Stop Cutting Coupons and Start Saving! Here are some easy suggestions how you can save almost $10,000 in just one year cutting a few things from your food bill to help you save money.
Stop Cutting Coupons and Start Saving! – How It Adds Up
Many of us feel overwhelmed by debt and don’t know how to start climbing out of it. For others it’s a misconception that the more money you earn the easier it is to save. My husband and I paid off $20,000 of credit card debt and medical bills in 5 years when our average income was $22,000 a year.
Here is how you can save almost $10,000 in just one year cutting a few things from your grocery bill. They are painless, simple and add up over time. If you don’t think that cutting out one bag of potato chips or one soda will make a difference, look at the numbers at the end of a year. If you’re trying to save so you can stay home with your kids, put a down payment on a house, pay off some credit card debt or just have some emergency money, here are 10 ways to do it without depriving yourself . The total annual savings (at the bottom) will amaze you!
When it comes to saving money in your household budget, the little things really add up. Look how much you would save in a year if you cut out just ONE thing:
Note: We wrote this article BEFORE the current price inflation, so you can save even more than we stated here.
COST PER YEAR
1 bag potato chips
12 pack soda
1 liter soda
purchased at convenience store
1 gourmet coffee
for a family of 4: Dinner
Pizza delivered plus tip
1 cup juice/person (daily)
family of 4
Fruit leather (Fruit Roll ups)
1 box granola cereal
|Total if you cut all these out||$10,871.48|
As you look at these numbers, consider that they are very conservative cost estimates for the typical American family. If your family is typical, your costs are probably a lot higher. Most people spend more than $7.00 for lunch and $1.50 for a liter soda is a sale price these days. We didn’t even consider things like energy drinks, which often range from $3.50 to $5.00 each and other miscellaneous snacks that most people buy every day.
And as you look at the costs for items like lunch and soda, how many people in your family eat lunch out or grab a soda or coffee every day? Again, our number above are only savings you could have if just one person cut out one soda or coffee. Imagine the savings if everyone in the family scaled back impulsive spending…
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My downfall is BOGO, Buy one-Get one. I only buy products that I know I will use, but even at that, it can add up. Especially, if I stop in my local grocery store just to cruise their specials when I don’t have a plan.
I have just started with Living on a Dime to save money tonight (Fri, 27 Aug). Seems like I have only one draw-back so far. I’m an American but I live in Tasmania and we don’t use coupons down here, and don’t have a lot of the coupon products either. I do miss some things really bad from the USA but by sheer will power, LOL, I get buy without. Like BACON. The Aussie’s just don’t have the same kind of bacon we do, that is probably my biggest “missing thing”, oh, and Bisquick. Don’t have that down here either. There is a USA Shop down here but it is on the mainland in Melbourne. And also, items are really, really expensive. Just can’t justify the cost no matter how much I miss something. Hey, enough of my whinging, I know that I will be able to use at least 90% of the tips and ideas from Living on a Dime newsletter. I am a US Air Force veteran so I can adapt anything to do anything – doesn’t always workout but sure is fun trying. I’m SOOOO glad I signed up already – thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! workerbev
Try our Baking Mix recipe and that might help with missing the Bisquik. We have a lot of missionaries who use Dining On A Dime to make things like the baking mix, graham crackers etc. WE are going to be having an e-book sale on it in a few weeks.
Thanks for the recipe for Bisquick! I use the heart healthy Bisquick. What do you suggest I do to modify this recipe?
No need for you to miss Bisquick. There are a number of good recipes online – you can make your own & save!
You can purchased canned bacon. It is pricey but as a treat a few times a year it may be worth it!
Bev, I found a recipe on the internet to make your own “Bisquick”
No need to search Bev we have it right here Homemade Baking Mix for those of you who have Dining on a Dime it is in there too. Be sure to check our website or if you have Dining check it because when I say we have almost every homemade and other recipes in there we really do. How to make ketchup, mustard, packaged seasonings of every kind, syrup and skunk remover. : )
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your site. Someone commented on the BOGO (Buy One, Get One “free”) deals we see so much of nowadays. Every time I see an offer like that I remember Rober Heinlein’s famous TANSTAAFL. There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Wish I could get more of my friends to believe in that one.
I love coupons but we have a problem in our area now. I live in rural NE and we dont get store ads. I would just go to the computer and print off coupons that I knew I would be needing. The problem is the stores around here are now rejecting computer printed coupons because they are afraid they are fake. I also have a problem with the coupons are usually for processed foods. Any ideas on what to do to save on the GOOD foods?
Susan, one of my pet peeves is people thinking you can only save money if you use coupons. Years ago I use to be one of these “coupon queens” it worked but it was a lot of work and then like you different things happened which made using coupons almost impossible. Believe it or not I haven’t used many coupons for years and most of the suggestions on savings we post has nothing to do with using coupons at all. I have way too many ideas to be able to write them all in this one post so check out the web site if you can because it is full of things to do other then use coupons.
Also I really hate pushing our products but I specifically wrote our Grocery Savings e course with that one purpose in mind – how to show people you don’t need to use coupons or shop at warehouses to save money. Most people save the price of the e course the first week they use it and then some. I go into lots of detail and different ideas so if you can swing it you might read it.
Like I said I have chapter after chapter of ways to save without using coupons and why at times (I didn’t say no one should use them but at times) it’s best not to use them. if you can’t get the course then check the web site out in different places.
I’m in the same boat as Susan. I discussed the online-coupons with customer service managers of a couple of locally-owned stores and they have started doing more in-store coupons instead. It took a little nerve as I’m a bit shy, but they saw the need and filled it.
I make my grocery list of what I need for the week. There are only 2 grocery stores where I live, so it isn’t difficult to go through their ads and see what items on my list are on sale at either store. I then go through my coupons that I have clipped and on-line deals and put them in an envelope I reuse for each store. Combining sales, BOGO’s, and coupons, I often save more at a store than I actually spend. It takes less than an hour a week. I always carry my coupon box with me, because occasionally you do run into an unadvertised special that is even better if you can use a coupon as well.
I am the same way Tanya. When I combine store sales with coupons and specials we can save up to 50% off our bill. And we usually only do it for stuff we would use normally. We also take advantage of our grocery store gas reward points!
One of the things I do at the store to save big is buy dry beans and cook them at home.
Typical can of beans at my local store: .69 cents. One can equals roughly 1 to 1.5 cups of beans in any given can, and it can vary from can to can of the same brand.
One pound bag of dry beans is typically .99 cents. One pound of cooked beans yields 6 to 6.5 cups of beans, or less than .10 for each cup. I cool the cooked beans, put them in freezer bags in one cup servings, flatten them out and freeze them. They fit on their sides in the freezer basket like file folders- I always know which kind of beans I have and when to cook more.
I add beans to almost everything- extra protein and fiber, cheap.
I love this idea! Question though – would it be more cost effective to use freezer containers or do you reuse the freezer bags?
It just depends on what you have. I got freezer containers on sale 6 for $.50 and several I get for free with some foods I buy so freezer containers are best for me. My daughter on the other hand uses freezer bags and reuses them. I hate washing out plastic bags so the containers win for me. She doesn’t mind washing them so it is bags for her. The bags are good for some things though because they flatten out and save more room in the freezer.
Lately even I have started vacuum sealing and using glass quart jars. I have them on hand, they don’t pick the the “freezer, plastic” taste as much so those are now what I use. For the greatest cost of all use the containers like cottage cheese, sour cream or glass jars you have washed out that other food has come in and label them well. Years ago people didn’t even buy containers too often they just used these.
Over 20 years ago I knew an older man who was a butcher and he gave me this tip. Wrap what ever you freeze in newspaper. so I mainly use the bags my cheese comes in, price matched of course, then I wrap whatever it is I am freezing in newspaper. You know, that sundaypaper that I get for coupons and do not know what to do with. I do use freezer tape to hold it together. each took is a little expensive in my book but I do not use alot. Then I label it on the paper with a marker. Never expect to remember what it is. Thus no freezer burn. He did this long before vaccination sealing. Works for me.
That is an awesome idea and recycles the paper too! I recycle the coupons I don’t need to send them overseas to the soldiers and their families. They can use them up to six months expired, so we send them a box about every 2-3 months. We have a few in town groups clipping and a few store owners saving the extra flyers… and those who clip take what they need and add to the boxes!
Lola R. Josey
The problem with frozen food containers for my use is they break if you drop them (maybe just a corner or a “hole”) and glass makes me nervous but it does preserve food flavor better (perhaps can just use glass in the door shelves). Zip Loc freezer bags. frozen flat, definitely utilizes space best.
Hi Jill: I recently (I’m ashamed to admit) saw a youtube video about getting candle wax out of your jar candles. It works great, and I think a good idea is to save the large apothecary style jars and use them for Christmas candy as gifts. You could also store your dried beans/peas in them once they are well cleaned out. The little jars could be used for home made dried seasoning mixes, which I make from Dining on a Dime all the time. (Oh, to clean the jars: just pour boiling water in and put the lid on, the wax floats to the top and then you wash the jars). it may take more than one time with the boiling water.
Thanks for the tip on how to get the wax out Donna
What a great idea. I always forget to soak my beans so then I end up opening up cans. I’m going to get better at it. I’m inspired!!! Doing big batches one night might be the way to go.
Where I live, when they have BOGOs you don’t have to buy two of the items. You can buy just one and pay 1/2 price. Nice for those who live alone, or those with more storage space. I always buy dry beans and soak/cook them myself. You can also do the overnight soak, or the 2-hour soak. Then rinse the beans, and put measured amounts of them in the freezer to use when you want–they are all ready for you to just cook.
I live in south louisiana and cook beans regularly. We never soak our beans. I put the beans, water, onions (2 med) and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and cook for 1-1/2 hours. On the last half hour or so, I add the meat like ham, sausage. Don’t salty the beans until right before you serve it. The salt tend to stop the softening of the beans. Served over hot rice! Its a family secret hehehe well, maybe not anymore…my step-daughter still can’t get it just yet!
PS> I like to put it (especially red beans aka kidney beans to some)into the slow cooker after the 1-1/2 cooking and allow to slow cook for a few more hours.
There are some good ideas here. Yes, make your grocery list first, then check through the local sale ads. After that look through your coupons. That way you are not tempted to buy something just because there is a coupon or a sale. I do have 1 suggestion though. You might want to try shopping in the grocery section of your local department store. You might find some good deals there.
Tina, thank you for a great tip!!! My home health aide likes to make up different one dish meals and freeze them. Unfortunately, her “meals” are enough for a small army! This will save me a lot of wasted food….. God bless.
we make up one cup meals and freeze them in small containers. When frozen they fit great in small ziploc bags. We feed a bunch of us for lunch and at least four people take an extra meal precooked home. Each week its different. AND we have taught a few youth how to cook themselves a meal or two.
Here’s a tip to save on clean up. When you are freezing things and then putting them in ziploc bags, place the bag in the container and fold over the top of the container. When they are frozen just pull out the bag and contents and your container is still clean and ready to put away. This may not work for all things but try it when you can.
I am going to be a grammy again & am going to babysit this one! But that means I am giving up my PT job to do it so I am looking forward to all the ways to save money! Keep them coming. Thanks!
Congrats to you Karla. I don’t think there is anything more fun then becoming a grandma even again and again.
