Eat well, Save more

Have you ever felt like you have a selective memory?  And by selective, I mean it selects to forget everything you want to remember if you don’t write it down instantly.  Solution?  I put up a whiteboard in my kitchen with nearby marker.  Take that selective memory!  This is where I make my 1st draft grocery list.  By first draft I mean anything I may see I need while I am in the throes of hell trying to cook for 5 people who, somehow, if you can imagine like completely different foods from one another.  I used to cook for fun, now I cook for necessity and have a “this means business” attitude towards cooking meals and buying groceries. So here are a few suggestions I have for making your relationship with food and money a little easier.

Tip 1)

The Whiteboard/grocery list – 1st draft grocery list. This is to put anything down we realized we missed on our last grocery list and to stop our parenting “selective memory” from taking over in the loudest and chaotic parts of our day.  It will help you realize exactly what you need in the insanity of daily life and schedules.  I suggest making multiple drafts.  Draft 2 comes when the flyers come in (we get ours every Thursday).  On Thursday I take my list from the whiteboard, and compare it to the flyers and create a weekly meal plan.  You don’t have to be fancy with the plan, try starting with steak, potatoes, broccoli for example.  As you get better you may be able to take more into account, sauces, spices, etc.  We live rural so running to multiple grocery stores is near impossible.  I select two (maybe you can use more, maybe you can only do one, that’s ok, just choose wisely).  I take the flyers, decide how each compares to my list of “needs” for prices, what has the best sales and the meal plan.  From this I make a decision where I will save most and shop there.  For my meat, unless that store I just picked to shop at has a great sale, I have a local go-to store that always has decent prices on meat.  Always be armed with a list – impulse buying is generally what creates unnecessary additional spending. I also make sure I have a budget, and I calculate the cost of my groceries as I shop on a calculator.  I tick each item off the list and write the price beside it (it really doesn’t take long and you will really value what you are putting in the cart, can eliminate non-essentials, and save money ).

Tip 2)

In store savings:

This is where I am always on the look out.  Sometimes we can find instant savings in the aisles.  Whether its additional coupons above products that simply require you pull them off and bring them to cash (how easy is that), or the ex: “30%-50%” off labels that you will often find on fresh goods because they are reaching the expiry date.  If these are products like meat, buy an amazing roast for half price for dinner tonight, or freeze it for later.  These products will hold in your freezer.  I don’t recommend buying these items in bulk, as everything has an eventual expiration date and the last thing you want to do is bulk up your freezer and forget about the meat or keep it any longer than between pays.  I will buy and stock up for the next two weeks meals.  Remember a roast doesn’t have to just be a roast, eating the same boring thing all the time.  If that’s where the deals are at, make some beef skewers as well.  Your breads, fruits/veggies and dairy products often will have these labels too.  Yogurt can be mixed into any recipe, baking cooking, you name it!  Fruits and veggies are great for homemade smoothies, apple sauce, popsicles, mix into your yogurt (tastes way better than flavoured yogurt), breads can be turned into garlic breads, bruschettas, toasted, put it in your food processor for bread crumbs and freeze them.  There are always ways to reinvent your fresh goods.  Grocery stores are laid out so that all the foods you really need are on the outsides of the store, while all of the junk, processed and non-essentials, with a huge mark-up, are generally in the middle of the store.  Watch where you drive your cart and really plan ahead as you shop.

Tip 3)

At home savings:

As mentioned above, buying reduced-price fresh goods can allow for some great savings, and the ability to make some of your own goods from scratch (meat skewers from roast, apple sauces, bruschettas, garlic breads, etc).  When you cook from scratch you don’t need to be a master chef.  The only thing you really need to make sure you have as some great base recipes.  Nothing that overwhelms you, there are lots of beginner recipies with only a few simple ingredients.  This way you know exactly what you and your family are putting into your bodies, you can make in bulk, and save the money from buying these items in packages and full of unknowns at a higher cost.

Tip 4)

Group savings:

Large family?  Maybe it’s time to invest in a wholesale membership.  Or one of my favourite ways to save time and money is to start a mom lunch box group.  You and you girlfriends who want to save time and money on your kids lunch food get together and have a bulk food making party.  Good conversation, music, and maybe some drinks make time go by while having fun.  Each one of you commit yourself to making a bulk recipe and you divide it between everyone.  You can delegate and do this from home and get together and distribute it as well, but the party is way more fun and you can alternate who hosts.  Everyone brings decided upon ingredients, making sure costs are split appropriately (easier to buy wholesale for large quantities savings), and you go.  Misery loves company and making lunch food can feel like misery for school lunches!  Maybe one of you makes bulk pizza dough, it’s so versatile, another makes homemade apple sauce (with the bulk apples you just bought in the reduced section), another makes muffins, etc.  It’s whatever you all agree upon and can take a bit of stress off each other while still feeding your kids healthy food that you know what the real active ingredients are.  I suggest having cards made with agreed upon recipes and distribute. This way everyone knows what they are getting and once decided all that’s left is to make it.  Then there are no surprises at distribution.

My question is, what are some of the best recipes you have for saving time/money/stress??

Quote of the day:

“All things are difficult before they are easy” – Thomas Fuller

Self care tip of the day:

Any of that extra money you have from doing a great job on your budget, spend on yourself from time to time. We all need a little pick me up. Whether it’s getting your nails done, buying a nicer mascara, a new shirt, or setting aside into a fund to build up for something really special. However much you saved, give yourself a pat on the back with it.