I often buy oatmeal in bulk and put it into the freezer.
This Mornings breakfast. Cinnamon Sugar Oatmeal.
Do you use beans? I cook with a lot of beans. I have found beans to be a wonderful go to protein when we can’t afford to buy meat, or we are tired of the meat we can buy. I enjoy meat, but I could easily be a vegetarian. I have not always enjoyed eating beans, but I have learned that when beans are cooked properly they can be a tasty addition to many meals.
Today I am making some soup, and I might include beans in it if I can’t find enough protein around the house to add to my soup. So I am cooking some navy beans today. My favorite way of cooking beans is in my crock pot. It is such as simple way of cooking beans and they end up with perfect texture. I have learned to cook beans on the stove top as well, but often I do not pay close enough attention and my beans end up with a texture that isn’t as nice. So when I learned that the crock pot was originally made to cook beans I decided I would use it for cooking beans!
I picked up a bag of Navy beans from Bilo. [Aldi doesn’t always sell Navy beans, usually they only have black beans, pinto beans, and Navy beans.]
Many people tell me that they don’t have time to cook beans because of the required soaking that is recommended on the back side of the bag. Here’s a secret for you– I don’t soak my beans! It isn’t necessary especially if you are using a crock pot. I take the bag and pour them into my crock pot.
I fill my pot with water that is about 3 inches above the top of the beans. You may need to add more water, so at some point in the day check your pot and make sure that the beans are not getting dry.
For a recap:
Dried Beans in Pot.
Water in Pot.
Put pot into base, put lid on the pot. Turn the pot on high, and make sure it is plugged in. Walk away. Until later when you check the beans to make sure there is enough water in the pot. Let the beans cook most of the day, and after about 6 hours check the beans for tenderness. If you desire you can turn the pot down or if they are at the level of tenderness that you like turn off the pot. They are now ready to use in whatever way you choose. Once they are cooked, beans will freeze quite well so if you find you have cooked more beans that you need for a specific meal just freeze them for later.
I started my beans around the same time that I started the soup:
I don’t want my veggies to over cook, so I don’t plan to let this pot simmer all day, but I have my broth out, and I am letting that thaw a bit and will warm it in the pot a bit this morning. Then I add the vegetables, and protein to the soup. I then turn off the pot. Depending on when you do this process you may want to put the pot into the fridge for a while until time to cook the veggies.
By late morning my pot had several different broths in it, carrots, onions, garlic, green beans, potatoes, and some left over turkey. I had some turkey bones in the freezer. Yep I keep the bones after I have cooked a turkey and we have eaten most of the meat off of it. I boiled those bones down this morning and let them cool. That is where I got the turkey for our soup. The next time you have a bone from a whole bird or a roast you have cooked, stick that bone in the freezer and save it for when you cook soup!
How is your Frugal grocery shopping going? What deals are you finding where you are? I would love to hear how things are going for you.
“The FDA says that a family of 4, eating moderately at home, spends on average $245 / week.”
Yep that says per week. I was stunned. This report isn’t talking about people who are extravagant or eating out all the time. They were mostly eating at home. Just buying the normal at home cooked meals. The price of food is always going up and it seems that living within a smaller income is impossible. I am here to tell you that there is hope. You can feed your family on less. If you choose to attempt to cut your food budget it will take hard work, some really hard choices, giving up things you have always had, and learning to be content with less. But it can be done.
Aren’t we called to be good stewards of our resources. We are called to be intentional and wise. This means that you may not have the freedom to go to the grocery store and buy whatever hits your fancy. It means planning, and choosing carefully.
This past two-week period I did not have our usual grocery amount. After I bought diapers I ended up with $145 for our food for the past two weeks. I was given some groceries by my mom which enabled our budget to stretch way more than it would have otherwise. And for that I am thankful.
In addition to that Bilo was having some pretty amazing sales here. I was able to buy a ham that was on sale: $1.49/lb. That is more than what I pay at Aldi, but this was a spiral sliced ham. I saved $24.65 just on the ham. In addition they had Almond Milk on sale 2 for $5.00 which is the same as Aldi’s price. Finally they were having a sale on frozen pizzas. I bought 4 pizza’s that are normally $6.99 each for $3.50/pizza. I saved a total of $43.31 in one store trip.
