Nifty Thrifty Post One: Food Bills

Feb 19, 2008Archive

When we lived in France, we had to be very careful of our expenditures. First, we were supported by the kindness of others, and we took that responsibility very seriously. Second, the euro to dollar ratio was bad (and now it’s worse). Third, things were just so much more expensive there.

Funny thing, though.

I let out a long, stressful breath when we moved back to the land of cheap food and stuff. It’s like all that frugality seeped out, replacing it with a laissez-faire attitude. After a year of that, it’s time to tighten the budget once again. First target? My food budget.

Back in the days of yore, I could feed our family on $250.00 a month. That involved a lot of couponing, buying in bulk, and being extremely cautious as I shopped. I went to several stores, buying loss leaders. Another thing too: my kids were smaller and they ate less. (I guess I never thought about that as they increased in volume and stature, they’d need more food. Go figure).

It’s impossible right now to get to that $250 goal, but I am trying to reduce our current expenditures. How?

  • Becoming a queen of one store. I have these nifty five-dollar off coupons for one store, once a month, so I concentrate my efforts there. I clip coupons. I only buy what is on sale, if at all possible, and I learn the ins and outs of that store. I almost exclusively buy store brands.
  • I cook from my pantry. (In other words, I shop for things only when they’re on sale, and stock my pantry. That leaves me a lot of options.)
  • I menu plan for the month.
  • I limit my trips to Costco, my fave place. It’s just far too tempting. And if I go, I bring a list and a budget.
  • Try to buy as much as I can at one time to eliminate unecessary trips to the store. The truth? The more you are in a shopping environment, the more apt you are to spend.
  • I make a lot of stuff from scratch: granola, bread, popsicles, etc.
  • I repurpose leftovers for the sake of my leftover-crabby family. For instance, one night we had pork tenderloin. Instead of the same thing the next night (as we had leftover meat), I made Gyros from the meat. Yum.
  • This year, I’m putting in a vegetable garden. I ordered my seeds from my favorite seed company, and thanks to the generosity of my mom (she sent me a gift cert for this place), I only had to spend 7 bucks of my own money.

So, how about you? How are you reducing your food budget this month? I’d love your advice.