Friday, April 9, 2010

Saving money on food

  When my brother and sister (and their families) were home and we were all together we got to talking about how much we/people in general spend on food and so I have been thinking on that subject lately.  When I think on it very much it always makes me realize how very, very blessed we are! Our family budgets $350 a month for food (that is for 2 adults, 4 kids and it only covers food- not toilet paper and soap, etc.) I know that some people spend even less and some a lot more but that is where we are at. I will every so often try to figure out new ways to reduce my spending in that area and I have learned things but also prices have a tendency to rise at the same time! :-)

 I have probably shared most of this before in some way but as I was thinking about it I thought it would be fun to share it again. Maybe these ideas will help somebody during this financially hard times. I would also love to hear any additional tips you might have!

 As I fix food for my family frugality isn't my only concern. I also want healthy food for my family and I don't like to buy things that have a lot of packaging, so those are considered as well. Because of this I might not always chose the cheapest route but rather go with something that costs a little more but is better for my family. For the most part however frugality, health and "green" go hand in hand.

Anyway here are the ways that I save money on our food:

I cook from scratch. A lot. I don't buy much at all that is premade. Here is a list of some of the things that I make from scratch:

Dairy Dept.
Baked Goods:
Other odds and ends:

  • All of our soups including cream soups are made from scratch.
  • Gravy never starts from a mix at our house.
  • Meals are from scratch- freezer meals and boxed meals (except for the occasional mac and cheese) are never bought.
  • All of our jam I make myself.
I know there are a lot of other things that we make from scratch but I think you get the idea!

Here are some of the other ways we have been able to cut costs in the area of food at our house:

  • Garden. We have also been blessed because my parents and others have often shared their garden bounty as well.
  • Glean. Every year we get our years supply (and extra to give away) of potatoes from commercially grown fields. They let us come and pick up what is leftover after they are done harvesting.
  • Harvest wild foods. We will collect and eat mushrooms, blueberries, juneberries and greens as well as some other things every so often.
  • My parents have a hobby farm and so they  freely supply us with most of our eggs as well as raw goats milk for over half of the year (The other part of the year I buy milk from a dairy farm). I have also helped them with butchering and they share their meat. It is also at their place that we help with Maple syruping and get a large supply of that. This is a huge blessing for us!
  • Use what we have a large supply of. As I mentioned we pick up potatoes, also my parents usually grow bumber crops of pumpkins and squash, Berries are another thing that we can get a lot of fairly easily, some times of year we have lots of milk and eggs. Whatever it is that we have a lot of I try to make sure to use it a lot. This helps tremendously in keeping our food budget low.
  • Stock up with loss leaders at the grocery store. This also helps a lot. When pasta, tuna, cheese, onions, meat, etc. goes on a really low sale, I buy a lot. I try to buy enough to last me until the next sale.
  • Preserve the abundance. When the garden has a bountiful harvest or we are able to get a lot of fruit then we can and freeze a bunch so that we can have it all year. This takes time but I find it very rewarding.
  • Don't waste. We try really hard not to throw away food. We give our children small amounts at first and expect them to clean their plates. We also eat leftovers, I pack them in Ken's lunch and the kids and I usually eat them for lunch as well. This also applies in another area- we are involved with a few organizations (church for one) that have a events with food. Often when those are over and we are there helping to clean up there will be food leftover. I have found that most people (okay that doesn't apply to the church events as much) would rather throw that food away than to take it home and use it. I am not sure why. When it is offered to us, (I do not ask for it!) I willingly except it and then we use it.
  • Buy in bulk. We bought 1/2 a beef  (the savings on this was questionable but I think we got far better meat) this past year and we also  buy our grains in bulk. We have found a grain mill where we can get wheat, corn and such for very reasonable prices. It is a bit of a drive so several us usually all get some (I think I got about 250 lbs of wheat last time) and one person will drive and get it.
  • Buy fresh fruit and veggies that are in season. Look at what is on sale, don't just always buy grapes or strawberries because that is what you like.
  • Chose recipes (or rewrite them) that have economical ingredients. Sometimes when I look at recipes I am just amazed at how much things would cost if I made it the way they recommended. Recipes are made to be change. At least that is my opinion! :-)
  • Use coupons. At this point this is not a huge one with me but I don't ignore it either. Sometimes coupons help a lot in getting better deals. The reason I don't use them more is mainly because a lot of the items aren't healthy or they are heavily packaged.
  • Double your batches when cooking and freeze ahead. I have found this very helpful because then when I am worn out I have something easy to fall back on rather than asking Ken to pick up pizza on his way home! :-)
There are tons of more ways to save money on food. I would love to hear your favorites!

For lots more frugal ideas visit Life as MOM 

This is also linked to Finer things Friday because good wholesome food that doesn't break the budget is truly a finer thing.



Betsy said...

Abbi, how much did you pay per pound for your 1/2 cow? We bought 1/4 and paid $1.99/pound (which included processing), and it is excellent-tasting meat!!