I knew what we needed and didn’t buy anything else. I walked slowly and carefully studying prices to see if what I was getting was really a bargain or not. When you head out to the store be prepared. Pay attention to the sales at that store. Usually this means taking your time as you move through the store. It also means taking care to know what foods cost. Educate yourself, and pay attention. I was able to save the way I did because I knew what the cheapest price around here was for those items I was looking for.
I am glad that Bilo was having the sales that I need this week. It doesn’t always work out that way. I am thankful that this week it did.
According to the quote above I had about $100 less to spend for a 2 week period. If I hadn’t found the sales that I did I would have purchased fresh vegetables and we would have eaten beans and rice and veggies until the next pay check came. But because we did have the sales available I took advantage of them. It is possible to live on less than what our culture tells us we need. It just takes some work and self-discipline.
Tomorrow is Pay day here. I will update you on what happens next. Come back soon.
I have seen some interesting responses to my posts on this blog lately. It has brought to mind somethings I am learning from The Unveiled Wife. The basic idea behind her message is that as wives we need to stop hiding behind the veil that we so often pull over our hearts and our faces that keep us from true intimacy with our husbands, and our community.
I was hesitant to write about our life and our financial situation. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or my family. We are here because of deliberate choices that we have made. If I wanted to change our financial situation I am a trained Respiratory Therapist and I could go back to work and increase our income. I am choosing not to do that because I would rather live a life frugally and stay home with my children than to spend my days rushing about pushing myself to exhaustion and limiting my relationship with my children.
I have been humbled more than once at the out pouring of generosity that we have experienced from people as they have read what I am writing here. God has blessed our family in some pretty amazing ways. Many times we have received unexpected gifts of money, and gifts of food. It has been a sweet lesson in trusting God to provide what we need for each day.
The church I attend teaches that it is important to be transparent and to be participating within community. This can be a challenge with your life has needs or other issues that you don’t want to share. There can be misunderstanding and struggles. Yet I have found the more I am transparent the more God uses people to bless our family and give me opportunities to bless others around me.
It can be hard to accept things from others, but if you are willing to be transparent and show your need. God can use that experience to bless those around you. It could be by simply telling your story, or it could also be by listening to what others are dealing with and using that as a springboard to bless others as you can. You may feel like you don’t have much to offer, but if you are willing to offer what you do have, you will be amazed at what God does with it.
This weekend has felt like we have been showered with blessings. I received a trunk load of groceries, and was even given a gift of cash from an anonymous person. When I receive things like this my first response is to think that I need to stop sharing with people our life and how we live. Most people do not want to make the sacrifices, or I should say, supposed sacrifices that we make in order to live the way we do. I don’t usually feel like I am making sacrifices. [Except when I see a lovely purse or a beautiful pair of shoes that I can’t afford to spend money one! ;-)] Yet God wants us to share our lives with those around us. So I will continue to share my story about how and why we do what we do. I am thankful for the gifts that we have received.
In light of that, my plan for this week’s shopping has changed dramatically. I don’t have much grocery money this week at all. I went out on Friday and bought diapers and a few other necessities, and I have $145.44 to cover us until next week. Right now it feels like a lot, because of the amount of food that we have in the house. I will keep you posted on how it moves along.
Tonight’s dinner is Pork Ribs in the crock pot. I am looking forward to those because I love the broth that comes from pork. I will be saving that for more soup! Yum I don’t have any BBQ sauce or if I do there is only a little. I might make some, or I might do something else. I am not sure yet.
I pray that as you look at your budget this week place it before the Lord. Ask Him to guide your spending and to provide your family with what it needs. God is so gracious to us if we just ask Him.
The Paycheck came late this week! Normally my husband’s Check comes on Tuesday every other week. He sits down and works out the budget for that next two weeks. The check is deposited Wednesday morning and I can go shopping Wednesday during the day if I choose, which I usually do. This week Things were different.
Tough Sacrifices Can be Made
I went to my husband and told him that I had $3 left and we had no lunch foods for the kids for the next day. My husband, who can be very generous, gave me his birthday money to spend for groceries. So I went out to the store with $23 to stock up with what I needed to get us through the next several days. I had a little bit of a problem though. Daniel had invited company over for dinner, so I was not able to get to Aldi before it closed.
