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How do you cut back on your household goods and food items?


gevs4him
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Food:

-powdered milk for cooking

-grow my own herbs

-garden, but also trade with neighbors.

-create a rollover menu when food planning. I can plan a week's worth of food and cut my shopping by making sure we use the same ingredients in several foods. I can cook up chicken for enchiladas, set aside a few ounces and use it for stirfry 2 nights later. The night between can have tacos, and then chili two nights later using the leftover meat, tomatoes, and onions. Pot roast becomes bbq sandwiches.

-ice cube trays are not used for ice. They're used for freezing broth, chipotle chilies, soup...one cube is about 2 tablespoons so I keep what I need on hand and don't have to buy a new can of X for a small amount in the recipe.

 

Home:

-concentrated cleaning supplies when I have to buy them. We use mostly vinegar and elbow grease. I clean each toilet every day so I don't need a harsh cleaner and the mirrors get wiped down with a barely damp old cloth baby wipe.

 

 

I pay attention to sales and used to keep a price book so I knew when the cycles were and when to stock up.

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No drinks, period. Everyone drinks water. I buy milk, but it is mostly for cooking. We do buy beer. :)

 

Stop buying snacks. Buy extra fruit and veggies and have things like popcorn (for an air popper) in the cupboard. Snacks will be healthier and if it takes longer to make, you are less likely to eat out of boredom.

 

Meal plan. Buy only what you need. Eat leftovers for lunch.

 

Stop buying cereal. Eat steel cut oats or eggs for breakfast. Healthier and more filling. (Although, we pay a lot for eggs, so I don't think this is cheaper for us.)

 

Have set snack times. Yeah, yeah, we can argue about this, but you want to know how we save... Set snack times provide for better planning.

 

Don't buy cream of whatever. Make your own sauces.

 

For us, watching our grocery budget actually heeled me start cooking healthier.

 

Now we are back to spending too much though, just because I'm in love with Whole Foods and go a little crazy. I need to be better about meal planning, big time.

 

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When I get serious about cutting the food budget, the first place I start is by ditching as much convenience food as I can. Then I start breaking down meals and planning to make as much as possible from scratch. From there, I look at the best/cheapest ways to assemble the basic staples I need to make said from-scratch items. So I tend to buy a lot of dry goods like oatmeal, rice, beans, etc. in bulk. It all has the added benefit of making sure we eat the way I like to eat anyway--more fresh and healthy stuff--because not only am I ditching the more processed convenience foods, cooking from scratch and using dry and bulk ingredients frees up more dollars for more and better produce.

 

I also need to be organized and meal plan, and that's the hardest thing for me. I am awful at meal planning! But when I do, and get serious about the stuff I outlined above, I cut my grocery spending by a LOT. I can halve it, at least. Flylady has some lists and tools for inventorying your kitchen--I find this to be a very helpful strategy along with meal planning. An inventory for the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Declutter and throw old stuff out first, then list everything. It really helps to have that picture of what you already have and what you need. Then you're not buying things you don't need, or getting stuck needing an ingredient for a meal at the last minute and having to scrap your meal plan for that day.

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We don't buy any soft drinks. we buy a big box of popcorn 24 bags for $5. The kids eat popcorn for a snack. We use coupons, and wait for stuff to go on sale. I found boneless skinless chicken breast at the grocery store mark down to 99 cents a pound. I bought 20 packs and put them in my deep freezer. We use white vinegar and water to clean things. I get the Sunday newspaper for coupons and I use the newspaper to clean the windows, glass doors and mirrors in the house instead of paper towels. The ink in the paper really cleans the glass well ( I got this tip from my grandma's cleaning lady years ago). I hang up the towel to dry after we take a shower. I also go to mulitple grocery stores to get the best price but I go when my daughter has dance so I don't waste gas. I cut up old shirts and store them in a bucket under the sink for dust cloths. Hope this helps.

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I have cut our budget by about 40%. I have leeway to do some of the following because we have savings: I can take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

 

- I don't go to the shop with a shopping list or a pre-made menu. That way I can buy what is on sale and design my menus around this. I never buy meat that is not on sale/special offer.

