Many years ago, I spent money as I wished and honestly didn’t give it much thought. Being a young couple with only two or three kids afforded us a lot of wiggle room in our budget. However, as the kid count went up, the wiggle room went down. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks for keeping food on the table without breaking the bank.
Update: Since writing this article, I have developed Large Family Frugal Meals. These digital meal packs contain everything you need to feed your large family for less than $150/week. Click here to read the Large Family Frugal Meals FAQ or click the image below to be taken directly to my store.
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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 wonderful for everyone to have proper napkins in their laps at meal times.
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As far as cleanups 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 $14.99 right now. Sounds like a deal to me!
Make your own cleaners
This one was kind of a no-brainer. I had been wanting to eradicate the chemicals from my home. 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.
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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)
I don’t make my own laundry detergent anymore because I found Ecos Liquid Laundry Detergent. It 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 don’t have to use much at a time so one jug will last me over a month.
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 once the kid count hit four or five. I now wash my face with almond oil. Instead of body lotions, I use Organic Coconut Oil. And to be honest 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 is 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!
If I can make it, I don’t buy it
Within reason, that is. I mean, I can make bread, but instead, I choose to buy it for .85/loaf. But most other things, I make myself. All of our snacks, desserts, and things of that nature of homemade. Basically, I don’t buy prepared convenience foods, which saves a ton of money.
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 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!!
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 known my husband would run out soon been prepared but that is a whole other talk!
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! If 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.
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