1. Cook with more beans and whole grains. Price per protein – beans are way cheaper than meat or eggs. I’ve committed to making beans and rice twice a month and a bean or grain soup twice a month. This way I know that at least four times per month I am substituting a healthy protien for meat, and cutting costs. Cooking with dried beans cuts your costs even more.
2. Get a freezer. Years ago we bought a chest freezer for our extras. Typically my freezer is jam packed around September and close to empty around May. Here are a few things I keep in it:
– lots and lots of berries (pick ’em in the summer)
– half of a deer my Dad gave us a few years ago (I just used the last package the other day)
– homemade jams and jellies
– summer produce (do your homework though, not everything freezes well)
– pizza dough
– bread (this leads me to my next point)
3. Never pay full price for bread. I get Nature Bake bread at the outlet for less than $1.50 per loaf (you have to buy 12 loaves to get it at this price). It’s not wimpy bread either folks. There are many of these places around if you are willing to trek there. I just go every other month and stock up.
4. Make your own laundry soap. Last week I made my own laundry soap. I’ve been using it now for a week and I find that it works just as well, if not better, than my previous brand X. At the cost of about one cent per load, it’s a quick way to spend less. It took me about 30 minutes to make this, but that’s just because it was my first time.
5. Find free or cheap events in your area. Most places offer a free or reduced price at least once a month. For example, the Oregon Zoo charges 9.75 per adult, BUT, on the second Tuesday of every month they charge a 2 dollar admission fee. So we only go to the zoo on Two Dollar Tuesday. The Oregon Symphony offers a free concert in the park series in the summer. So guess when the Robinson’s go?
6. Learn how to cook – I mean really cook. More time in the kitchen means less money at the grocery store. Buy raw materials and force yourself to make that pizza dough instead of buying the crust already made. Sure, your family may suffer through a few cardboard pizzas, but sooner or later, they won’t even be able to tell the difference. This takes planning and thinking ahead. I have to think about dinner the day before so that I can soak the beans, defrost the meat, ect.
7. Be organized. Right up front I will tell you that this is the point I am least likely to follow through on. Truthfully, my husband does most of the organizing. But the point is this, if you don’t know what you have because you don’t know where it is, you are more likely to go out and re-buy that thing. If I kept a running list of what was actually in my freezer, I would be way more likely to use the food that I already had instead of buying new. I do this with cosmetics and medicene all the time as well. You forget where the cough syrup is so you go out and buy new, what a waste!
8. Dress your kid in used clothes (they’ll never know the difference). They key to this is that you have to think ahead a few seasons. Just the other day it was really hot and I realized that Eli has no shorts. I went to Target and got some. They were cheap, but still, if I had been thinking ahead I could have garage saled or thrift saled them. Also, people with older kids love to hand down thier barely used (or sometimes well used) clothes! Take advantage! Sort them for future use so you will know what you have.
Coming soon: Ten things to I like to spend money on