My second guest post is from a fellow frugalite and ex-missionary, Elizabeth. Elizabeth and her hubby, Fabio, reside in Lansing, IL and have 4 beautiful kids!
I know I only have 1 child and for those with bigger families you may think that it’s easy for me to save money as I don’t have many people to feed. That’s not the case for Elizabeth and so I thought her insights were really helpful. A lot of them we’ll be breaking down in more detail in the coming months. Thanks, Elizabeth!
1) Buy foods as close to possible in the way they were originally made. For example, whole chicken rather than boneless, skinless chicken breast, or dried beans rather than canned. It is much cheaper to buy that way, and healthier too!
2) Cook from scratch instead of buying packaged products. Again, besides being cheaper, it is much better for you! It is not difficult to learn to make simple foods from scratch, and there are a multitude of recipes for free online!
3) Grocery shop at Aldi, but be sure to be a smart shopper and compare prices so that you are sure not to get hood-winked! There are a few items that are cheaper at other places. 😉 Here’s an Aldi meal plan site.
4) Substitute ground turkey for ground beef in your recipes. It is much cheaper than ground beef (unless you find an amazing sale), and in most cases, it is very difficult to tell the difference. I have served dishes with ground turkey even to picky company and they were not able to tell the difference. (I asked them after the fact!)
5) Remember these five foods: potatoes, beans, rice, eggs, tuna. In our particularly lean times, we have invented hundreds of meals using these simple foods. They are extremely versatile, as well economical, and fairly nutritious too.
6) If you are into healthy food, look into buying from a local food co-op. We buy our dried beans, whole oats, brown rice, wheat berries, etc that way in bulk for a fraction of the cost, and it’s organic too! We are also able to get vitamins and supplements from our co-op, for just barely more than wholesale price.
7) In order to simplify life while not buying packaged, pre-prepared foods, cook in bulk every time you cook, and freeze! For example, make a BIG pot (or crock pot) of soup, stew, beans, etc. and freeze in meal-sized portions. If you are making lasagna or a casserole for supper, it is not that much more work to make two instead of one and freeze the extra. Brown double the amount of ground meat that you need and freeze the extra. Cook a couple of chickens at once, pick the meat off the bones, and freeze. Then it is ready for future casseroles, soups or stir-fries. Once you get in the habit of cooking and freezing this way, meal preparation becomes so much easier. On a super busy day or on a day that Mom gets sick, you can just pull a casserole out of the freezer instead of resorting to going through a drive-thru on the way home or making ramen noodles for supper! And if you have the meat already cooked and ready, the rest of the meal is much faster and easier to put together.
8) Try to minimize the amount of disposable products you use. Clean up messes with real towels or rags rather than paper towels. Wash those plates rather than using paper or Styrofoam. Consider using cloth napkins rather than paper. Cloth napkins are super easy to make, even for the most inexperienced seamstress, and they add a lot of class to a dinner table too.
9) If you have babies, there are three or four things you can do to insure that they cost you virtually nothing for at least their first year:
- Buy their clothes at garage sales. When they are little, babies never wear their clothes out, so you can find new or next-to-new clothing for peanuts!
- Breastfeed. As everyone already knows, besides being economical, it is much better for both mama and baby.
- Don’t buy store-bought baby food. It is quite simple to mash an avocado, banana or carrots for your baby and you will be doing both your baby and your budget a favor.
- Cloth diapers. Again, this is not only cheaper, but healthier –for baby and for the environment. Cloth diapers these days are quite high-class and nearly as easy to use as disposables. No pins required! (There is a wealth of information available online on this topic for those who are interested)