Friday, December 29, 2006

How We Cut Costs Part 2 Food Finances

I like being frugal, although many women are much more frugal than I am. I just can’t convince myself that washing out baggies or separating the plies of toilet paper are worth the aggravation for the amount of money one might save.

The Dollar Stretcher has a load of great advice on how to cut your family’s monthly expenses. Not everyone will be willing to do what others do. We do spend money on things other families wouldn’t consider to be priorities, but the secret to living well within one’s means is to spend money on things that matter, after you’ve researched for the best values.

Grocery Shopping

One of our greatest expenses, with five children, is… you guessed it, groceries.

Key ways to save money grocery shopping are to:
1) Go alone.
2) Go after you’ve eaten a meal.
3) Go at a time when the store will not be crowded.
4) Shop with a list and stick to the list.

For what it’s worth, I don’t fit into the typical homeschool mom caricature in most people’s minds. I don’t bake my own bread, or sew my own clothing, or have a vegetable garden, however, I have found ways to feed my family well on very little money.

I typically grocery shop once a week. The day before I go shopping, I create a dinner menu for the upcoming week, making note of various activities and what it would make sense to prepare and eat on any given day. ( For instance, on days when my daughter has a basketball game, I plan for having something going into the crockpot in the morning, or plan on serving sub sandwiches.) Then I look in my pantry to see what things may need replenishing, or what things I may need to buy for the various meals on my menu. When I create the shopping list, I try to list items in order of aisle placement… this just makes it easier for me to stay on track.

I have found that the best place for us to buy 90% of our groceries is at Aldi. The quality of their products is fabulous, and the prices are sometimes half of what I’d pay even at Wal Mart.

Aldi has excellent grocery items, such as breakfast cereals, coffee (seriously, the bagged coffee is as good as Starbuck’s!), and spaghetti sauce. Their Tandil brand of laundry detergent cleans every bit as well as Tide, but for half the cost. Their boxed cereal is only $1.69 each, as opposed to over $3 for the name brand cereal. I get everything at Aldi except deodorant, some health supplies, and my beloved Stouffer’s Lasagne.

If you don’t have an Aldi nearby, then consider a little trick my friend Colleen taught me.

On Sunday morning, look through all the newspaper sales ads from the local grocery stores. Circle the things you plan on buying, create your shopping list, then take all the ads to your nearby Super Walmart and get everything there. Our Walmart has a price-matching policy – they will match any competitor’s price.

Fast Food Quickly Drains Your Budget

I am so glad my little town doesn’t have a fast food place. It is so easy to just hit the drive through and grab a couple happy kid meals for the little ones. If a family does this once a week for a year, then for 2 children to have 1 kid’s meal per week, it costs $312.

Many people who work outside of the home don’t realize how much money they throw down weekly on those quick lunches or lattes’. Don’t get me wrong – I love fast food, and love a great coffee drink even more. But moderation is the key. If you only buy one $5 lunch out during your work week, you’ll be spending $260 annually for what? Plan ahead and take a lunch from home. It’ll be better for your health, and better for your budget. Save that money and buy that gas grill you always wanted, or a weekend away from the kids.

1 comment:

  1. This post is helpful for "frugal women". It's also helpful for "stay at home (most of the time) dads who are learning to be frugal" (i.e. me)
    ; )