That is the question for me these days. I recently started reading the Money Saving Mom blog and let's just say Money Saving Mom puts Greenacresmama to shame in the money saving department. Though I tend to be extremely thrifty, I cannot say that I feed my family for $35 per week. I don't work CVS or Rite Aid that often. I just don't have time, between homeschooling and teaching at Classical Conversations and making food from scratch. And that's what saves us the most money, since many of the coupons out there are for processed foods. But it is tempting to buy (or better yet, scavenge) ten Sunday papers next week, scour the Internet, and work the drug stores so I can stockpile 100 tubes of toothpaste. Especially when you hear of other people getting amazing deals like that...and then being able to bless others by giving away the excess.
So here are some ways I save money on food and necessities:
1. We don't eat meat every day. I cook a whole chicken once a week because it's cheaper than just buying breast meat, and use the leftovers in fajitas, soups, or a pasta dish.
2. I sometimes substitute venison (which is free) or ground turkey for grass-fed ground beef. Beef is more expensive and I've recently become allergic to it.
3. When I do need a specific item from the store, I look online for a printable coupon. This generally includes toiletry items, pasta (until I begin making my own), and baking items such as yeast. If I can't find a coupon, I buy the store brand or look for a sale.
4. I don't buy many "extras," such as chocolate milk, chips, ice cream, and processed snacks. This means that sometimes my kids get boring snacks, but I think they'll survive.
5. I buy fruit in bulk. Even if you pay $30 for a bushel of apples, if the bushel is anywhere from 40-55 pounds (be sure to ask), that's still less than $1.00/lb for apples. Another tip is to get a variety that's a good keeper, such as granny smith.
6. I buy grains, beans, and rice in bulk. There's more of an upfront cost, but I challenge you to begin reading what you pay per pound for a small package versus a large one.
6. Beans and lentils are cheap. Use them to make lots of soup from the leftover chicken broth.
7. I've been very concerned lately with the milk used in conventional cheese, especially since I have a daughter who does not need to develop breasts at age six. So I've been buying hormone-free cheese, and it is NOT cheap. So cheese consumption has gone down, which isn't a bad thing because now it's a treat if I can serve it as a snack. Sometimes when we do with less, we appreciate it more.
8. I make my own bread and yogurt, and this saves us a lot. Yes, it's a time commitment, and I've written about it before, but the health benefits are so worth it.
9. Ah, organics. That's a pricey little word. But here is a list of what you should buy organic, and what isn't as necessary to spend the extra bucks on. It's helped us save.
10. We're eating more and more seasonally, and I shop at farmers markets and pick my own whenever I can. Keep in mind that local growers don't usually use all the harsh pesticides the commercial growers use, and I've found they're often cheaper and decidedly fresher than the produce in the grocery store.
11. We have a garden every year, and this year will be planting the biggest one we've ever had. As many of you know, we also have plans to get younger laying hens (the old girls started giving us an egg every other day or so, but they're not exactly spring chickens), meat birds, and plant more fruiting trees.
12. I've become a bit of a forager.
So will I coupon? I don't know yet. I'd probably prefer to make my own everything if I could, but the modified couponing is helping us out a bit right now, and I'm thankful that Money Saving Mom is doing some of the work for me. Her website is a blessing, even to a couple of granolas like us.