Thursday, March 8, 2012

Attempting to cut the grocery bill!

Ok, it's just crazy trying to feed a family of 8!  Lately I've been feeling like I'm always at the grocery store buying food.  Every 3rd day it seems, I'm off to pick up something I need, or forgot the last time I was there. This was getting me down since it takes gas to get there and money to buy the food.  I mean it's not like we have money we can just keep dishing out!

Now, I feel like I'm pretty thrifty.  I mean I make our meals from scratch!  It's not like I buy a bunch of convenient food. We hardly ever eat out.  We try and eat healthy so that does cost more, but you'd think it would all even out.  I never buy steak and having a chicken breast is a rare treat at our house.  I buy ground beef and whole chickens and stretch the meat in soups and casseroles.  We eat lots of fruit for snacks instead of chips or crackers and we actually limit our kids helpings at meals.  I know that might sound mean, but our kids have always been big eaters and there is no need to gorge at meals.  We have to teach them to have self control.

I used to keep a running tab of how much I spent on food, always writing down each receipt when I got home and then totaling it up at the end of the month. I got out of the habit of doing that and it didn't seem to help me buy less.  I just was shocked at the end of the month and felt guilty that I wasn't a better steward of our grocery money.

So as I was feeling down the other day that I'm at the store way too much, I picked up a magazine and saw an article titled The Cost of Having Children.   Out of the 10 things listed to do, I do 8 of them already!  Use cloth diapers. . . yes, do that already.  Make your own laundry soap. . . .yep, got that one figured out.  Don't eat out but make your own meals. . . check, do that too.  Pay cash for your vehicles. . . we've always done that.  Use cloth napkins. . . do that one too.  The only thing I don't do is eat a lot of pork because it's cheaper (it's also not so good for you, so not willing to try that one) and. . . shop for the whole month at one time.

Hummm. . . . I had to think about that one.  The writer of the article said it helps save you money because it keeps you out of the stores, so you aren't buying things that aren't necessary.  Plus it forces you to use up what's in your frig and cupboards before shopping again for the next month.  So I tried it.

I already had a list of all the things I want to keep on hand from food, to paper products to cat food.  I took out my list and tried as best I could to estimate how much I'd need for the month.  Olive oil . . . maybe 2 bottles since I make my own salad dressing.  You get the idea.

 The next thing we had to figure out was where to put everything.  We don't have a garage since it's been converted into a family room.  Plus with the Texas heat, I didn't think that was a very good option anyway.  I think it was actually Anthony who looked up as we were discussing this over dinner one night and said, "Mom!  We have tons of space all along the top of our kitchen cupboards!" He's a genius!  Ok, it doesn't look all that great but so far I'm only using that ledge above the refrigerator so it just looks like I've got a bunch of food on top of my refrigerator which is not within sight when you walk into our house anyway.

The other thing I did was utilize our second refrigerator.  I realized I would need more freezer space so I cleaned out my freezer and put much of that stuff like nuts, flours, and bread in my second refrigerator instead.  Which opened the freezer up a lot for frozen fruit, meat, and frozen veggies.

I love this kind of stuff.  I mean this is a real challenge.  So after totaling up last months receipts, I decided to shoot for a lower goal of course.  I took my calculator to Costco and added everything up as I went.  Olivia helped me by pushing a second cart and I was thrilled to see that I spent $100 less than I expected to!

This all excludes fresh fruit and vegetables because you can't really buy those things for a whole month.  So I set aside in my mind $50 a week for that stuff, not really knowing how much it costs us but I know we eat a lot of it.  I'm proud to say, that today I went to Sprouts and only spent $28!  I couldn't believe that I walked out of there with 4 bags of fresh produce for under $30.

I bought 4 heads of lettuce
20 apples
9 avocados
4 white onions
2 red onions
2 bunches of bananas
1 stalk of celery
3 red peppers
6 oranges
14 tomatoes
4 sweet potatoes
10 red potatoes

We'll see how we do the rest of the month but after a week into this, I can say, it's making my life easier and I think we'll save some money!  We are pretty stocked up on food and I don't feel the urgency to run to the store.

Praise God he gives us help before we even ask for it!

Hope you were able to get some ideas from reading this.  I don't usually post about such practical things but I was encouraged to do so.