 

- When there are good deals on meat, I buy in quantity and freeze the excess. About one week in four I don't buy any meat at all, just taking stuff from the freezer

 

- I shop on the same day each week, so I keep track of my spend

 

- I cook most meals from scratch but I use frozen as well as fresh veg: I buy enough fresh veg (we eat a lot) for the first few days and we eat cheaper frozen veg for the last few days

 

- We eat meatless several days a week: lentils and beans are healthy and cheap. When we do have meat, it's a very moderate amount

 

- When I have time I shop at Aldi/Lidl first, then go on to a standard supermarket to fill in the gaps

 

- I have a credit card that gives me points for discounts at the supermarket. I put all my purchases onto the CC and pay it off at the end of the month, gaining maximum points

 

- I use coupons but am careful not to be persuaded to buy stuff I wouldn't normally consider

 

- Snack foods are bought in moderation: when they are finished for the week, that's it. There's always toast if the boys are hungry

 

- We only eat out if we have an exceptionally good coupon/deal: we have one to use next week that will result in a 75% discount on a meal for four.

 

Laura

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We gave up DirecTV and bought Roku boxes. We stream from Netflix and Amazon Prime (we were already members) as well as using an antenna for local stations. Our news comes from the internet.

 

I shop mostly at Aldi, and when I shop regular grocery stores I buy mostly generics. There are a few items that we find we like a specific name brand better, but for the most part generics are just as good.

 

Menu planning and some freezer cooking saves me a ton of money. We eat out less and/or eat fewer convenience foods when I have a plan.

 

 

- When there are good deals on meat, I buy in quantity and freeze the excess. About one week in four I don't buy any meat at all, just taking stuff from the freezer

 

 

Laura

 

 

I also do this. I rarely shop for meat that will be used that week. When I do my menu planning, I check my freezer inventory and plan from there. When I buy meat it's because it's on sale, not necessarily because I'm buying it for a specific meal.

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I do much of the same things...but especially watching the ads. I wait for the circulars to come and then, i plan meals for the week based on the deals. I keep a close watch on what things sell for because they sometimes do try to get you to buy something thats not really a good deal. I go to the store once a week and get everything on the list, nothing else.

 

I also make it such that leftovers are some other nights meal...left over pot roast becomes a casserole. Its time saving and money saving.

 

I also keep almost everything. The meat fat from the roast i save and cook with it instead of expensive butter (butter is for baking only!). The end cuts of my veggies i save in a plastic bag in the freezer and I make stock from any chicken bones I used that week. Nothing goes to waste in the kitchen!

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We never use paper products except maybe for a party.

 

We switched to cloth napkins and rags. I couldn't believe how many paper towels this saved!!!

 

 

 

We do this too. We use cloth napkins when it's just us (paper only when we have guests). I use rags for cleaning. I also have a swiffer-like mop but use rags to attach to it.

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Ideas about stretching meat and using leftovers:

 

Gammon/ham joint bought on special deal. Frozen, then taken out for Christmas.

 

Meal one: served baked with new potatoes and two veg for guests

Meal two: ham sandwiches

Meal three: tiny cubes used in fried rice with a little egg and frozen veggies

Meal four: ham fat plus a handful of ham in dried green pea soup

Meal five: small cubes added to cauliflower fritters

Meal six: root veggie and pearl barley soup with ham juice/broth

 

Laura

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We will be gardening and expanding our garden to have enough to freeze (hopefully barring any acts of God). We eat only whole foods as much as possible (initially more expensive but the food goes farther because you are hungry less), I use cloth products for that time of the month. I buy in bulk TP and try to use cloth towels instead of paper towels. i use vinegar/water or baking soda and water for stuck on things as much as possible and only use my granite cleaner (read to seal the granite) once or twice a month. i coupon as much as possible. i buy locally as much as possible. Use all leftovers. Have good nutritional snacks on hand to minimize wanting to grab something while out.

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I stop reading the newspaper and watching TV commercials. I see the sale flyers, and they almost encourage me to spend money on things I don't really need.

I stay home.

We stop buying.

 

None of these things are fun to do, but they work. The easiest and most effective way for us to cut down is to just stop buying. Today I'm going to buy 2 new laundry baskets. We don't NEED need them, but they will make my life easier.

