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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