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I have read the same blogs you have by those thrifty people that can live on two hundred dollars of groceries a month for a family of four. I have sincerely read them and thought about what advice they offered but most of the advice I was unable to process and perform. I just have to face the fact that I and my family are either a) too spoiled, b) too lackadaisical, c) just do not want to put that much effort into it, or d) all of the above. I think we fall somewhere in between both extremes but I do know there are many ways we could and should cut back.
I read pretty much all the blogs that I come across on ways to save money. I even follow one blog and am fascinated by this individual’s thrifty nature and the lengths to which they go. They certainly are to be commended and they can never be accused of being idle! It makes me tired just reading about all the wonderful things they do to save money. I do however glean some ideas from these special people in the hopes of saving some money for my family.
A great way we have started saving money in our family due to the advice of some of these super-saving entrepreneurs is to sit down and decide what we are going to make for dinner each day of the week. Find out what ingredients you need to make this work. The next step is to check your pantries and see what you already have on hand. How many times have you bought duplicates because you did not know what was in your pantry? If you say never then congratulations but we are not as capable at my house.
After checking your pantry sit down and make out your list of necessities, then if you are anything like us you can add a few wish list items to indulge yourself. You need to stick to the list when you get there because it is just so easy to see something that looks yummy or interesting and just throw it in the basket. Tell yourself no and move along. And never, never, never go to the store hungry.
I have seen blogs that talk about going to different stores to save money. We generally shop at two stores only. One is just our local grocers, it is close and saves gas and we know where everything is. I find for myself when I go to one of those large discount grocers that I end up buying more because of the great buys and then I come out spending more. More selection means more temptation. I do buy my over the counter medications there, pet supplies, grooming products, and basically anything that is not food. That trip is usually once every couple of weeks or once a month. The grocery store trip is once a week.
I have tried only going to the store every two weeks but I frankly do not have the storage room in the fridge, freezer, and pantry to do this. Plus, I find that we are going back to the store once a week for things like bread, milk, eggs, etc, and then we end up picking up several other things we do not really need. I also find that making out a menu for two weeks is not always a great idea as sometimes I change my mind on what I really want to cook or eat before the end of the two weeks. For one week’s worth of menu plans I can sort of find out what everyone is hungry for and make it fit the bill but for two weeks it often ends up that no one is really wanting that particular meal that week and then what? That is my house, maybe your group is easier to work with that way. We are a foodie group and we love to eat, that could be the basic problem.
My daughter and I have been contemplating the idea of making our own laundry soap lately. We have read how well it works and how far it goes and I do hate spending all that money on laundry soaps and additives. We have yet to do it but it does sound like something that would help save money and keep the laundry looking good. We have a young adult male (my son) who goes through clothes like we go through toilet paper, which is a whole other issue. If there was only a way to make your own toilet paper, and yes I know for you great conversationalists that there are leaves and the Sears catalog (do they even have a catalog these days?).
We have even gone as far as raising chickens! Now, before you think we are one of those people, hear me out. My young adult male who goes through all the clothes brought home four baby chicks a few weeks ago because they were cheap. (I think I just made a pun.) Since we live in a large city I was questioning this decision but we let them stay. My boy has since built a chicken coop and it is quite nice. He says we will have our own eggs soon, I think he said something about fifteen weeks old or something and we have had them for about six weeks. Do you have any idea how fast they grow? They are adorable, a little poopie, but adorable. We will have to see about the eggs later but we have run into another little bitty snag. We believe we have one rooster in the group and it happens to be the boy’s favorite. We heard just the smallest little coca doodle doo a couple of mornings here lately and I really do not think that is going to go over well with the neighbors. The boy says he is going to build a sound proof rooster box but I do not think they limit their coca doodles to the mornings only, do they?
I think I got off topic just a little; we are back to saving money on food. Another easy way is to check the grocery store flyers when planning your menus for the week. See what is on sale and plan your weekly menu around the sale items if at all possible. And something that does not really need to be said but I will, use coupons if you have them! My grocery store sends me personalized coupons according to what I buy; I even get some of the more frequent stuff for free. The grocery store I shop at also has a shopping card which I am sure just brings the food down to a normal price but it does however have the extra benefit of giving us ten cents off each gallon of gasoline for every hundred dollars we spend. This, by the way, with the young adult male who lives in my home, adds a great deal of savings!
My daughter has suggested something as well that is beginning to save us quite a bit of money as of late. She read it on another blog but it has also come about because my mom who lives with us has coronary artery disease and we need to cut down on the meat consumption. It does help to make for a much healthier diet and it also saves a bit of money to cut out meat a couple times a week. You can substitute beans for your meat or just have a nice pasta dish and some fresh veggies a couple times a week. I know in our neck of the woods meat is quite expensive.
And lastly I will talk about eating out. I know how hard it is when you work to come home and cook. The temptation is to stop and pick something up which is neither cheap nor healthy, or going out to eat. This is going to happen but try to plan for these contingencies by mapping out the healthiest places to stop in advance and that offer coupons. All kinds of places have coupons these days. Look in your newspaper, the internet, local community flyers, or call and ask about specials. There are tons of places that offer free kids meals and depending on your age, senior discounts. Oh, and by the way, my grocery store offers a senior discount of ten percent off any of their store brand items. You just have to be fifty-five and/or have your mother living with you who is listed on my store card and she is seventy-seven. Everyone listed on the card in the family gets the senior discount. And it really helps.
These are some ways that we have been able to save money at our house. I know we could push it a little further at times than we do but we are making baby steps right now. We are doing things in other areas of our life as well but my topic was just on food so I will not delve off into any other areas right now. I hope these ideas are as practical for your middle of the road family as they are for mine.