4 Ways to Spend Less on Groceries Each Month

Are you familiar with the USDA food plans?  These plans state how much food should cost a family each month based on four categories:  thrifty, low-cost, moderate and liberal.  The plans are updated each month to accommodate food price increases.  You determine how much your family should spend by choosing one of the four plans, and choosing the ages and members of your family.

For instance, according to the most recent USDA food plan, my family of five (2 adults and 3 kids ages 4 to 10), we should be spending approximately $176.60 a week on the thrifty plan up to $348.90 on the liberal plan.  (Am I the only one saying “WOW!” to the liberal plan?)

Recently, I voluntarily decided to cut back on my freelance workload so that I could spend more time homeschooling my kids.  We decided to tighten our belt and live off my husband’s income alone while banking the money I’m making.

We’ve been thrilled to spend under the USDA thrifty plan every week, usually by $40 or $50 a week, even though we cannot have gluten, dairy or corn.  Here’s how we’ve been doing it:

Spend Less on GroceriesStock up when things are on sale.  I now try to only buy fruits and veggies that are loss leaders in the weekly ads.  When I see things at rock bottom prices, I stock up.  Recently, oranges were on sale for 4 pounds for $1.  I bought a case, which was 40 pounds.  That case only cost me $10, and we’ve had fresh oranges for the last 5 weeks.  We have one more week left before we run out.  (Keep in mind that some stores will give you a discount when you buy a case, so you can save even more.)

I also found organic potatoes 5 pounds for $2, so I bought 40 pounds.  Same for cabbage at 33 cents a pound.  I bought 6 heads.

Inevitably, there are weeks where there are no good sales, so we eat from the pantry.  This week is one of those weeks, so we will be eating a lot of meals with cabbage and potatoes.

Make your menu plan based on the items that are on sale.  I’ve always made a menu plan.  (If you don’t, start now!  It’s such a money saver.)  However, I made my menu plan first and then went shopping.  Now, I do the opposite.  I find out what is on sale, and I make my menu plan based on those items.

Make freezer meals based on low cost items.  When I have extra time or extra groceries, I make freezer meals.  Then, if there’s a week where we’ve run out of grocery money or there’s nothing good on sale, I have at least a week’s worth of meals in the freezer.

Be disciplined when going to big box stores.  I love shopping at Costco, but I’m very careful to only buy what is on my list.  I can get organic carrots 10 pounds for $6.99.  I can buy a 2 pound bag of organic greens for less than $5.  These prices can’t be beat!  However, if I stray from my list and spend on impulse buys, I’m not saving any money.

What USDA plan is your weekly grocery spending closest to?  What other tips do you have to save money on groceries?

Have We Lost the Meaning of Frugality?

My grandparents were married during the Great Depression.  Their first few years together were spent in severe economic hardship, and the financial lessons they learned during that lean time never left them.

They always had one car.

My grandma wore the same dresses throughout my entire lifetime.  I think when she died, the dresses she still had were 25 to 30 years old.

They rarely went out to eat, opting instead to cook and eat simple meals at home.

My grandparents did without much of the time, and they were very frugal with their money.

They sold their house when they retired and lived in a 5th wheel trailer parked on the side of our lot, less than 20 steps from our house.  All of their possessions fit in that space, and their home was not cluttered.

Has the Meaning of Frugality Changed?

Lost FrugalityNow, the definition of frugal seems to be different.  People try hard to avoid doing without.

Now, the motto seems to be, “Why do without?”  Live like the Jones’ without spending money like the Jones’.

Whereas my grandparents carefully bought the groceries they needed, today’s frugal zealots clip coupons and create grocery storage spaces out of their garages.  They have rows and rows of processed food that they got for pennies on the dollar thanks to couponing.

Many mom bloggers are making their fortune sharing all the hottest deals available.  Kids’ winter jackets for $8!  Hurry, buy women’s turtlenecks for $4 today only!  Get your child the Barbie princess house for the low price of $48!

Hurry!  Hurry!  Buy the bargain.

