Thursday, March 5, 2009

tightening our belts without feeling the pinch

When I decided last summer to try to reduce our grocery budget, I wasn't sure how to do it without turning the whole family against me. They were used to a having foods around that they liked, but didn't need to have "name brand" items. Since July, our food budget per week is about 1/2 of what it used to be. So, let me share with you what worked:
1. Shopping at Aldi. When I compare Aldi's regular prices, they are about what a really good sale price is at any of our other supermarkets. I buy almost all of our groceries at Aldi and the quality is as good or better than other stores. Most dinners that I make cost around $5.
2. I bought a bread machine from Craig's list. Bread costs about 80 cents/loaf from the machine and it fills the house with a wonderful aroma that everyone loves.
3. Cooking more from scratch.
4. Buy more basic cereals. Things like raisin bran and corn flakes are cheaper than Honey Bunches of Oats and other things that I used to buy.
5. Baking cookies. My five-year-old loves to help to bake these and we really are creating some nice memories together as well as saving money and cutting back on preservatives and other ingredients that we don't want from packaged cookies.
6. Freezing yogurt pops. We blend strawberries, powdered sugar and plain yogurt and freeze with a popsicle mold and stick.
7. Planning meals. I used to wonder every night what was for dinner and who was going to cook it. While I have a fairly limited repertoire (which the kids basically like), I plan carefully, buy carefully and know what we're going to have. I don't plan night by night, but have a set of dishes I can choose from that day.
8. Using the produce I buy. Because I'm planning more meals, I actually use the produce I buy because it has more to do with a particular meal. Not perfectly so, some things still don't get used, but I'm much more conscious of what I am using.
9. Use leftovers. Either for lunch or I will have leftover night on Sunday, which I like to take as a day of rest, anyway.
10. Garden more. We have raspberries, apples, herbs and plant various things each year. This year, I would like to make a greater effort to garden more and maybe even learn how to can (I freeze raspberries and applesauce for the winter).

I hope these ideas are useful to you. Feel free to leave other ideas in your comments.


Ocracoke Island said...

here's something I learned to save money... Got a jar of pickles? OK. When you finish them, keep the jar and the pickling stuff (juice) in it. buy a cucumber (or grow one)and slice it up put it in the jar, put it in your fridge wait one week and pickles! easy huh? lol.

lowellandson said...

Ugh, I always spend too much at the store. I too am trying to bake my own goodies and am making larger meals such as spagetti or fettucine so my husband will have leftovers for lunch.

TheClayMuse said...

I always try to make at least one (I try for 2) meals a week where I can use the left overs for soemthing else, Last week I roasted a chicken, then made enchiladas with the leftovers. Made a pot roast and made stroganoff with the left overs...
Thanks for the pickle tip Ocracoke...

PamperingBeki said...

This is such a good list!

I've done the "recycled pickle juice" one listed above. It works great.

Another thing I do is cut back on all my soaps, detergents, shampoos, etc. You can cut down to half or so of what the package suggests and still get great results.

Stacey said...

I agree with so much that you said, we used to waste leftovers or the produce would go bad, but since the new year we have really made an effort to be creative and use everything up, saves money and feels great. :)

Ashley Clift Jennings said...

good ideas. I am not one to plan but I do find that when I plan my meals out, things get used veggies.


Busy Minnesota Mama said...

Good ideas. Now, if I can put them to use, I'll be a whole lot better off. Thanks.

Love the block designs. How neat. I've never seen that before.