Ok, maybe it isn't that much, but our grocery bills are CRAZY!! I saw this story on Fox News today about a family that is living on a $1500.00 a year budget (actual blog) and I thought "Holy heck! What's her secret"? Well, there is a catch to this. They have been stock piling stuff since July, so they have an arsenal of things that they will be pulling from that will keep them from needing to go to the store, especially for toiletries and household items. But I would like to peruse her blog and try to learn some of her techniques. She uses coupons and weekly flyer's to get items for virtually nothing.
But here is my dilemma:
I am really choosy about the things that I use in my home and I'm not sure I can really save that much money without compromising that. Part of the issue is the Little Man's allergies. There are just not enough coupons to save money on the gluten free, allergy friendly pre-packaged things that he eats. I can't find these things at Sam's Club and I can't use weekly flyer's to find the best deals on them. There just aren't any. Putting that aside, then there are the cleaning products and paper products. Cleaning products: I have been buying things like Method, Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers. Most of these products seem to last longer than your typical cleaning products and have less "chemicals" in them. Is it a coincidence that my sons asthma seems better under control since I've stopped using harsh chemicals in the house? Maybe...Probably...I don't know...I'm not sure I want to switch and find out.... Again, not too many coupons out there for these things and you can't get them at Sam's Club. Paper products: This I may be able to compromise on and my husband will be happy. The kids and I have decided that we will only buy paper products from recycled material. Toilet paper, napkins, paper plates: a lot of trees are saved by using recycled paper products but maybe we can compromise on that. Even the kids would love non recycled tissues again.
We do visit Sam's Club (thank you Mom for the membership) for things like canned goods, condiments and toiletries that we use all the time (my husband veto'd the Tom's of Maine tooth paste I tried to switch us to. I liked it but he said NO WAY).
I've also looked into joining a CSA this year. I've contacted 3. One never got back to me, one only takes 3 people and is full and one said there is a meeting this month and they will contact me (hoping to hear something from the 3rd because I'd really like to do this!!). If we are able to join the CSA, it's a lot of money up front but we get fresh, local farm grown fruits and veggies from May-October so there will be no need to go to the grocery for those. Then I've been thinking of buying 1/2 a cow to load up the freezer. At that point, I can almost skip the grocery altogether. Again, a lot of money up front, but I think it would really save us in the long run.
I've also been doing weekly Menu Planning and that has helped and I've been trying to create meals from things I already have in my pantry and freezer (both allrecipes.com and kraftfood.com have recipe sections where you can enter specific ingredients and they will give you recipes to use those items).
So although I'm not seeing any big savings on the groceries at the moment, I'm hoping with a little more work we can knock down what we are spending each month. I don't think I can ever do $1500.00/year. That woman is my hero. But we can do better. And with the economy the way it is, we need to do better. I just need to find a balance between saving and living healthy. The good news is that because of the food allergies we deal with, we spend next to nothing each year on eating out. I guess there is a silver lining in every cloud :O)
Edited to add for more money saving ideas go to:
Money Saving Mom