Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Frugal Grocery Budget Tips

 

 
How do you save money on the grocery budget and still eat as healthy as possible, especially in this day of rising grocery costs.  One thing I learned from having 8 children and living on one income is that you can’t always eat “perfectly healthy”.  It is often not a matter of seeing where else the budget can flex, but that there simply is not the funds available for a perfect, healthy, organic, etc. diet.    My conclusion was always this:  do the best I can with what God has given me. 

Here are a few of my own ideas I’ve used over the years to help with grocery costs.  If you have any other ones, please share in the comment section!!  It may be a great help to other readers who are trying to keep their grocery budget under control! 

1.  Add more beans to your diet.  Beans don’t have to be the main attraction, especially if your family is not that found of them.  2 ½ cups of cooked beans is about the same as 1# hamburger.   You can mash the beans up and add them to meatloaf, spaghetti, casseroles, etc…  They can be added to soups, or they can be the main attraction.  The trick is learning how to cook a delicious pot of beans and knowing what to do with those beans

2.   Make food from scratch and avoid as many convenience foods as possible.  Cook with more basic foods.  From a fairly small list of basic foods in the pantry, freezer and fridge you can come up with an amazing amount of meal variety.

3. Purchase little to no junk food.  Snacks can be healthier homemade options such as popcorn, cookies, muffins, granola bars, trail mix, etc

4. Drink water.  Incredible amounts of money are spent in this country on soda pop and various flavored waters.  The sugar and artificial sweeteners used in these are bad enough but the money spent on them is bad too.   Water is good for you, necessary for life, keeps your body hydrated and functioning properly.  On occasion I’ve made my family fun drinks for special times.  I like to use carbonated soda water in place of water when making apple, orange or grape juice.  Another favorite is Apple Peach Tea made from concentrated apple juice and peach tea bags.   As I said these types of drinks are reserved for special occasions.

5. Serve more oatmeal for breakfast and skip the boxed cereal.  When you add up the price per pound you are paying for boxed cereal you could be eating steak instead!  ;)  Oatmeal can be made into other things besides hot cereal: baked oatmeal, oatmeal pancakes, granola, and more

6.  Use less cheese in a meal.  Cheese is expensive.  I try and use less of it when cooking.  If a recipe says to add 2 cups I add 1 cup, if it says to top with cheese I either lightly sprinkle the cheese on top or skip it altogether.

7.  Make your own soup stock.  You can make beef or chicken or even veggie stock.  I like veggie stock because is a great way to utilize vegetable scraps and limp looking veggies in your fridge that might otherwise get tossed.

8.  Be as diligent as possible to avoid food waste.  It’s not just about starving children in the world; it’s about your food dollars.   When we throw away food it is like taking our hard earned money and tossing it right in the garbage and no one would do that.  I know it can be difficult.  I’m way to familiar with those unknown science projects growing and hiding in the back of fridge.  Here is what I’ve learned; you have to be super diligent to be as mindful as possible about the status of food in your fridge.  If you make to much of something, learn to make less next time.  Freeze extra portions if needed and also calculate amounts of food to feed your family.  An example is this:  I use to always have excess pasta left when cooking because I would just guess how much we needed.  Often it would go to waste.  Then I started weighing my pasta and figured out how much I needed to feed my family a meal.  If there was any leftover it was something that could be easily consumed the next day.  The last part would be to be a good steward of what is in your fridge and learn to adjust your meal plans when you see something needs to be eaten up before it goes bad.  Learn to be creative in your cooking.  Google is your best friend when searching for recipes.  Sometimes if I’m stuck for ideas I put the ingredient into a search and see what kinds of recipes pop up. 

9. I don’t use coupons.  I rarely see coupons for basic staple type foods.  They are most always for prepackaged processed foods.  I’ve never seen coupons for wheat, brown rice, oats, fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, etc..  Know the grocery stores in your areas and shop where the best prices can be found on basic items.

10.  Pack your lunches.  Whether it’s for work, school, or a day away from home with the kids, avoid fast food.  Making your own lunches is not only healthier but much less expensive.  I’ve been sending my hubby off to work with homemade home packed lunches for the last 30 years and it has saved us an incredible amount of money and he has eaten healthier as well.

11.  Plan a menu (checking weekly store flyers help to make menus based on what is on sale).  Menu planning is the best way to keep from overspending.  You plan your meals (for a week, 2 weeks a month, whatever you choose), create a grocery list from the plan and stick with the list when shopping. 

12.  Make a master list of foods you buy regularly.  Every shopping trip you can print the list and circle what you need.  Then add any extras needed. 

13.  If you know how to can up food, do it!  I can meat, soups, stews, chili, etc for quick, healthy and easy meals.  It’s a great way to take advantage of food when it is on sale or in season.  Much better for you than buying the processed store bought versions!