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Meal planning is my number one goal for 2013. I have worked very hard this year to trim in other areas, but trimming food is a constant struggle of mine. And really, it is all laziness. Here are some things I did this past year to help cut back across the board. I saved a LOT of money, and we were able to do a lot of fun family things too.

 

*All month long I only by needs that are immediate, as in something I have to get right now in order to live.

*I keep a list of non-immediate needs and shop for them every other month. To do this, I had to make sure I had 2-months of things on hand and to keep up with adding things to the list. This keeps me out of places like Target. I try hard to shop from a list during these trips.

*I keep a running list of wants. At the end of the month I see what is leftover in the budget and decide if I want to put any of it towards a want, or if I'd rather just save it. Usually I bought a few books, then put the rest in savings. Or if there is something we want to do as a family (museum, zoo, etc.) I will put it aside for that.

*Trimmed in other areas too - cable, phone, library fees (ugh!), packed lunches, etc.

*My biggest fail was menu planning, so now that I have a system in place for everything else that I like I will tackle this.

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We are trying to cut back also. Some of these are so obvious, but honestly, it's just taken me getting MOTIVATED to make some of these changes. :crying:

 

*no more paper plates - I was using these all the time for lunches, etc.

*no more paper towels - I am cutting up DH's old shirts and using those for rags, using cloth napkins also

*no more clorox wipes - this is a biggie for me. We are using the homemade rags with:

*vinegar & water in a spray bottle for an all-purpose spray - counters, bathroom sinks, etc.

*making my own lotion - so cheap and SO easy - recipe on my blog - I love lotion so I'm really excited about this

*making my own liquid soap (by grating bar soap and boiling with water) because the bar is SO much cheaper than liquid! (here is the method i'm using if you're interested.)

*grocery shopping LESS per month - just going into walmart makes me spend more! (we are in a tiny town and walmart is our best option out of 2 places to shop)

*ordering things subscribe and save through amazon - while trying to be frugal, we are also trying to eat healthier, some things like organic fruit leathers and coconut oil, etc. are cheaper on amazon than anywhere else I can get it.

*not using anymore cleaners basically - I'm making my own laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent too. Here is a powder recipe I may try soon.

*we got rid of cable and have a Roku box with amazon prime

*we don't keep soda and chips, cookies, etc. in the house on a regular basis

 

 

I'm going to go back and look at this thread too...wanting to find more ideas. The blog I linked to for the liquid soap and dishwasher detergent has some more great ideas too!!

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When I really need to cut back, I plan everything down to the last bite. Meals, leftovers, snacks, everything. Saves a lot of money to know exactly what you have in the kitchen.

 

I use vinegar and water for my cleaning. If money isn't as tight, I'll buy the Mrs. Meyers cleaning sprays because dh does get a little sick of the house always smelling like vinegar. ;) If you need to save money though, you can use vinegar for just about anything.

 

We always buy all of our clothes, furniture, etc. used from the thrift store. It's great for the environment and my wallet, and we end up with much nicer stuff that lasts longer that way.

 

We eat more grains and legumes. Rice, oatmeal, lentils. Dh whines, but I tell him to suck it up. ;) Most of this stuff we buy in bulk because it's cheaper.

 

No cable here. We share a Netflix account with my mom and stream it to the tv via a bluray player we got on black Friday for a steal. We do pay for the internet now, but when dh was unemployed we'd find places with free wifi, like the mall, and just use that.

 

I print coupons off the internet for everything. It saves a ton of money.

 

We only have one car that dh and I share. During the warmer months, dd and I do a lot of our running around with the bike/trailer. The trailer cost a bit upfront, but it was worth it. In the colder months obviously we need the car, but I have a gas card that gives me money off gas when I shop at a specific grocery store. I've gotten as much as fifty cents off per gallon with it.

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Soups are a great way to use remake leftovers! I don't cook a new menu item until the leftovers from the previous offering are done. Generally things don't make it to the third serving. I do throw out things that have been heated twice--actually I feed it to the cats or chickens so that's recycling, right?!

 

Making sure I bring along something to snack on in the car so we don't give in to the hungries and buy something just to make the back seat happy again.

 

Planning ahead for meals on the days we're running around is key. If I'm tired I'm less likely to want to cook. So I get my cooking in before we leave then I can crash afterwards too.

