplified our tastes. I have changed my thinking when it comes to grocery shopping...I am not purchasing food items to fill our bellies, but rather I am purchasing NUTRITIONAL VALUE. I do not just want to stuff my family full of junk, but rather the nutrition they need to make it through the day feeling good and healthy. Which leads to my final tip...
6. My #1 money saver - I do not buy snacks. On a very rare occasion, I will take advantage of an ice cream sale, but I do not spend my grocery money on cookies and chips etc... Sure, there are times when we wish we had junk food in the house to munch on, but those are also the times we are glad we don't!! We do snack on tortilla chips and salsa because that is something I will NEVER give up!! :) Titus snacks on fruit, peanut butter and crackers, and popcorn. And he eats old-fashioned oatmeal (with a little cinnamon thrown in) for breakfast nearly every morning - by his choice!! ")
So this is what works for us right now at this time in our lives. I'm sure there are those who have more to spend and those who have less. Regardless of one's budget, though, we ALL like to save money!! :0 So now I want to hear some of the ways you save on groceries!! Or maybe even a great "steal" you recently took advantage of!! I'm excited to try some of your great ideas!!
(Please comment on this blog post rather than facebook, so we can keep all the great ideas in the same place.)