I've been doing what I can to save money in the food department - since we're rebudgeting and cutting everywhere. Fun!
Actually, it is. It's like a game. My dear friend Jessie loaned me a book called Miserly Moms that has given me a lot of great ideas (as has Jessie), and I've gleaned what I can from a number of other friends as well. What I've learned so far? I can save a LOT more money than I thought.
For example, after my first round of grocery shopping to get started with this new "system," I've spent around $60 per week on groceries for a family of four (including house items like laundry deterrgent, diapers for baby, etc.). Incredible. I shudder to think of the money I've wasted over the years. I could have invested and been rich!
So, what am I doing (for starters)? Buying meat in bulk and making my own chicken broth and bread (Collin eats a LOT of bread), and eating vegetarian at least twice a week, and using less meat in meals in general (most of the time). It's amazing how simple it is.
First, I sat down and made a list of all the meals that I like to cook and that I can cook fairly easily (with "normal" ingredients). I came up with just under 40. Then I posted the list (organized into groups like beef, chicken, soup, vegetarian, etc.) on the fridge.
Second, I created a menu for the week to come. This was a Sunday night. It really didn't take long, and I can't believe I've not done this before. I posted this list on the fridge too.
The first thing I did was cook a whole chicken - the meat of which I'm still using (two weeks later) - then made broth out of the carcass and saved it in 2-cup portions in the freezer. By making meals that I can freeze half of, we practically cut our weekly budget in half. And I don't have to cook as much! Though I do love to cook, I also love the idea of only having to slice an avocado and some tomato from our dwindling garden while I throw my frozen pan of enchiladas in the oven. They're still homeade, and I don't have to spend an extra 45 minutes in the kitchen.
As far as non-dinner things go, Drue eats meat and cheese and fruit. I keep at least a box of some type of cracker around for snacks. She also loves my egg salad, which I've been making a huge batch of each week and eating on bread for lunch. Collin's lunches are fairly simple as well: a turkey sandwich and an apple with a bag of peanuts and Cheerios for a snack.
Breakfasts are PB toast for me and Drue and Grape Nuts and yogurt for Collin (Drue loves yogurt to). I've found a recipe for homeade Grape Nuts, which should save us some dough. And I'm really enjoying baking bread each week. Buy one cheap bag of flour and a jar of yeast, and you've got bread for weeks!
Fun times in the Barnes Kitchen.