 

My crews biggest weakness right now is crackers. I need to find some recipes that are easy and affordable to make --no expensive ingredients! Just a plain-Jane saltine cracker recipe would be fantastic.

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I make a meal plan, shop in bulk (Costco) and use up everything. I also try to shop only every two weeks and make sure I get everything on my list so I don't have to run out for little things. I usually stay home all week and only go out on the weekends..library, and to restock fruits and veggies. I have cut my gas bill in half and get way more accomplished at home.

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Our food budget has gone way down since I began having regulars for each meal. It is a little monotonous, but with all we save I can afford surprises here and there in the menus too. I do my grocery shopping once a week. If I'm not in the store I won't spend. I buy all this stuff at the beginning of the week and replenish each week as needed. It's rare that everything has run out. We have a budget of 100 a week for 5 people but I've got it down to 40 a couple times and it's rare it hits 100 anymore.

 

Breakfast: cereal, milk, yogurt, cream cheese, peanut butter, oats, cream of wheat, bananas

Lunch sandwiches and salad: bread, cheese, lunch meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo, mustard, pickles, banana peppers, cucumbers, olive oil, vinegar

Snack: seasonal fruit, raisins and peanuts

Dinner: these I of course plan weekly, but we do 2 beans, 2 egg dinners, and 3 meats. Since we do sandwiches for lunch, leftovers, with a little imagination, become another dinner. I find that often I don't use all seven meals I planned and need that many less the next week.

Dessert: once a week

 

Households: dish soap (clean the stove with this), hand soap (clean the sink and bathtub with this), garbage bags, sponges, laundry soap, toilet cleaner, windex

 

A lot of "must haves" I never buy like paper towels, juice, pop, coffee, chips (as a snack)... Also if it's not on my list I don't buy it unless it's a crazy sell but in that case I change my menu so I don't need other things from my list. If I forget an item we go on without it. Going back to the store is my weakness. If I go back I will buy more than the one item. The meatless dinners are really what made the food bill shrink. You can make a pretty large quiche with only six eggs, for example. There was a thread going before with cheap meal ideas. I learned a lot there.

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LAUNDRY DETERGENT

 

Make your own laundry detergent! I just do a powdered version so I don't have to mess with boiling hot soap. Once you get the ingredients (I ordered off the internet) it's very easy. I haven't done it this year because we were trying to get pregnant and someone scared me with the notion that borax causes infertility (unclear if this is true). Another downside is that the smell seems harsh on my nasal passages.

 

BUT...once you get it going, it's cents per load, and you can stop spending $10-$15 per bottle of detergent.

 

http://www.moneysavi...ndry-Detergent/

 

(BTW, I suspect you can use any respectable, non-froufrou bar soap, but that's just my intuition. Your cleaning standards may vary.)

 

 

GAS FOR THE CAR

 

We tracked our expenses for a while using Mint and saw that no matter how many gallons of gas we were buying, our lowest gas expenditures were always at Arco and Costco, both of which mandate debit card usage instead of credit card usage. (The other gas companies add the cost of the card-processing fees into the cost of gas.) Just knowing that we could rely on those two brands made gas purchases much less stressful. I just aim the car there and don't worry about tracking the amounts that much more than that.

 

 

TELEVISION

 

We saved about $1000 a year by canceling DirecTV and replacing with:

 

* An HD over-the-air antenna which provides the basic broadcast networks

* Netflix Instant subscription = $85 a year

* Free Hulu

* Select purchases on iTunes and Amazon for favorite shows that are not available elsewhere; Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, Top Chef, et al. = ~$32 each

 

Note: This does not work if your husband or you are big sports fans, but if that's not your thing, this works quite well. Note: We have replaced our physical TV with a computer and large monitor and a wireless keyboard/trackpad which makes it much easier to control all these various streams. We tried Roku for a while but skipping that in favor of a straightforward computer setup ended up being much easier for us.

 

 

OTHER NOTES:

* Price book as mentioned above. Hard work at first but that work will be repaid in massive savings.

