Does your food bill each month take up most of your paycheck? Whether you have a large or small family, food is an essential issue in the home. And honestly, most people (myself included) think a lot about food; we enjoy creating nice meals, and of coarse, eating it! :) Food takes time to plan, time to shop for, time to prepare, time to eat, and time to clean up. The first step is planning what to eat, which Nikky wrote about in her menu planning post (very encouraging, please take the time to read it if you haven’t already!). Today, let's discuss shopping and preparing.
I sat down with my mother the other night and we (well, it was mostly her :)) came up with five suggestions that may help you when purchasing and/or preparing food. I really appreciate my mom and her willingness to learn new things these last few years. Through God’s grace, wisdom, and opportunities He’s provided, our family of six is learning how to save money on the food we buy; it’s been an eye opener and we still struggle sometimes. But I pray that at least one of these will help you in your quest to be frugal in your home for the glory of God.
*Side note: Please keep in mind what “frugal” means. Frugal, according to the 1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary, means “economical in the use or appropriation of money, goods or provisions of any kind; saving unnecessary expense, either of money or of any thing else which is to be used or consumed; sparing; not profuse, prodigal or lavish.”*
1.) Buying in bulk/Comparing prices. Now, you may be thinking, “how could buying bulk possibly save me any money?!” Well, there is an initial up-front cost, but many times the price per unit is cheaper. Let me give you an example: At Costco, if you were to buy Cottonelle Ultra toilet paper (36 jumbo rolls=96 regular rolls) it would cost you $26.99 which would be $0.28 per roll. At Walmart, if you wanted to get the same amount of toilet paper by Cottonelle Ultra it would cost you $55.88 at $0.58 per roll. If you aren’t familiar with Costco, it is a wholesale membership warehouse where they have one of the best customer services. Costco also has monthly coupon books that are good for three weeks, so be watching for the items you need. (If you go shopping during their busy hours, you will leave with a satisfied pallet from tasting all their delicious samples!)
Country Life Natural Foods, a natural, organic and vegetarian wholesale and retail distributor, is another great place to buy in bulk. They sell a variety of nuts, dried fruit, grains, beans, seasonings, pasta, among other things. We have enjoyed their dried fruit and oats. :)
Lastly, my mom has found GREAT deals on VitaCost.com. They carry pretty much anything; your online grocery store! We personally buy vitamins, house cleaning supplies, and some non-perishable products. Shipping and handling is free after $49, but be sure to check out their January Super Sale going on now!
2.) Making things from scratch. This takes a little more effort and planning, but the health benefits make every minute worth it! The idea of making homemade meals is something the Lord has been working on my heart about. Our family finds that we are more satisfied after a nice home cooked meal, rather than a meal that only consisted of processed foods. (Example: Hamburger Helper and frozen pizza-we are still working on the latter ;)) Whole, basic, God-made foods is what our bodies were designed to take in and draw amazing nutrients from. The foods our Creator has made are truly amazing; take some time to learn about them, and please do not believe all the things you hear on TV or read on the box. I encourage you to read labels if you do buy packaged foods; if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, chances are it’s not good for you. A great book that my mom recommends is called, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
3.) Having stock in a cow or pig. This method of buying meat has so many benefits! It is cost effective, convenient, and much healthier. Our family of six buys ¼ of a cow about twice a year from a local organic farm. I would stress the “organic” detail because the added hormones and anti-bacterial medicines will cause problems for you and your family in the future (this may be described more in a future post ;)). If you can get your hands on a chest freezer for a good deal, this is a fantastic investment!
*Helpful Tip: It is ok to have a meat-less meal every once and awhile! Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup are so delicious. Or cook up some eggs for a good dose of protein. There’s nothing quite like a good ole bake potato!
4.) Grow your own garden! We have especially enjoyed this :). Think of the fruits and vegetables you buy the most. Depending on where you live, you can grow the produce you love and enjoy it right away or prepare for the winter by canning or freezing. This is also something that takes an effort on your part, but you will reap the benefits later! With a willing heart to serve Him, God will bless you and give you a fresh appreciation for what He has made.
Some of the produce we had from our garden in 2012.
Our first canning experience-tomato sauce :)
5.) Pack a lunch. If you are off to work, or on vacation, packing your own food to bring along with you is a great way to save money. Evaluate how many times your family eats out, and try to only do that once or twice a month. A trip here and there to the soda or vending machine does add up! Drink water and try not to have as many sweets…trust me, you will be more satisfied withOUT those things. (I know that I have a mouth full of “sweet teeth”; the more sugar I have, the more I want.) I know it may be hard to do at first, but I challenge you to cut down if you start noticing a regular habit of eating out or consuming too much sugar (natural sugar from fruit doesn’t count ;)). The lust of the flesh can be strong, but if we want to honor the Lord with our wallets (and our bodies) this can be done through prayer and His strength.
Many of you may practice these things already, and you probably have more experience than I. What a good God I serve that has given me (and other young women) the grace and opportunity to learn from older, wiser women on how to frugally spend money on food right now before running our own household. If you have any stories or other helpful, frugal tips when shopping or preparing for food, we’d love to hear about them!
Thank you for stopping by the H4H Blog. Happy shopping!!
Because of Jesus,
Samantha (and my momma, Shari)