That means that my $23 wouldn’t stretch as far as I had hoped. So I took what I had and I headed to the store. I wish I could say that I prayed over my situation before I drove away, looking back I wish I had. God had given me an unexpected gift and I should have been thankful for that gift, as well as asking God to guide my shopping.
Since I had already cleaned out the refrigerator I knew what we had in the house to eat. I had some broth in the freezer that I had saved. I had beans, and I had rice. I ended up at Publix and I bought:
- 3 loaves of Publix brand bread
- 1 Gallon of Whole Milk
- 1 1/2 Gallon of Almond Milk
- 1 small jar of peanut butter
- 1 Large bag of carrots
- 1 bag of celery
I spent a total of $21.12.
So last night we had soup for dinner. I make a habit of keeping all the broth from the meat I cook. I have learned that when I buy a whole bird, or a pork shoulder there is usually some amazing broth left over. I strain that and keep it for later in the freezer. Last nights soup had pork broth, chicken broth, and a little ham broth all mixed together. I chopped up onions, carrots, celery, added some of my mom’s jarred tomatoes from last year’s garden, as well as some of her green beans. Seasoned to taste and Yummy supper.
As I write this Daniel has received his paycheck and yet has not had time to do the budget. It will still be a few days till I can go to the store. I am not concerned though. We have what we need.
I do need to add, my mom will often buy us things as she is out and about and finds deals. Yesterday she went to Deal Mart. There she was able to buy a ton of Chobani Yogurt for real cheap. I have not been to Deal Mart, and I don’t know where they are around the country. I know of two in our area. I want to do more research on Deal Mart, I will keep you updated. But we have a bunch of yogurt for the kids for snacks and maybe even some for my breakfast. 🙂
I have been blessed by family that is close by and so we do get some extras that we normally couldn’t afford. Even without these extras we have what we need in the house. Today I am planning:
Lunch: PB&J for the kids. Maybe left over soup for me if there is any left. I think there might be a potato left I might have that too.
Snack: Yogurt, Crackers from my mom, Carrots
Supper: Turkey, Stuffing, and peas. [ I have had a Turkey in my freezer for a month or so now. I thought now would be a good time to use it, I also had some of the stuffing mix that my husband liked, and I think we even have a can of cranberry sauce still!] We get to have a second Thanksgiving Dinner. I think that is appropriate. We can be Thankful for God’s blessings.
Lunch: PB&J for the kids, Maybe a salad with turkey for me, I think I have enough lettuce for that.
Snack: Yogurt, Carrots, Crackers if there are any left.
Supper: I am thinking of a Turkey and Rice Casserole. I need to see what we have, I don’t have pasta but maybe a Turkey Tetrazzini sort of thing with rice instead. I will need to do some research and see what I can pull off.
And hopefully by Friday I can go to the Store to stock back up. I still have a bunch of Quinoa in my house, I am thinking about doing something for me for breakfast with it. hmmmmmmmm
**Our paycheck is very small for the next two weeks. I am hoping that I can get Daniel his birthday money back. We shall see!
Here is my fridge today. I took the opportunity afforded by the lack of stuff inside it to clean all the shelves. Doesn’t it look pretty! 😉 One advantage to eating everything you buy is that you can actually see what you have in the house. It might even force you to get creative with what you cook for dinner. Creative is good!
Today is payday for my husband. What that means is that the check should arrive in the mail. It does not mean that the money is available for me to go shopping. We are coming to the end of our groceries. I am pleased that we still have milk, both regular milk and the Almond milk that my two younger ones drink.
We used up the last loaf of bread today. That means I need to make bread either tonight or first thing tomorrow. We ended up using a lot of bread over the weekend. That meant the stash I had didn’t last all the way through our two weeks. I do not have any more money in the budget, in fact as you remember I went over by $16. It might be easier to run to the store tonight and pick up some bread. I do happen to have about $3 in my purse. And I could do that perhaps. [We received a survey from Neilson Surveys about our TV watching, it happened to have $5 in cash inside. Surprise!] I might go to the store. I don’t know yet. I also need peanut butter and if I am careful and maybe look for some hidden change I might have enough to buy one loaf of bread and a small jar of peanut butter from Aldi tonight.