* Read Amy Dacyzyn's Complete Tightwad Gazette

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we raise our own meat so I'm not sure we save after feed bill, but it is a family deal and the sheep/goats are grass fed. FIL buys feed for pigs, we buy feed for chickens, and grandpa for the cows. We raise dairy goats for milk and chickens for eggs/meat. We do a huge garden and as a family can and freeze a lot. This cuts down costs. We don't buy drinks. I make tea, they can have milk, or water. We buy one fun food a week. This is either crackers, cookies, or donuts. It lasts one day and is gone. We don't even buy fun cheese, bread, yogurt, etc. Everything from the outside of the store. I always make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day. I don't do lunch meats either.

I don't buy bleach wipes or paper towels. I only buy toilet paper. I do spend a little more on cleaning because we do Malaluca so we spend a set amount, but it is more than cleaning. It's our vitamins, shampoo, tooth paste, etc. and it is a constant amount. I also save by not having cable tv, we don't eat out, and we pack lunches when we go places.

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I clean with vinegar and when I want a better scent left over after cleaning, I wipe down with a barely damp rag that was wetted with a spray bottle of water that had six drops of an essential oil such as orange or tangerine or even peppermint. My husband does not like a vinegary smelling bathroom. The bottle of essential oil - generally in the $6.00 range from a variety of websites, lasts all year despite only containing an ounce or two. But, it takes very, very little oil....since oil and water to not mix, shake vigorously to disperse before using.

 

As bath towels age, I cut and hem them into dish rags and mop cloths. I keep a couple of newer, nice looking dish rags around for when I have company over. But, honestly, stained and sad looking doesn't mean a think as long as they are being disinfected properly in the wash. My mother thinks I'm nuts. She spends a lot of money each year constantly replacing dish cloths because she has to have ones that always look nice.

 

I make my own laundry soap and it does work in my front loader just fine.

 

I buy one 32 oz. bottle of Dr. Bronner's peppermint oil castille soap every six months to a year - varies for me how long it lasts but never less than six months - and I make up dish soap bottles of it heavily diluted. It works fine for both handsoap in the bathroom, and as dishsoap in the kitchen and since I had a little vinegar to my rinse water when washing dishes, I don't really worry a lot about whether or not my wash water is heavy on the suds.

 

Since the boys feet have grown, I've been able to now purchase the same brand of sport sock and dress sock for ALL of the males which saves on losing mates for one kid or the other. Mating them up is a no brainer and we always seem to have enough, whereas before, I seemed to constantly be purchasing socks for them.

 

I do not buy baggies for leftoevers or for packing lunches. I use bowls and platters in the fridge and made cloth covers utilizing stretchy, narrow elastic so they fit a variety of containers. I made small, double lined bags with velcro closures for sandwiches...if they will be eaten in three hours or less, they stay very fresh. Since I can't really get them very air tight since cotton and muslin are "breathable" fabrics, over a longer course, the bread or tortillas can get a little bit dry.

 

I do not buy cereal or other foods that come in boxes. Most of our shopping comes from the perimeter of the store. Up front, it seems like more money. However, good, filling food lasts longer in the belly than carby foods so I've found that the if the boys eat an apple or an orange, a handful of baby carrots, or some popcorn (I keep a lot of popcorn on hand), they stay full longer and in the end, that saves money.

 

We make homemade pizza and have pizza night here every week. The kids love it and it's MUCH cheaper that way if I buy my mozzarella in bulk and then part it out...this is my one concession to baggies...freezer bags. However, freezer bags are NOT thrown away here. We wash them, hang them to dry, and reuse. I buy higher quality ones for this so they'll last a long time. I've been known to use a box of 40 freezer bags for more than two years before having to toss. But, you do have to be committed to it and gentle with them. I also look for freezer containers at garage sales and thrift stores. Many of the retired folks in our area are no longer canning and preserving food as it becomes harder for them to do as their health gives out. We have a huge retired community around here and lots of food preservation items are popping up for sale very, very cheap. Oh, and another good leftovers container is a quart jar with a screw on plastic cap. A box of caps is definitely worth the investment.

 

We drink a lot of water and iced tea except for the middle boy who has issues with being severely medically underweight, struggles to gain weight, and loses weight easily. His doctor has him on 24 oz. of milk consumption a day. So, the milk in the fridge is largely there for him and for cooking. Coffee is our one major vice.

