Please welcome Heather from My Overflowing Cup for today’s post.
If you’ve read my blog, you’ve probably heard me say that our bills may not be negotiable, but our grocery receipts usually are. When finances are tight, often the only area we can control is our food spending.
While my husband works hard to bring the money in, my job is to make it go as far as it can while feeding our family healthy meals. With two growing teenagers, that task isn’t always easy, but it is possible. Today I’d like to share what works for our family.
My #1 tip for trimming grocery spending is an easy one: Serve simple, frugal, scheduled meals.
A few years ago, I heard my Pastor’s wife list off the meals that they eat on certain days of the week. It went something like…”Sunday’s breakfast is protein shakes, Monday is oatmeal, Tuesday is…..”
My first thought was how boring to always know what you’re going to eat on what day. She assured me that it isn’t boring at all. As is usually the case, I now find myself benefiting from her wisdom.
This makes meal planning simpler and has saved me a ton of money. Having a routine keeps me scheduled so that I don’t forget to prep something and end up tempted to eat out.
By having a schedule and knowing what we usually eat, I can save money by buying many foods in bulk. These include: oatmeal, both rolled and steel-cut, various flours or wheat berries for grinding into flour, sugar, spices, powdered milk, dried and canned beans, canned tomatoes, sauces, etc.
Just be sure that your family will consume all of the food you purchase in bulk. It doesn’t matter how much you saved per pound if you end up throwing it out!
Should you try the same thing for your family, they may balk at first, but they’ll get used to it. After all, the goal of eating is to fill the tummy and nourish the body.
Where did we get the idea that every meal has to be a gourmet one? I honestly don’t see a problem with that, if you can afford it. If your budget doesn’t allow for that lifestyle, however, then this alternative is sure to please your wallet and your family.
Here’s what it looks like for us. Glean what you can from my suggestions, but feel free to make this work for your family.
- Oatmeal (both regular & steel cut oats flavored with this Buttery, Caramel-ly Sauce) – (T, Th, & Sun)
- Homemade baked goods: Oatmeal Raspberry Muffins w/ Chocolate Chips, waffles, pancakes,
- scones, etc. – (W & Sat)
- Scrambles (eggs, potatoes, veggies, & a little of your favorite breakfast meat) – (M & F)
- Soups & Homemade Breads – The BEST EVER Enchilada Soup (more often in the fall & winter, less in the summer)
- Salads – Easy, Healthy Corn & Black Bean Salad (less in the fall & winter, more often in summer)
- Sandwiches on homemade bread (pb&j, egg or chicken salad, grilled cheese, tuna) As sandwiches rely on me making homemade bread, this category is more of a hit and miss.
Our dinners are always heavy on rice, beans, pasta, and veggies with meat as an accompaniment rather than the star of the show. We eat a lot of stir-frys (1-2 times a week), Italian (1-2 times a week), and Mexican-based dishes (2-3 times a week) as a result. These include:
- Chicken & Vegetable Stir-fry with Rice
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Chicken Chow Mein
- Spaghetti – both red & white
- Baked Ziti
- Pasta w/ homemade white sauce, Chicken, & Veggies
- Tacos, Burritos, & Quesadillas
- Mexican Lasagna & Enchiladas
- Pot Pies
Snacks & Dessert
My teenagers (and their parents, if we’re being honest) seem to enjoy snacks and desserts on a regular basis. To keep costs down, we don’t purchase many packaged foods as the same things can be made from scratch for far less. Yes, this does require time, but if you have more time than money, this works well. Our favorites are:
- Popcorn (air popped or made on the stove top are the most frugal)
- Homemade cookies (Healthier Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies)
- Muffins & other baked goods
- Fruit (fresh, canned, frozen, or smoothies)
Everyone loves to drink soda, chocolate milk, juices, flavored waters, etc., but the truth is that when times are tight, we need to drink more frugal liquids. This took some getting used for my family, but we adjusted rather quickly. For the most part, we drink water, milk (reconstituted from powdered), iced tea, and hot tea. It may not seem like much at each shopping trip, but over the course of the year, our beverages can really add up.
I hope that this post has inspired you to think about creating a rotating schedule, buying regularly consumed foods in bulk, and simplifying your meals.
My suggestions are just a start. The sky’s the limit. Don’t let a small grocery budget make you think you can’t feed your family well!
Heather is a follower of Jesus Christ, devoted wife of over 21 years to her high school sweetheart, and homeschooling mother of their two teenage boys. She can be found blogging about faith, food, and frugality at My Overflowing Cup.
This post is linked to Thrifty Thursday.