Thursday, August 11, 2011

Saving Series Part 4: Feed a family of 5 on $80/week

I think you will agree, that the grocery bill is one of the most flexible expenses in the average family. When the budget goes over, the extra usually gets pulled from pocket money, and grocery money, and we get by! Taking this into account, here is a way to modify your grocery shopping habits to save a BUNDLE!

Change how you make grocery lists!

As with everything, it is all in the planning! First, you will need a collection of go-to recipes. We all have these meals, that we go to every week because they actually get eaten! You will additionally need a group of recipes for variety.

There are three key concepts in grocery saving

  • Meal planning to allow rolling leftovers into new meals
  • Stocking up on coupon items and BULK buying
  • Home-made items sometimes cost less, sometimes NOT!

Keeping that in mind, my list process has three parts.

  • Inventory what we have
  • List the weeks meals, then ingredients
  • Separate the list into appropriate stores
Here is this weeks list, crossed out if we have that ingredient leftover!

  • Chicken and Dumplings
    • 1 Whole Chicken
    • 1/2 pound chicken breast
    • 1/3 bag baby carrots
    • 1/3 celery
    • 1/2 package white mushrooms
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 eggs
    • butter and seasonings
  • Meatloaf Pockets, mashed potato, beans-n-mushrooms
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 quarter butter
    • 1 package onion soup mix
    • 1 brown gravy mix
    • 1 can green beans
    • 1 can button mushrooms
    • 12 oz Monterrey jack cheese
    • 1/2 yellow onion
    • 5 white potatoes
    • butter and seasoning
  • Pizza
    • 4 cups flour
    • 2 packages yeast
    • 1 jar sauce
    • 12 oz mozzerella
    • 1/2 package mushrooms
    • deli ham cut up
    • leftover bbq chicken

  • BBQ Chicken Sliders, slaw, home-made chips
    • 2 cups flour
    • BBQ sauce
    • Chicken saved from Dumpling dinner
    • 1/4 cabbage head
    • mayo
    • vinegar
    • 3 white potatoes
    • oil and seasoning

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
    • Spaghetti
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 jar sauce

  • Polish Stew
    • 1 pound polish sausage
    • 1 bag frozen broccoli pieces
    • 1/2 yellow onion
    • 1 box frozen mini pierogees
    • 1/2 jar sauce
    • broth reserved from Dumplings
    • Leftover mashed potato

  • Leftover Extravaganza

  • From these meals, we are able to roll ingredients from one meal to the next, cutting down on waste. Additionally, you will find that if you have ALL of your ingredients on grocery day, you will cut down on the impulse shopping that generally takes place on a quick trip to the store, for say butter?

    Stocking up and BULK buying

    It is just simple math, that if you us an item week to week, it makes sense to buy in bulk, and save a buck! I like to buy one bulk meat item (5 pounds or more) each week. Then I have enough to last, and still don't have to spend a fortune that one stocking week. (This is what kept me from bulk buying in the past...I never had extra in my grocery budget to start off!)

    When usual items, like cereal and juice, can be purchased with a coupon, or a different deal for a great price, get a TON of it! You know you will use it before it goes bad!

    Last week, one of my grocery stores had a special, 'buy 4 Kellogg cereals, get milk, pancake mix, syrup, and frozen sausage for free' I happened to have 4 coupons for Kellogg cereals, so this week I don't have to buy any.

    It will seem silly to purchase 8 packages of egg noodles, but in the end you are shrinking your bill, and it will continue to shrink exponentially!
    Sometimes Home-made is cheaper, sometimes NOT!

    When it comes to some meals, that require a lot of ingredients, it is sometimes easier on your wallet to simply buy it pre-made. Spaghetti sauces, and salsas are great examples- things I am perfectly capable of making home-made, but the cost is just not worth it.

    Many baking items, however, are actually less expensive if you make them at home. Pizza dough, pie crust, and biscuits are good examples of items people generally purchase pre-made, but are easy and inexpensive to do yourself!