No, really. I do cheap well and I did cheap for years when it wasn’t a necessity. I’ve decided now that all the cheap stuff I did in college and our early married years were really good practice for this last (!!!) year of our journey out of debt.
I decided to work hard to get our grocery budget down even more. We spend a pretty small amount to begin with (generally about $50 a week). I am trying to get it consistently lower even if it is for a short time while we try to finish the rest of the debt. Last week, I got out $40 and ended the week with $21. I saved the most money by just not going to the store. I do much better when I’m not faced with the temptation of the store. We still ate and we still ate well. I am really bad about going to the store because we are missing one thing for a meal. That means I load up kids, drive the 20 minutes to the store and then go in for one stinkin’ thing and then of course because I am there anyway I may as well get this, this, this, oh, isn’t this cute and man, wouldn’t that be yummy and $75 later we leave. No more of that! I’m not going to the store for 1 thing anymore. I’ve made a couple of our favorite recipes without one important ingredient and we either didn’t notice or really didn’t miss it.
We’ve also been taking advantage of what we have available to us (this is one of those areas that I haven’t always done a good job). Hubby has been able to get a couple of bucks during hunting season. He doesn’t belong to a hunting club so we have no expense there, he processes the deer himself so we only have to buy freezer bags. He is also really great about not needing new hunting toys every season so hunting is a really cheap way for us to get meat in the freezer. A few times a year hubby is also able to buy chicken in bulk and we take advantage of that as we can. We garden (ok, that one is also mostly hubby) during the summer and freeze a lot of the extra then. This year I’ve done a much better job of getting out to the freezer and planning for our meals. We are eating deer much more often and filling in the other nights with chicken. We love beef and pork and we are eating it when I can get it reduced at the store. (Yes, we have a pasture full of beef cows but we have decided that for now the cows are worth far more to us as potential income then they are as savings on food in freezer).
I am doing a much better job of buying in season fruits for the kids to snack on, air popped popcorn instead of other snacks, dried beans, rice and huge bags of potatoes instead of boxed potatoes. Most of the quick stuff isn’t really any faster than the real stuff. In the interest of full disclosure on this one, we also get wic for the two youngest kids and that saves us about $15 -$20 a week (Wic covers some the milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, peanut butter & tortillas that we use.)
We aren’t doing coupons, I know, everybody saves tons of money using coupons. I have too but I realized that I really just spent more using coupons. The one really good coupon store I have access too is a lot more expensive and I could only coupon shop there so it still meant a trip to another store for “regular” groceries. Now I am sticking to one store a week, I usually alternate between Aldi and Wal-Mart. I make simple meals with a few ingredients and nobody leaves any food on their plates.
So that is what we are doing now to try to knock down the food budget a little bit more. It certainly won’t be for everybody but we are willing to try it for a while to try to wiggle just a little bit more out of the budget.
As a funny little FYI in the last few days we’ve stopped using garbage bags and we are using plastic grocery bags for our trash instead. I realize that it’s not going to save a huge amount of money, maybe $6 a month but maybe it’ll make us think about other little expenses that we have that seem like necessities, like trash bags and maybe we can get outside of the box a little bit and cut some of them too.