In The Kitchen: 5 Money Saving Tips

On my blog, Barefoot Hippie Girl, my most popular post to date by far is Hippie Method: Frugal Eating…How I Feed My Family of 6 on $400 or Less Per Month. Money saving is important to everyone-even in the area of eating.

$400 may seem like an astronomical amount to some and a pittance to others, but it is less than the food stamp allotment for a family of 6 in my area…

We eat good! Our diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables. Our menu is full of variety. We practice weekly hospitality  and I cook in larger quantities for potlucks.

So, how do I manage to make $400 stretch so far? Really, how compatible are the concepts of money saving and eating well?

1. Cook from scratch.

It is far more economical (plus healthier) to buy ingredients not meals. I don’t buy any t.v. dinners. My most pre-prepared purchase is frozen ravioli. I make my own bread. For a fraction of the price of pre-made pesto, I can make a nice sized batch that I can use for 2-3 meals, because it freezes well.

2. Buy in bulk.

I have a chest freezer, which enables me to buy in bulk and freeze things. This includes sale items or bigger quantities. Most things, except for produce (lettuce, citrus fruits) are freezable. I buy family size trays of meat, and divide into recipe portions.

For example, I purchase 50 pound bags of flour and oatmeal. I’m able to save at least $.07 a pound on oatmeal, which over time adds up to major money saving. Yes, it is only $.07 a pound, but if I save $.07-$.10 a pound on each item, that really makes a difference. Moreover, it saves percents not just cents. $.07 on a pound of oatmeal is over 10%. 10% of $200 is $20. Who hasn’t wished for an extra $20?

It is almost always cheaper to buy bigger packages of meat and then to divide them when you get home.

  • half pork loin
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • bone-in chicken thighs/breasts
  • shredded cheese

Most of the SPD recipes call for 2 pounds of meat (4-6 plans) and 3/4 pounds of meat (1-2 plans). Bone-in thighs or breasts, fish, pork chops, etc. are all based on the number of people you are feeding. As are the buns, tortillas, bread, etc.

3. Purchase and preserve fresh fruits and vegetables in season.

Sometimes this isn’t actually cheaper than buying at the store, but at least I know what I have put into it. I can adjust sugar content based on my own fancies. Preserving your own food is definitely the healthier option.

4. Make a menu and always make a list.

I give myself a budget, and mentally add up the price of my list before I go. I adjust my list/menu accordingly. A list limits my impulse purchases and saves me additional trips because I forgot a key ingredient.

5. Shop less frequently.

I try to do a big shopping trip every other Monday. This is money saving (certainly providing less opportunity to make impulse purchases) and time. The one trip every other week takes just a bit longer than if I was going every week. As a result, one trip instead of two, is saving me two hours every other week.

However, I do make a quick produce run every week because of shorter shelf life, and not enough refrigerator storage.

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