It takes a lot of work and time to organize, plan, cook and stay on top of the grocery budget.  But the end results are worth the effort.  You can save money and your family will eat healthier as well! 


18 comments:

  1. Great list! I have found another thing that works for us. I am far more apt to cook things like pancakes, etc. If I make up my own mixes and keep on hand. I am still using staples, but not having to drag everything out each time is so nice. We have done this for cookies, cakes, cornbread, etc all with good results.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have had 2 coupons for eggs in the last 3-4 years - from the American Egg Council or some such, not even for a specific brand. You just have to keep your eyes open. I don't use many coupons, but I do look every week, just in case.

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are all great tips! I'm working hard to become a stay-at-home mom and hope to accomplish this by May. We need my income to finish paying off our mortgage and it looks like this will happen in May. I've been gleaning ideas on how to stretch my grocery dollars and other tips. Thank you!
    Kris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome!! And wishing you the best on your future stay-at-home mama journey!! It's a blessing!

      Delete
  4. Eggs, milk, bread, cream, yogurt etc. coupons pop up once a week in my area. We also get coupons for fresh fruit and meat in our area. If you pay attention, you can get great deals. I make my own bread and other foods, but I love to use my coups when I can. We never pay for everyday household items. moneysavingmom.com is a good place to start if you are new to coupons - they'll save you time and $$. I like your bean tips a lot! Very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I disagree about the coupons. They are out there for healthy items. One example is Driscolls berries. They have a rewards program where you enter codes off the packages and they send you coupons. I rarely buy berries (and they do have organic) without a coupon. Many stores offer their own coupons for meat, produce, dairy.

    Laura C

    ReplyDelete
  6. I too have eight children, but mine are younger than yours - they range from 9 months to 15. :) Anyway, I was happy to see that I pretty much do everything you suggest. In regards to cheese, we try to buy "old" strength. Its stronger flavour means we can use less. I need to do more with beans. I do enjoy making a big pot of it and if we don't eat it up after three days (in various dishes) I freeze what's left in small portions. Then I have it to add to foods later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the idea of the stronger cheeses!! :) Thank you for the tip! Crystal

      Delete
  7. I've been reading your blog for years and years. This is just the kind of good advice I expect from you.

    Blessings to you all!
    Laura
    Harvest Lane Cottage

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very good advice from you and the commenters! I, too, have a hard time finding coupons for healthier foods. Maybe I am looking in the wrong areas. I will have to improve on this.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I know couponing can be a divided issue. For me, as I mentioned in the article, I have not been able to find coupons on basic food items such as meat, veggies, fresh fruit, etc. I think it is wonderful if someone is able to find them and put them to use! I’ve also heard from other coupon-ers that the Pacific Northwest lacks some of the amazing coupon deals of other areas. Also with having had such a large family I tend to think a little differently… If I did find a coupon for eggs, it would most like be for one or two dozen, and my family consumed 5+ dozen a week. So the effort to find and use a coupon that saved me maybe a $1 was not as valuable to my budget as consistently finding a source of eggs that were the least expensive. I saved/save way more money in a year by buying them in bulk/quantity at the best possible price.. same is true for purchasing my grains and other staple items and meats, etc.. in bulk. But if someone’s diet/food choices are coupon friendly items then I know there are plenty of deals for this and I can see why someone would coupon. Crystal :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agree healthy coupons are few and far between in the pacific northwest. Not worth my time for the few to be found. I think if I lived in the city I would look into couponing, especially for H&B items. Living rural it just isn't worth it with the price of gas, bridge toll and then the smaller stores around here not carrying or being out of items.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for all your useful tips. I live in a flat in a UK city (no garden) and cook for 6 people. I've been following your blog for several years. Frugal ideas I would add are:
    - homemade yogurt, it works fine with ordinary full-fat cows' milk, which I simmer for 1/2 hour to reduce, eventually producing thick Greek-style yogurt that separates from the whey when chilled. I use the whey in soda bread, pancakes, scones etc. instead of buttermilk.
    - use loose leaf tea instead of teabags
    - make fruit cordials ("diluting juice" or "squash") from soft fruit such as blackcurrants (from friends' and relatives' garden gluts) and blackberries (picked wild). The leftover fruit can be sieved to make sorbet (water ice).
    Thanks again and keep up the good work,
    Helen

    ReplyDelete
  12. am trying to find out about how much is 20# of tomatoes for the spaghetti sauce? Have no idea, and have just finished scalding and peeling all the remaining roma tomatoes I have...hoping to make spaghetti sauce and canning it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use a scale to weigh them.. :) that is really the only accurate way to get the correct amount.

      Delete

All messages are moderated. After approval your message will be posted. Thank you for your comments!! Crystal :)