These are from a friend of mine and I thought it might help
Here are some thoughts, as a means to reducing your current expenditure on groceries. I am feeding a family of 6: 2 adults, 2 teens who eat like adults and then some, a set of 8 year old twins. I budget $400/month for food groceries, and another $50 for paper goods/cleaning supplies/H & B supplies. I have a separate budget for petcare. Using your family situation : 2 weeks with 2 adults and one teen, then 2 weeks of 2 adults and 3 teens, I calculated that this would be my equivalent of $266.67 on food groceries and $33.34 for paper/cleaning/HBA. This equals a total of $300.01/month, which is about $700 less than what you are currently spending. Understanding that personal dietary preferences, time constraints as well as varying grocery prices throughout the US, come in to play, I do feel that you can take steps to at least reduce your expenses, at least in half. The following is what I learned from my own family, have read over the years, have gleaned from others. There is always room for improvement. : )
Cleaning supplies: I am not brand loyal, I will try a product at least once. I buy the following: all purpose cleaner, ammonia, swiffer refills, Bon ami, nylon scrubby pads and Brillo pads, dishwashing detergent, . Vinegar and baking soda work well. I take advantage of sales, stock up a cabinet in the laundry room when I get a deal. I use double coupons. , laundry detergent, bleach, Reduce the amount of recommended chemicals, often 1/2 will clean just fine!
HBA-again I am not too picky with brands , stock up when on sale, use double coupons-esp. shampoo with teens in the house!
Paper goods: we use cloth rags and $ store microfiber cloths for cleaning, paper grocery bags for draining fried foods-this greatly reduces our need for paper towels. I usually use one roll/month. We also use cloth napkins.
Some meal specific ideas that are inexpensive:
Bfst: cold cereal , hm oatmeal from the canister-just add dried fruits/sugar, hm cornbread, hm muffins/Fr toast/waffles/pancakes. Toast w/ hm jam/Peanut butter/ hm cinnamon sugar mix over butter/margarine. We limit fresh OJ to one 8 oz glass per person/bfst. Other juices are available (no more than $2 for 1/2 gal-use cpns, buy on sale, use store brands), as well as hot beverages: hm coffee/tea/cocoa. On the weekend, I serve the above as well as eggs at least twice/month. I serve a meat with eggs: pork sausage/bacon/pan fried ham slices. I bake on the weekend and freeze as needed.
Lunches: everyone takes lunch to work/school. Adults w/ access to a microwave can take leftovers/hm soups. Kids w/ thermoses can take soup/chilli. HM sandwiches: I only buy 2 LBS of deli cold cuts/week. Once they are gone, that's it. This is for $$ as well as health reasons (I usually only buy Boar's Head). Then I have HM turkey/chicken/egg/tuna salad sandwiches, meatloaf, P butter and jam/marshmallow. Salads. I include a refillable bottle with water or milk; a piece of fresh fruit or canned or veggie sticks/dip. HM cheese sticks and a hm cookie/hm slice of cake/pie upon occassion. HM granola bars A refillable mini Tupperware of vanilla yogurt that was bought in a Quart container. On the weekends, leftovers for all, or a soup, a simple skillet dish. I make tea at work, DH gets coffee. We both have access to bottled water, too.
Dinner-Milk is the beverage of choice here, then we move on to water, hm iced tea. In the colder months, I often serve a pot of herbal tea at dinner. I pay $2 or less/box of 20 bags.
We eat seasonally, take advantage of sales, use double cpns, follow our price book and stick to it (If my best price for London Broil is $1.59, I will not pay $2.49 just because I want it. I wait until it's on sale, then stock the freezer). We garden, home can or freeze. I make jam, applesauce, too. I shop alternative stores.
Buy dried peas/beans and soak your own instead of buying canned, for savings.
Buy blocks of cheese and use a hand plane for sandwich/burger slices, slice some for crackers, and shred the rest for baking/recipes (I store this in the freezer)
I keep an inventory of my pantry and my freezers-this helps in meal planning for the month. I plan 2 Cp nights during the week due to after work commitments, one soup night, one big meal night. I vary the meats to avoid boredom. I also plan the starches and veggies, as well as the sides to avoid repetition. Now that it's Lent, we do not eat meat on Fridays.
