It does seem that our economy is going through one of its occasional troublesome phases, yet I believe that in time, it will bounce back to fairer weather.
In the meantime, we clever homemakers need to put on our thinking caps and be a bit more deliberate in how we plan and manage grocery shopping.
Instead of becoming depressed and frazzled, let's be positive and make it a challenge. A challenge is good for the mind! How can we provide meals and sundries for our homes with the dollar amount we have budgeted (I hope you have a fixed amount predetermined for your shopping!)?
Sometimes I'll use my grocery money for homeschooling materials or clothing purchases. I then have to get creative with the reduced amount of money left for that budget. Here are a few things I do:
- Have a menu system for the week. I do not like to be too strictly regimented, so my menu is extremely flexible: (Mon: Spag/salad/garlic bread Tues: Mexican Night Wed: Casserole or crockpot night Thurs: Beans & rice or baked potatoes/soup Fri (our family popcorn & movie night): pizza, hot dogs, or burritos Sat: Hamburger in some form (sloppy joes, taco salad, meatloaf, etc.) Sun: Large family dinner night (we eat early) pot roast, mashed potatoes, vegetable, & dessert.)
- Use a lot of ground beef & sale meats. I try not pay under $2 per pound for meat. You have to pay attention to sales in order to do this. Perhaps your area's prices vary, so pay attention to a minimum price and stick to it. There have been times when I have used o ly ground beef all week to fulfill our menu requirements...it's quite easy actually!
- Institute one vegetarian meal per week (ours is usually Thursday or Friday)
- Serve the same breakfasts and lunches each day, with a little variation. We have hot cereal for breakfast (cereal or homemade granola is a special weekend treat if budgeted), sandwiches or leftovers for lunch w/ homemade yogurt and carrotsticks or fruit, and fresh fruit, yogurt, popcorn, cinnamon toast, or homemade cookies for an afternoon snack.
- Put a limit on how much milk, cheese, butter, and eggs you buy each week. I buy 4 gallons of milk per week, that's it. My children know that if they drink it up, they will have to wait until the next grocery day for more.
- Plan how much you will spend at each store you visit. It's easy if you shop at one place. However, if you shop at multiple stores, determine a set amount of money for that store. For me, this varies from week to week. Some weeks I spend more at the warehouse club store. Other times, I may just buy more at the healthfood or grocery store. I like to purchase bulk items once per month.
- Buy store brand items. In our experience, they have not differed much in quality.
- Reduce the amount of paper towels you buy. Use rags for cleaning and wiping.
- Try to eliminate buying processed foods. Substitute healthier choices of fresh fruit or veggies.
- Split bulk items w/ a friend. Determine how much you pay per unit, and divide the cost. For our large family, we do not need to do this. Our purchases are often in bulk.
- Do not buy commercial cleaners! Research the Internet or get a good book from the library that features recipes for homemade cleaners.
- Make your own stuff. Examples: bread, babywipes, cleaners (as mentioned above), yogurt, cakes, cookies, granola, pudding, etc. See Hillbilly Housewife for some great ideas on menu planning and frugal recipes!
- Think to yourself when you are shopping in the grocery store "Do we need this item?"
That's all I can think of for now.
I hope this encourages you :o)