Do You Really Need That Bargain?

So many consumers are on the hunt for a good deal that they never stop to ask themselves if they really need the item that is on sale.

What if your child doesn’t need the Barbie princess house?  What if your child has so many toys, she whines about picking them up and doesn’t take care of the ones she has?  Is that Barbie princess house still a good deal?

What if you never even thought about buying that item until you saw it on sale and didn’t want to miss out on the savings?

We’re Overwhelmed with Stuff

Look back at pictures of people’s homes from 60 or 70 years ago.  Their homes were not cluttered.  They were much more like the minimalists’ homes of today.

Now, we take advantage of so many “deals” that our homes are overflowing.  Here in Arizona where there are no basements, and therefore no built in storage, most people can’t park in their garages because they’re stuffed with possessions.

We don’t need all of this stuff.

Snagging a great deal on something we don’t need isn’t a deal.

It’s a waste of money.

Keep More Money in Your Pocket This Holiday Season

We’re entering into the busiest shopping season of the year.  There will be good deals, plenty of them.  You’ll likely be tempted to buy as many gifts for yourself as you will for others.  After all, the prices are so good.

But ask yourself one simple question–Do I need it?  If you don’t, it’s not a deal.

Do you think the definition of frugality has changed?  Do you or someone you know struggle with buying more than you need because something is on sale?

 

 

5 Ways to Have a Frugal Halloween

While the marketers would like us to think that Halloween should cost a fortune, it doesn’t have to.  On average, Americans in 2013 planned to spend $75.03 on Halloween candy and costumes.  (My guess is those with more than two children will spend significantly more than this, especially if they choose to buy costumes.)

If you use some creativity and resourcefulness, you and your kids can have a fun Halloween without spending a fortune.  Here’s a way to have a ghoulish Halloween without frightening your wallet.

Save Serious Money on Costumes

5 Ways to have a frugal halloween

If you have the cash to spend, you can certainly find costumes at a discount by visiting second hand stores or perusing Craigslist.  However, if you don’t have the money to spend or you simply choose not to, there are still plenty of adorable costumes for your kids:

Use costumes you have around the house.

If you have dress up clothes, those are fair game for a Halloween costume.  Another idea is to use your child’s clothing from extracurricular activities.  Does your son have a little league uniform?  Great, he can be a baseball player.  Does your daughter take dance classes?  She can be a ballerina.  Does your child have a pair of skeleton pajamas?  They could easily double for her Halloween costume.

Marketers want us to think that a child should be able to pick any costume he or she would like for Halloween.  However, you can limit this to whatever type of costume the child can find around the house.

Create your own costume.

With a little creativity (and maybe some face paint), you can likely find a good costume with things you already have around the house.  An old white sheet makes for a great ghost costume and your child’s clothes along with face paint can help create an adorable hobo.  With the help of Pinterest, you’ll find plenty of costume ideas you can make at little to no cost using items around the house.

Have a costume swap.

If you have old costumes that the kids have outgrown or no longer want, why not get together a few of your friends and have a costume swap.  You may leave with a new-to-him costume for your child, and you will have decluttered your home of a few costumes you’ll never use again in the process.

Save on Candy

Reuse candy.

Now, before you get upset with the wording “reuse candy” hear me out.  Buy a bag or two of candy to give to the trick or treaters.   If you have young children, take them early in the night.  When you get home, go through the candy that your kids don’t like.  (As a kid, I hated any candy bars that had nuts in them.)  This candy will likely go in your own mouth if the kids won’t eat it.  Instead, put it in your candy bowl and give it to the trick or treaters at your door.

Turn off the light when the candy is out.

I know some people who live in subdivisions popular with trick or treaters.  These people will buy five, six, seven bags of candy.  That adds up fast!  Instead, buy whatever amount of candy your budget allows.  When you run out, turn off the outside light, turn off the lights in the front of the house, and go settle in to watch a movie or read a good book in the back of the house.  Don’t feel pressured to buy more candy than you comfortably can financially.

What are your favorite tricks to save on Halloween?