I have watched my 2 great grandchildren – first one 13 years ago while my Granddaughter went through nursing school and then my great grandson came along. I’m a proud grandma of a beautiful and smart RN and two amazing G Grandchildren. It was hard sometimes but I always knew they were safe and now are old enough that being with their mom and other family members while mom is working is working out great. It has been a very rewarding part of growing old. The love of a child is the most rewarding part of my aging. Injoy your grandbaby, its a gift.
I received my Dining on a Dime Cookbook on Friday and have not put it down.. keep going over and over it… I can’t wait to try the new receipes…
I have to say that once I started using coupons the right way, my grocery bill went from $350/mth to @ $200 for a family of 6 and that includes a trip to McDonalds every now and then. When it’s BOGO, it rings up half price and when you use a coupon that doubles on that, it is almost free or FREE. I got about 30 boxes of pasta free last wk. and my 5 yr old is takin it to donate at school for their food drive. With couponing, I have been able to feed my family for less and GIVE to others.
I was excited to read this article but disappointed when I saw I am already NOT buying the items on your list! I have five children at home, and my biggest problem is trying to afford the important things like fresh vegetables, fruit, etc. It does seem like the foods that are good for you are much more expensive than poor-nutrition items like boxed macaroni and cheese, etc. (I NEVER feed my children boxed macaroni and cheese, I am just making a point!)
When I was a single mother, we had to rely on the food bank, and while that often provided bizarre combinations of items, my children actually had a better diet nutritionally. Lots and LOTS of fresh vegetables were donated, as well as many frozen turkeys and organic foods.
It seems ironic and wrong that it is cheaper to feed your children junk food (and I am referring to packaged foods, not chips) than healthy foods.
This isn’t totally true. We have been brain washed into believing that food which is good for you is expensive. As far as actually nutrients in the food frozen broccoli is just as good for you as fresh. Probably even better. I saw a thing on fruit smoothies this week and everyone thinks fruit smoothies are so great for you and healthy but you may as well eat 2 bags of m &m’s because the sugar content in m & m’s is the same. One bottle of fruit smoothie has the same calories as a big mac.
I even heard once that 75% of people think that organically grown food either has less calories or no calories in it compared to it’s non organic counter part. The calories are the same. What is scary is people think they are eating healthy so they can eat as much as they want causing them to inhale way more calories then they should so then they can’t figure out why they are always struggling with their weight.
I buy healthy things all the time and my grocery bill is very small compared to most and when I had kids at home it was about 1/4 of what normal people spent.
Also in some ways (although I do eat a lot of fresh stuff) in my mind I prefer frozen. I always think how many people have handle this head of broccoli before it got to me and once fresh is picked it immediately starts losing it’s nutrients. Who knows how long it took to get to the store plus it starts to decay as soon as it is picked. Where frozen go from the field to the factory almost immediately and is frozen and packaged.
One thing I have always wondered is why are people living longer and healthier lives now then they did say 100 years ago like my grandparents and great grandparents. People in my age group and my parents age group who were raised on canned and processed everything because it was new, different and convenient are healthier and living longer then any other generation from years past who lived on nothing but organic before pesticides and factory processed foods were invented. Things have to make sense to me and that doesn’t.
You would have to see how back the statistical data goes from the Centers for Disease Control to see why people were dying one hundred years ago. I suspect that a lot of the increased longetivity is not due to diet but due to medical advances. A century ago, there were no effective treatments for cancer, and antibiotics and vaccinations were not invented yet. Influenza and pneumonia are much more easily treated with antibiotics and vaccinations now, so far people are dying from these diseases today. Older individuals and young children are much more susceptible to these diseases. Also, cancer treatments are much more prevalent and effective, so people are surviving cancer today than a century ago. Hopefully, that helps make sense to what seems like a paradox–people who eat more poorly, exercise less, and are living longer than their ancestors…
Foods eaten today are also sprayed heavily with pesticides and herbicides, and animals are fed foods that are not natural to them (in factory farms, huge agribusinesses, etc.). Animals are given hormones and antibiotics to make them grow faster, quicker. We are consuming concentrated drugs and hormones that promote diseases. Not to mention the GM (Genetically — artificially — Modified) food crops that we and the animals are consuming.
We need to be very careful about making comments on things as if there is scientific evidence that they are true. For example there once was a headlines in the newspapers and all over the news that the statement said in big bold captions our ancestors had bigger brains then we did. To hear them talk and read the article you would think they have a lot of evidence to support this statement. Even when you start to read the article they make statements which lead you to believe this a factual thing. If you read it carefully though it uses words like we “think” or “it strongly suggests”, or maybe true but there were no real facts. It gets even better because they built their whole argument on a woman’s pelvic bones they had found and they came to the conclusion that because her pelvic bones were bigger our ancestors had bigger brains.
Another case I always use is MSG. Everyone used MSG for years and cooked with it almost as much as salt and pepper. Then a famous doctor ate Chinese food one night, got sick and wrote an article about how he thought it was an allergic reaction to the MSG. Immediately everyone was allergic to MSG and they were pulling it off of the shelves and everyone was told not to cook with it. The same doctor later retracted his findings saying it was something different that had made him sick and not the MSG at all but the damage was already done and even though now many years and studies later prove there is nothing wrong with it old wives tales die hard.
The same is true with the facts on all the scare about animals given hormones and antibiotics. You can’t definitely say that is causes this or that because the bottom line is there are no real studies at all and the few studies they have done are not very good ones like studying adult men’s sperm count and asking their mom’s what they ate when they were pregnant with them. I can’t remember for sure what I ate last week let alone what I hadn’t eaten 20 or 30 years before when I was pregnant.
I found the wording interesting too in the articles talking about these things. They use words like it could, it may, there is a chance but there is nothing about it is definitely proven or is a fact but the words I find most interesting is we fear. They are playing into people’s fears about things and I think this is wrong. The sad thing is there is more evidence that people will die sooner worrying over this stuff then eating it and if you don’t think that is true then take note that heart disease is on the rise and more people have heart problems from stress then what they eat.
I’m in the same spot Rose. I make my own granola. My lunches come from dinner leftovers. I don’t buy any of the other things except for meat. Dinner out? Only on special occasions, about two times a year. The meat I get is only when it is on sale. My freezer is my friend, saving sale items I managed to get to see us through weeks with less money available.
I appreciate the information on the beans. In trying to reduce further our meat cost, I have been looking for good bean recipes. I didn’t see what seasoning was used in preparing the dried beans. Could I get some help there?
We grow a garden each year and I am looking forward to this year’s fresh produce. Our beets wintered over, so last night we enjoyed beet greens with our dinner. Yum.
Lately though, our budget has been hard hit by vehicle repairs. All of our vehicles are over 10 years old. They are paid off, but the repairs are hitting us hard. I’m very thankful that my husband does most of the repairs himself, but the parts add up. We check junkyards first, but not everything can be found there.
I was “retired”, but had to return to work when the economy went south. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for any advice to help save our meager funds.
Anita your can use almost any type of seasonings in beans because they usually don’t have a strong flavor so you can add almost anything to them. Here is one of our bean recipes from Dining on a Dime that everyone seems to really love. You can leave the meat out if you want and use nothing but beans. Bean Goulash
Thanks. I’ll give it a try.
I buy everything I can at Aldi, where you can’t use coupons. I am certain I save at least 30% over Cub Foods. It used to be too hard to get to other stores when my kids were little, but now I’m curious if I might save more using coupons at Cub or Target. There are no double coupon days. Anyone who has an Aldi in town have an
We buy 80% of our food at Aldi. Milk and Meat I can find reduced or on sale for cheaper at the grocery store but otherwise that’s it for us.
I don’t have Aldi in my area. I buy most of my food at Grocery Outlet. It is a discount store and they don’t always have an ad. Once I went online to check their current ad, and they didn’t have it. I signed up for their email newsletter and received $3 coupon off $20. Now I go there every week or so and sign up again with different emails and get those coupons, so I never go without. They already have good deals on most of the stuff: milk, cheese, ice cream, bacon, cookies, sometimes vegetables and often frozen items. I bring more than one of these $3 coupon and go buy $20 of food, using coupon, go unload it to the car, and come back and repeat.
Maybe its just me but I think this is wrong. Stores that catch on, and they eventually will, are going to quit offering these special deals because of people who take advantage.
I’m afraid you are right Carye and in our area it has already happened.
I agree, there’s a difference between working the system and abusing the system.
The most inexpensive gallon milk often is bought at one of several gas stations in town – $2.99 a gallon, as opposed to Aldi’s $3.29. There is something about the cheaper milk at the grocery store (value products) that doesn’t taste right, and it’s never 2.99. Cream at Aldi’s – no match anywhere. Careful around their vegetable / fruit area. Items are sometimes on the verge of spoiling, but the prices can’t be beat if you’re taking them home and using them right away. I, too, snickered at the list of groceries to cut. I haven’t ever bought those products unless I was hosting a family picnic. I often shop several stores a week, fliers in hand, buying only what I actually want / need that’s on sale. And for those who can and have good soil, I organically gardened for my family five until the kids went off to college. Never bought vegetables for almost the entire year…living in Connecticut. It was fabulous and now my young adults often fondly look back on the garden maintenance days they hated with a vengence and say, “thanks Mom.” Every dirty fingernail was worth it! :o)
I really don’t go to Aldi! I buy generic products from Wegman’s! They taste like the national brands; except for the Cheerios knock offs; because they don’t taste as good as the national product. As for salad dressing, they taste like the national brands. At Aldi, you cannot buy pet food or some paper products. We like doing one stop shopping.
Grizzly Bear Mom
I believe that peoploe live longer now because of pre natal care saves the lives of many babies that previously lowered the longevity levels. I think immunizations and better disease control and medications add to longgevity as well. Howver as we fatten up as a society and acquire diabeties and heart disease; the age of longevity may decline.
That’s pretty much the way we feel. People now have no idea how bad it really was before they had immunizations and the use of pesticides to have a better food supply. We are so fortunate to be living in this time where we don’t have to worry if bugs are going to destroy all our food or if a horrible disease is going to kill our kids.
Do not laugh when I tell this story, ok you will any. About 15 years ago when I homeschooled my children. We went on a field trip to a local museum. The lady giving the tour was showing us beds from
the 1800’s. She said on the average people were much shorter back then. She said 6ft. Was considered talk for men. She asked if we new what contributed to the increase in height in men and women. This is what she said. Fortified
Cold cereal. Yes that was what she said. So I guess wheaties is really the breakfasts of champions.LOL
Before people would get sick and die, now they get sick and have to deal with it for the rest of their life, like taking meds, having all kinds or procedures, and not to mention feel miserable. People might live longer today, but I think they are way less healthy than when they didn’t have all kinds of chemicals added to their food.
Years ago, I used coupons alot! I would buy the sunday paper and sit down and spend hours cutting them out of the paper and magazines. Having 4 boys and a girl I finally realized that I was giving up alot of precious time that I could be spending with my family. The time it takes to cut out those coupons could have been used as an outing to the park, a movie, or just reading to my kids. Seems like alot of time wasted to me now….young parents take my advice….there is no coupon worth the time lost with your children.
