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We used to budget $140 a week for groceries. That changed about nine months ago when my husband decided we needed to sit down and redo our budget. We are a family of six, including a teenage boy. Our grocery budget went from $140/week to $100/week. When we first decided to cut the grocery bill.. um.. I wasn’t exactly happy. I have been a couponer for years and knew there were ways I could make the money go further. However, I also knew that would require more effort on my part- that was the bit that didn’t exactly thrill me.
1. Say goodbye to paper towels and napkins
While I love being able to rip a paper towel off the roll to quickly clean up a mess, it’s a convenience for which I am no longer willing to pay. We use cloth napkins at the dinner table now and to be honest, I love it! It’s so much nicer for everyone to have proper napkins in their laps at meal times! As far as clean ups and actual cleaning, I purchased a big pack of white kitchen towels from Sam’s for about $24. There were probably 24 towels in each pack. I have been using them for months now and have yet to find a need they did not meet.
Amazon offers some very similar Kitchen Towels . A pack of 24 is just over $20. Sounds like a deal to me!
2. Make your own cleaners
This one was kind of a no brainer. I had been wanting to eradicate the chemicals from my home and this budget change was just the little push I needed. It is so simple and cheap to make your own cleaners!!! Plus, I can let the babies (almost 2 and 3 year olds) help clean without worrying about the harmful effects of the chemicals. Also, I quit buying air freshener. There is nothing in those aerosol cans worth the damage it’s contents are wreaking on your family’s systems. Here you will find my recipe for a DIY glass cleaner. I make an all-purpose cleaner that I use for EVERYTHING- I haven’t posted it yet but I will at least give you the recipe. I have used it on mirrors before and with a little elbow grease, it leaves no streaks. It can also be used as a color-safe bleach.
In a gallon jug put the following:
1 1/2 cups 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
1/2 cup white vinegar
15 drops lemon essential oil (or the fragrance of your choice)
Fill the jug with water and BAM! You will never need to buy another household cleaner. I keep spray bottles of it in my bathrooms and kitchen.
I don’t make my own laundry detergent because I found this…
Ecos Liquid Laundry Detergent is made entirely from plants and has a built in fabric softener. It works wonderfully in my front loading washer and smells like lavender. You can get a 100oz container on Amazon for about $10. You don’t have to use much at a time so one jug will last me over a month- and I have a family of 6!
3. No more expensive face wash or lotion
There was a time when I would spend $35 or more on a tiny pot of face lotion and $20 on face wash. Those days came to a screeching halt. I now wash my face with witch hazel and a cotton ball. Instead of face and body lotions, I use Organic Coconut Oil. And to be honest, my skin has not minded in the least bit. If anything, my skin is softer than ever! How much is this wonderful coconut oil, you ask? I picked up a pretty decent sized container of it at Sam’s for $8.95. Yes, eight dollars and ninety-five cents. Each container lasts me about a month and a half. There are a multitude of uses for coconut oil outside the kitchen, I highly suggest you take a trip over to Wellness Mama and see what I’m talking about!
4. No processed foods- if I can make it, I don’t buy it
That means exactly what it sounds like. No frozen foods- other than plain veg and juice concentrate, no boxed or bagged cereal, no fruit bars or premade oatmeal, no- and I mean NO super processed foods like macaroni and cheese or boxed dinners. No cans, other than beans and tomatoes. Really, I only buy fresh and frozen veg, fresh fruit, meat, pasta, eggs, cheeses, creams, milk, bread and butter- lots of butter. I do buy lots of flours, sugars and other baking essentials. My cooking cabinet (spices and stuff) has grown exponentially. I make my own “cream of” soups and pasta sauces. However, there are some things that I cannot give up.. like plain potato chips, ramen noodles (I KNOW!!!) and on occasion, marshmallows. I feel like such a hypocrite typing ramen noodles but I had to be honest! Sometimes, they are a life saver. 🙂
5. Buying in bulk/freezer cooking
Bulk purchasing is not always the cheapest way to go, so check out the price per unit before buying!! Cheese, meat, flours, sugars and butter are the main things I buy in (very) large quantities. Yes, there is a hefty price tag up front but it more than pays off in the long run. For me, freezer cooking and bulk buying go hand in hand. In my mind, I buy lots so I can make lots NOW and be somewhat prepared for the future. I wish I had shared more of my menu plans on here. I grocery shop every two weeks, and for each shopping trip I have a menu. On that menu are five to seven meals that I double when I cook. That way, half the time I am just pulling something out of the freezer for dinner. Yay!! Here’s the one and only meal plan I’ve shared, someday I will get around to posting more.
6. Don’t pay full price for anything!
I know this is simple and for some people, a way of life, but for others it is a foreign concept. Keeping an eye out for coupons, looking through grocery sales ads, inventorying the house staples and sticking to my lists are all ways that superbly aid in not paying full price for things and saving money. For example: I recently went to Kroger for a couple things and while I was there I remembered that my husband had just run out of deodorant. Kroger wanted $6.98 for a two-pack of his preferred deodorant! No way was I going to pay that!! I can pick it up at Target or Wal-Mart for $2.50 or less.
Of course, had I inventoried my bathrooms like I usually do, then I would have know my husband would run out soon been prepared but that is a whole other talk!
7. Make a meal plan and stick to it!
This has probably been my number one money saver. Going to the market without a list is one of the worst things you can do when trying to save money. You have to have a list, but before you can have a list, you have to have a menu. To have a menu, you have to know what you have. Which means, your first step isn’t making a menu, it’s seeing what you already have so you aren’t spending money unnecessarily. Inventorying the pantry, cabinets, shelves, refrigerator and both freezers can be a daunting task. But once you have the initial information, it’s just upkeep! It you take the .52 seconds to cross things off when you use them, your inventory will always be accurate. Or if you’re like me and cannot count on EVERYONE in the house to update the lists, just make it a weekly chore for yourself. Really, it’s not hard and it makes meal planning so much easier.
As far as the actual meal planning, like I said before, you don’t have to feed your family a different meal every night of the week and your meals don’t have to be extravagant. Keep it simple and healthy.