A homeschooling mama friend on facebook asked me about saving on groceries and I thought I’d update an old post. Back here I posted about trying out a Cooking Day. And then a few weeks later posted here an update to that. I wanted to let y’all know what’s worked, what hasn’t, what’s changed, and beg you for further suggestions.
Of course, my aside, is this: as most of you know, while I’ve been pregnant this has flown right out the window. But I’m slowly moving back into this. Slowly. And I’m trying to give myself grace here.
In addition to the above posts we’ve learned a few other helpful things. We buy whole fryer chickens instead of the frozen chicken breasts – saves a bunch – and makes a better tasting broth. I had to get over the grossness factor, but it was so worth it for the money-saving factor.
We try to buy ground turkey – it’s usually much cheaper than the ground beef and we don’t mind any taste difference.
Lunch meat – oh my. We go through so much of this. The kids eat it straight from the pack for a protein snack. We have cold sandwiches. But our specialty is frying the meat, melting it with cheese, toasting the bread and having the best sandwiches ever! So we try to buy those precooked, non-sliced half-ham things in the refrigerated section and have the deli slice it while we’re shopping.
The main thing I do is preparing ahead to making cooking quicker. I don’t like fully cooked frozen meals. They just don’t taste the same and I’m just picky that way. But I will buy a bag of onions and use the chopper to chop them all at once, then freeze in a ziplock. Anytime I need them I just get a few out and cook with them. Same with bell peppers. I brown the ground turkey, separate it by meals, and freeze. I cook as many pancakes (with the cheapy mix) as I can at a time and freeze in one big bag. Then pull out just as many as we need for breakfast. I’ve only made homemade biscuits and frozen them individually once. I didn’t feel the financial difference enough to stick with this. When I was making my own bread, I would freeze it before the rising part of the process – then pull them out of the freezer, let rise, and bake as you normally would. When I make apple-spice bread – I cook several fully and freeze. Just thaw and eat. When I boil the chicken I shred it all, and freeze separately by meals.
We buy in bulk, fix in bulk, and then when I want it pull out just what I want.
We buy the huge container of peanut butter – doesn’t last nearly as long as you would think around here. We buy the big box of pancake mix (off-brand kind). The big bottle of syrup and refill the little easier-to-pour bottle. We buy the bag of popcorn kernels, and the big mix of buttery popcorn powder stuff for about $4 (what can I say? I love the mega-movie kind!) and stove pop it. It lasts much longer than the microwave kind – for MUCH cheaper. I use dry beans and plan ahead for all of our chilis, stews, tacos, burritos, and such. Much cheaper than cans. We buy the big off-brand yogurt container fruit flavored, of course. The flavor selection is smaller, but it’s much more cost effective – we will go through one of those in a sitting and I can control how much each child gets and actually eats. I actually started making my own granola – saved a bunch of money and lasted a lot longer, also made a great cereal. We buy coffee beans in the huge bag from Sam’s and grind them as we go, much more cost effective for the good tasting coffee. We go through chocolate milk mix like it’s nothin’ around here. I buy the big containers and usually try to buy the off-brand.
I’m wanting to make a good muffin mix in bulk and then use it like the little packets you can buy. I haven’t done this yet, but want to – I think it will save us a bundle – any recipe suggestions here?
One of our biggest money savers I’ve found is in the laundry room – I’ll have a post up about that at Heart of the Matter soon.
I know I’ve missed plenty, but this is a good start. I’ll think on it, you do the same, and please share your ideas with me and each other!