We use the time to do math, and reading to make up lists for the groceries needed. Matching games, and dexterity in cutting on the lines- its a family affair. And when I get a bunch of coupons to clip, my Dear Husband is right there clipping while we sort.
just found your website am a grandmother raising 4 kids that are picky eaters and dont really like fruits and veggies.i amliving on a fixed income so any helpful tips on ways to safe on grocies or clothes anything would begreat.
ann, you’re a grandma, you have to know it doesn’t matter if they don’t like it. Find a way. You’re their fearless leader. Start the adventures with something you know they like then add to that. Even if you have to hide veggies in meatloaf or sauce for a while do it. Cut down the junk starting immediately. Just say Sorry – we ran out and I am not going to buy any more. Roast veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper and favorite spices. Make baked veggie chips. Learn new ways to serve veggies. Create a window garden with some green onions – or the end of the celery stalk. Make it their job to water it. They’ll be more likely to want to eat it. Take them to a farmer’s market (or even the produce aisle in a grocery store). Let them pick out something fresh they’ve never had before. Try a pick-your-own farm – tomatoes, berries and apples are good places to start but in your area it may be different. If you can pick your own tomatoes teach them how to can them for winter use. Don’t have a canner? Watch garage sales, Craig’s list or join Freecycle.org. There are hundreds if not thousands of articles online about helping children learn to like veggies. Use your “google power” and search for those ideas. Find one or two to implement and go for it. BTW, I’m a gramma too and have embraced technology to learn as much as I can. My oldest DGD is 21. My youngest DGS is due any day now.
These are great ideas and do work for many kids but just so some of you moms and grandmoms don’t get discouraged you will have a few kids like me who even though my mom tried most of these ideas on me it didn’t work. She would try to hide the veggies in meatloaves and things and I would sit at the meal picking every tiny little onion or veggie out until only a few crumbs of meat was left. The whole time I was doing it I kept thinking “Does she think I am so dumb that I can’t see these in here.” Drove my poor mom crazy. : ) I grew up and guess what I have actually started eating veggies and all kinds of “weird” things.
When I became a mom I didn’t stress at all over what my kids ate. I would cook a balanced meal and call it good and even though I did the exact same with both of my kids I had one that wouldn’t eat healthy thing to save him and another who ate everything fine. They both survived to adulthood and now get to go through “picky eating” with their kids. :)
One thing I think we forget about kids is they really don’t have the palate that adults do. They understood this years ago and that is why often the children would eat separately from the adults and their food was much more bland, usually not things mixed together,and most of all they were given much smaller and manageable portions for their size.
Jill: you are so right about small portions for kids. Every time I make something for a family gathering, I do “minis”. Mom’s don’t feel so bad about letting their kids have a cupcake if it’s tiny, women like them because we’re always dieting, and I let the men take as many as they want. even appetizers/sandwich roll ups, etc., I cut into mini size. Kids have eyes bigger than their tummies, and they just can’t handle it.
I have tried lots of ways to save money. With 10 children, I am always looking for ways. I have even tried Hillbilly Housewife’s rock bottom menu.I found a way to lower my groceries without coupons and eating only beans. I buy only $25 a day for food and shop at Sav-a-lot. I broke my daily groceries into a gallon of milk,about $3, a dozen eggs about $1, fruit$3 worth of whatever is cheap, Frozen veggies$3, salad stuff about $3 ( a lettuce, a dollar of tomatoes, a cucumber, a pepper), $1 of rice or flour or potatoes, $1 of beans, 1 onion,about $6 of meat, so that is either chicken thighs or 2.5 pounds of ground beef. When I need a gallon of oil, I go meatless that day. Cleaners,
health and beauty aids are bought from CVS when they are free or almost free, and I stock up.That’s it. I can feed the 12 of us on $175 a week. Whew! Talk about squeezing water out of a rock!
I shop at Sav a Lot also. They have gone up on their prices too.Last time I went I search the discount buggies. I just went the outside isles around the store. I get my milk at Weigles when I get gas for the week.I buy from a discount store once a year. They sell in bulk,don’t remove items from boxes. They sale dawn and tide concentrated liq in gallon jugs for $7 ea.I get 2 of each for the year,dog,cat,bird feed. I am proud to say that due to being frugal I am able to help others during their illness. Keep up the good work LIVING ON A DIME…
Alice we are a family of 6 and we spend roughly that on groceries. Would you mind sharing a weekly menu? I’d love to see what you eat and if it would work for my family and if I could cut that price in half. Thanks. :)
I took Hillbilly’s budget menu (Miss Maggie had awesome helps/advice) and cut it down cost-wise as well as upped the nutritional values by using whole grains, dry beans/lentils, vegetables on sale, fruits on sale, and meat sparingly. This is not meant as a ‘brag’, but to let you know what worked for me/my family.
I am so happy to find this website. I am trying to save as much money this year as I can, because I know a lot of the extra money we spend is on food that we don’t necessarily think about buying, but ends up in the cart and is not always the healthiest, or best priced for our budget. I know this website is full of valuable ideas and I look forward to reading all the great advice.
The One Income Dollar
How does a person know what they should really be spending to feed a family of 3 or 4 a week? we all live in different areas on the country where food prices are different.
You really can’t know. That is why I always say I can’t really tell you exact amounts because things in different areas are different. People keep asking us what we spend on things or how much laundry we do etc. and ours will really be different from others. What I usually try to do is give you what we spend but also try to give a general idea or average. You need to do some work then yourself and figure out for you.
This is also why we give guidelines to follow. Anyone anywhere can easily use those guide lines to help with their grocery bill. For example it doesn’t matter where you are if you start regulating portion control with your food, control leftovers and the food which gets tossed (that 1/2 glass of milk, milk left in the cereal bowl or 1/2 eaten sandwich) the chances are most families can cut their grocery bill in almost 1/2.
This are the kind of thing we give you to use and you need to use not exact amounts. Like I said the only reason Tawra gives what they spend each month is because people just keep asking.
You do what you can- get a notebook, get a bunch of recipes you eat – rotate them through the month(s). These make into your grocery lists- and an inventory of what you need to make them. As you see the stores in your area have sales- there will be a pattern- say of 3-4 weeks- when an item goes on sale. Take advantage of them. Use coupons if you see your items. Take advantage if your store has meat on sale – day of sales just before they cannot sell them- Just freeze them or cook and repackage them! They are still good! Fruits and vegetables that don’t quite look right may be discounted, but make great breads or cut up for salads…
Inventory your pantry will be a shocker- we really don’t know how much food we really have to use… and the yummy stuff is usually hidden in the back to protect it from the rest of our family.
Keep checking out our web site too. We cover everything Laurie mentions in even more detail and explain how to. Also if you are really serious we our Groceries on a Dime e books goes into even greater depth. Most people find they get back what they paid for the books in their first trip to the store after using them. I’m not trying to push the books but if you are serious about saving you need to do something about it and if you think about it the whole set of books cost the same as what many people spend on a new DVD and less then dinner for 2 out.
I don’t know where to cut back, but I certainly need to, as we just received a large salary cut. We already live pretty frugally for a family of 7 and I shop at Aldi. I know that I will be giving up on organics, but I still want at least the fresh fruit and salads. We don’t eat out but once a month or order in pizza. I look forward to the other tips.
Hi Monica, I don’t know what foods you currently purchase but there are certain foods that are more important to buy organic than others. They are called “The Dirty Dozen” Get those organic if possible. Others get locally or on sale. BTW, our Aldis is starting a new organic section. Not much variety but I think they are testing the idea.
A night out for a family of 7 on a monthly basis sounds expensive. How about a family date night? Create a fun atmosphere with the helping to make the pizza or maybe the taco’s. You don’t say how old they are but some could be old enough to cook, some could start learning. Each month you could choose a different county to celebrate. Let the kids who are internet savvy search recipes and pick one for the family to try. They can be responsible for the shopping list (keeping it a least 1/2 the cost what would have been spent going out). They can plan the menu, you can supervise and everyone can help. All share in the rewards. What fun!
I don’t live in yr area, I hail from washington, but I base my families grocery costs on the recommended amount from the usda and food stamps allocations in our area it is 80 per adult. I made it a goal for a family of three to do 240 when I first started, then cut that back out of necessity when hubby lost his job to 160. Was surprised that when I cut things back to necessities and having all meals either at home or from home that we are doing just fine. I buy fresh fruits and vegies every three to four days some organic some not and keep to the staples w hardly an junk food. I am buying mostly bulk foods now in staple form. Use a site called www.thesurvivalmom.com she is a survivalist and has good suggestions on a yeara worth of staple supplies. I also went on a lds site where they give you a list of a years supply for how many people you have in yr family. I know this sounds a little severe, but it really puts into perspective what we really need to get by. We have great meals too. Had spaghetti and garlic bread w a salad last night. Night before, pork roast w baked spuds and veggies. Breakfast eggs and spuds…etc. as a matter of fact I have had an abundance of some apples and potatoes so i dehydrating those. 1 more thing: you’re probably asking why 1 yr? Hubby has lost his job on more than one occassion and when that happens we have to beable to live off of what we have until that changes then all we purchase is bread, milk, eggs which is about 10.00 a week in our area.
Yes Laura all of this is true. I have been trying to teach people this for years that it really doesn’t take as much as you think it does to feed your family the basics. At one point I was feeding my family of four on $15 a week and even though that was a few years back it still was not much compared to what others were spending. When things get really really bad a person finds out what is necessary and what isn’t. That is why I say things aren’t as bad for most as what they think and it could be worse because if things were really super bad I wouldn’t be asked how to save on a vacation or how to save on expensive organic food. They wouldn’t even consider a vacation etc.
Wow!laura. I never realized I’m supposed to spend $80 per person week. Believe me with my SS, my pt job, my hubby’s SSDI there is no way we can pay $160 a week for groceries. Sadly when I see someone on SNAP walking out of a grocery store with chips, soda, cookies, crackers, pre-made and packaged food I used to wonder how they could afford it. Now I know. I’m paying for it with my pt job. Please tell me why people who don’t work should be allowed to purchase so much junk with my – and your’s too – money. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind helping the truly hungry. But junk food is not food that anyone needs.
[Sorry, down from my soap box]
I’m pretty sure that food stamp amount of $80 was per month, not per week.
No $80 a week is probably right. People on food stamps for a family of 3 can get about 1 and 1/2 times the amount of money as what Tawra spends for her family of 6. They get quite a bit and that is usually just for food then they can get just money to spend for other things, huge discounts on housing, utilities and so much more. It also depends a great deal on situation. They account and adjust for different things.
Lately we’ve been very limited on what we can spend on groceries, and I’ve not been able to do the shopping most times, so it’s been fix what my DH brings home. I’ve found it’s not that hard to come up with a meal if the basics are there. He also doesn’t complain as much about what I fix since he’s chosen what’s there. (He used to be VERY picky.) We don’t even order in pizza any more, he just picks up a store brand frozen pizza of the type he likes. He doesn’t like leftovers, but I like leftovers for breakfast or lunch, so nothing goes to waste. I’m not able to bake as much as I like, but cake mixes on sale are very handy for quick fixes, as are muffins from scratch. Since our kids are now all grown, it’s usually just the two of us. While they were little, though, a favorite hot lunch was a box of mac and cheese prepared with a can of tuna and frozen peas stirred in to cool it for them.
about 15 years ago the gov. cut back on welfare and everyone jumped in saying they couldn’t live on what they got.
