Sunday, February 12, 2012

Can you really? Part I

On a forum I am a part of, someone recently asked "Can you really feed a family of 4 on $100 or less a week?"

She has an athletic family- two teens who both participate in sports and eat a lot.  She cooks nightly and in fact, her son prefers to eat fruit over junk food.  As we all know though, the healthier you eat, the more expensive your food bill runs.

There are a lot of ways to trim the fat on your food budget.  Even though there is only Tim and &, we often spend only $30 a week or so on groceries.  That's not eating hot pockets or frozen pizza every night either.  I'm going to do a series on trimming your food budget with tips that may or may not be helpful to you.  You don't have to do all of these- there are tips I've shared that I certainly don't do myself.  Hopefully everyone can find a few little things they can do that will help. 

Make a Shopping List: Making a shopping list before you go will help minimize impulse purchases.  Plus, you won't buy something for full price, then get home and realize you already have it!

Use Coupons:  This one is self-explanatory.  If you made your shopping list, look to see if there are any coupons on your favorite brands.  There are tons of coupon databases out there that can help.

Price matching and shopping around for the best prices are a great way to shave dollars off your bill.  If Aldi has grapes on sale for $0.50 a pound, why pay $1.50 a pound at Walmart?  Take in the ad to price match, or else just purchase them at Aldi.

Meatless Meals are a great way to save money, since often meat is the most expensive thing you will buy at the grocery store.  I love making spaghetti and just topping it with a little cheese and regular spaghetti sauce.  No meatballs, no chicken parmesan, etc. Even if you do this just every other time, you're saving around $4 on beef alone (considering a high quality ground beef is around $4/lb now)!

Buy meat on markdown: There is nothing wrong with the chicken marked with a sell-by date that is close.  In fact, the chicken can sit in your fridge a couple days past expiration without problem.  Simply buy the meat (as long as it looks fine.  I have seen some nasty looking beef at a local Grocery store before- avoid that) and use it quickly, or repackage it and pop it in the freezer.

Shop the Farmer's Market:  The local Farmer's market has ridiculously good prices when fruits and vegetables are in season.  If you don't want to grow your own, consider purchasing them here.

Grow and Preserve your own vegetables.  A garden is a very simple way to save a lot of money.  Does your family member love cucumbers? Plant a few plants, then sit back and reap the benefits all summer!  I flash freeze peppers and can my own salsa and tomatoes every year.  Yes, it takes a little bit of work, but when Tim wants chili in the dead of winter, I have on hand ingredients that cost less than pennies to make it for him.  Compare that to paying $3.00 for a single green pepper out of season and you'll be amazed at how fast your savings build.

Keep an eye out for Part II of this series soon!


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