Desparate. I sometimes feel that way when I sit down with my coupon thingy and look at the sale papers. How do I know if buying this item or that is a good thing? Will I use it before the expiration? Does it contain red dye or high fructose corn syrup? At times I want to say, "Screw it" and pay top dollar for all my groceries. And then I come back to reality and dig in.
Frugality is not a punishment, it's how a wise woman manages her budget. And since I like to think I'm smart, I've decide to go more in depth with saving money. I'm working on learning to "CVS". It's all about gaming the system in order to buys stuff for pennies on the dollar. And it will let me get some beauty stuff that I like without feeling guilty about the cost. I'm also creating meal plans for two week periods. I'm removing some unhealthy stuff from our diets - red dye, a lot of processed food, high fructose corn syrup, etc. (please ignore the crying and wailing). While all that is happening, I'm working on reducing the $250-$300 we spend on a half months worth of groceries. My ultimate goal is to spend $75 a week. Right now I'm aiming for $200 for the first half of the month.
To be honest, not all of that money goes to food. We have two dogs and two cats. Kids need clothes and shoes. Money goes quickly with a family of five. And since I love to cook for folks and we feed two teenage boys a few nights a week. Well, our food budget can meet that $300 mark sometimes. (For all intents and purposes, the clothing budget is getting separated into it's own line item or else people may go naked. And for additional disclaimer, laundry detergent, dog food, dishwasher goo, etc. are considered part of the groceries.)
But I have a plan. Plans give me warm fuzzy feelings. Or maybe it's similar to the thrill that Chris Matthews gets when he thinks of Obama. I digress. I'm reading a wonderful book titled Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn (owlhaven.net). She is a mother of 10 children. No, I did not mistype that! And after reading her book, I can report that she knows a thing or two about cutting family food costs. Some of the things mentioned are already in my repertoire, but there are many other money-saving strategies that I plan to incorporate into our lives over the next few months. And, the recipes that I have tried so far are wonderful!
I went to Ingle's tonight and started with one of her recommendations. Hamburger was on sale. I also found some ground turkey that was reduced for a quick sale. I added 4 packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts to that and a pork roast. I had to stock up on freezer backs and lunch bags as well as some juice. There was a sale on potatoes. I purchased 16 lbs for less than $4. The cashier was shocked. She did not swipe my card before ringing up my purchases and when all was said and done, I saved over $66. I spent $100 on enough meat for the family for 3 weeks and produce and a few odds and ends for the coming week or two. I eventually want to get to spending only $150 on our groceries but for right now I'm trying to get down to $200. Ms. Cashier Lady and I then had a nice little chat about buying stuff on sale and packing the freezer. Ahh, I love imparting wisdom! Next I'll begin a comparison price book.
On top of that, I'm going to start making all of our bread. I purchased Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Based on the recipes, I can make enough bread dough to last all week. Depending on how I modify it, I could use it for standard loaves, pizza dough or rolls. And since bread is filling, it will cut down on serving sizes at meal time. The breads are either made with whole wheat flour or a variety of other good for you flours and grains. I'm not sure when I'll start this little adventure, but I did find out that Ingles carries a lot of the flours. I will have to shop around for better prices though.
If you are interested in saving money and cooking less processed foods for your family, I highly recommend getting these two books. If you could care less about the cost savings, you will love the recipes!