Housing was paid for in most cases so after other expences they had about$200 for groceries.
I sat down looking at the flyers from our 2 grocery stores and made up a menu for a month.
There was turkey, pizza, breakfast, lunches to eat at home or take to school and even snacks.
Mind you the turkey was stretched to make up about 10 different meals and there was quite a bit of pasta. But it was a healthy diet with veg. and fruits.
It came in at $150. and that was in a small town with no options but to get groceries at our rather expensive stores.
turkey was made into soup stock, pot pies, stews and soups. the soup stock ended up being gravy for fries and the pot pies.
hamburger about a lb was made into macaroni and beef, put into the tomatoe sauce for spaghetti sauce, and about 1/2 a lb went into shepherds pie.
cabbage was made into coleslaw and one head can do about 3 dishes.
I sent it to the paper and was told it couldn’t be done since all the things were made from scratch and most of the clients using welfare couldn’t cook.
give me a break food banks say the same thing today.
so make them attend a few cooking classes put on for free by either institution and learn.
trying to feed the masses would certainly be helped by the classes and since when is learning to cook demeaning?
food is food and if you can stretch it so much the better.
Yes Grandma this is a true problem. Many food banks and places like that buy our books to give to these people because they don’t know how to cook or stretch their food dollar. We have even been asked to speak to teach about this but I don’t do too much speaking just because it wears me out so bad.
Great job!! yes, most people don’t know how to cook from scratch- that is why we throw away so much too- we don’t know how to use a turkey for many meals as you did!
To have a laugh we know an older gent, now in his 90’s taught himself how to cook- it was either- cook, eat out or starve… He makes his own graham crackers and homemade breads… puts all us female cooks to shame!
If he can- we each can!
Grandma, you’re a woman after my own heart. God Bless You. Maybe this generation needs to start finding the young ones and teaching them to cook and stretch their food. There are tons of “cooking shows”, but I recently watch a “Top Chef Master” show where the person spent $140 for just 4 actual portions of food. CRAZTY
Last year our church opened a community center in our town. A group of people want to start their own catering business and are paying to put a kitchen in our community center. My two older girls (ages 9 and 12) are excited because as soon as the kitchen is in we are going to start basic cooking/baking classes. We hope to hook up with the foodbank in our churc to help. Our goal is to be able to have people come in and show them how to cook a meal and then have the ingredients for them to take home and make it at home. Sadly some people just don’t know how to cook. I am thankful for a mom that did most of her cooking from scratch and taught me so I can teach my girls!
Some universities have programs where a program for limited resources people and it dose teach these families that are raising children or grandchildren to cook, menu planning, food safety and much more. When I worked for the Calhoun County Extension Systems, we had planned lessons and with each lesson the ingredient are brought to their home and help them to make or cook the dish that goes with that lesson and they get to taste test the dish. We have even met them at grocery store to teach them how to shop. This is a federally funded program through Universities And each state has Extension offices in different states. To quiltfy the family has to be low income and have children or grandchildren that live in your household. The program is free once the qualifying is complete and when will get a certificate upon completion of classes.
Jill or Tawra, when did you make that list with the prices?
pop by the litre here is about $2
dinner out runs into $100. and that is without alcohol and refills are free.
pizza delivery is $40 plus tip.
reg. cereal is about $5. a box and granola is $10.
went out one morning last month for breakfast with a friend. I had a bagel and coffee she had bacon eggs and toast with coffee.
$24 total plus a tip. she paid for the meals but I gave a $5. tip.
needless to say I make pancakes/toast/eggs and tea biscuits not all together at home and save a fortune.
also mine taste better. So why eat out. It takes me 5 min to make toast and eggs and serve my husband.
With hydro bills, water bills, taxes and phone and internet costs eating out is as low as low on my budget.
Canadian prices are a lot higher since we have to import so much of the fruits during the entire year that my prices are probably way more than many of you pay but everyone can save on what they eat. Just use some imagination.
I don’t use coupons and I never make beans from scratch.
Yes I think your prices are a little more Grandma. We can still get a 2 liter of pop on sale for $.89 and even name brand with out a coupon for $2.50 for a large box. If you buy off brand or use a coupon you can get it for cheaper still.
Margie from Toronto
We don’t get many coupons in Canada and our prices for everything are a lot higher. As an example, I pay $4 to $5 per dozen for eggs (and those aren’t the Free Range/Organics that run about the same per 1/2 dozen). A litre of milk (a bit more than a quart) is in the $2.50 to $3.90 range depending upon the brand. A cheap loaf of bread would be at least $2 and good sourdough bread is about $5 to $6 per loaf. This morning, 1 decent sized (but not huge) red pepper cost me $2. ($3.97 per pound) – the best price in the Fall will be Green peppers for 99cents per pound and $1.99 for red/yellow/orange.
Still – I’m single, know how to cook, watch the flyers, shop at the No Frills Store and collect Loyalty points but, the best I can hope for is $150 per month and that’s not including any non-food items. I don’t buy any of the items on your list (aside from a bag of chips & some pop/soda maybe twice a year when people are coming over). The only way that I can think of to lower costs further is to up my carb intake (pasta, rice, potatoes) but then I’d be going against doctor’s orders for a low carb diet – you can only juggle so much.
I love your blog and think that you provide great advice but I also think that a lot of the time it really does only apply to US readers and the prices that you can expect to find.
Margie I say over and over I wish we didn’t have to put $ in any of our posts because people tend to get caught up in money amounts and miss all of the tips and ideas we are trying to teach. The amount is not what is important – it is what you do with what you have to work with. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Canada, US, England or any place, you need to be careful with your money and how you spend it. If you don’t have the money to buy coffee then you drink only water until you do. If you need to cut back on portion size. I find many people are eating way more food than they really need to or they are spending money on other things they don’t need like entertainment, cars, tvs, clothes, phones instead of using their money on groceries. Also what people don’t factor in is that the incomes are often higher in places where the prices are higher.
Bottom line is it isn’t the exact amount but how wise and super careful are you in the amount you do have to spend.
On another note to save time and my back I tried the pancakes in the oven.
made them up while the oven was heating poured it into a lipped pan then tossed some blueberries onto it. Put it in the oven and when it had firmed up I put bacon slices that I had cooked the other day. They heated while the pancake cooked.
It didn’t brown as much as we like so next time I will bake it at a bit higher temp or maybe try the broiler setting.
Don said to mark it as a keeper.
It was so nice to sit down instead of standing there flipping pancakes for 15 min.
Whoever came up with this my back thanks you.
I just found your site and am looking forward to taking a closer look. We have an ALDI the next town over that I shop at every week. For a family of 5 in CT, we spend about $125 on average. My husband is picky but my kids are learning to be more appreciative and frugal. It’s funny, my husband will come home and refuse to eat because he’s “not in the mood” for a certain kind of food, yet I’m trying to stretch this budget as far as I can and it seems he’s just defeating the purpose if he goes out and buys fast food because he doesn’t like what I prepared. Frustrating. I feel bad because he works so hard all day and deserves to have a good meal, but I’m working hard to make him one, it just takes some getting used to. Anyone else have that trouble?
maybe let him do the shopping and cooking to see how how hard it is to stretch that $
May be ask him what would he like for dinner the next time, and try to cook that. Even meat bought for $2 a pound from the grocery store, made into a meal, would still be cheaper than the fast-food.
My husband likes soups, pasta and all kinds of meat, while I would prefer something like hot cereal, mashed potatoes, or just plain pasta, and I don’t like meat that much, I like sweets. If I would cook the things I like, and ignored what he likes, he wouldn’t be happy with the dinner and maybe would go and buy something with a lot of meat in it.
There are some foods that my husband loves, and I cook that just for him. He likes fish and shrimps, but I am not a big fan of picking the bones, and the kids hate fish too. My husband likes salads with the olive oil, the kids will refuse to eat it. Although they would eat the vegetable slices from the same vegetables as in the salad.
Sometimes we would be eating dinner together, but everybody will have different food on their plates. I would cook like 6 different things, and everyone will eat some of what they like. The leftovers, if any, would be reheated for the next meal.
I have discovered something at our little grocery store in the past couple of months.
Thursday after 4 in the afternoon which is when I shop the butcher comes out and starts placing discount prices on meat still on the shelf.
Most are for 30% off but some on a good day are 50% off. That is steaks roasts and chicken breasts and thighs.
I usually pick up the steaks and roasts and the chicken thighs.
I don’t buy the cold meats because they go bad so quickly and they are in and out of the cold being sliced and put back that it just isn’t worth the worry.
But if I can get blade steaks which I use for a number of different type meals at that saving I go home happy.
If you can figure out when the butcher does this in your stores it might be worth it to change your grocery day if you can.
All stores are different so go to your store at different times of the day or ask when the butcher marks things down and then try to shop at that time. I also do this with my fruits and veggie department. Mine is best on Thurs. morning but different stores have different times so check yours out. I rarely pay full price for meat but get it for about 50% off.
Heather :) :) :)
Oh, I used to clip coupons…then I stopped, because I noticed that I was spending more money on the newspapers to get the coupon circulars, than I was actually saving on product itself..That….and the fact, that most of the stuff I bought (fresh produce, meat etc) never comes with coupons. So I stopped clipping coupons. We make all meals fresh at home and that saves me a lot of money :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)
use coupons.com or grocerycouponcart.com also Couponmom.com is a great source, too. bring a calculator to the store with you when you shop and see unit prices. Most of the time, generics win, however with some paper products and toiletries, there are not generic versions, so coupons will win, give up brand loyalty, though.
We don’t eat junk food at all and I don’t even buy the boxed cereals at all. We do have ice cream once in awhile like once a month and we certainly don’t drink pop. My husband and I eat out for breakfast once a mo. or so.
I only buy juices for smoothies that we have once in awhile since we don’t drink milk.
My husband drinks coffee from mcD’s and here and he doesn’t buy gourmet coffee. I don’t drink coffee. The girls don’t get fruit leather or anything like this. I do buy Simply Fruit for peanut butter and jelly for good health…no sugar. We spend about 600.00 a mo. on food and it seems it just isn’t enough for our family of 4. This is 150.00 each.Our girls are 15 and 13 and aren’t big eaters. I also cook by scratch. I don’t cook with canned soup, or even canned vegetables and I make my own taco seasoning and make my own salad dressing but I buy ketchup and mayonaise once in awhile. We don’t eat flour very much meaning pancakes, muffins, etc. and only buy Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread. We live in Oregon on the coast about 6 hrs. from some of the best crops in the nation but kind of remote and the food is expensive here. I just don’t see how I can cut anymore….
I have learned to really bargain shop for my groceries. Unfortunately, we are in a situation where we need assistance. Thanks to my neighbor giving me old recipe magazines and my husband bringing some home from work that he found in the trash, I sit down once a month and plan the nest months meals.I then write my shopping list and start in my pantry to see what I do not have to purchase. Some recipes i switch around to what we like (meat wise)and they are just as good. I use fresh as much as possible and watch the carbs and sugars due to my husband being diabetic and having cancer. We are a family of 5 (I’m the only female and our 2 oldest boys are teenagers) and we eat on $250 a month. I do not use coupons because I have to pay .10 per coupon if I do. We also avoid junk food as much as possible, not just because of my husband, but also my 2nd oldest son’s bi-polar/depression issues
Why do you have to pay money for each coupon to use?
