As some of you know from a previous post, my family is taking the Family Financial Challenge. We’ve been following tips from financial guru, Gail Vaz-Oxlade‘s book, Money Rules.
How are we doing? Well, we’re definitely not exceeding our budget in the areas of food, entertainment, etc. It’s the bills like Hydro that took us by shock this past month.
Week 2’s Family Financial Challenge was all about FOOD! Saving money on food has become second nature to me. Because I now live in the rural North and am married to a frugal farmer, I have had to learn how to tighten the drawstrings and save as much as I can.
When it comes to food, it’s been not too difficult. Firstly, there are no fast food restaurants or take-out places where we can order delivery. You either have to drive a long way to get food that’s cooked for you or you have to make it yourself. I make 99% of our meals because it’s easier and faster than driving to a restaurant or store.
Saving on Food
Check out the sales
Here’s a funny little tidbit not too many people know about me! I love leafing through the flyers! I go through all the flyers and check out the sales. I make a list and stick to it. Making sure you stick to your budget is key. It’s sometimes tempting to pick up some extra things that are not on your list, but sure enough, the prices add up! Also, (this mistake has been one I’ve made before) do no go shopping when you’re hungry! You’re apt to pick up extras and things you probably didn’t need!
One of my best tips is to buy cheese when it’s on sale and buy the limit per person. On the Island, cheese is regularly almost $9 a brick. Whenever I see it go for sale for $4.99, I pick up 4 bricks (the max limit per person). This is a fact I was not aware of before I married a farmer — Cheese freezes very well! Just store it in the freezer and pull out a brick of cheese to thaw when you need it. We always have cheese in our freezer.
Another thing that freezes well and can be bought when on sale is bread. I suppose I could make our bread too (I do occasionally), but Hubby’s the only one who really eats bread in this household. He buys a few loaves and freezes them.
Make use of your leftovers and be creative
Most people think leftovers are boring, but you can make meals stretch by being inventive with your leftovers. Veggies can be incorporated into soups or stir-fry dishes. Leftover chicken can be made into chicken pot pies or fajitas! The sky’s the limit!
Litterless Lunches for school and work
Some may think leftovers are boring, but not in this house! I use all our leftovers for creating another meal. Whether it be soup or a chili, stir-fry or chicken pot pie…or lunch the next day, all our food gets used. Little One’s lunches for school are often made from…you guessed it! Leftovers! It saves me money and we’re not wasting food. Win-Win!
Grow Your Own
Living on the farm, though we raise beef, we also keep a garden and have lots of fruit trees. We grow cucumbers, zucchini, beans, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, peppers, garlic, kale, Swiss chard, strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, apples, plums, and more. For the most part, we eat what’s in season. In the Summer and Fall months, we eat fresh (from the garden to the table) and in the Winter, we eat the produce from our garden that I prep and freeze for Winter use. Of course, I sometimes have to supplement that with fresh veggies bought at the grocery store, but growing our own does save us money on food.
Big Batch Cooking & Freezer Meals
We’re only a family of three, but we do have lots of dinner guests at any given moment. I love to entertain and feed people! Sundays are my big cooking days. Making big batch chilis, soups, and freezer meals really help us with saving money on food.
To save on food, I tend to make HUGE batches of spaghetti sauce, cabbage rolls, lasagna, shepherd’s pie, casseroles and freeze them for when we need a meal and I don’t have time to cook.
A few other handy tips for saving money? Ultra Dawn helps us with doing dishes effectively and economically. We don’t need to use too much to wash our dishes. We definitely use less to get the job done! Also, in our household, with a little one, there are always messes and spills to clean up after. Bounty Basic paper towels are strong but affordable (and the “quicker picker upper”).
What are some ways YOU save on food?
I’d love to hear some of your tips on saving! Join the convo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and see tips on #savingmadesimple.
P.S. Now that we’re into Week 3 of the challenge, we’re talking about Family Fun!