 

Never feed a roast chicken as a meal if you have teenage boys. They'll wolf it down in record time and pick the carcass clean like turkey vultures! Instead, cook it, take it apart, portion it out into reasonable ration sizes, freeze the meat and broth, and then cook with it. You'll get a lot more mileage out of that chicken. Also, stock up on chicken thighs, wings, and legs when they go on sale in 10 lb bags because you get more broth from dark meat cuts than light. So, you can cook those down, save the broth, and use the smaller amount of meat in them for casseroles and soups...the breast meat from the whole chicken is best apportioned out for chicken salad sandwiches or chopped up into bits and sprinkled on sandwiches and for treat nights, made into chicken tacos or enchiladas.

 

Try really hard to think of all of the running you need to do each week and get as much of it as possible into a single day. The gas savings is enormous.

 

Since the neighbors dog killed all of my chickens and ducks, I buy my eggs from a local farmer that feeds his hens very, very healthy foods, and allows them to range during the day. His eggs are wonderful! I only pay $1.25 a dozen and most of the time, factory produced eggs are $1.69 or more at the store unless on sale. I make the boys have a scrambled, boiled, or fried egg each morning with their fruit and cheese. It helps fill them up and it's really cheap when you break it down by serving.

 

Faith

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All of the above are good ideas.

 

The main overarching rule is that nothing you buy for the house is sacred. We simply do not need 90% of what most people consider needs.

 

Cable? Just sucks your time away from other timesaving things!

 

Paper towels? You can totally live without.

 

Meat? Is most often a garnish/flavoring and not a main course.

 

Shampoo? Baking soda and vinegar works better for many types of hair.

 

Get in the habit of packing snacks or lunch before you leave the house for activities to reduce the temptation to get food on the go. I take them now even when I think we are coming right home because often we don't- we stay for a visit or stop at the park for a long time or whatever and then we need food.

 

Look at buying staples in bulk. We buy oatmeal, flour, oil etc all in huge amounts. 25-50 lbs of flour at a time etc. Spend less than 1/2 per lb vs the regular store, even with sales.

 

We did no internet for awhile (~6 months) and that worked great- just went to library and various hotspots. Now we have it again because we can get it for very very little at our new address and my husband is taking some online courses this next quarter. But it is not the necessity that it is made out to be.

 

Toss catalogues. Unsubscribe from merchant email lists. Stay off co-op buying lists. Cancel you paper or recycle the store circulars before you see them. Turn off or mute any commercials when watching something. Basically eliminate the possibility of seeing things you "need".

 

Eliminate cellphone or replace with prepaid. We get a discount via my husband's work for our phones so that is one of our splurges but if we did not get the discount, we would go to a prepaid phone with minutes or just a home phone.

 

Live simply. Make it last, use it up, make it do or do without.

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One of the biggest things we've done to save money grocery-wise is to simply stop throwing food out. When I make a meal where we have leftovers, I determine immediately whether there is enough left for lunches for any one or two people, or enough for an entire meal for us. Then I determine if we want to eat it again that week, or do we want to put it in the freezer for another time.

 

Every leftover bit gets used. Leftover veggies get tossed into whatever soup I'm making that week - and we have soup night every week. Some weeks I'll do two different soups, depending on the leftovers. This week we had a beef and broccoli stir fry that didn't make quite enough for another dinner meal. Instead of nibbling away at it for lunches, I thinned it with some beef broth, added fresh green beans, barley, sliced mushrooms and some oyster sauce, and we had one of THE most delicious soups.

 

Items that go stale in the pantry can be revived in the oven- a box of Wheat Thins that someone didn't close tight enough tastes as good as new when you pop them in the oven for a few minutes. Warm crackers make a great place for a smear of peanut butter. Tortilla chips always taste better when warmed before scooping up salsa.

 

Throughout the year I can and preserve as the seasons lead me too. That right there is HUGE for grocery savings. We always have jam on hand for smearing on bread, muffins, scones, tortillas, whatever. We always have plenty of salsa for scooping up with chips. When you have amazing homemade salsa, no one cares if the chips came from the dollar store or the discount bin. I buy blueberries in bulk in July and freeze them for adding to muffins, pancakes, smoothies, pies and crumbles all year long. If you plan now to learn how to can and preserve, you can often find classes in the winter through your extension office. Or simply buy a few canning books and start learning. If you've never made jam, buy a box of Sure-Jel and some jars, and follow the directions in the package. Use frozen fruit from the grocery store- which is a very economical way to can out of season.

