Thursday, September 17, 2015

Money-Fest Day 4: Getting Back to Food Basics

One of the best ways to stabilize your finances is in getting back to the basics of life and learn to enjoy the simple pleasures. Society will tell you otherwise. They say you work hard, you deserve a vacation somewhere tropical, expensive gadgets and other such nonsense. 

While there is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves if you can afford them,  you shouldn't feel bad if you can't do and have everything the neighbors do. And there is also nothing wrong with downsizing and creating a simpler life in order to create a better future. 

One of the biggest expenses for a family is the grocery budget. It is most helpful to bulk-buy your dry goods (sugar, flour, etc) and prepare the majority of foods from scratch (without pre-packaged mixes and such). Homemade foods and treats are far more filling and satisfying than the boxed foods.

Here is a list to help you start building your pantry on $5 a week: 

Always buy what is on sale and match the sale items with coupons for the most savings. Try the generic store brands...they are sometimes cheaper even with a sale + coupon. Make your own snacks: granola bars, muffins, brownies, cakes and cookies. In our home, we all drink sweet tea that I make, except for my oldest daughter. For her, I buy big container of Kool-Aid or Country Time Lemonade mix or we drink water. 

Prepare simple, yet hearty meals. Eat breakfast for dinner one night each week. Add a vegetarian meal on another night.  Reduce the portion sizes of the meat you serve. Fill up on more veggies and bread. Replace meat with more beans so you still get your protein. With Autumn and Winter just around the corner here in the US, you can make more soups and stews, chili, beans and cornbread - hearty comfort foods. 

Next Spring, I will try container gardening. There is also a local farm here that sells its own fruits and vegetables cheaper (and better quality) than at the stores that I will use as well. 

Now for recipes....

The two most used resources that I rely on are:

~ Recipes from Hillbilly Housewife
~ Dining On a Dime cookbook

I am always on the lookout for frugal, easy recipes. I don't like complicated recipes with expensive ingredients. I've also used Pinterest to find new recipes also.

Another great resource for reducing the grocery budget is: How I Feed My Family on $16 a Week by Jo Ann York, written in 1976. Look for this one at your library or yard sales for it is ridiculously priced at $65+ on Amazon, Abebooks, and Ebay.

Try to challenge yourself by making more of your own food. Most of what you buy pre-packaged costs a lot more than what you can make it for, especially if you have a well-stocked pantry. 

Imagine my surprise (and naivete) when I realized one could make their own sugar sprinkles or marshmallows or syrup! Though I laugh about it now, it was eye-opening for I realized how dependent I was upon the grocery store goods. 

And so, this is what I am going to be working on - getting back to food basics, cooking more from scratch and building my pantry up.

Are you with me?

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Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

Hi Tracy,

I am really enjoying your Money-Fest posts. They are real, inspiring, and informative.

I've used recipes from "Hillbilly Housewife" and "Dining on a Dime" for years and years. Another terrific resource for simple, yet tasty, budget meals is "Feed Your Family for $12.00 a Day" by Rhonda Barfield; copyrighted in 1996 and 2002. Mrs. Barfield's information and recipes are geared toward a family size of six. Please note the costs of groceries have increased nearly 40% since 2002. Also, the OLDER editions (before 1990) of "Betty Crocker's Cookbook" and "Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook" are terrific resources for inexpensive, from scratch recipes. I often see copies of these for less than $2 at re-sales shops.

Because we garden, raise chickens, rabbits & goats, hunt and fish, I've whittled our grocery budget down to about $8 per day for a family of 5 (mom, dad, two teens, six months/year grandparent & guests).

Keep up the good work, I'm looking forward to your next post.


Tracy Lee said...

Thank you, Mrs B, for sharing your resources!

Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

Oh! Yeah, here's a P.S. to my previous post ...

When I was growing up I had a school mate whose mother always cooked the same meals each day of the week. For instance every Monday she cooked meatloaf, green beans, macaroni & cheese, yeast rolls and jello; on Sundays she prepared roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, sliced tomato salad and bread; on Wednesday she prepared open faced hot beef sandwiches (made from Sunday's leftover roast, gravy and mashed potatoes), served with salad. She basically had 7 meals for the seven days in each week. Although this sort of repetition may sound boring, it does have it's advantages, especially when a strict budget needs to be adhered to. This type of cooking allowed her to maintain a very stable grocery budget AND it also allowed her to calculate food cost increases at regular intervals.

For those who are confident the repetition would get old very quickly, one may consider 14 meals for a two week period which would add more variety and flexibility. Also, now days most employers pay every two weeks or by-monthly.

Again, Blessings ...

Tracy Lee said...

Very helpful, Mrs. B! I would imagine it makes things easier on the homemaker as well knowing what is to be cooked each day. :)

Fiona Ferris said...

There's a lot of great information in this post, Tracy. Thank you!

Tracy Lee said...

Thank you for reading and your encouraging comments, Fiona!

Theresa F said...

Another great post. Sadly, I don't think $5 would buy any of the weeks worth of stuff here in Ontario. Food goes up in price weekly. Great idea though.

Tracy Lee said...

Nor here either for the most part, Theresa. But it does give you an idea of what to stock up on. Of course, if your family does not eat something on the list, replace it with something they would eat. It wouldn't do one much good if it will never be used. :)

Stephanie said...

The thought never crossed my mind to stock a pantry little by little each week. I love this idea!!!

Mrs. Miano said...
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