This post is part of the series “The Great Grocery Budget Battle: Choose Your Weapon”, in which we’re exploring different ways to reduce your grocery bill.
This week I’ve asked my friend Kate to come and share with you how she feeds her family of ten on only $500.00 a month. And guess what? She doesn’t use coupons!
Just like I said in this post, not every money-saving strategy is a good fit for everyone at each season of life. Maybe coupons are a saving grace for you and your family, maybe they will be once you learn about using them strategically. But what if coupons are not for you?
This series will help you find the way that fits you best. Today Kate will show you how to keep a price book and mention a few other tips and tricks that help keep her grocery expenses down.
Over the years I’ve had to learn how to keep our grocery budget down. We spent the first 8 years of marriage in grad school living on $650/month. Add to that a growing family (eventually having 8 children) I was always looking for ways to cut the grocery budget without starving my family.
Through talking to other moms and paring down our meals to very inexpensive basic recipes, I ended up with the system we’ve had in place for the past 25 years. And I put it all into a small ebook I call Cut It Out! How I Feed My Family of 10 for $500 a Month Without Coupons.
Now I know that many women have cut their grocery budget even further with using coupons. But frankly, coupons drive me crazy! We don’t get the newspaper and we generally don’t buy the items the have coupons. I actually experimented one month and found that the savings did not even come close to making the stress worthwhile!
I use a simple price book.
If you are like me, the thought of a Price Book seemed overwhelming and very intimidating! But in my book I share a downloadable template to help you get started on creating your own. I share how to keep track of all the different stores and their prices. Then check out the weekly store ads (I get them all in my email inbox) and determine which items are best purchased at which stores.
Overall, my first stop is Aldi. What I can’t get there I buy at Walmart, unless it is on sale at the other 2 grocery stores in town. For me, both Aldi and Walmart are right next to one another, so there isn’t a lot of driving. But the beauty of what I do is that it doesn’t depend on going to any certain store. It is about finding out what the lowest prices are at the stores where you shop.
I’ve heard people say they save money by:
- buying a whole (or half) cow
- getting their own chickens
Those are great ideas but none of them work for me. I was able to join a farm co-op for a season that was super for saving me money on produce. And this past summer a friend gave me many dozen ears of corn for my freezer, but those things don’t happen often. So I have to make sure that I can get the lowest prices every week with the resources I have.
It’s all about organizing and planning
Setting up a price book is work in the beginning. I’m not going to lie to you. BUT it is work mostly on the computer (with a trip to each store thrown in). However, once you get the initial work done, staying on top of things is as simple as updating the prices as you shop each week.
I wish I were really tech-savvy, I’d have created a price book app to go with my book. I don’t use a smart phone for any of these things but you might be able to find a great app that actually has price book capabilities, and that would greatly cut down on the work of setting one up.
The other thing I’ve done is menu planning. I have saved over 30 weekly menus over the years. With each week’s menu (this includes breakfast, lunch and supper) I also have on the computer the grocery list that goes with the menu. This was built up over time, but I know how much each weekly menu will cost me, and they all fit into my weekly allowance for groceries.
We don’t do a lot of experimental cooking. I simply can’t afford it with my family size. Our foods are basic home-cooked meals. This is the only way I can feed my large family. Most families really only use about 20 or so basic recipes regularly anyway. I just put mine together in a computer file to use over and over again. It saves money and it reduces my stress level when it comes to menu planning.
Kate Megill has been feeding her family of 10 on a shoe-string for 30 years. She and her college-professor husband have homeschooled all of them, and are enjoying watching the older ones leave the nest.
Kate is a follower of Jesus Christ. She has been mentoring women for over 30 years, and has recently published Silver Threads: Weaving Godly Wisdom Into the Lives of Younger Women. She blogs at Teaching What Is Good following the Titus 2 model of older women teaching younger women.
You can find Kate at her website: KateMegill.com,
on Twitter @teachwhatisgood,
on Facebook /teachingwhatisgood
and on Pinterest as /mrsp31wannabe.
Thanks for joining us today Kate!