 

Little nubs of cheese get saved and when there are enough in the freezer, I'll blitz them in the food processor with a bit of garlic and mayo or sour cream, pop it in the oven and then you have an ooey-gooey cheese dip. If I have pesto on hand I stir a bit of that in too.

 

When we have juice, I buy frozen concentrates. The directions on most concentrates is approx. 3 cans of water to the one can of juice. I increase this to 4 cans of water. My family has never noticed this small change to the juice we drink.

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Here's some highlights of what we do:

Food:

 

* Meat is a garnish or add-on, rarely the main event. I use about 1/4 lb in a dish each night, and that's to feed four people.

* Same goes for cheese. I use sharp cheddar in a lot cheesy dishes because you can use less because of the stronger flavor.

* DS7 is allowed 1 glass of milk a day. DH and DS12 are mildly lactose intolerant, so milk consumption isn't a big issue. It's mainly used for cooking.

* I make a quart of homemade yogurt weekly (2 quarts in summer). I use it instead of fattening and expensive cream when cooking, to make homemade salad dressing, for smoothies, and to make yogurt cheese to use as ricotta or a cream cheese substitute when cooking. The boys also sometimes eat it for breakfast.

* I make a big batch of waffles, muffins, muffin tin frittatas or pancakes on Sundays and freese them for our week's breakfasts. Waffles and pancakes warm up beautifully in the toaster.

* We grow and preserve all of our own vegetables and herbs, and some fruits. We pick 90% of the rest of our fruit at local farms, then preserve it for winter use. We also have a root cellar in our basement that allows us to store some fresh fruits, like apples, for several months.

* I don't buy condiments. I make them from scratch or we do without.

* We raise ducks for eggs.

* The only prepackaged food item I buy with any regularity is dried pasta. Otherwise, everything is from scratch and from homegrown whenever possible.

 

Household:

* No paper products, except for a single paper towel roll for awful messes (like cat puke) One roll lasts several months. We don't keep it out.

* Homemade laundry detergent. Yep, you can use cheap soap, but avoid soaps with lotion in them.

* All of our clothing, save socks and underwear, comes from thrift stores. Most of our shoes do, too. Our annual clothing expenditure for the four of us is less than $50.

* I sew, so I can mend just about any cloth item. Even if you don't sew, learning a few mending skills is well worth it. I even taught myself to darn socks a few years ago.

* We use shredded paper for cat litter. Our neighbor donates his stack of weekly newspapers to bulk out our normal weekly shredding.

* We compost. A combination of composting and not buying prepackaged food allowed us to downsize to the smallest trash service can and get rid of our yard waste can, saving us $60 a month.

* I clean with vinegar, baking soda, and hot water.

* I use a clamp string mop and bucket. Can just toss the mop head in the wash machine when it gets dirty, instead of buying new mop heads. We use a bagless vacuum, too, so we don't have any real cleaning expenditures.

* Nearly every item in our home is second hand. We have nice things, too.

* DH and I learn to do things that need done, instead of paying someone to do them. We see something we want, we figure out a way to make it ourselves for little cost. The garbage disposal breaks? We learn how to fix it ourselves using the internet or library books.

* We foster inexpensive hobbies and entertainment, when possible. Friday night is homemade pizza night and board games. We want to go to the festival downtown? I make some "junk food" snacks to take along, like caramel corn, so we aren't buying from overpriced vendors. Going to a fourth of July event? I pick up a pack of glow sticks at the dollar store so we don't have to buy the kids expensive ones from the vendors.

 

I love threads like this!

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We do many of the things listed above. Probably the highlights:

 

--Just don't go to the store.

--When I do go, use my list, stick to it, and plan ahead for any good coupon deals.