I typical meal here has meat, a starch, 1-2 veggies and a salad/slaw/fruit. Dessert isn;t served every night. When it is, it's hm cookies/or w/o fruit, hm puddings w/ or w/o whipped cream, yogurt w/ or w/ o some berries sprinkled on top. Fruit salad and fruit crisps are popular with us, too. The crisp can be served w/ ice cream or a dollop of vanilla yogurt,.
I follow the big meat principal. Sunday is usually a big meat meal; after dinner I remove the rest of the meat from the bone, slice/shred/cube/grind for future meals and freeze. The bone/skin is placed in a stock pot along w/ the juices from the deglazed pan. I bring this to a boil, then allow to simmer 1 hour. Strain, let cool and refrigerate. I then remove the hard fat layer from the top (this CAN be used in frying/baking if desparate)and you now have free soup stock-no need for canned gravy, cream soups for casseroles, soup bouillon. I bought 2 13 lb shank hams (one for the freezer and one to cook) on Sat, I now have ham stock and a large 12 inch square Glad container full of l/o ham.
Do your own prep-buy a chuck roast and cut it up for stir fry/stew/grind your own hamburger. Ditto boneless pork, BSCB.
I buy a 5 LB bag of carrots/month. Once home, I peel, then leave some in large chunks for stew, slice some for steaming and serving as a side veggie-these 2 are then frozen (freezing brings out the sweetness, too!), and I also hand shred some for salad, coleslaw, fish cakes, sandwich wraps and refrigerate. $2.49 usually for 5 lbs = 50 cents/lb. (this past week was $1.87) A 16 oz bag of frozen carrot slices goes for 88 cents at the discount grocer, about $1.59 otherwise at a national chain. Preshredded carrots go for $1.99 a 12 oz bag-I spend 50 cents for 16 oz. Stew veggies (the reason for the larger carrots) sell for $2.49 at the IGA, again I pay 50 cents and only take 15 minutes of my time? I also sliver red peppers and chop some for the freezer when I find them for under $1.49/lb.
Plain pasta or rice cooked in hm chicken broth, add some herbs is much cheaper and healthier than the $1 on sale pkts of Rice a roni/Knorr mixes. There are health and $$ benefits for changing how you get to your goal-you want to serve a flavored rice. Spend $2 for the pkts or use some of the 50 cents/LB white rice and some of your frozen "free" soup stock.
Make your own seasoning mixes and modify them to your preferences. I make my own taco seasoning and keep it in a plastic mini container.
Make your own salad dressings, coleslaw dressing, tarter sauce, cocktail sauce. You probably already have the ingredients on hand. I do this because of the salt, the cost and the chemicals I want to avoid.
Have a soup night-ours is Saturday,which is a busy day for me as we both work full time. It is comforting having a crockpot filled w/ hm soup waiting for you., Add some hm biscuits and dinner is done! this is also a great way to use up leftovers from the week, that meaty ham bone, some of your hm stock.
Casseroles/stews/stirfry over rice are inexpensive meat stretchers (meat tends to be the most expensive part of the grocery budget)
Eat vegetarian at least once a week.
Use instant milk in cooking/baking if it is cheaper than fresh.
Crock pot meals-easy on your time and budget! often using cheaper, and tastier cuts of meat. Chilli, marinara, stock, roasts, chops, soups, meatballs, stuffed peppers all come to mind.
Do you eat out a lot? It's a rare treat here. McD's alone can easily set me back about $30. Ouch!
In the summer, we often enjoy a large pasta bowl filled with garden salad, and topped w/. sliced grilled meat. Add hm vinaigrette, a pitcher of hm tea-yummy!
For snacks: microwave poporn , grahams w/ jam/ p butter, hm cookies, low fat hm granola bars, cold cereal, cheese and crackers, fruit or veggie and dip tray (make your own! the stores here get $20 each!!). Tea, iced water, cocoa all satisfy.
I don't know how you cook, what you like to eat, but I have thrown a lot of ideas your way. The general advise is to try one tip at a time, to try to do all can be overwhelming.
Stick to Let's discuss dinner, Kitchen Frugality, Penny Pinching on the AOL message boards-some great folks and great tips/support!
I also meant to add: whenever possible, just make it yourself from scratch for significant savings.
Mini Goal 145 by 12/1/07