Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I've been up to lately - Saving Money!

I have a blog.  I do not update my blog very often.  Why not?  I guess it's because I live a modest life and don't think people would be interested in reading about my day to day activities.  Once in a while something big will happen and I'll think "I should blog about that".  Then, if I happen to have some kid-free time to blog while Tom is taking a rare break from playing Words With Friends, viola!  A new blog post is born.  This is one of those times.

This post is about money, or the lack thereof, and how I have dealt with this challenge in the area of feeding my large-ish family.

First:  Where has all the money gone?  It's not just that the price of food has been steadily rising while package sizes have been shrinking.  There have been extra considerations in our house this year.  For instance, we put Em in full-day Kindergarten this year.  She is doing great and loving it, but it's been hard on the budget.  Between yet-another-pay-cut from Tom's job and Em's almost $300.00 per month tuition, well, did I mention it's been hard on the budget?

Second:  I am a stay at home mom.  I do not want to be a working mom (been there, done that!), and luckily at this time I do not have to work.  I am grateful for that and I don't want you to think I am complaining about our trials.  We have a good life and are very rich in other ways, just not the cold, hard cash rolling in dough way.  That being said, I do my best to stretch the money as far as possible, and that is what I have been up to lately.  My most recent discoveries?  Bountiful Baskets (see previous post), Smith Brothers Dairy, and homemade mixes.

Smith Brothers Dairy:  During the Summer I signed up for home milk delivery from Smith Brothers Dairy.  Their milk is hormone free and not ultra-pasteurized, and somehow it just tastes SO much better!  The downside to this it that it is more expensive than buying milk at the grocery store.  The unexpected upside?  Between all the fresh fruits and veggies we get from our Bountiful Basket (, Baking my own bread and having our milk delivered weekly, I have found that I hardly EVER go to the grocery store anymore!  We are also eating a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables these days than we ever did before.  Healthy!

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Having expensive milk delivered is saving me lots of money!  I spend approximately $45.00 per week on fruits, veggies, bread, and dairy products (6 gallons of milk per week).  I scour the weekly grocery ads for meat sales, and only go to the grocery store when there's a screaming good deal (like IQF BS chicken breasts for $1.49/lb at Safeway today), and then I stock up, because we eat meat just about every day around here.

Every couple of months we make a Costco run for essentials (flour, rice, pasta, etc.), but for the most part, I have cut my grocery budget to about $250.00 per month.  I don't really know what other families of 7 spend on food, but there is a show on the Food Network called "$10.00 Dinners", where the host promises you can feed your family of 4 a delicious and healthy meal for only 10 bucks.  I think this is funny, because I could feed my larger family dinner every night for $10.00, but then they wouldn't get breakfast or lunch!  

Homemade Mixes:  To combat this, I have been developing "mix recipes".  I already had some good recipes for things like ranch dressing and onion soup mix, but I wanted to be able to replace all the store bought mixes that I like to use in my cooking (taco seasoning, zesty Italian dressing mix, country gravy mix, etc.) as well as the canned condensed soups that have gotten so expensive over the last few years (cream of - you name it!). I have spent a lot of trial-and-error hours working on these over the last few months, and now I think I have finally perfected the recipes (at least for our tastes).  I will share the recipes with you in my next post, and if you are looking for ways to stretch your grocery dollars, I hope you will find them helpful.  Also, if you have any money saving recipes you'd like to share with me, I'd love to try them!

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