One of my new favorite Web sites is momadvice.com, especially the blog The Motherload. If you are into saving money, organizing, doing craft projects or just getting fun ideas for things to do with or without kids, check it out.
Amy recently reposted her list of 35 ways to save on groceries on the blog. I had been thinking about trying them all. And now that my income has been halfed and my time doubled (sort of), there’s no better time, right?
Here is the list and my thoughts on it. I’ll update you on how I’m doing sometime in the future. (Like how I’m not committing to a certain time frame because we all know I’ll go beyond it anyway?)
Unfortunately, copying it over loses all the links to further explanation on each item so if you want to know more, go to the orginial post back on The Motherload. There are also some additional tips in the comments section.
1. Buy the least expensive ground beef and rinse the meat instead to reduce the fat content. I never ever would have thought of this but will do it from now on. You rinse after cooking so it won’t work for hamburgers but will for everything else.
2. Stop buying baby carrots and chop the carrots yourself. And if you buy them at the Farmers’ Market they taste WAY better than baby carrots anyway. And I discovered on vacation that Connor likes crinkle cut carrots so I’m going to buy a crinkle cutter. Ok, I like them better that way too.
3. Milk your milk budget by using powdered milk when the milk prices are too high. This one kind of turns me off but I’ll think about it.
4. Try making your own coffee syrups and coffee creamers to help save on your coffee expenses. Good idea though I usually get the creamer on sale and don’t drink enough to be a big expense. I might give this a shot when mine runs out though, just for funsies.
5. Dispose of the disposable items and switch to cloth napkins, washcloths, and and microfiber cloths to replace your paper napkins and disposable wipes. Did this a long time ago.
6. Try making your own bread using a bread machine or making bread the good old-fashioned way. I tried this once it was not that successful. I do want to try again.
7. Start keeping a price book to cash in on the best deals (you can download a free one here). I’ve been meaning to do this for ages. I need to schedule a day to hit all my usual stores to at least get a baseline price and then I can work on adding good sale prices to it as I go about my normal shopping.
8. Take advantage of grocery delivery services or free in-store shopping services to help avoid impulse shopping. I’m not an impulse shopper so I just try to avoid bringing the two impulse byuers with me (PS, Connor is not one of them).
9. Give wholesale club shopping a try for items that you use frequently, just be sure to use your price book to compare the prices. Once I get my price book going, I’ll talk my sister into taking me to Sams to compare their prices.
10. Start making your own homemade cleaners. I’ve been using up what I have and not replacing it, using vinegar, baking soda, peroxide instead. And I buy my laundry soap from the bulk filler at the co-op, which is cheaper (and more “green”) than getting a new bottle every time.
11. Learn the art of stockpiling and create a system for storing your stockpile that works for your family. I already do this. We had 10 boxes of Cheerios in the garage at one point.
12. Create a series of menu plans that you can rotate so you can make your grocery shopping easier and keep yourself under budget. I’ve gotten out of the menu-planning habit and we’ve been eating a lot more pizza, mac&cheese, etc., because of it. So this is the other big goal out of this list, besides the price book.
13. Try using coupons and utilizing free coupon services to help you score the best deals for your — and money. Yeah, you all know my obsession for coupons.
14. Start gardening with simple foods that are easy to grow like tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, and squash. I had the best of intentions on this one this year but never got one thing planted. Anyone know of things I can still plant now?
15. Try canning items from your garden to help cut costs in the winter months. This one is going to have to wait until I locate my Suzy Homemaker gene. Maybe after I master bread.
16. Make your own baby food or find a way to buy it cheaper. Don’t need to do this for a while but I would like to give it a shot when it’s time.
17. Give cloth diapering a shot! They have come a long way and can save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars. We ARE going to do this this time around.
18. Sign up for free samples of food and toiletry items. You will waste less money trying new items out and these samples can help get you by when times are more lean. I disagree with this one because 1. I never remember to use all those stupid little samples and 2. The amount of packaging wasted to send out something so small infuriates me.
19. Make your own mixes instead of buying them. I LOVE this one and really want to do it. One mix that isn’t listed is taco seasoning. There are tons of recipes online and it’s SO easy.
20. Try shopping at a less expensive supermarket. The price book should help be determine which of my options is cheapest overall, though I’ll still hit several to get the deals of the week. Luckily for me, Cub, Rainbow, Target and Walmart are all within a couple of blocks of each other here.
21. Bring your own grocery bags for a grocery bag credit at most supermarkets. I do this sometimes but don’t know if I get credit for it. I’ll have to see what the policy is at different stores.
22. Shop at stores that will double your coupons. This isn’t done in MN as far as I know 😦
23. Bring cash and a calculator instead of using your debit card. This will help you to stay on budget better. I bring a calculator but I like using the debit card because it helps with my budgeting on MS Money system.
24. Utilize a slow cooker so you can buy cheaper cuts of meats and use the slow cooker to tenderize them. I’m REALLY a novice about meats but Amy lists four weeks worth of recipes so I’ll be giving some a try.
25. Try making your own condiments like pancake syrup, croutons, and salad dressings. Hmm, kind of a repeat of 19. PS on syrup, just go maple!!
26. Take inventory in your fridge, pantry, and freezer before shopping to avoid buying repeat and unnecessary items. I always do this and have a list of staples to check for so I don’t forget.
27. Try replacing one evening meal with breakfast foods instead. Most brunch dishes are less expensive and you can omit or stretch meat in these dishes a lot further. That’s frugal? SWEET. I thought I was just being lazy: “I don’t feel like cooking meat. How ’bout scrambled eggs?” lol
28. Instead of buying prepackaged bagged ingredients, try packaging your own ingredients once a week instead. It will help get dinner on the table faster and it will save you money in your grocery budget. More planning ahead. Not my strong suit. I’ll give it a try though.
29. Make a homemade pizza instead of buying pizzas in the frozen section. I’m a little skeptical on how much this can save, especially because we have frozen pizza primarily for the convenience of it. I’ll make one once and see what the price difference really is. I wonder if I could make a bunch and freeze them??
30. Schedule a day in your kitchen every week to make cooking easier and to help save on the cost of buying convenience foods. Yep, and then you can make your mixes and dinners in a bag. I never had the time for this before but maybe now. But it would help to get the kids out of the house while I do it. I swear, the second I step into the kitchen, they are glued to me.
31. Feed your freezer and/or give once-a-month cooking a try to save on time and money. Same concept as above.
32. Eliminate meat or make one night a meat-free night. We are meat-free fairly often.
33. Make snacks items convenient so you don’t have to buy the prepackaged goodies. I don’t buy prepackaged goodies much but would like to work on making my convenient snack items more healthful.
34. Buy and prepare whole chickens instead of buying chicken breasts as a meal or shred this meat for your casseroles. I hate raw meat. That’s why I buy chicken breasts. Less handling. I’ll work on this one last I think.
35. Buy your meat in bulk. A commenter recommending buying at a butcher. The price book should help answer this question.
To do update: Laundry is mostly done. There was more than I realized. I got pre-qualified for WIC but need to go to the office. We don’t qualify for food stamps yet. The job application is in the process. I hope to mail it tomorrow.
To do Thursday: Finish and send application; get dresser cleared off; make decision on health insurance.