It seems like no matter how much I write on this subject, people always ask for more, so I hope this gives many of my regular readers an awesome recap, and helps my new readers learn more about a subject near and dear to my heart.
Yes it is true. I feed a family of six (which includes three adults, one teen girl, and two five year olds that eat more than the teen and one of the adults combined) on around $400 a month. It takes time, intentional determination, always being open to new ideas and recipes, and some serious attention to basics.
No I do not coupon clip, because rarely do I find coupons that deal with the simple basics instead of the overly processed yuck that exists out there in grocery land.
Yes, I trade time for money, but I also believe anyone can do the same as I still manage to work from home 30 hours a week, homeschool three kids, and manage a household with an ailing parent, etc. Recruiting your family to help, as always, is a huge asset and help. After all, many hands make light work, and everyone loves to eat. 😀 I also see it as equipping my children to do things later on in their lives that they would not otherwise have knowledge to do….something sorely lacking in our culture today.
Convenience is something you pay for, and when it begins to lack nutrition, then it is time to decide what is more important. Does this mean we don’t occasionally splurge for premade foods or eat out? We didn’t use to be able to afford to do that. Things have changed financially in our home, but that simply gives us more to share with others, or to put into places it is needed. My basic approach to life and how I care for my family has remained the same and consistent throughout the time.
Many of these simple practices have been instrumental as we have walked through job loss, illness, relocation, and family size change (adding my mom permanently to the family). I would encourage you, if you are not using these simple practices, start using one at a time until you do, because it will eventually impact your family in huge ways for the better.
1. Make a Meal Plan, and stick to it.
You all know my husband works in the retail grocery business right? At this point there are many things I could do myself in running a grocery store 😉 but I have also learned many things inside and out that are rather dismaying. For example…did you know the end caps on every aisle are redesigned to make you spend money you did not plan on? Impulse spending for the average person is about 30% for every single shopping trip. Lets say you shop every two week with a $300 purchase. That means if you do not either have self control or are easily swayed by pretty displays and boxes, you probably spent an additional $50-100 on items you did not intend to pick up, but which seemed like a good idea at the time. Often they are highly processed, snack type foods, or something that seems like a good deal, but which has a slightly inflated price (but a brightly colored sticker ad sheet).
Meal planning forces you to not only make a list and stick to it, it is also a great way to be able to plan ahead and keep three or four rotations of the meal in your cupboards since you know your family likes the meal and will eat it. This is one way to build up food storage your family will like. (and pssssssst….you can search for great meal plans and recipes under the search tab on top right—loads of great stuff!)
2. Recognize that sometimes Simple Theme Planning for weeknight meals can help make planning easier.
I have blogged on this before, but in our home we realized that deciding each weeknight was a certain theme or type of meal made shopping SO much easier. We have been doing this for two+ years and I have YET to have someone complain that every Tuesday night is either tacos or enchiladas. Instead, my kids tell their friends “ITS TACO NIGHT!” with enthusiasm and delight….and then we have extra mouths to feed at dinner (and another kid who goes home and tells his mom he wants tacos every Tuesday, lol).
Mondays are Meatless Mondays. Tuesdays I already shared. Wednesdays are quick meals nights, like sub sandwiches or soup and salad due to church night. Thursdays are always our casserole (winter) or pasta salad (summer) meal night. Friday is kids’ choice (they like have a night that they can rotate and pick out their own favorite). Saturday is Pizza night, which we make from scratch. And Sunday is leftovers or waffle night. 😀 Now your family’s schedule may look different, but let me tell you, only having to choose between tacos or enchiladas, or what kind of pizza you are making that night makes life a whole lot simpler.
3. Roll your leftovers into other meals.
Yep, for whatever reason this whole idea either grosses people out or simply is something they never think about. Really not that crazy of a concept, but definitely something we don’t do as a culture. I happen to personally know people who refuse to eat anything leftover, and statistics show the amount of food wasted in our food-rich culture is astounding….millions of dollars lost every year.
Well folks, its not that hard to roll leftovers into anotherÂ meal. Period. Let me give you some examples. Do you have leftover scrambled eggs from breakfast or oatmeal? Throw in some chunks of cheese and breakfast meat like sausage or bacon bits, and make them into muffins. VOILA…you have breakfast muffins for another day. What about if you had brats for dinner, or extra taco meat? Cut the brats up rather than having one or two leftover hiding in the back of the fridge and mix them into a sauce over pasta. Extra Taco meat can be combined with rice and black beans and be recycled into a filling for homemade enchiladas, or scrambled with eggs and folded into tortillas for a breakfast roll up. I am going to be doing another simple series with tons of ideas starting next week on this issue, because I think the average person just needs some direction to get started, and then can run with it. Besides you never know when things may get so tight that you HAVE to figure out how to Make Do without Missing a THING like my old series taught.
I will finish with part two tomorrow, where we touch on the next two ideas on how to Shave Money from your Grocery Budget with Five Easy steps. Please comment if you have any questions. 😀
Blessing to you and yours,