Or I could make something different for my kids to eat. Yep I went there. I could actually make something different from peanut butter and honey for my kids to eat for their lunch tomorrow. Will that cause problems? Oh you bet! Will the kids complain? O Yes Sir!
Let’s consider something for a moment:
What do I want to be teaching my children? Do I want to teach them that it is my job to cater to their every whim and provide for them whatever their little fists demand from me?
Is it my job to teach my children that the world does NOT revolve around their little conceited hearts and there are bigger problems in this world than whether or not they eat peanut butter for lunch. Maybe I can remind them of our little girl we adopted through compassion, Miriam Da. Such a sweet little slip of a girl from Burkina Faso. I doubt she has the audacity to complain to her parents about what she gets to eat for lunch each day. I have a feeling she is happy to have something to eat, and a home to eat it in.
I don’t know exactly what I will do about our lunch for tomorrow. But I do know I want to teach my kids to be thankful for what we have been given. We don’t have much by way of the world’s standards. I feel so rich at times. Sometimes it is because we have been given some amazing gifts. Sometimes it is because we have found some amazing deals. But I am sitting in a cozy house on a lovely couch I didn’t buy, typing on a computer that was given to me and seeing a living room where only one piece of furniture was purchased by me.
God has provided for our family in some pretty amazing ways and I am so thankful for the abundant riches he has poured out on our family. I want to be teaching my kids to trust that God will take care of them, and to be thankful for how he chooses to take care of them. Even if it means they eat salad for lunch instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
How is your week going? Is this the beginning or end of your grocery money? What are you doing to make it stretch to the end and not spend money you didn’t budget? Share with me and let me know how things are going.
This week I was asked a question:
Does Aldi really have enough selection to feed your family?
I think that is a really good question. Aldi may not have the wide variety that many other stores carry. There are a limited amount of speciality items. The produce is pretty much the same week in and week out. We do get bored on the food that Aldi carries at times. It is not always nice eating the same foods most of the time. Yet it has challenged me to be more creative, and to find what items I feel are lacking and then find frugal ways of buying those items some place else.
If you have a larger budget then please add variety, spice it up and enjoy. I don’t want anyone to feel guilty because they have a larger food budget and can eat a more specialized diet. What I want to create here is a space for people like me who don’t have much money and who desire to feed their families without using government assistance.
We have been on government assistance in the past. We qualify for it now. We have chosen to not use government assistance for a few reasons.
- South Carolina is a poor state, there are many people here who need those resources much more than my family does.
- I have shown I can feed my family without the assistance. (I do have help from family at times, but even if we didn’t have those extras we could live and be well fed without the help.)
- I have enjoyed, (sometimes enjoyed) the challenge of becoming a creative cook for our home.
If someone needs to use government assistance I want to be a resource to help teach frugal shopping, Even with government assistance there are many homes who do not have an abundance of food or money for food. I hope that I can help people find ways to make what they do have go a little farther.
If someone has more money and does not need to be as frugal with their money as I do, there are still some good principles that can be gleaned. God has called us to be good stewards of the resources he has provided. I pray that I am using what I have been given to the best of my ability. That being said I do not want anyone to feel guilty for having more. God has give to each one of us in His own choosing. I believe the issue is not the amount of money, but rather an attitude of the heart. Am I thankful for what God has provided great or small.
I know in the past I have had a lot more income, and I did not feel as grateful for what I had as I do now. In fact there are many days when I feel abundantly rich because of all the things God has provided for us in amazing ways.
I don’t want this blog to be a place of judgment or condemnation. But rather a resource for those who need it.
I may not win any awards for neatness and orderliness in either of those spaces, but they are pretty well packed.
I don’t like going over budget. But it can be so easy to do. Today I was shopping at Aldi and they had a bunch of Christmas stuff marked way down. It is the middle of birthday season here at our house. So finding cake mixes at $0.49 / box is a big help.
I also found some little plants. I love having plants in my house. Usually they run $7-12.00 per plant. In some cases more, I bought these little darlings for $1.99 each.
The bottom line remains that I went over budget. I found some great deals and I was able to stock up on a few things, but I sill went over budget.