Your food budget is much lower than mine and we have 5 people too.
Wow Cyndi, I can see how you spend so much, you only eat sprouted whole wheat bread? In my area that only comes in small loaves for about $3.98 a loaf, your husband drinks McD coffee every morning that is what $1 a dollar every morning, Your making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the sprouted whole wheat bread? Peanut butter is at an all time high because of some issues with peanut’s last year, and Simply Fruit is about one of the pricest “Jellies” you can get, hmmmm if that is an example of how you spend your grocery dollars, I just don’t know how you can cut back either.
I shoot for 100% whole wheat loaves and about every 12 weeks my local store does a promo buy one brand get the store brand free, or $1 off the store brand, I stock up on 8-10 loaves and freeze them. That way I am spending less than a $1 on a loaf all the time and only the 100% whole wheat not the cheap white stuff that sells for a $1 a loaf.
My husband rotates with his coworkers to buy ground coffee and creamer and that way they have good coffee at work, for way less than even McD. My kids won’t eat peanut butter and jelly, or sliced deli meat, or cheap american cheese, yet they have fresh fruit or vegetable or both, cheese and bread, and some sort of treat with lunch every day for between $.50-$1.50
I spend less than $300 in groceries we have meat every night, and we don’t ever eat beans, family of 5, one in cloth diapers, no food stamps, no government aid for any meal.
I’m checking out the site because I always find new tricks and tips or just reminders for things I have let slip.
I’m sorry I should have been kinder, but the whole idea of saying you eat healthy and can’t possible cut back more but listing things like McD and sprouted whole grain bread is a mentality that gets my goat so to speak. to me it is like saying if I eat like the rest of you I’ll be eating junk food and my kids won’t be healthy.
I read all the time that choosing organic is not always a good buy, rethink why you are making some of your choices and be open to triing a different approach.
Wow! Amazing how simple things add up. I am trying to get organized and on a budget. My family of 4 waste soooo much on groceries . Found this site and I am looking forward to getting off to a good start with ideas from livingonadime.
I am a single, disabled adult living on a very limited SSI disability pension. I don’t have a lot of money for groceries. But by subscribing to your post and others like it, I am learning to use coupons and thrifty ways. I eat very well, lots of healthy ground turkey, etc. I have learned to only cut the coupons for things I was going to buy anyway, UNLESS I’m getting something free. Some of the newsletters I subscribe to are freebie sites, and lots of times you can get a sample with a good coupon, so you can try before you buy. Also, since I am only cooking for one, I can subdivide regular packages of things and get two meals out of them. I don’t do juice either, because I’m diabetic and its concentrated sugar and also because of the cost. Much cheaper to get your dailies from veggies – cheap, easy, delicious, and FULL of the best stuff on earth. I also use only powdered milk for cooking. I can make only what I need and store the rest. Get my calcium from foods like cheese. Thanks for your newsletter. Keep up the good work!
for our family, we drink tea instead of soda,& count the slices of bread in your loaves,i find sandwich style gives more slices for the price. learn to use 1000 sheet roll toilet paper, not always the softest, but will last the longest for the $. frozen juice is cheaper than in the bottle for 2 liters you can get the same amt for almost 1/2 the price. A bigest source of savings? cut up veggies – greenbeans & carrots mostly, the smaller the size but you still get the same spoon full frm the pot and and break up spagetti when cooking it instead of whole peices from the box helps too.
I LOVE this website. I have been reading it for over a year & it has helped me save a ton of money. I am a single mom with a 12 year old son, and I am proud to say that, using the advice found on this & a couple of other sites, I was able to create a $10,000.00 emergency fund in only 1 year! I have never felt so able to sleep well at night knowing that if anything happens to my job I can still pay the bills. Learning not to waste food/portion control/buying groceries at the right price was key to this lifestyle change because my food budget was the only place I had room to cut. You CAN absolutely make huge inroads in debt and be happier by listening to these fab ladies!
Thank you Terri for that great testimony. Boy it sounds like you really have it together. When readers like you write in it really encourages others to do the same and to know that the things we teach really are doable especially for single moms who sometimes thinks those goals are impossible. Keep up the good work. Thanks again.
That is so awesome Terri! I’m so happy for you and your son.
Oh, BTW, Aldi totally rocks!
Jill, I was desperate. I had just gotten a 50% pay cut at work. I had to do something. Then I got started reading your blog, I realized I wasn’t alone, and I really believed that, no matter what all my co-workers were saying about how awful our lives now were & how poorly we were being valued, I could make things work for me. I read you faithfully, I get inspiration from you all the time. I still have a job & that is a blessing. But with no child support & it’s just me, I told my son, “honey, we have got to make some cuts.” But a year later, I asked him yesterday if he felt the pinch,and he said he hadn’t. That’s how I know I’m still a good mom… I provided for us, (dog & cat, too!) and sill got to where I wanted to be, thanks in no small part to you, and my son never noticed we were economizing. I love you guys!!
It just goes to show that it isn’t how much money you have and things that you can give your kids that are the most important in being a good mom.
I heard something recently that rings true, groceries shouldn’t stack so neatly in your cart. That is, real food, (veggies, fruit, meat, legumes, grains) doesn’t come in nice little cubes. And real food costs a fraction of what prepared stuff does. Real food rarely has coupons, because there isn’t the huge profit margin on real food, from which to pay out on a huge coupon campaign.
Our family’s diet is heavy in the fruits and vegetables that we can grow ourselves. To these we add purchased dairy, grains, legumes and meat when very inexpensive (for example, in November every year I buy several turkeys — this year 4 –and keep frozen to cook up later in the year. I paid about 30 cents a pound for the turkeys, and each one feeds the 5 of us for a dozen meals.)
I like to bake, which is a help. I bake all our bread, buns, desserts, and tortillas. And we never feel deprived. If I’m just too tired to cook a big meal, instead of getting takeout or prepared convenience food, we just do something really simple, like oatmeal. The family understands that Mom cooks everyday and sometimes needs an easy meal to prepare.
Just got back from a week at the beach with family and decided not to go to the grocery as soon as I got back. It has been very hot and humid here in VA so we stopped at the local drugstore and picked up a gal of milk and went home. I did go to the farmers’ market on Saturday for tomatoes, corn, peaches (2) and nectarines (2), squash and green beans and eggs. We have been eating from the freezer and have not felt at all deprived from not shopping immediately. Let me just say that we left for the beach with a totally empty fridge because we had a 4 day power outage and had to throw away everything in the fridge. Thank goodness it was mostly condiments because we were trying to “eat down” before we left so we had nothing much left in there. When we got back here is what we did for meals, On Saturday, I deboned 2 chicken breasts, cooked the meat for dinner along with fresh corn and watermelon. I put the bones on to cook and made stock for another day. The leftover chicken on the bones went in the freezer, too. Sunday – I cooked squash and fresh green beans – we had these with a slice of ham and shared a peach. Monday – leftover chicken and green beans with watermelon. Tuesday – scrambled eggs and toast with fruit.
Last night we had BLT’s with some leftover bacon from the freezer, and more fruit. When the temp is high, I try to cook very little and our appetite is not eager to eat hot foods, either. So, easy meals with nice cold fruit and leftovers work well. My point is that I did not do a big grocery shop and we have managed quite well on the few things I got at the farmers’ market. What I especially like is I can buy only the portions that I need at the market so I am not buying food that gets tossed. If I had been to the grocery store, I am sure that I would have gotten more than I needed and would have spent money for snacks that we really didn’t need to eat.
I know this is long but wanted to give you an idea of what you can do when you want to. We are trying to eat lighter and less this summer. It is good for our health and our “body shapes.”
In our 60’s, we’re now on a fixed income rather than living on the proceeds from two full time jobs and I’ve spent a lot of time climbing walls when it comes to cooking on a limited budget. The biggest problem is my husband’s myriad of health problems (diabetes, heart disease, and stomach problems all over the place.)
Because of the heart issues, I have to watch the fat intake. Because of the diabetes, both sugar (not really a problem) and carbs (now, THERE’S a problem!) must be severly limited. And, because of all three, it’s whole grain EVERYTHING!
One of my daughters did the extreme couponing thing and tried to talk me into it. I tried, but since processed foods are pretty much of a no-no around here, it was an exercise in futility. And it occurred to me that I was probably spending more in ink cartridges for my printer than I was saving by printing out the coupons.
I buy frozen veggies…lots of frozen veggies. If there is a processed food item or a restaurant dish that we like, I go to the copycat recipe sites, get the recipe and then tweak it until it’s as cheap and healthy as I can make it.
The copycat Fiber One bars are my husband’s favorite.
Chinese and Mediterranian recipes, both big on veggies and short on meat, are usually my go-to’s. I’m trying to make all the red meat disappear from our lives. I don’t buy ground turkey or chicken because our local stores don’t carry the very lean ground poultry. Not really a problem since I can buy skinless turkey and chicken breast meat (and around here, boneless, skinless chicken breast is cheaper than ground beef of ANY percentage fat to lean)and grind it myself.
We used to waste a lot of food because, after cooking for decades for a small army, I had a terrible time cooking for two. So now it’s cook a meal and freeze the leftovers for a night when I don’t feel like cooking or serve them for lunch the next day. And I purposely cook double or triple the recipe if it’s one that is time or labor-intensive.
The ONLY thing I like about winter is that it’s soup and stew time. And, boy, can I stretch meat when I’m putting it in soup or stew. I’ve also found that a very little ham goes a long way in bean dishes made with nice, cheap dried beans.
It’s a continual learning process. But it’s sort of fun!
I am with you there on loving winter to be able to stretch the meat with soup and stew. Good point on using almost as much ink as the coupon is worth too.
I’m so glad you mentioned cooking a lot of Chinese and Mediterranean dishes for your veg- and budget-friendly meals. After reading all these posts about All-American meat-and-potatoes kind of meals, I was feeling a little out of place for wanting to learn to make and freeze some of my favorite Indian foods, since there are no Indian restaurants or Asian grocery stores around here for more ready-made options. I’ve considered making some dishes without dairy-based products so that they freeze more successfully, then stir in the yogurt or paneer cheese as I heat it through. It doesn’t save you a dime if your dish loses flavor and texture in the freezer!
Have you tried freezing any of your Mediterranean dishes? The April issue of All You had a delish recipe for spicy lentil salad–which is only as spicy as you choose to make it. It’s a great combination of protein and complex carbs that slow absorption in the bloodstream, making it very diabetic friendly. Even better, the recipe could be altered with any beans you have on hand–and don’t be afraid to play around in your spice rack to find new flavors that make your taste buds dance!
Kathy, We, too, are in our 60’s and my husband is retired. He is a diabetic and I have a liver transplant and some mild kidney disease so we are having to eat and cook differently, too. I am still working but do enjoy trying new recipes and it is fun cooking for just the 2 of us. I do wish my husband were more amenable to trying new things but as long as I cook something that looks familiar, he will try it. He refuses to give up his bacon on Sunday so we both still eat that but I am cooking less of it and that still meets our needs. Thanks for the idea of looking up copycat recipes. I’m definitely going to try that. I also love to make things from the food network channel. Lots of time, you can leave out or use a substitute that has less calories and fat and still get the same taste. Good luck with your new eating plan.
saving money for students
Hi, just wanted to tell you, I liked this post.
