Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How We Try to Eat Frugally

**First, Ty turned 1 month yesterday and I posted some adorable (IMHO :)) 1 month pictures on the boys' blog and facebook (in his album). Feel free to check out our newest little bundle of joy - we can't believe he's a month already!**

I'm absolutely not an expert on this topic but thought I would offer just a few things that we do to eat for less. This not about couponing or CVSing - I'm not doing either at the moment. These are other things that work for us when I don't have the time or energy to go to 4 stores, clip coupons, and thoroughly plan shopping trips.

1) Eat Vegetarian 1-2 times per week minimum. I know that this does not work for everyone but we love it! We eat beans, eggs, or a vegetable pizza or stir-fry, cheese ravioli or whatever else we have.

2) Check clearance produce and grocery items. Most stores have this and I've scored some great things for 1/2 off or more - cheese, cereal, canned items, produce that is still very useable... My favorite finds are often in the specialty cheese cases and the health food areas.

3) Menu Plan. This should probably be #1. It makes me buy less and use what I do buy. I post it on my blog because it inspires me and because it keeps me accountable. I have been regularly menu planning for about a year and it has really helped!

4) Buy in bulk. We buy a share of a cow and we have a Costco membership. If you can afford to buy larger quantities (and have the storage space), you can often get better deals. We have a separate freezer and a pantry to store "extras".

5) Check ads. Before I shop, I usually check the ads to see which store (or which two stores) have the best deals on things that I know I need (usually produce and dairy). I then head to those stores.

6) Be flexible. Sometimes what I plan on our menu doesn't happen because the ingredients are not on sale or are just too expensive. I may stand in the store and dream up something else or else I substitute an equivelant ingredient.

7) Have a garden. Obviously this one is seasonal for us but we do save a fair amount of money buy planting our own vegetables. They are cheap, delicious, fresh, and nutritious. We have varying amounts of success but we are determined to continue gardening.

8) Keep things basic. We certainly enjoy some gourmet ingredients but for our every day fare, I try to keep things simpler. It usually costs less. I really consider if a gourmet item (like a spice) is something I will use more than just once.

9) Don't make more than you will eat. We do eat leftovers some (Andrew loves them for work!) but a problem I've had and am still working on is making too much food and then it goes to waste. Don't ever hesitate to halve a recipe or freeze leftovers (it they will freeze okay). It's much better to do that than have the expense of wasted food.

10) Cook from scratch. I make most of the things our family eats from scratch - though I haven't ventured into the world of homemade bread, yet. I do buy things like canned tomatoes and beans - those are my convenience foods. :)

I think those are the main things. :) I joined the farm delivery this week - to start next week! I'll let you know if it is one of the things that saves us money! I love to cook and bake - sharing food with family and friends is one of my favorite activities. And I break all of these personal guidelines for a really great recipe or special event. Bringing people together around the table is what food is all about to me so I can only take frugality to a certain point. :) I'm sure I could do ALOT better and I truly would if that is what was required of us.

What do you do to cut back on eating expenses?


Debbie B said...

Thanks for these tips. I really need to put some in place in our house.

Barbara D said...

I got one of those food saver machines on e-bay and it is grat for freezing leftovers or things you buy in bulk. I love it!

Paula said...

You are my new hero, Alaina!
and you do it all with a newborn and 2 young boys. If I could only start by doing the menu planning I think that would be good. I seem to throw away veggies that have gone bad. I know that it so wasteful.

Heather L. said...

Great tips! Can't wait to hear about the farm delivery.