SummaryAmanda Evinger took a closer look at her family’s food budget and discovered that quite a bit of money can be saved with a few simple kitchen practices.
Recently, I took a stab at budget busting.
I did a detailed analysis on where I am spending money on behalf of our family, and how I might be able to save a little additional money here and there.
Like many homeschooling families out there, we work very hard but often struggle to make ends meet, and although God provides, it takes a lot of creativity and self-sacrifice on our part.
This summer, I decided that we were going to have to be more determined about budget busting, especially if we wanted our family to grow and our children to have the life opportunities they deserve, which we very much do. And so I prayed for wisdom, got out the calculator, and went to work with an extremely determined attitude. I expected to come up with about $2500 a year worth of savings, which I felt would be awesome.
However, I came up with over $6000 a year, and the number keeps climbing up. I’ve always been a frugal lady, so I was pretty shocked at just how much 20 bucks here and there can turn into in the end. I know how hard it can be to have Mom or Dad homeschooling at home and the family living on one main income, and I’d love to give any advice I can to those who are interested.
Here are a few things I came up with when it comes to saving big bucks in the kitchen. No one has time for all of the tips below, but if we can pick just a few ways to save money and stick with them, we will see a sure difference in our bank account over time.
- Fall in love with brown rice, beans, lentils, eggs, oatmeal and dried fruit. For some of us, this may be a challenge. However, it is worth it in the end. For example, just by changing your usual breakfast from boxed cereal to oatmeal (made fun and yummy for kids by adding things like raisins, cinnamon, peanut butter, coconut oil/butter, etc.) you could probably save over $500 a year. Many homeschooling moms I know rely on beans and pasture eggs for protein over meat for lunches, since truly healthy meat can be expensive and hard to come by. I learned the advantage of rice when I lived with a student from Burma in college. Rice is a staple for people from her country. She was on an extremely tight food budget, and therefore always kept rice in her rice cooker to eat at each meal. She even ate rice for breakfast (not bad with honey and peanut butter… trust me)! Many homeschooling moms I know add beans and eggs to many dishes to make them “stretch.” It works!
- Make friends with farmers, or become somewhat of a farmer yourself! Many families participate in a “cow share” with farmers or see if they can buy an entire cow or buffalo to be butchered, or a bunch of butchered chickens, or just eggs. This can cut down considerably on the cost of healthy meat for the family. Investing in a deep freezer or two to keep meat and garden vegetables in will definitely pay off over the years. Keeping a bunch of chickens if possible can also be amazing way to save money, teach science and give everyone in the family something to smile about. If you are a raw milk fan, see if you can barter with a friend with cows for clean, raw milk (in many states it is illegal to buy it). If your land can handle it, consider getting milking goats or a cow yourself. Your children will always cherish what they learned from the experience.
- Encourage your husband and son to take up hunting. Each fall my husband shoots a deer, and we enjoy using up the meat from it all year long. We could never afford venison otherwise!
Bargains in Bulk
- Find a great food co-op and buy in bulk whatever you know you’ll use up (again, this is where that monstrous deep freezer comes in handy!). We regularly buy 25-pound bags of organic oats, rice, and flour; and five-pound bags of dried fruit, seeds, natural M and M’s, and nuts. I highly suggest Azure Standard Bulk and Natural Foods out of Oregon and Bountiful Baskets. See if they deliver to your area, and if not, call them and see if they would consider doing so. Intentionally buying in bulk quantities can save a larger family at least a couple of thousand dollars per year.
- Buy a couple of children’s cookbooks with great photos (DK has a great one; Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children is another good one for health nuts). With a couple of cooks in the house, many baked goods and snacks can be made cheaply from scratch when Mom doesn’t have the time to do so. There are also some good cookbooks specifically for families on tight budgets with little time, such as crockpot books and Family Feasts for $75 a Week.
- Take advantage of places like Sam’s Club, Aldi’s, Costco and the AmazonSmile Subscribe and Save program. If you use AmazonSmile, make sure you sign up to have Amazon donate a percentage of whatever you buy towards a charity of your choice, such as Human Life International.
- Garden like crazy, or at least find a great local farmer’s market. One time I did a little math and estimated we save over $3500 a year by having some fruit trees, a strawberry patch and a large garden. Canning saves a lot of money as well.
A Fun Lesson in Frugality
- Make bread, granola and granola bars from scratch whenever possible. To buy a loaf of bread without loads of additives is easily $5, but to make one in a bread machine is only about 50 cents. Ask for a bread machine for Christmas if you don’t have one already—it’s definitely worth the money in the end, and kids will love to make the family bread loaves in it.
- Become a coupon clipper, or coax one of your children into becoming one (tell them they can choose a few of their favorite foods if they find a coupon for them). As a kid, I remember doing this for my mom, and I loved it! Keep a coupon book too. If you mainly shop online, keep a 4 by 6 card with notes about upcoming sales, promo codes, free shipping dates, etc.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around. I’m always amazed at how prices can vary. When I did our budget analysis, I came up with probably over $2,000 in savings annually just from doing price comparing. Price comparing can get time-consuming and overwhelming, but if you limit it to about three different online or local stores that you know have reasonable prices, it may be worth the effort.
- Talk to your local grocer about how to save money when shopping at his or her store. You may be able to buy things in cases, or things that are still good but will soon expire, etc.
- Choose a few favorite condiments and drinks to make from scratch. Some of my favorites are: homemade lemonade (water, lemon juice and honey), hot chocolate (milk, honey and carob powder), and simple salad dressings.
And of course, in all things, ask God for light and grace to know His will.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
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