I don’t know about most of you, but I am not rich and probably will never become rich. With the economy in the shape that it is in now, I do all I can to save money. And with having a full schedule with work, school, and extra-curricular activities, I just want to relax and have some extra time to unwind with the family. Especially during the holiday season, nothing is more important to me than family.
So, how do I do it and still have time and a little money? It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for us as a family. I won’t lie. It did take some time to figure out, but at the day’s end, it was worth it. Not only can I feed my family of five great tasting food ,but I can do it without breaking the bank. Nothing is wasted.
I want to bring to you my eight ways to save time and money. Funny thing is with a little planning, saving time and money tend to go hand in hand.
1. PLAN. This sounds easy, but it is probably the hardest thing to do if you are not used to planning. Since we get paid bi-weekly, I go food shopping every other week. I plan what we are going to have for dinners for two to four weeks in advance. And I don’t do this alone. We do it as a family during dinner time–which is the perfect time to talk about food.
2. SHOPPING. When you head out to go food shopping, figure out if there are items on your list that you can buy in bulk and save. Usually the answer is yes. Items like cereal, rice, sugar, flour, grains, to name a few, are great for buying in bulk. Make sure to check the expiration date, I know that my kids will not go through cereal in two weeks especially during the school year. And buy your meat in bulk too. Separate and wrap it yourself and you save a bunch. This takes no time at all to do, either.
3. COOK. Again I know this sounds easy, but with everything being prepackaged and ready to eat, people forget that you can make the same thing at half the price and get twice as much. An extra added bonus: when you cook with fresh ingredients you are not taking in all the preservatives that are in the prepackaged food. Learning to cook at home is learning to cook healthier. So not only is it budget friendly it is also body friendly. I call that a win-win. A great example of this is my maccaroni and cheese. I can get all the ingredients for $11 (that is with the bacon) and that make enough to feed 12 people. Making it less then $1 per serving. I can even show you how to make a steak dinner with asparagus and small red potatoes for $17 that will feed 5 people. Do the math, where can you get a steak dinner for under $4 per serving?
4. COUPONS. I know that everyone knows how to clip coupons. But did you know that you can save between $15-$30 on food shopping? Look for coupons that come in the Sunday, online coupons and even with apps. For example, with the app coupons and the item on sale, I only paid $6 for a 14lb turkey for Thanksgiving. Don’t go downloading every coupon app out there, just use the apps for the stores you would use the most.
5. BUY LOCAL. This is by far my favorite thing to do. Not only are the prices better but the flavor is the best. During the spring and summer months we visit our local farmer’s market and PYO (pick-your-own) places for some of the best tasting food. Not only are you getting a great buy, you are helping support your local farmers and community. And it is a great way to get some quality time in with the family.
6. QUALITY SPICES. I know it is easy to go to the store and buy what they have. I used to do that for years, then I found myspicesage.com, and I will not buy from anyone else ever again. They have the best selection that rivals any store. You get a large amount for the price you pay, and they give you free samples to try. The flavors are so rich, that you really only need to use half the normal amount a recipe calls for. Using less and getting more out of it, saves even more money.
7. WASTE NOTHING. This is something we do all the time. We compost all of our scrap fruits and veggies and use it for compost soil in the spring for our garden and flowers. We save a ton of money by using the compost for our flower and vegetable pots instead of purchasing soil from a store. If you have some heals of bread left–face it, it happens–don’t throw them away. Make croutons or bread crumbs. My favorite thing not to waste is egg yolks. I like my eggs without the yolks but instead of throwing out the yolks I save them to make vanilla or chocolate pudding.
8. CANNING. I love canning! I love making jelly, jams, marmalades, soups, sauces, syrups, lemonades and canning the fresh fruits and veggies from the summer. We haven’t purchased jelly from the store in over four years. I won’t lie, this one takes the most amount of time to do. But knowing that my family is eating healthier is the only reason I need to keep doing it. Plus canning soups and sauces make for quick easy meals after long days at work. I get 95% of my stuff from Ball. Added bonus: when you have finished a jar you don’t throw it away just put it in the dish washer and use it again. This does take a little money to get started but pays for itself in no time. Just remember to use fresh lids and replace rusty rings. 🙂
I am not saying that if you do these eight things you are going to see a ton of money left over. You may start to see you are able to buy better quality foods and make that budget stretch just a little bit more. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to get into the rhythm of doing things. Anything worth doing takes time to do it right. And remember this works for me and my family everyone is different, find what works for your family and budget.