--I cut my husband and my two boy's hair myself

--I groom the dog myself

--I buy all clothes at thrift stores

--As a family we don't eat out. My husband and I do for date night some, but even then we try to go cheap

--Always evaluate...do I really need this? Could I get it cheaper? Could I borrow it? Can I wait awhile and think about it?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Go to the grocery store with a list every single time. Make a rule to not buy anything not on the list. It will become habit, and prevent you from looking at things you are not there for. I have also found that if I unclutter my house, I become more unwilling to bring in new things to clutter it up. I can't tell you how many times I have said no to new things because I just don't want the mess. I would open the door and let a burglar take it all if they would just knock on the door and ask for it.

 

I clean my entire house with vinegar now. I even made a shower spray using vinegar and tea tree oil. The vinegar smell goes away after it dries, and then your house smells fresh. The first time I cleaned this kitchen with just vinegar, we left the house for a few hours and came back through the kitchen door, the difference was amazing. It was like a cleaning company had been there scrubbing away the entire time we were gone. Instead of spending $20 for cleaning products I spend $2+. I also purchase essential oils from Eden's Garden and have my favorite mixtures. The plus side of using it on your countertops (don't use it on marble) is that your kids can eat off the counter without you fearing cleaning chemicals. I have terrible sinus issues sometimes and it has made cleaning during those days tolerable.

 

We have shampoo monsters in our house that use too much at once, pour your shampoo in a pump bottle. We cut our shampoo cost down to a fourth of what we were spending. I was buying it once every week or two, now it's once a month or longer. I did this with the conditioner too. We recycle the foaming bathroom hand soap bottles too. It takes only a few squirts of hand soap (3-5) and the rest warm water to fill the bottle. This way the kids can wash, wash, wash their hands with all the soap they want and it only cost me pennies. I have done this with the dishwashing liquid too because the DH uses too much at once. Any liquid works with the dish liquid but the concentrated soap works best because it makes a better foam. A small $1 bottle of dish liquid last for nearly a month now. I'm considering trying this with the kids bath wash next! I may put the liquid laundry soap in a pump when I can find a bottle that is suitable for that.

 

My DH had a terrible habit of eating out a lot. I splurge sometimes at the grocery store just enough to satisfy those cravings, a $5 steak can save us the $50 restaurant bill.

 

Some people don't know this but you can still get basic TV channels with an antenna on a HDTV. I have had conversations with people in line at the store while buying antennas that didn't know this. Some of the better ones can be triangled for a stronger signal too. We have more than one but we don't have them triangled right now.

 

I won't make an internet purchase without a coupon most of the time. I use retailmenot and tjoos for coupons. Occasionally, I find them in other places. I had a terrible habit of browsing stores (offline) I like to shop in. Now I shop seasonally at my favorite shops about four times a year. I break it down in trips for different family members. I have developed the same will power I have at the grocery store. It was amazing how much money changing that habit recouped. It forces you to think about what you and your family really needs. It stops me from buying too much children's clothing as well. I also plan for the outing by printing coupons first.

 

For years I have been cutting my own hair. One day I got irritated waiting for my DH to get a basic military cut and brought him home to give him a cut. I've been doing it every since. Last year I splurged for a good set of hair cutting scissors. I plan to get a good set of electric clippers next (suggestions welcomed).

 

I buy curriculum in my head first before I click through the cart and purchase it. I make a list, research it, mull over it casually, until the lightbulb goes off in my head. I don't spend every waking moment thinking about it. It just occurs to me that we really need it or this will work for us, most of the time it happens when I'm doing things unrelated. I have ditched many things that I might have otherwised purchased instantly.

 

Our cell phone bill was getting out of hand so I had the DH call to take everything off of it. We also had the internet and texting disabled. You can do that to prevent incoming text and to prevent accidently hitting the internet. The bill was cut in half. People can send me messages through my free email account if they don't want to call. We are old school here. ;)

 

My DH made a joke about me during the recession saying, "What recession?", like I was thinking that. I was raised by a single parent who was raised by parents that lived through the depression era.

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Go to the grocery store with a list every single time. Make a rule to not buy anything not on the list. It will become habit, and prevent you from looking at things you are not there for.

 

 

The opposite works for me. I only go with a list of things I have run out of. In addition, I look for bargains: if pork is cheap this week, then I buy pork. If it's very cheap, I buy some for the freezer.

 

Laura

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