It was helpful. Keep on posting!
Another way to save money and eat healthy at the same time is to grow your own. Even if you don’t have a yard to grow veggies, you can still grow them. As I write this post it’s nearing the end of September, now is a good time to start thinking about what to grow next year. You can grow a tomato plant in a 4 gal. bucket. Drill holes in the bottom of it for drainage. Don’t have a 4 gallon bucket, think about an empty plastic cat litter container, or any thing else about that size. You can grow peppers and cucumbers in this size container too. You can grow lettuce in a 1 gallon pot, think milk jug with the top cut off and drainage holes in the bottom. You can also do carrots and radishes in empty milk jugs. Beans make beautiful vines that you can grow in a 1 gallon container also and you can train them to climb anything from a trellis to a wooden pole. You can actually grow an entire garden in your livingroom if you don’t have a deck, patio or balcony. All you really need is light and water. You can also save a ton of money by growing potted herbs in a window all year. Basil, chives and thyme are easy to grow. Get online and look for veggies that grow in pots, you might be suprised at how much you can grow in a small amount of space for little money. 1 tomato plant will give you plenty of tomatoes to eat fresh and still give some away. Same with peppers. Plant 2 or 3 head lettuces seeds a week for a continuous supply or plant cut and come again for a continuous supply until the weather gets hot. Save money and grow your own, and you know where your food came from. If you have a little room or yard you can make raised beds. These are simple and can be made any size you like, and they are easy to maintain. They have very few weeds and if you do get a week they are easy to spot and pull. I have a raised bed that is about 20 feet long and 3 feet wide running along the side of my home. I produce more than enough food for my family and still have enough to give away and preserve by using a square foot mehtod of growing. The initaial cost of a raised bed can be a little pricy though. You can make the bed out of any used lumber, but filling it useally means buying soil. Once you have them made though then all it takes is a little compost each year, which you can make yourself, and that’s it. Getting started may take a little money, but once you have your garden going and growing it’s amazing at how much money you can save in the long run. Plus it’s fun to grow your own food. Try it and see how excited you get when you see that first tomato starting to form and the anticipation of that first bite. Nothing tastes better than fresh picked veggies still warm from the Summer sun.
Thanks Debbie for the good ideas if any one needs more tips on this same thing here are two links to help. One is to the articles on this web site which go into quite a bit of detail and the second link is to Tawra’s new garden web site. Hope these help.
Cool Garden Ideas
Walmart has buckets with lids. 5 gal. And smaller, cheap.ask at the bakery
if you have a garden and even if you don’t. take up canning.
My four .25 tomatoe plants gave me enough tomatoes to make 30 pint jars of green tomatoe mince meat. The only thing I had to buy was the raisins. I think the entire amount cost me $14 for jars, $2. for sugar $2 for splenda and $8 for the raisins oh yes $1 for the apples.
Didn’t need a pressure canner just a large roasting pan for the hot water bath.
I have 50 pints of different relishes lots of pickles and dipping sauces and jams.
Now I have gifts for friends at Christmas and other days and I certainly feel like I have accomplished something with my days.
Yesterday I canned 6 pint jars of ham and bean soup. This requires the pressure canner which Don bought me a couple weeks ago.
But if you are doing fruits and vegetables most can be done in the hot water bath.
I don’t have a large garden so much of what I can and dehydrate I buy but in season it is not that expensive and you can do things to your tastes and diet requirements.
Saves a ton of money if you want sugar free or diabetic friendly foods.
Just an idea for someone with some time and wants to save money on food.
the start up is you need jars made for canning but yard sales are good for those.
And if you don’t have space, find someone on your street that used to garden – you do the work and share the results for their garden space!
Love gardening in trees too!
To save money on groceries I gave up my extreme couponing and decided to try price matching at Walmart. This has saved me hundreds of dollars in grocery and gas money. My local rural store matches prices in a large city a couple of hours away!! I really enjoyed the article it made me really evaluate a necessity. Thank you
I have a Food Source nearby and they do the price matching too. The only problem, sometimes they don’t have the products or brands advertised in the other stores. They also won’t match the prices for the stores where you have to use the club card to get the savings (like Safeway, Rite Aid or walgreens).
One thing I have n oticed for years is that you can save more money than clipping coupons by just buying the store brand. A lot of times even when you use a coupon the cost of the brand name item is still more than the store brand. I tried Kroger store brand spaghetti sauce over Ragu or Prego and it was very good. The jar was $1.99 while “on sale” Ragu was
$2.49 and Prego was more than that. I also shop Big Lots and the .99 cent store. Aldi’s is good also.
Love your site! I think the biggest reason most people have trouble saving money is that it takes work.
Work is involved in checking your pantry and making a good grocery list. It takes time to sort beans and to cook them well. It takes time to plan meals. And then execute the plan.
This world has us so convinced that we are so importantly busy. They tell us we deserve a break today. Enticing isn’t it? After all we are so busy! The question is what are we busy doing? Spending money to earn our well deserved break.
When you wind up broke or close to it, then you realize that break you deserved cost you a lot.
Cooking beans in a Crockpot is easy compared to waking up in the middle of the night terrified because the bills are due.
Counting your blessings instead of needs, most of which are just idle wants anyway, takes some time and work to think about the really important stuff.
Learning how to care for you takes work too. You have to invest time in learning to cook, or fix something that breaks. You have to pick up the broom and sweep the room yourself instead of pining away for the maid service to come and work for you.
You have to work to learn the basic principles of being organized. It takes work to learn and work to DO.
When I lived in a large city all my friends were using this pre packaged meat company to buy their food. It was supposed to save you so much money by just selling you the premium and not the waste.
My husband decided to have the guy come and quote us. The first question was, how much are you spending a week on groceries? When I responded he folded up his little notebook and said, HOW? I told him I was a country cook and cooked mostly from scratch.
He said, “I am sorry but I cannot possibly improve on that.” I felt like I was being scandalously extravagant on the money I was spending because the store prices were so expensive there. The really strange thing was that all my friends were bragging about all the money they saved using his products!
Saving money takes work and while it can becomes a way of life, like any other lifestyle change, it requires effort and execution.
And like any other aquired life style change it can always be improved upon.
Thank you again for this wonderful website that reminds me of that!
Very good advice and so true. It does take work to do all of the things you mention. Most people hear the word work and turn away but I feel sorry for them because it feels so good at the end of a day of hard work to see the nice thing you accomplished. Really good tips.
Thanks for all your good advice!
As gardening plants are out in the stores in the Northeast, I am reminded how many people do not plant anything. If each one had a small garden or two or three plants how much would their lives change? Someone said that the depression was bad, but if things happen now- people don’t grow their food, and don’t know how to cook it!
We all have libraries with tons of cook books. Working with the Friends of our library, I have seen so many cookbooks on sale for a $1 or even 50 cents! And they are the basics- not the fad diet books, but how to cook a potato in a camp fire or in the oven. How to heat water for pasta or rice.
I love couponing since I tell my friends- we’ll try a product- learn how to cook it and then see what it has in it and how to cook it from scratch and as fresh as possible. Its like the Stone Soup story- no one wanted to give a vegetable that they had hidden, but when the aroma of this great soup hit their noses- they had a carrot or two, a potato or turnip, etc… and everyone benefited!
Share your old coupons with the military overseas- who can use them up to six months expired- make a group to clip, sort and don’t worry about using a few out of the 1000’s you will have- if you don’t use them, they will still go to them.
And if you do find a great bargain- share it with your friends and the food pantry. And the food pantry would love help even sorting the food they have.
Charity never faileth and we can use couponing and being wise in our food budget to really extend our family’s well being.
Laurie I think that is why Dining on a Dime is so popular. When we first wrote it there were very few books on the market that told new cooks how to mash potatoes, cook rice, a roast, make ice tea. So people really liked that part of it. Then we had the more unusual things like roasting pumpkin seeds and sun flower seeds, make ketchup, sweetened condensed milk, mustard, powdered sugar, vanilla, self rising flour and so much more. That was before everyone had internet so they had no other source to find these things and were all over our book. That is why it is popular now too is because it is like a mini cooking encyclopedia and if for any reason they can’t get the internet or we would ever had something like a depression Dining on a Dime would help show how to make so many things you maybe couldn’t get.
I was really shocked at how many cookbooks tell you how to roast a duck in orange sauce or to make a fancy salad out of ingredients you need to ship from overseas but didn’t tell any one how to make french fries from potatoes or roast a chicken.
Once a month go for a week on just what is in the cupboards and freezer. You would be amazed. Keep a container in the freezer for chicken stock mixes and beef stock mixes. Any left over veges can go in there also so when you are ready to make a soup you can just pull these out to start you soups. When I fry meat, use the George Foreman or anything I will save the drippings. Put a bit of water in the frying pan when still hot and this broth will go into the container once cooled. I have been paying down my debt with harsh actions since Dec 1/2012 and have decreased it by one third. I have eaten out or ordered in only 3 times in 6 months. I have not bought anything that was not URGENT and feel relief….I know it has been hard as I have put myself on such a short string (and I know I cannot keep it up for forever) but at the beginning my freezer was full and now it is getting on empty with the garden producing somethings now. I wish to be debt free other than the mortgages in 12-16 months.
You are doing exactly what a person should in order to get out of debt. I know you said you cannot keep it up forever but I think you will be surprised at how easy this way of living has become at the end of 16 months and will find you have established new (good) habits which you have gotten use too and don’t want to change.You will find it will be hard to spend without carefully thinking about it and you won’t mind. Keep up the good work.
Hi! I know this is sort of off-topic however I
needed to ask. Does managing a well-established blog like
yours require a massive amount work? I am completely new
to running a blog but I do write in my journal every day.
I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!
Most of the time I like to encourage people but in this area I’m afraid I must be honest. I don’t recommend anyone starting a blog or their own business unless you want to work very hard and make little money. Be aware of someone who says I make —- so much a month and only worked a few hours. One woman once told everyone she brought in $10,000 working only part time on her blog. We later found out that was one month with a special thing and the rest of the time she only brought in about $100. I will list some things you need to deal with.
~There is expense and quite a bit of it for your blog name and monthly programs to run it.Plus hours spent designing or paying someone to design a web page for you.
~Up until about a year ago (we have been doing this for over 15 years) we had 2 people working at least 40 hrs and sometimes more a week and 1 person working part time to full time.
~ Even when I go on vacation I still get up each morning and have to deal with something on the blog. It is with you always.
~ Your website goes down because of a storm or your server and you either loose your readers or they get very upset with you and you have to sometimes spend hours and in some cases days on the phone dealing with duhhhh people trying to get your service up and running again. Much headaches and stress.
~You can get a ton of very bad spam you need to deal with. We have even gotten a death threat.
~ Mostly we have the sweetest nicest readers but we do get some very rude, tacky and down right mean comments daily that we have to read.
~ You need to do heavy marketing. People don’t just show up on your website out of the blue and we have to continually change things in order for google to pick us up. You have to do alot of study and research to know what it is they want you to do for this month for your site to show up. It is a lot of work. Michael spends a good deal of his time doing this.
