So, what happens when a frugal family has cut every common luxury (cable, dining out, runs to Sonic- you get the idea) out of the budget and STILL needs to pinch pennies to survive? Right now our Octo-brood is about as pinched as you can get. As a good friend says, "I pinch pennies so hard I make them scream."
Here are some tips to significantly reduce your food budget:
- Only buy what you need. This will sound ultra miserly but bear with me. The USDA has a great website that outlines nutritional needs. I offer my kids their needs... because I want them to be healthy and that's what I can afford. Parents: We over feed our kids expensive foods that lack nutrition! Why not offer them what their bodies need and save money? Go visit www.MyPyramid.gov and see the different food pyramids for your age kiddos. Heck, you can even find out what portion sizes in each group you need to lose weight! They have great interactive tools that will help you figure out what the NEEDS are of your family. 'nuff said.
- Cut out cold cereal. Fix Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Cracked Wheat Cereal, homemade pancakes, eggs. These meals fill you up faster and stick with you longer. Try making them overnight in a crock pot and reheating them for a few days for convenience.
- Monitor the Milk. We buy 8 gallons a week! Geesh, If I let my kids drink as much milk as they wanted to, we'd need to buy stock in a dairy. Nutritionally kids and adults only need a few dairy servings a day. Offer proper nutritional servings of milk products and then let the kids drink good old H2O!
- Popcorn is a great snack! Popcorn (air popped) is cheap and a great healthy whole grain snack. My kids love this FILLING treat after school. Try different toppings for variety: half butter and half soy sauce (big hit around here), butter and ranch or use ranch dressing powder, BBQ seasoning powder, Mrs. Dash.
- Eat leftovers. If you hate left overs... start thinking survival. We don't throw any food away. I call left overs "Planned Overs." If we have broccoli for dinner, it ends up in an omelet, soup, or stir fry for the next night. Get creative and try to find a way to reinvent your left over into it's own dish. Soup and quiche are great leftover mediums. Just think how much you save in ingredients by reusing what you already have!
- Eat less meat. Meat is a great luxury here. We eat it often but I portion it out carefully. Again, I only give the serving size amount per the food pyramid. My 4 year old meat-aholic thinks it's child abuse but I assure you, she's healthy. A 4 oz serving size of meat looks small but really, that's all you need and so it's all we eat.
- Use nutritious fillers. I try to serve homemade whole wheat bread with every meal. I offer potatoes, rices, couscous, stuffing... anything that my kids love to help fill them up. Vegetables are very filling.
- Cut the drinks that aren't really good for you. Soda, Beer, Wine, Coffee, Energy Drinks, Punch... I know, I just heard a thud at the other end of the computer. Are you okay? Did I hit a favorite vice tender spot? Might as well throw in cigarettes while we're at it. Ladies, these things add up and really, they aren't so great for you. When you need to pocket change and cut corners... add up how much a week you're spending on liquid pleasures. A Diet Coke a day may take the grumpies away but... oh heck... you get it. Do I still have any friends?
- Keep Snacks in your car. I started doing this to avoid heading to drive thru's when the munchkins were munchy. Stow granola bars and water bottles under your seat for a quick fix for hungry kids and skip the fast food.
- Cook inexpensive meals. Duh... I know. Disney Family Magazine has a great article on cheap family meals. Check it out HERE.
Don't forget to grab a button and link up tomorrow for the Friday Boutique. This will be happening every Friday through Christmas. Come link up to your blog post about what you sell and start your Holiday Shopping early!