Saving money on food

  When my brother and sister (and their families) were home and we were all together we got to talking about how much we/people in general spend on food and so I have been thinking on that subject lately.  When I think on it very much it always makes me realize how very, very blessed we are! Our family budgets $350 a month for food (that is for 2 adults, 4 kids and it only covers food- not toilet paper and soap, etc.) I know that some people spend even less and some a lot more but that is where we are at. I will every so often try to figure out new ways to reduce my spending in that area and I have learned things but also prices have a tendency to rise at the same time! :-)

 I have probably shared most of this before in some way but as I was thinking about it I thought it would be fun to share it again. Maybe these ideas will help somebody during this financially hard times. I would also love to hear any additional tips you might have!

 As I fix food for my family frugality isn't my only concern. I also want healthy food for my family and I don't like to buy things that have a lot of packaging, so those are considered as well. Because of this I might not always chose the cheapest route but rather go with something that costs a little more but is better for my family. For the most part however frugality, health and "green" go hand in hand.

Anyway here are the ways that I save money on our food:

I cook from scratch. A lot. I don't buy much at all that is premade. Here is a list of some of the things that I make from scratch:

Dairy Dept.
Baked Goods:
Other odds and ends:

  • All of our soups including cream soups are made from scratch.
  • Gravy never starts from a mix at our house.
  • Meals are from scratch- freezer meals and boxed meals (except for the occasional mac and cheese) are never bought.
  • All of our jam I make myself.
I know there are a lot of other things that we make from scratch but I think you get the idea!

Here are some of the other ways we have been able to cut costs in the area of food at our house:

  • Garden. We have also been blessed because my parents and others have often shared their garden bounty as well.
  • Glean. Every year we get our years supply (and extra to give away) of potatoes from commercially grown fields. They let us come and pick up what is leftover after they are done harvesting.
  • Harvest wild foods. We will collect and eat mushrooms, blueberries, juneberries and greens as well as some other things every so often.
  • My parents have a hobby farm and so they  freely supply us with most of our eggs as well as raw goats milk for over half of the year (The other part of the year I buy milk from a dairy farm). I have also helped them with butchering and they share their meat. It is also at their place that we help with Maple syruping and get a large supply of that. This is a huge blessing for us!
  • Use what we have a large supply of. As I mentioned we pick up potatoes, also my parents usually grow bumber crops of pumpkins and squash, Berries are another thing that we can get a lot of fairly easily, some times of year we have lots of milk and eggs. Whatever it is that we have a lot of I try to make sure to use it a lot. This helps tremendously in keeping our food budget low.
  • Stock up with loss leaders at the grocery store. This also helps a lot. When pasta, tuna, cheese, onions, meat, etc. goes on a really low sale, I buy a lot. I try to buy enough to last me until the next sale.
  • Preserve the abundance. When the garden has a bountiful harvest or we are able to get a lot of fruit then we can and freeze a bunch so that we can have it all year. This takes time but I find it very rewarding.
  • Don't waste. We try really hard not to throw away food. We give our children small amounts at first and expect them to clean their plates. We also eat leftovers, I pack them in Ken's lunch and the kids and I usually eat them for lunch as well. This also applies in another area- we are involved with a few organizations (church for one) that have a events with food. Often when those are over and we are there helping to clean up there will be food leftover. I have found that most people (okay that doesn't apply to the church events as much) would rather throw that food away than to take it home and use it. I am not sure why. When it is offered to us, (I do not ask for it!) I willingly except it and then we use it.
  • Buy in bulk. We bought 1/2 a beef  (the savings on this was questionable but I think we got far better meat) this past year and we also  buy our grains in bulk. We have found a grain mill where we can get wheat, corn and such for very reasonable prices. It is a bit of a drive so several us usually all get some (I think I got about 250 lbs of wheat last time) and one person will drive and get it.
  • Buy fresh fruit and veggies that are in season. Look at what is on sale, don't just always buy grapes or strawberries because that is what you like.
  • Chose recipes (or rewrite them) that have economical ingredients. Sometimes when I look at recipes I am just amazed at how much things would cost if I made it the way they recommended. Recipes are made to be change. At least that is my opinion! :-)
  • Use coupons. At this point this is not a huge one with me but I don't ignore it either. Sometimes coupons help a lot in getting better deals. The reason I don't use them more is mainly because a lot of the items aren't healthy or they are heavily packaged.
  • Double your batches when cooking and freeze ahead. I have found this very helpful because then when I am worn out I have something easy to fall back on rather than asking Ken to pick up pizza on his way home! :-)
There are tons of more ways to save money on food. I would love to hear your favorites!

For lots more frugal ideas visit Life as MOM 

This is also linked to Finer things Friday because good wholesome food that doesn't break the budget is truly a finer thing.