The thing is people think you can just write a few lines each day, post them and have tons of people pop into your web site. There is so much more behind the scenes that has to be done. It is like putting on a movie. It isn’t just some actors standing and saying lines – it is hundreds of people behind the scenes making it happen and look so easy.
Even with writing a book. You don’t just write a book and voila you are done and it sells. We have spent 2 weeks alone trying to pick and deal with colors and pictures for a book cover. Then another huge amount of time trying to figure out what title has the best marketing words and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
I have only been reading your website for a few months, and wanted to tell you that you and your readers are like finding an oasis in a desert. I have always been frugal, largely out of necessity, but now that our kids are grown, our debt is paid off and our finances go further, what was sometimes a struggle and painful, has now shown itself to be a genuine blessing. Learning and practising new ways to do things, saving money, disciplining yourself, discerning between a need and a want, etc., are all powerful tools for living. Soon frugal living becomes second nature and shows itself for what it really is—a blessing, a hedge against some disasters, a vehicle for peace, contentment, and self-confidence. This way of thinking and living, is truly valuable. Exactly how we manifest frugal ways will be different in every situation, but it is being open to the possibilities and being willing to persevere; that is so important and crucial. It is also freeing to be out of the bondage of debt, and to learn how little we really need materially.
The things that matter most, cannot be bought. Love your reader’s comments, too. Always learn something new. Feel like I have finally found “my people”. Thanks again for your common sense, family values, and encouragement.
Do you make any money from people posting comments, or is it just creates extra work for you? I just realized that I might be wasting someone’s time by posting lots of comments. The thing is, I love talking about saving money, but I rather talk to people online than it person, because I am an introvert, and I get more tired of having people around me, than being alone and gardening, taking care of my chickens, or even cleaning my house.
No we don’t make any money off of the comments. The main way is just through the the sale of our books. It does hurt sometimes because we have readers get made when we have a sale and they say we have a lot of nerve to make money that way but I don’t make money off of any of the posts I write or comments I deal with each day. I do it all for free. But make as many comments as you want. I love talking to our readers and don’t mind it at all.
Thank you for having such a wonderful website. I check it almost every day and find lots of useful information for me.
You are welcome. I am so glad you enjoy it. Thanks for letting us know.
I learned many years ago that you can save on groceries if you try. Sure it takes a little work but I plan my meals according to what I have on hand and what’s on sale at my grocery store. My husband helps me a whole lot since I have some health issues and getting or even feeling like going to the store is a challenge at times. I do not use coupons unless something is a really good buy. The dog food Bella eats can get expensive at times but since Bella is a service dog we feel that it is worth it. I am blessed to have a friend that keeps me in fresh vegs all summer. I enjoy reading your website and if its ok I would like to share a really simple cake receipe that is quick easy and good
Southern pecan pound cake
1 box of butter pecan cake mix
1 can of coconut pecan frosting
3/4cup veg oil
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 325
Grease and flour a tube pan
Stir all the ingredients together until smooth
Pour into tube pan and bake for one hour
This is so easy because the icing is baked inside the cake
Oh yum Susan this sounds soooooo good. It would be especially good around the holidays for those who want something different to make then pecan pies. If you don’t mind I might use this in one of the holiday news letters. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks.
You are more than welcome to use this recipe! Can’t wait for you to try this. Let me know what you think. Have a blessed evening!
I have enjoyed your practical advice on your website and in your newsletters. I am considering getting your book for groceries becasue I long be be a bettter steward of our grocery $$, however we have multiple food allergies – gluten, dairy, corn (syrup and starch too), eggs. Our meals, by default have to be meat (grass fed not corn fed), veggies and fruit. Most processed food is out of the question too. I am wondering if you book would be beneficial for a family like ours with such limitations. I want to be wise about buying the book to save money :-)
Thanks for all that you are doing!
Kim a while ago we had a woman talk to us and she listed the same things you did plus a couple of more problems she had and said there was no way that our book would work for her. What was so funny was later that day we had another woman e mail us and let us know how grateful she was for our book because she had – and proceeded to list the exact same things the woman earlier had mentioned. She said why she loved our book so much and it worked so well for her was that the recipes were so easy and basic that it was perfect for adapting them to her special needs.
One thing too that people often don’t understand about Dining on a Dime is that it is way more then just a cookbook with just recipes. We have hundreds of tips and suggestions of how to save in general on groceries no matter what a persons special diet. Pages of what you can freeze, how to use herbs, make your own baby food,plan you meals, pantry/shopping list, time saving tips, leftovers, a whole section on cleaning and homemade cleaning products, another section on homemade beauty products and tips to go with it, one on jar mixes, gift baskets, and another big section on things for kids like how to make slime, sidewalk chalk. I’m not talking just one or two tips but pages of them.
We have so many recipes to that will work for anyone in any situation like how to cook a roast, roast a chicken, cook rice, stews, soups,pork chop recipes and make mashed potatoes or ice tea. All the basic recipes and then some that are very different like roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Italian, Cajun,taco seasonings, pumpkin pie spice, homemade ketchup, salad dressings all which can have the ingredients adjusted to your special needs. We then have another section on substitutions and how to make common things for baking you may run out of, Potpourri recipes for gifts, I could keep going on and on.
To be honest we have a lot of readers with special diets and to my knowledge I think most them saved not only what they paid for the book but quite a bit on top of that. We have a guarantee and so far no one has sent it back if that helps you any. It really is an encyclopedia on saving on groceries in so many ways and not just recipes. Hope this helps a little.
My parents who lived with us for over 25 years died this past year and our grown daughter moved out on her own. Suddenly, its just me and the “old man”. He’ll eat almost anything so I’ve been able to get creative in saving money on food. I can take a small head of cabbage and get 3-4 meals out of it. 1st day – cabbage rolls with 4-6 leaves. 2nd day – stewed cabbage with 1/2 of the head. 3rd day – 1/4 of the head for cole slaw and the rest, along with other leftovers, for soup. We hope to start a garden this fall and really kick it into production next spring. I’ll be canning, drying and preserving all I can! I always buy meats on sale and with only the two of us, I can feed us both with one boneless, skinless chicken breast. A lb of ground beef will last us 2-3 meals. Small roasts are roasted, barbequed and stewed for 3-4 meals. He loves beans, so it’s pintos or white beans once a week and the leftovers make great bean cakes and/or additions to casseroles or soups. We use instant potatoes for mashed and I always make a little more than we would eat in one meal because the leftovers make great potato latkes or thickening for soups.
I’m a penny pincher, have been for a long time. Its actually fun for me because I make it a challenge, but sometimes it turns to dread. Your title says STOP clipping coupons to save?! Was that a misprint? Did I miss something. I only use coupons for items that I normally buy, and generally won’t buy most things if they don’t have a coupon. The only time I use coupons for items I wouldn’t normally buy (or a brand I think is to expensive) is when the amount of the coupon exceeds the price of the item making it free. Right now I’m in debate wondering if its really cheaper to make bread or buy it (I can get 100% whole wheat for 99c) Thoughts?
No that wasn’t a miss print Angie. I have found I can save way more and not even use coupons. Enough so I have even written a book and several articles on it. In answer to your question about the bread I wondered the same thing years ago and so I did a careful test a couple of different times and I found it to be cheaper to buy bread for $.99 or $.89 which is what I pay for it. In the test I just added up the ingredients for comparison for most people and it cost more that way. For myself personally not only did it cost more that way but for the amount of time it took me to make it I could have been working at my business there at home instead and made $20 minimum so I had to add an extra $20 to my loaf of bread.
Hello… I just found ya’ll today… ~love~ it!! Another frugal grocery tip: Call your local Department of Agriculture, many times they have excess produce and are looking to give it away, or they can point you in the direction of farms in your area that are willing to share their bounty either for free or on the cheap! Also, check bountifulbaskets.org to see if there is a branch in your area. Have a great day everyone! :)
I grew up poor. So Mom could feed us on about $25 a week. So growing up that way taught me how to pinch at the grocery store. If you teach your kids to pinch weather with coupons or what ever. You are doing them a great service. Shopping from clearance racks and only buy clothes on sale. As a kid all of our stuff came from Goodwill, yard sales and thrift stores. And I still do that with certain things. My problem was cleaning supplies, laundry soap and such. So I found recipes for all that stuff on pinterest. I haven’t been down the laundry or cleaning isle in about six months. We also only use bar soap in this house. I went to visit family and stayed at afew different houses. Everyone used bodywash. What a waste of $$! I use Walmart, Dollar General and the Dollar Store.
Something that irritates me. Not foodstamps, but what you buy with foodstamps. You can buy a soda or a piece of candy. But you can’t buy a package of toilet paper or necessities other than food.
Most of the items on your list I cut out years ago. We only eat out on special occasions involving mom (me) such as my birthday, anniversary, mother’s day etc. I do buy pizza on occasion, but I buy it at CostCo or Sam’s Club and pick it up on my way home. I will say the prices used are modest indeed and certainly not overstated. Growing a vegetable garden has saved us lots and usually gives us plenty to share. Home grown is fresher, tastes better, and you control if it is organic or not. Gardening is a great way to involve the kids and help them gain an appreciation for their veggies.
I also make my own seasoning packets, oatmeal packets, etc. I love doing this and would do more if my job didn’t take so much of my time. I look forward to whatever other helpful hints I can glean from your site. Thanks.
I’ve been wanting to cut costs for the longest time now but never could figure out how. I just lost my job & my husband is off of work until at least April (he works construction). Thank goodness I found this site or I wouldn’t know what to do! As soon as I have the money I will be ordering your book! THANK YOU!
As always your articles are right on the money.I can’t believe the amount of money people spend on eating out and then complain about the cost of washing powder and paper products! My neighbors eat out all the time and then complain because they can’t pay their bills. As for me personally I like to cook my own food.We may eat out every now and then but we eat in 90% of the time.
I know how frustrating it is to see people with their EBT cards checking out in the grocery store. We all know they come from a long line of SS recipients. We percieve them as ignorant overweight and lazy. The truth is the majority are simply a product of their environment. They are frquently illiterate and high school drop outs. Early pregnacy also plays a huge part in their inability to hold a job or learn to read. They may have $200 a week in take home pay but child care costs $100 a week. It is a self perpetuating cycle and even the most intellegent find the ladder needed to climb out of poverty is just too steep and that is asuming they have a job and the ability to get to work.
In our area for example the illiteracy rate is 10% and no life skills are taught in school. Jill and Tawra I know you were able to pull yourselves out of your poverty mire and have shared the methods and skills you have developed. Tawra’s children will also have the tools to cope later in life. Will they use them? Well that remains to be seen.
I am in no way advocating living off welfare but for some there just seems no other way
I am a 75 year old grandma and grew up in the UK during WW11 so all these skills are second nature. My children however just spend the money for convenience.
I really do appreciate your newsletter and all the reseach you share and always learn something
Oh how I am so with you on the family who paid $40.00 for 2 adults and 1 child and left most of it on their plates! I am someone who paid $18.00 for a ham dinner for 6 including filling two baskets to the brim for Easter! The thought of paying 40.00 at a restaurant for two and a half people is jaw dropping to me! But this is the reality of how most people live. Many spend money without a thought to their budget or priorities. I just bought $300.00 worth of food for $173.00 using coupons. I don’t extreme coupon but I had a significant savings and that is my shopping for the month that comes to $43.25 for each week and that includes meats and vegetables. The thing is with many people the thought of a budget does not come to mind at all. I am so conscience of my money and how mush is coming and going that I cannot understand how others are not!
