Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Colorado Plains
Well, one of my big savers is that I have a chest freezer. When there is a good sale on something, I can stock up. Back at Thanksgiving, you could get a turkey up to 16 lb for $5. (I didn't get any - we raise our own, but still, a person with a freezer can stock up!). Recently, hams have been the loss lead at several stores, so I got one for Christmas, and one for the freezer. (We aren't raising pigs....yet.).
We garden some, and I have water bath and pressure canners, so I can either freeze or can stuff from the garden. I have a dehydrator too. When we landscaped our place, we used fruit trees and fruit bearing 'shrubs'. Blueberries are pretty plants, strawberries make nice ground cover in flowerbeds, that sort of thing. We have cherries, apples, pears, etc....and the ugly ones can be used for applesauce (or pear, or peach), and juices. All the peels and leftover pulp and cores and seeds go to my chickens as a supplement to their feed, and we have fresh eggs year round. We also raise some meat chickens. You can buy chicken for less than it costs us to raise them, but ours are organic, free range, happy chickens. That's important to us.
I belong to a food co-op, and I am able to buy things in bulk. Beans, pasta, wheat, rice, etc. You have to be careful, though, and make sure you buy things you'll actually use. We started by just purchasing 3 things. One of them we are nearly out of, one we are using steadily, and one I haven't really used much at all (luckily, I bought a small amount of that one!)
Also, I try to have some really simple, cheap meals. I love when I can have a 10 cent supper. My husband works nights, and my daughter is too young for food, so it's just me. If you get a good price on the raw ingredients, there are lots of really cheap meals you can have. I like a peanut butter sandwich (on whole wheat) with an apple and milk, all kinds of soups, omelets...you just have to get creative!
I also use the sale flyers to get things. Our food budget is for the entire month...so if something is a super deal (and it's something we use) I generally have the freedom to stock up on it. It means I can keep a well stocked pantry of things that were all on sale. Like...this year, sugar never did go on sale for 99 cents a 5 lb bag...but that's fine, because I have 40+ lbs on hand from last year. Sugar doesn't 'go bad'.
I get produce that's in season. Apples are cheaper in the fall - citrus in winter. Cabbage is much cheaper than lettuce in the cold months, so we have more slaw in the winter, that sort of thing.
When our daughter was born (October) we had the added expense of formula(she is adopted, so I can't really nurse), but we didn't increase the food budget. I got a little more 'hardcore' about all this stuff, and I've managed to stay within our food budget...plus, with the good holiday sales on items we use, I have fully stocked our pantry! Since we have so much on hand now, I plan to set aside about 25% of our food budget each month ($200 for food and household items like shampoo, lightbulbs, laundry soap, etc.) so I can buy beef from a local farmer (actually, the guy that lives behind me, lol). But first...I have to find out if he likes turkey and chicken...maybe we can set up a trade!