Many people may feel that it isn’t a huge problem but if you go over budget by just $20/ month for 6 months you have managed to spend $120 outside of your budget. Within a year that adds up to $240. Now that is a good bit of money for someone that is in our position. I don’t want to waste the resources that God has given me to steward.
That being said, is there room for mistakes. Yes. We NEED to give ourselves grace. It is self defeating if you begin working on your finances and you have a month or more of going over budget it isn’t the end of the world. It needs to be taken seriously and each time you shop take steps to avoid going over budget but we need to give ourselves room to learn and grow. That means making mistakes.
A few ways I have learned to avoid going over budget:
- Carry a calculator in your hand. Add up the price of EVERYTHING that goes into your cart. Don’t try and keep a tally in your head. If you are a mom of little ones like I am it is nearly impossible to keep anything in your head for more than two minutes. Keep a calculator.
- Budget your Grocery money. For Example: You are allotted $300 for two weeks for household expenses. You already know you will need both diapers and wipes before the next paycheck, and maybe they are purchased at a different store. Take out the $300 in cash and divide the money into categories. $70.00 for diapers and wipes hidden in one part of your wallet separate from the general category. $25. 00 for the pet food that is also needed. $40.00 for forgotten last minute items. [I always forget something in my shopping. So I plan for things I forget and stick some money in my wallet hidden away from the general fund for that milk I forgot or the toilet paper I didn’t know we needed.] Now you are left with $165.00 for your generally shopping.
- Use a Budgeting app on your phone. There are several out there. I am using the app Spending Tracker for Android. It can be found on Google Play for free. I like this one because it is very simple. I add my allotted grocery budget for that two weeks, and as I spend money I record the receipt into the app. This is just used for my groceries. My husband has a different tool for our household budget.
This shopping trip, I allowed myself to linger, looking at all their sale items. [I didn’t have the kids with me so it was a luxury trip]. I did not carry my calculator with me and I tried to keep a general tally in my head. Before i was halfway through the trip I had lost track of where my spending was and I was too distracted to even care about that. It cost me.
Just like over eating, or grabbing a fast food meal blows your diet, so careless shopping can blow your budget.
If you are keeping a tally of total shopping so far: I have spent $316.49.
General: $ 87.31 **This is diapers, wipes, household
Eating Out: $ 23.53
Our main food budget for these two weeks: $215.42
We are expecting a small paycheck this next week. I am planning on a small grocery budget. I will need to plan meals carefully and use what is already in the house. Check back soon to see how things are going.
This week I want to give you a little bit of an overview of how my normal shopping goes, how much I spend, and where I do most of my shopping. To begin with I have several members of my family, including myself who deal with food allergies / food intolerance. It is possible to live in a frugal way while eating a restricted diet. I will say I do wish at times I could buy more organic foods, and more specialized foods. In this season of our lives it simply isn’t possible.
My main store that I shop at all the time is Aldi. Frankly I don’t think we could eat as well as we do without Aldi. I went shopping for our two week period last Friday. I spent $90.80 and bought most of our groceries. If you are keeping a tally of our grocery budget for these two weeks I have $98.36 left available until payday.
I do not plan on giving you my complete receipt here. When I go to the store I have an idea of what we have in the house, and what we need. There are several different apps for your phone that are great for this because once you write the list on the app you will always have that list with you. My favorite right now is Wunderlist.
I think it is important to be aware of what is actually in your pantry. If you have not taken stock of what is actually in your house then I recommend you do the half budget for a month challenge. This challenge consists of taking your normal budget that you would spend on food, and cut it in half. Put half away in savings. That leaves you one half to spend on your groceries.
How can this be a benefit you ask?
I will tell you how, during that month you are to eat what is in your house. For example look in your pantry, what do you find? Are there boxes of mixes that you have just not “felt” like eating? Are there cans of veggies that have been sitting there for a while? Is there a box of Quinoa that you don’t know what to do with tucked in the back of that shelf some place?
Spend this month eating what you already have in the house. It may mean that you have strange meals that are not your normal menu, but it can really be a fun challenge. And it forces you out of your comfort zone. Go over to Allrecipes.com and look up a recipe for that Quinoa back on that shelf. Find some chili recipes to use those beans with. And if all else fails there is always beans and rice.
