I just thought I would quickly share some of the ways that we save money on food. For me eating healthfully is very important but that doesn't mean that we have to spend and arm and a leg at the grocery store. I am truly still learning about how to get the most for my money but here are some of the things that I have learned so far.
- Stock up when it is on sale. This helps a ton. This is something that I especially do with things like canned goods, tuna, pasta and peanut butter. Actually anything that will keep very long. I try to figure out how soon it might go on this super cheap sale again and then buy enough to last me until that time. For instance I never spend more than a dollar on a jar of peanut butter because we stock up when it is on sale.
- Buy in bulk. I like to use a lot of whole grains and then I grind my own flour. We buy our wheat about once a year at a grain mill for around $7 for 50 #.(My parents and I have gone to get it together and filled the van with around 400 pounds of wheat.) I also buy oatmeal by the 50# bag. Anything that will get used up before going bad and if it is cheaper in bulk than I buy it that way.
- Make food from scratch. I have bought about 2 cake mixes (and no cookie mixes) in my life. I have never bought a pancake mix either. Mixes are generally not that healthy for you and they really don't save a lot of time and they are definetely more expensive. This also applys to soups. It is very rare for us to buy a canned soup. Homemade is way cheaper and better for you.
- Don't waste. Thankfully at our house everybody likes leftovers pretty well. Ken wants them for his lunch at work and the kids and I also eat them for most lunches. When we end up with an odd leftover such as gravy with no potatoes, spaghetti sauce with no noodles or some such thing than I just make it into something else. Other things we do to avoid waste is to freeze leftovers that we have a lot of. These are nice at a later date either for a quick meal for all of us (if there was a lot) or to through in Ken's lunch if we are out of other leftovers. Though we try very hard not to waste and usually don't there are still occasional times when some food goes bad. Another thing about not wasting: We try to be very careful that our kids don't waste either. Something that bothers both Ken and I is when a parent will fill a childs plate about the same as if it were for themselves and then the child takes a couple of bites and leaves the rest. We try to give our kids small portions which they are required to eat whether they like it or not. If they can't eat it at that sitting (or don't want to) we put it in a container and in the fridge and it gets saved until they are hungry. With this method we are not completely perfect either. There are times that we give our child to much, or somebody else does or whatever and occasionaly when we are out and about that waste does happen but this is pretty rare.
- Grow our own. I really enjoy gardening and it really helps to keep our food bill down. If I counted all my labor it might not be worth it but that is part of the joys of being a stay at home mom. Gardening is great outdoor exercise and I find it very fun!! Also my vegies that I grow are organic so even better for us. Not only do we eat from the garden a lot in the summer but I also can and freeze the extra so we are still eating a lot of stuff from our garden.
- Glean. We get lots of potatoes every fall free by gleaning. Also in the summer we pick a lot of wild berries which we then freeze for the winter. We also enjoy harvesting some wild mushrooms and I am working to learn about more wild foods so that we can enjoy them as well. My dad knows a lot about all of that so I have enjoyed learning from him. A book that is really neat about wild food gathering is "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" by Euell Gibbons.
- Barter. This isn't something I really do officially but it kind of just happens. I watch some friends kids every week, they usually share chicken with us when they butcher. My parents also share eggs and many other things with us.
- Coupons. This is something that I am still learning about. Today I got some snacks for free after coupons. I have actually saved a lot with coupons over the last few months. This can be very time consuming but it is a fun hobby and I think I will get faster as time goes on.
Anyway those are some of the techniques I used. I am ever learning and would love to hear how you eat economically.
For more frugal ideas visit Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.