I have several people inquire about more information on how we spend so little for groceries. I think the most important task is to set up a minimal pantry. I have written a few posts back about my bare-bones baking pantry, but I also have a bare-bones cooking pantry, although most of the items in it are not stored in the pantry. These are items that use in almost every meal I prepare; onions, canned tomatoes, carrots, celery, eggs, butter, salt and pepper, cooking oil, milk and cheese. While I like to buy these things on sale, if I run out of any of these items I will buy them at whatever price the store is selling them for, within reason, still trying to get the best deal because without them, meals can't be made. Fortunately for us, we grow enough potatoes and onions to see us through the year, and when the stored ones are no longer edibles I resort to my dried onions and canned potatoes. Ditto for tomatoes and carrots. Out of the $150 a month I spend on groceries, I'd say about $30 of it goes to restocking the must-haves.
|My bare-bone cooking pantry with home-dried vegetables.|
Another $40 goes for stocking up on items as they come on sale. I know that in March, I will be buying corned beef if I can find it for reduced price after St. Patrick's day, which I will can. I also know that butter usually goes on sale right before Easter for baking, so I try to stock up then and freeze several pounds. Ham is another item that can be found pretty cheaply around Easter and can be canned for future use. Pork is also inexpensive now. All of these items probably will cost more than the $40 I have allotted for stocking up, so the extra cost will come out of the remaining $80.
The remaining money is spent on our meals for the month. We only eat what is in season, can be bought cheaply or is on sale. It's a fun little game for us to see how far we can stretch those dollars. Our local butcher usually has some kind of meat in his reduced-for-quick sale cooler and that determines what meat we eat for that week. This week, we were fortunate to be paid for some work with some lamb chops and a turkey breast. So this week we had the chops for Sunday dinner and then we took the bones and prepared a broth with them, which will be a basis for a soup using the carrots, onions and celery that is part of our bare-bone cooking pantry. This will make enough soup for two days, if we stretch it by serving half a sandwich or a good hearty bread and cheese. The remainder of the week's meals will come from the pantry. We always try to make soup as one of our meals each week because it is such a thrifty thing to do. Plus it uses up all the meat scraps and the vegetables that need using up.
All our toiletries come out of our grocery budget also. However we spend very little upon them. We make our own soap from fats that we collect during my massive meat canning sessions, the remainder of the fat is coconut oil that we buy from the bulk food store inexpensively. The only other cost is for a container of lye. The coconut oil makes our soap very moisturizing, better than any commercially made soap I've found. All in all, soap costs us about $1 a pound. From that soap we make our own dish soap. I've tried making my own laundry soap in the past, but after doing the calculations, I discovered that it wasn't any cheaper that some of the commercially made laundry detergents, and I didn't like how it cleaned. I buy a cheap brand called Sun from the discount stores. The last jug I bought was on sale for $3.99 for 166 loads, less than 2.5 cents a load. Of course, I use less than the suggest amount and because we use an old-timey wringer washer, we re-use the wash water for a couple of loads, so we even save more. A big jug of soap like that will last us several months. I also buy the cheap Suave brand shampoo, conditioner and deodorant. I love their argan oil shampoo. BTW, just because the directions say to wash, rinse, wash on the bottle of shampoo, it isn't necessary if your hair isn't that dirty, one wash and rinse is enough. And it helps to pour your shampoo into a pump-style bottle so you don't use more than you need. So you see, toiletries are only a few dollars out of my budget each month.
Of course, once the garden starts producing, we spend even less. Our meals are planned around what is ripe and needs using up in the garden. We eat a lot more meatless meals then. And I can everything I can get my hands on to see us through the seven months (our last frost date is May 18th) when our garden isn't producing much. Basically, we eat according to the season and what we have. For instance, this year we had apples coming out of our ears, so almost everything I've baked from October until now has been apple based. I even grate them and add that to meatloaves and add chunks of apples to baked beans. Would I like to have something besides apples? Sure! But apples is what we have, so apples are what we eat. It is only food after all, and apples are just as nutritional as some expensive fruit that is out of season this time of year. In other words, we eat what we have. Hope that helps explain it a little better!
CHEAP BEAUTY TRICKS
My skin has been so dry lately. Probably sitting fireside hasn't helped. I have tried several moisturizers, but they didn't seem t be helping. In desperation I grabbed that pine salve I wrote about last week and slathered it on my face. It's really greasy but it's abut the only thing that has kept my skin hydrated throughout the night. You don't need to use the white pine for a salve, just heat some olive oil and add an equal amount of beeswax to bind it all together. Cheap and right from the pantry shelf.
The other thing was finding a substitute for the microbead scrub I was using. Here's a very easy one from the pantry: combine 1 cup white sugar with 1/4 cup coconut oil.
After spring cleaning, I wanted to do some sprucing, so I made this runner and mat for our dining room table:
THRIFTY THING WE DID THIS WEEK
My husband was paid for some work with lamb chops and a turkey breast.
Sewed a runner and mat from fabric I already had.
Ate out at Subway on Tuesday when they had buy one get one free plus they had double points.
Watched the entire series of Wives and Daughters for free on YouTube.
Made my own facial scrub from pantry items.
Found a new Amish discount grocery store.
Collected a large bin of things for our garage sale and gave four bags of clothes to charity.
It was a slow week. I have been having a bout of arthritis in my knee that's really been hindering my doings. :) It's nothing too bad, just annoying, probably due to all the wild swings in our weather lately. Hope you all have a lovely week!