Today I am (finally) going to share a few ways our family has made our grocery budget stretch as we’ve been on Our Healthy Eating Journey. My husband and I strongly believe that if you truly desire to do something for your family, through prayer and hard work, you can make it happen. There are creative ways to save, creative ways to earn, creative ways to come up with food sources. Nothing is too weird…think of some ideas and give them a try!
I am a single mom with 2 teenagers and haven’t worked a “real” job for a year and a half. Since then I have done mostly cleaning and odd jobs, so I don’t really have a monthly budget, since income varies. I pay the bills first (electric, rent, and house phone) and then buy food. I bake all my own bread and barter that with friends for organic, grass fed beef and free range chicken (it’s cheaper to buy baking supplies than meat, and I use a sourdough starter). I have also recently started selling baked goods. I am blessed with friends who have fruit and berries and allow me to pick all I want to can, and another friend who keeps bees and gives me honey in exchange for cleaning. I have a garden in the summer and can and freeze as much as I can. I even have friends that buy fruit and veggies in bulk at the Farmer’s Market and let me have half if I will can it for them! I am truly blessed! Strangly enough, I think we eat healthier now then we did when I worked 60 hours a week and had a grocery budget. God is good!
I love how God works and I love how being creative and working hard can provide your family with exactly what they need. How inspiring!
Here are some of the ways we have found to stretch our grocery budget:
- I make just about all of our food from scratch. Occasionally I buy something “pre-made” if I’m in a bind (and for the record, I feel like there are certain seasons in our lives where boxed/packaged foods can be a lifesaver, if used sparingly). But if at all possible, I make our breads, tortillas, cookies, muffins, noodles, sauces, pizza, dairy products, peanut butter and salad dressing from scratch. It saves loads of money to do this and is much, much healthier. Even organic processed food isn’t the best nutritionally and WOW is it pricey! Making homemade food REALLY isn’t hard, and it tastes SO delicious (except for when I burn things, but let’s not talk about that.)
- We garden. We’re blessed with a large yard – one that’s big enough to handle soccer games and a garden too. We grow tons of tomatoes so that we can make all of our own tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato juice and tomato soup for the year. We also grow and freeze a year’s supply of green beans and peppers each summer. We eat up all of the lettuce and spinach we grow, but that sure saves money in the late spring!
- We keep our ear to the ground and have formed many wonderful relationships with people in our community who have an abundance of produce and other items they’re willing to give away or sell at low cost. This is how we have been able to acquire so many delicious berries and peaches and apples and pears that we freeze and preserve. This is also how we’ve gotten our hands on venison. Sometimes the meat has been free, sometimes we’ve paid for processing…either way…what a fantastic deal on great meat!
- We’re willing to work hard and go about finding food sources non-conventionally. We love that our kids are learning that food comes from trees, animals, farms, gardens, fields and bushes….not just from the top shelf at the store. Yeah, sometimes our food comes off of a truck, but you know what I mean.
- We’ve done what we needed to do to stretch and grow our income. I’ve almost always done something (from home) to supplement my husband’s income. We felt this was extra important once we decided that Real Food was a high priority even though it would increase our grocery budget. When there wasn’t any wiggle room in our regular budget, any money I could earn from home went to help buy healthy groceries. One summer I sold baked goods each week at our local Farmer’s Market, earning enough to buy our Nutrimill Grain Mill, fresh produce all summer and quite a few of our other grocery needs. (In case you’re wondering, these Soft Pretzels were a huge Farmer’s Market hit!) I’ve had babysitting jobs, mended clothes for people, sold Stampin’ Up! products…just about anything I could do to help add a few extra dollars to our single income. Starting this blog and writing ebooks three years and a half years ago was another way I decided to try for a little supplemental income. I sure am glad I did…otherwise I wouldn’t have met you! (That sounded cheesy, but I really did mean it.) Deep down from depths of my soul. (That added bit of cheesyness was on purpose and written just to make myself sound ridiculous.) Be sure to read this post for more ideas on great ways to earn extra money for your family’s needs!
- We’ve turned our Swagbucks and Shop it to Me “earnings” into groceries. These two are great because it doesn’t cost anything for anyone and you can earn points toward gift cards by referring people. I’ve been blessed to share these with you here on my blog, and through referrals have been able to earn some lovely Amazon cards and Whole Foods Gift Cards. While I could have turned my points in for other fun things…I really just wanted to be able to buy organic groceries. Does that make me a geek, do ya think? Don’t answer that. I highly encourage signing up for Swagbucks (a search engine that helps you earn points that can be turned into quite a few things – I just always turn mine into Amazon cards to use for groceries, or books if it’s school time). You can read more about Swagbucks here. AND…Shop it to Me is a very fun (and free) way to earn gift cards. I’ve turned mine in for Whole Foods cards because who could pass that up? Not me, because I’m a food geek.
What other ways have you found to creatively save money or earn money to stretch your grocery budget?