The money you do have available is for things like milk, bread or other items that are quickly depleted. This may take some work but I think it can be a huge benefit.
[NOTE: I have met a few people who do not keep a stock of things in their house, and who pretty much eat out their pantry every week. I do not expect you to be able to do this challenge. This challenge is for people who impulse buy items repeatedly week after week and in time find they have a bunch of unused food in their pantry that tends to be thrown away. ]
Once you know what is available in your house to eat, and you have gone through pretty much everything you can find to eat. Then go shopping wisely. plan out your meals before you go.
Aldi has a relatively limited selection of food items. I have been shopping there fore several years now, so I pretty well know what I will find and what our family will eat. I have a few main things I focus on when we shop:
- Do I have staples in the house? Rice, Beans, etc? If so then I focus on veggies. I want to buy as much fresh veggies as I can.
- Do I need breakfast foods for my family? We eat a lot of oatmeal and grits. Cereal for 5 kids and 2 adults simply goes too quickly and the cost of cereal is generally too high for an everyday food item. We buy cereal for a special treat only.
- Aldi has a good price on bread, generally you can get bread for $0.85 – 1.49. I serve the kids Peanut Butter and Jelly for Lunch DAILY. Yep, we don’t get a lot of variety. But my kids don’t mind that much. When you go through a loaf of bread in one lunch time the cost of that meal really matters.
- We have several in our home with intolerance to lactose, so I buy Almond Milk by the case from Aldi, it is $2.49 per half gallon which is the best price I have found. And we do buy regular milk for those who drink that. I keep both milks in the house for the kids to drink, but I don’t buy a lot of juice.
- Finally I look at the meat. Generally, I will not spend more than $2.50/ lb on meat. That means most of the time beef is out of the question for us. I have found that Aldi has whole Chickens for $0.95/lb, Chicken quarters for $0.95/lb, Ground Turkey for about $1.89/lb. They usually have ham for less than $1.20, but not always. I do look for Pork at Sam’s they often have pork loins for a good price, but not always.
- We eat a lot of beans. They are a great source of protein, and fiber. My kids generally prefer beans to most of the meats I prepare.
- I want to have a splurge meal about once a week. Last week we had the hot dogs that my kids bought and prepared. Sometimes we will buy frozen pizza from Aldi. their Mama Cozi pizzas are really good, and the price starts at $1.99 per pizza.
- We generally don’t buy cheese. Cheese can be expensive. I enjoy cheese, but the cost is prohibitive so we generally don’t have any in the house.
- I am currently trying to go Gluten free for myself. Not the whole family. Aldi has a large selection of Gluten Free items and I have really enjoyed the GF wraps this past week. If I prepare a meal with regular pasta I will eat that rather than fix a second meal for me, but I am hoping to phase out the regular past in the house since now I am able to buy GF Pasta at Aldi.
Our diet isn’t very diverse. So far this week we have had:
Sunday: Left overs. I try to make sure there is enough food in the fridge so that I do not have to cook. We had ham, left over Chicken, Sandwiches, and raw carrots, and veggies from fridge.
Monday: Black Beans with sauteed onions and the last bits of the left over ham.
Tuesday: Ground Turkey Spaghetti
Wednesday: Black Beans and Rice with Sauteed Peppers and Onions. I cooked a crock pot full of black beans the other day and I want to use them. I might also prepare Black Bean soup. As I write this post I haven’t decided yet.
Right now I have a budget of $300.00 as my grocery, household needs, cleaning needs, laundry needs budget. This includes diapers, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, all cleaning supplies I need as well as toothpaste, hair products and pet supplies. We have one dog and one cat. I will be sharing with you what I spend over the next two weeks and how I have fed my family with that money. Keep in mind that there are certain food items that are already in the house that were purchased earlier and will be used as I go along I will note those items.
Today I went shopping with the family. We needed some general items and some grocery items. We went to Target. I chose Target for specific things. I prefer the Up and Up brand of diapers, while we were there we picked up a few other things such as:
Veggies for our supper: $7.45 **A very pricey selection. I allowed a splurge for my kids to choose
Bread: $3.18 **Again a high price for bread. I bought two loaves because we were all out.