Veronica, I believe you just made the point that Living on a Dime is all about. We are all products of our environment, and if we didn’t have good foundational training, then the good news is that we CAN learn, choose and change, if we have a desire to do so. I came from the kind of background you talk about in your post, with parents who did (and still do) have addiction issues. Everything, and I mean everything went to the addictions. Yet myself and my four siblings desired something different, and by God’s grace, we looked around us, opened our ears,and watched others who did it well. We learned good and responsible habits from people around us, even if we just had to read about other people to find them. Circumstances and being products of our environments can be overcome and improved with a desire to do so. Motivation, not your environment, is something that cannot be given or taught. You have to find it in yourself somewhere, even if it only the motivation to cry out, “Lord, please make me willing.”
Make your own condiments.
If you cannot get ketchup, mustard, etc., on a good sale with a coupon that makes the item free or close to free, make your own. Many recipes exist out there to keep you from buying stuff you can make yourself.
Marshmallows, sauces, condiments, vanilla extract, granola are all things you can make yourself. If you do this, then you are no longer tempted by the sale gods.
I forgot to add….find homemade substitutes for stuff the kids want.
“I want French fries.”
Sweet potatoes cut up and sprayed with cooking oil spray and shoved in the oven at 400 degrees until they are cooked and crispy. It’s a good way to get veggies in the kids while not blowing a budget on the Golden Arches.
Ice cream: frozen blended up fruit. (I like to use the fruit that’s getting ready to go bad.
Applesauce: Apples and/or pears, a little water, cinnamon (optional) cooked up in a pan until soft. Serve cold. We put this in canning jars.
Spaghetti sauce: I make my own and put it in canning jars because it gets expensive.
Thought I’d share a couple of my favorite tricks.
I LOVE soup and find it’s usually easier to your own far better than what you can buy. A big pot can give you great leftovers that often taste even better the next day.
1) I NEVER by stock anymore. Make my own. I save the ends of onions, celery, carrots, peppers,leek greens, etc that I may normally through away. Store them in the fridge until I need them. On a day I know I want to make soup, I toss them all in the pot plus a few whole items that may be needed to balance out the flavor. Tastes so great. And a little different each time:)
2) I NEVER throw out a parmesan cheese rind. I toss it in with my soup while cooking for added flavor. So yummy!
Thanks Dorothy. Good tips. If anyone needs more info here is our post on homemade soups
My observation with coupons: a lot of the foods offered in coupons are not healthy and/or not things we buy/eat. I never buy canned soups such as Progresso, it is way expensive compared to homemade…..most soup leftovers can be frozen…….a friend of mine freezes leftover soups in individual bowls, removes frozen soup to a freezer baggie, thus when need a fast meal, person can put frozen soup in bowl and microwave it.
I have found over the years, if we stick to basic foods such as whole grains, dry beans/lentils, vegetables on sale, fruits on sale, meat sparingly, and some of the grocery items on sale in weekly ads…….that I can usually feed us for……$.40 to $1.00 a day per person……plus we have fewer doctor bills because we are eating fiber foods with dense nutritional value to keep us healthy. We don’t have a garden, though we wish we had room for one.
…..My sample of a week menu……… If we are hungry later after dinner, we have a serving of fruit and sometimes I plan a dessert (I like our desserts to be fruit or vegetable based, usually with a one item/one pot meal, not every night).
~oatmeal n’ craisins
~red lentil basil tomato soup (no need for crackers with this, it is filling and yummy)
~homemade creamy mac n’ cheese* / steamed broccoli or steamed broccoli and carrots
*I helped someone make a fast dinner once at their home, of purchased frozen creamy mac n’ cheese and just knew I could make it for way less…..thus we now love homemade creamy mac n’ cheese
~whole wheat pancakes topped with applesauce
~leftover homemade creamy mac n’ cheese / steamed broccoli / carrot sticks
~chicken barley stew / salad / homemade refrigerator crescent rolls*
*this is like pillsbury canned crescent rolls…….so easy…..just have to do a bit of planning ahead to have the dough sit at least overnight in fridge. It’s mix, stir, refrigerate, no fuss and I also like knowing what ingredients are in these rolls :0)
~country potatoes / over easy eggs / fruit
~homemade vegetable soup / biscuits
~(our very favorite) lentil tacos with sr. cream/cilantro/limes/salsa
~pumpkin bars for dessert
~brown rice n’ raisins with cinnamon sugar
~leftover chicken barley stew / celery sticks
~homemade pizza* / fresh veggie tray with ranch dressing
*our family vote for pizza dough is….1 cup of whole wheat flour to replace 1 cup of unbleached flour……we tried more but some said it was ‘too wheaty’…..personally, I prefer 2 cups whole wheat flour with 1 cup unbleached flour :0)
~oatmeal pancakes* with syrup / fruit in season
~leftover vegetable soup / crackers
~slow cooked roast beef / garlic mashed potatoes with gravy / green beans / whole grain rolls
*my oatmeal pancake recipe is all oatmeal except for 1/4 cup unbleached flour….the syrup is a compromise on my part as the family likes syrup
~oven pancake (dutch baby/german style)* / fruit in season
*we don’t like syrup on these, just the butter/olive oil they were baked in and a bit of sea salt, I know it is kinda different, but the fruit is sweet and that helps us avoid using syrup again……making me happy
~leftover red lentil basil tomato soup
~one pot spaghetti* / salad / one pan whole wheat rolls
*I buy ‘Smart Taste’ spaghetti noodles with extra fiber when on sale, as some in my family will not eat whole grain pastas….another family vote
~cracked wheat with butter n’ honey / fruit in season
~leftover roast beef dinner
~rajma on basmati rice
~pineapple upsidedown cake for dessert
Cooking from scratch/homemade becomes a habit that gets easier and easier with practice; the secret is to plan ahead and streamline ahead. Cook large batches of an ingredient such as dry beans, chill then freeze in amounts that will be used for a recipe. Also, have family help and put dry ingredients into zip loc bags for things like pizza dough, one pan rolls, oatmeal pancakes, homemade biscuit mix, etc…..we then make room in fridge to store anything that contains fresh ground whole wheat flour. When I see our supply of these mixes is getting low, we make more before it runs out……
For example: on pizza night, I pull out a gallon zip-loc holding 2 c. unbleached flour/1 c. w.w.flour/1 scant T. yeast/ 1 tsp. sea salt; add right into the gallon bag: 1 T. olive oil + 1 c. warm water; knead it right in the bag, let raise right in the bag while making an easy pizza sauce/grating mozzarella cheese/preparing fresh veggies. This makes 2 thin crust 14″ pizzas. The ranch dressing was already made, as we make it ahead by the quart…..it will keep in fridge about 3/4 weeks (I add 1 T. red wine vinegar to our ranch to help it taste lovely and last longer in fridge).
We have tortilla chips/salsa around regularly as a snack food; all other snacks are made at home except for occasionally buying pretzel sticks. Snacks: peanut butter/homemade freezer jam sandwiches, carrot sticks, celery sticks, apples, bananas, cucumbers, popcorn, biscuits, smoothies, homemade french fries, popovers……to name a few.
The only thing is be careful in what you compare. Sometimes it isn’t cheaper to cook from scratch so you have to be really careful. For example you compared making your own mac and cheese to frozen mac and cheese. Frozen mac and cheese is really expensive so compared to making it from scratch it would be cheaper but compare it to some boxed mac and cheese it isn’t. Just a heads up. I use to make my own homemade bread all the time but then found out it cost twice as much as the store bought I could buy. This isn’t always true but is a lot.
Now I know you are wanting to cook that way because you like to know what you are cooking and what you put in it. I didn’t really have the luxury at times to do that and had to only buy what was the most inexpensive. I know that may horrify some but the thing is at that period in our life even eating like that we were extremely healthy too. I even had people ask what I was doing because they had never seen such a healthy looking family. The secret for us was not that I was cooking from scratch everything or growing my own organic veggies but that I had a tight control over our diet and the amount we eat. We didn’t eat healthier then before we at less. Our meals were so balanced in nutrients because I watched it so close that some days we didn’t even need a snack because our body had exactly what it needed from meal to meal.
I love everything about your site except all the advertising!!
We work very hard to make up and run this website Lynn- spending many hours doing it. Advertising is the way we can earn a little money so we can afford to keep it going. How would you feel if you worked 40 hrs a week very hard at a job helping others and then they tell you they don’t feel you should get paid for it? That is pretty much what happens to us all the time.
I’m a single person living alone so that might have something to do with it, but I don’t spend near that much on these things. My gourmet coffee spending is $5 1-3 times a month, not every day! I’m definitely looking for new recipes because every time I try to make coffee (mocha) at home it tastes awful! I also don’t drink it often enough so I’m not sure the grounds are staying very fresh when I buy them myself. An energy drink is even better because one of them will last me 3 days. One can of Monster is 2 servings if I remember correctly, but the caffeine content is so high that I turn it into 3 servings easily. I also don’t drink them daily. Pizza I rarely eat anymore, but if I do, it’s not more than once a month. That one pizza is easily 3-4 meals for me. I do tend to eat out too much, but eating out doesn’t have to be expensive. I got the 10 nuggets for $0.99 at Burger King and it was surprisingly filling, I guess I wasn’t too hungry that day, and I just had water with it. I do buy chips at $3 for the big bag. I take serving size portions out of it in my lunch to have with a lunch meat sandwich or PB&J sandwich. So one bag lasts me a while. I don’t buy meat at the grocery store and even when eating out I will usually tend to opt for beans or other protein sources because the meat options are usually more expensive. However as with the nuggets, I’m not opposed to meat when it’s affordable. I’m looking for the suggestions for alternatives though. You told us not to buy these things, but didn’t tell us what we should buy instead! I saw one of your youtube videos whe you said it is cheaper to cook and make the things yourself, but I cannot find the recipes.
It sounds like you are doing pretty good Sarah. I do eat out at fast foods once in awhile and buy only 1 item from the dollar menu with a glass of water. It is very filling and I mention this because one of the main problems with spending so much on groceries is people are eating way more than they really need whether it is eating out or cooking at home. The second big problem is they waste so much (on average 50%).
Now as far as what to buy in place of meat well this is where knowing basic nutrients in food and the food pyramid. It isn’t hard to find and learn this info and with this knowledge you will easily know what to substitute for things and the serving amounts you really should be eating. People keep trying to study and find out about menus and how to save on groceries but if you learn about nutrients and food pyramid you can easily know what to eat.
For example – if you are wanting a meatless meal you can use things like beans (which you mentioned), eggs, macaroni and cheese, dairy items like potato soup (milk has a lot of protein in it). You can have 1-2 deviled eggs for your meat for a meal, our recipe for white sauce says to add eggs and a list of other things to it use in place of meat and to stretch meat.
Just type in a word in our search bar on the website and you should be able to come up with many more and them we have 1200 recipes and tips in our cookbook Dining on a Dime, volume 1.
I could write an endless list of things with protein – cheese enchiladas, cheese and broccoli, soup, yogurt, sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole, pea soup, peanut butter and crackers, cheese and crackers. Of course you would want to add a salad or some veggies or fruit these are just recipes with protein in them.