It’s not difficult to do things on a budget when you’ve got the great outdoors as your playground! Tobogganing, skating, snowshoeing, and just playing out in the snow are all activities we enjoy as a family. The best part is that it’s FREE! That, and the memories are priceless.
Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom/mamanP&G. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. All thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.
Victoria Ess says
I’m amazed by how much you guys grow! We definitely make use of our freezer as well, and make all our lunches litterless.
I can’t wait until our freezer looks like yours Christine! Hopefully this Summer we’ll get it all done! Yes you can freeze milk but it’s best to let it thaw in cool water as the ice that doesn’t melt tends to make it watery and it can’t be good for it to thaw at room temp, health wise. Knowing the day that your local grocer gets their fresh bread is good too as the stuff on the shelves goes for 50%, if you get it that day it’s more likely to fresher, definitely cheaper and you can freeze it as well. We also wash our veggies very well and save the peels, cores, etc..to make broths. They’re sodium & gluten free and don’t contain preservatives. Great post Christine, Good luck with your challenge 🙂
Elva Roberts says
Wow! your freezer looks like one of an illustration in Good Housekeeping Magazine. I know how easy it is to pick up ‘exras’ that help to ruin a food budget. Garden and orchards really help. Thanks for your ideas. Now all I need is WILLPOWER!
I really love the look of that lunch for your little one. I love the sections so everything fits in it perfectly! To save money I look at the weekly flyers on Friday, make my list and hit as many different stores to buy stuff that I need which is on sale.
we shop at 3 stores every week (more if there is an amazing deal but it requires going to the other end of the city where everything is farther apart. and we don’t have a car so this means bringing the stroller on the bus or hubby going by himself.)
we buy the best deal at each of the stores. sobeys gives us airmiles and when we get 95 airmiles we can save 10$ there, super store has a pc plus points program when we get to 20000 points we can save 20$. this is a new program and we have already saved 60$ and are close to another 20$, and Walmart is where we buy the rest of the stuff we need that isn’t on sale (or cheaper regular price at another store.) the other stores we sometimes go to for a great sale are co-op, target, shoppers, giant tiger or a small local store. in the summer we do like to go the the farmers market though so sometimes we can get great deals on produce or get things that aren’t sold in the grocery stores. (we don’t buy our meat there because although it is fresher it also costs more that the meat in the grocery stores.)
whatever we have for supper is usually the same thing we have for lunch the next day. my husband brings his lunch to work and he likes a decent meal so a sandwich wont work for him. he leaves for work before me and the kids wake up in the morning so leftover supper for lunch is the only option that works for us. there are a few times that I don’t want the same thing so hubby gets the leftover supper and the kids get my meal so I can make myself something else. (this works because usually I get the leftovers and the kids get something I make fresh usually kraft dinner, a sandwich, or chicken nuggets.)
we also use coupons and cash for everything so we have to be smart with our budget.
Smart! The points from loyalty cards make a difference, eh? Also coupons help. You’ve got lots of great savings tips, Francine!
that’s a very organized freezer
That’s about the only thing in this house that’s organized, Mr. Disco! LOL! *sigh*
I too love freezing cheese and just discovered that (apparently) milk freezes too. I have to try that yet.
Oh, didn’t know that! Will have to check that out! 🙂
Little Miss Kate says
I price match when I am grocery shopping, and also do batch cooking to make sure I have left overs to take to work for lunch.
So smart, Katie!
Judy C (Judy Cowan) says
Lots of great tips! I only like frozen cheese for cooking so what I do is buy it when it is on sale and shred it, than freeze 1 cup/bag! That way we always have shredded cheese on hand and so much cheaper than buying the pre-shredded bags at the grocery store. I always use coupons to help bring the cost down. I also make lots of soups, stews and pasta dishes that you can stretch the meals you can get from it.