Janet said...

Excellent tips. Some of this I already do but am attempting to work more of these into our routine. I'm going to give canning a try this summer,esp. tomatoes/salsa and jams/jellies. And I want to start baking more breads. I've tried crackers once and it was a disaster. I'm going to give your recipes a try though. My dad always has a huge garden and I'm going to make more of an effort to enjoyh that resource this year.

Candi said...

We've been trying to do more scratch cooking, it really does save a lot of money. I've also joined in on the once-a-month-cooking and it saves me a ton of time during the month.

Shelley said...

I have certainly jumped on board with making things from scratch, that has helped out. I know this isn't food, but I make my own laundry soap and baby wipes, that has helped alot!! I really want to start making bread, my mother in law is giving me a bread maker, so we will see. Thank you for all the awesome tips. :) Shelley

Jackie said...

Abbi, thanks so much for posting such a great list of ideas. If we didn't garden, preserve our harvest, and cook from scratch for most of what we eat I would hate to know what our food bill would be. Plus, I feel better about what my family is eating when I can pronounce the ingredients. :-)

No Ordinary Me said...

Thanks for sharing your tips. If you ever have a chance could you share how you make your cream soups? We use a lot of it. I would like to know how to make them from scratch.


Family, Money and Stuff said...

You're right - it IS helpful to post about it again :) Thanks!

I too try to cut our food budget here and there, streamlining as much as possible. Several of your tips I've never even thought of. Very helpful. Thanks!

Pop by some time. :)

Luigi | Club Flyer Printing said...

I really think that it's more frugal for food to be made from scratch because pre-mades are more expensive and you can't do anything about the left overs.

Nola said...

Great tips! We already do most of them or similar things. I do wish though that our garden would produce better. I've been gardening for 3 years now and the older folks keep telling me its been the worst 3 years. Just so cold and wet, and already in a cooler zone to start with. The cost of seeds vs. what we got...well that didn't turn out as well as I hoped. However we also gained a lot through learning about food so that is also worth a lot although not in money.

I'm curious do you use normal white sugar in making jams? I am trying to find someone who uses more unprocessed sugars in canning jams so I can switch over...but can't find anyone who does yet.

Larissa said...

@Nola I have made apricot jam with maple syrup many times, and it is wonderful. The only drawback is that you don't get as much jam. I also don't use pectin. So I just boil down the fruit puree and add about a cup of real maple syrup and then can. :)

This is my first time posting a comment here, but I have read off and on for a little while. :) I really wanted to thank you for your work in putting this post together. My husband recently lost his job, and I have been praying about ways in which I can help our family without going out to work. The Lord has definitely impressed upon me that I need to cut back in our grocery bills. We are a family of four and I spend at least $400 a month! Yikes, I know. I really have gotten lazy about cooking from scratch and searching for recipes to replace store bought items. So you are an answer to prayer! Many of these recipes were exactly what I was looking for! You will come to mind every time I use one of these. :) Take care!

Jennifer said...

All of these tips are spot on. I love your post. I already do most of them, but we could do better with cooking from scratch and foraging for wild foods.

Abbi said...

Thanks to all who left me a "note". I love getting to read all of your thoughs! I will try to answer the questions:

Betsy, I don't remember exactly how much the beef cost per lb. It was a little hard to figure as I only knew the hanging weight exactly and that is counting all the bones, which is not the same as what we got wrapped up. It was between $2 and $3 per lb. It was hormone free, grass fed, practically organic meat for whatever that is worth! :-)

Janet, I hope you like the crackers. We like them a lot but don't expect them to be like soda crackers because they aren't! :-)

Candi, Do you do lots and lots of cooking on one day a month? I think that would be interesting to try. My method is just to make doubles(or triples) as often as I can and freeze those.

Shelley, I have fun making homemade laundry soap (and shampoo) too. I does help save quite a lot of money as well! I never did the homemade wipes but when I used cloth diapers (which was most of the time when we were home) I just used a wet rag (which got washed with the diapers) as a wipe.

Jackie, It is certianly nice to know exactly what my family is eating!

Chrissy (N.O.M.), Cream soups are quite easy. I just saute a little onion, celery or mushroom in about a tablespooon of butter, add a tablespoon of flour and brown it a bit and then add about 1 1/2 cups of milk and some salt and pepper and whisk it smooth and cook until it thickens. That makes around one cans worth of soup to use in various recipes. I'll try to post it in more detail later.

Nola, I haven't ever made jams completely without white sugar yet. I do use the pectin where you can use not a lot of sugar so there is at least more fruit that sugar! I am also interested in using other sweeteners in Jam so thanks Larissa for sharing your expertise!!

I am so glad that you all found this helpful or encouraging! It is so nice to be able to encourage each other as we try to make the best use of what God has blessed us with!

Sachiko said...

Hi Abbi! Thank you so much for sharing these tips with us. You are an amazing house wife and a mother!


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