Photo Credit: Bonita Sarita
It's such an honor to be a guest poster for Amy at Homestead Revival! I love that Amy is encouraging women in making and keeping a home and it's a joy to be in your company.
Being a homemaker is such an important job. A woman with a little knowledge and a willingness to enjoy her work, can save a lot of money for her family. I've always tried to be frugal, but about 5 years ago, my husband and I were in $89,000 of debt! We didn't think anything of it until we heard a radio program about debt free living. What the man had to say really hit home, and it helped that he was offering a contest. The 10 families who paid off the most debt or saved the most money as a percentage of their income would win a trip to the Bahamas!
We jumped in with both feet and cut our food budget from $400 to $185 a month (family of 5). We cut back expenses in other areas too. We turned off our heat (March) and cut and hauled wood for an indoor fireplace. It was cold but we were happy.
We temporarily eliminated our clothing budget and made do with our growing family by refashioning cast off adult clothes to fit our little ones. We sold everything that wasn't nailed down, including a rental house. And emptied our small savings except for $1,000 for emergencies. We were debt free in 4 months and spent the next few months stashing cash. (To get the whole story, sign up for my newsletter and it will be emailed to you on day 3 after the cleaning recipes.)
While we were in the Bahamas with the radio celebrity, I mentioned that I would like to start a home business making sewing patterns. He said, “You need to start a business teaching others to be you!” Soon after the Grocery Shrink was born.
With the Grocery Shrink method, it is possible for families to work their food budget down to $50 per person per month or $200 for the average 4 person family. We don’t use a lot of coupons but focus on savvy shopping and using what we have. I encourage eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and naturally raised meats. I don't tell you what to buy or what to cook, just how to do it to maximize your dollar. So if you are vegetarian, gluten free, or have other special diet needs, this method will still work for you.
I'm a busy mama too, with 5 homeschooled children and 3 home businesses, I've streamlined this method to work with our schedule. I believe anyone can do what I do, and a lot of you will do it better!
If your grocery budget is too high, try some of these simple ideas:
1. The first month keep your grocery budget the same. Practice by spending $50 per person per month on the items you will eat right away this month. Then take the rest of the money and hunt for super awesome grocery deals. Buy these items, as much as you can, and store them in your pantry to use later. The next month, reduce your budget by 20% and do the same thing. Continue reducing each month until your budget is $50 per person. By now you will have a pantry full of low cost, high quality food items, and you will have practice eating only $50 per person. Now you can use part of your money for fresh items to eat right away while you eat out of your pantry, and use the rest of the money to replace items in your pantry as you find great deals.
Photo Credit: BHG.com
2. Switch over to cash only for groceries. Decide what you can afford to spend every month and put that amount in cash in an envelope. When the cash is gone, you are done shopping until next month. Studies show using cash reduces spending by 30%! And you will always know when you are near the end of your budget. I keep my cash in a couon organizer like thss one (a sewing pattern available on etsy from isew.) This allows me to easily get money from several budget categories in one store.
Photo Credit: isew
3. Look at the Grocery Ads and evaluate what the good deals are. Just because it’s in the ad doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Just because it’s a good deal for that item, doesn’t mean you should buy it. For example, I’ve seen a local chain advertise a “low price guarantee” on an item and noticed that the same item was less expensive a few weeks ago. It was the lowest price in the area for that day, but another day you will find a much better price. Buy as much as you can afford of the items that are their lowest price ever.
4. Before hitting the stores, check www.becentsable.net and see if there are any coupons available to match with the sale items you are planning to purchase. They will tell you what coupons match up with the sales and where to find the coupon in your paper or where to print it online.
5. Make a menu plan centered on what you have on hand and incorporate the sale items. Click here for detailed instructions on how to make a menu plan and printable sheets to write your plan on.
6. Cook from scratch as much as possible. Cooking from scratch doesn't have to take more time than using a frozen meal or mix. But it does take more thinking power. Your menu plan will help do the thinking for you. If you love mixes, try making your own. Make-A-Mix
is a good resource to help you get started. (Look for it at your local library or click on the title to read more about it at Amazon.)
7. Pack leftovers for the working spouse’s lunch. Taking a lunch instead of buying it saves about $2,000 a year! I pack my husband’s lunch before serving the meal. That way I am guaranteed to have enough for him.
8. Take food with you when you run errands. Then eat your picnic lunch instead of stopping for fast food. Look how easy it is!
9. Consider planting a small garden. I have herbs and salad vegetables in my flower beds because my yard is very small. It's such a treat to have fresh organic produce right outside my door.
At the Grocery Shrink we have several e-books available to help families slash their grocery costs. The main e-book , The Grocery Shrink, is over 100 pages of my step by step method and recipes with planning charts and worksheets to help you squeeze the most out of your grocery dollar. Our latest e-book, Slow and Savory Suppers, is only $3 and a collection of 31 all natural slow cooked dinner meals, one for every day of the month.
This is just the tip of what we do over at the Grocery Shrink. You’ll find our blog which daily posts new money saving ideas and projects; a forum where you can talk to other frugal folks; and a weekly newsletter that reports reader tips and questions, encouragement for you on your frugal journey, recipes, and highlights from the blog and forum. I can’t wait to see you over there!
Thanks, Angela! And for those of you who would like to win a free download of BOTH Grocery Shrink and Slow and Savory Suppers, visit Angela over at her website, check out each area, and come back and tell me what tip helped you the most. If you purchase her eBook, you will also receive periodic emails with additional tips. And don't forget her blog where you can sign up for her free newsletter and free cleaning recipes!
This give-away is open to Homestead Revival™ followers (see right sidebar to join) and will close Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. PST. I must have a way to contact you as well (a link to your blog or email address)!