I have been trying more make your own recipe ideas this week. I have a garden in the summer and am huge on leftovers. Big family means big meals. But growing kids menas we need lots of food. I clip coupons and watch for deals too
I’ve found an ipad app I’ve been using lately called MyFlyer and I love it for comparing sale prices. I wish I had it available when I was couponing. I stopped doing it because I spent a ton of time on it and I was feeding my family junk. It’s really not hard to avoid shopping on this island is it?!, but sometimes our choices end up being pretty pricey. We are able to raise chickens for eggs, and my husband hunts and fishes so that really helps the meat budget. Things like preserving in season produce, making bone stock, yogurt, oatmeal, beans, root veggies, cabbage and bananas really help with real food on a budget. I just wish Hydro would stop the madness or we’ll all be better off going off grid!
Oh! We’ll have to check out that app! We love buying eggs from you, by the way! Thinking living off the grid sounds more and more appealing.
I love all the ideas shared on saving on food. I know for us what helps with saving is also not eating out and fast foods. So having meals prepared ahead is key.
YES! Not eating out too often does save a lot of money! We unfortunately (or fortunately!) don’t have that option really! We live in the countryside where eating out isn’t easy! No fast food joints up here either. Unless we drive 74 minutes to get it! LOL!
Yep. 74 minutes door to door. I counted! LOL!
Your freezer full of veggies looks lovely. We have a big garden too, and I can a lot tomato things.
I only like frozen cheese for cooking. I find it gets really crumbly otherwise.
True about the cheese! I find the marble cheese to be less crumbly. Hubby slices it up and eats it after thawed. Frozen/thawed cheese does work well for cooking though 🙂 |Canning is a great way to save too. We do a lot of canning as well.
Jenna Em says
Great article Christine! The way that I save money on groceries, is by shopping a large store that often is blowing out meat, produce and bread at 50% off. It seems that the store often overstocks, and needs to make room in their cases. As a family of seven, fifty % off a shopping still brings our bill to $120, though!
Great tip, Jenna! Yes, feeding a family of 7 is very different from a family of 3…Even if we always have dinner guests! I need the name of those stores! LOL!
Darlene Schuller says
Our biggest issues is adjustment to family size. We went from a family of 7 to 6 to 5 to 4 in about 3 years ..
Having had a big family that suddenly become smaller (or seemed to be sudden), we’ve had difficulty adjusting to the amount we cook. The past few months are much better!
I use coupons, price matching, checkout 51, snap saves.
Checkout 51 and snapsaves are great programs that earn you cashback. When you reach $20.00 they send you a check. Not a whole lot, but more savings for us!
Wow! Darlene, I had never heard of snap saves before! Thanks for the heads up! Totally going to look into this!
Suzanne Rudge (MapleMouseMama) says
In the past year or so I have started to coupon to save money on our food. It takes a lot of work each week, but the pay off can be huge! I do also try to use left overs as much as possible, but that one is a bit trickier. We will keep plugging away though!
Suzanne, yes! Coupons! I forgot to mention those! LOL! Yes ,they do help a lot!
heidi c. says
Thanks for all the great tips! Your freezer is amazing! We had our first big garden this past summer. Hopefully, this coming summer we will have a similar freezer full.
Thanks, Heidi! That’s actually 1 of 3 chest freezers we have. We have one for meat, one for fruit/veg and one for miscellaneous items (bread, cheese, baked goods etc)!
heidi c. says
Oh my Goodness! I definitely need to get my act together! You seem so organized! It’s great!
I spend $150-$200 a week. It’s so frustrating, I don’t buy pre packaged foods either and my stores don’t offer coupons for produce and meat. I’m going to have to check this out more and probably live more like a vegetarian haha.
Randa, we’re just a family of 3 and I spend about $35-$75 each grocery trip and that’s about once every two weeks. We grow most of our food and our fish is caught fresh from the lake by my dad (who goes fishing daily).