Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to Be Frugal Without Extreme Couponing

I got a lot of feedback for my post on "Extreme Couponing".  I also understand that some honestly do not know how to feed their families without coupons on a frugal budget.  Besides the most important step - praying and seeking God in decisions with your home management - I wanted to share a few basic tips on how I've done this over years without coupons.  I have already went over a lot of the stuff in the 5 years I've done this blog, but for those who may be new and not reviewed my over-1000-posts LOL, hopefully this can help you and your family.

  1. Pray & Have Faith!  - you have not because you ask not really sums it all up doesn't it?  Since when is praying to God for wisdom and help in our budgets and meal planning not important?  Since women thought they could do a better job than God with their own abilities.  Realizing that you need the Lord in this area will open the door for the Almighty to show you wondrous things!  I've watched my flour bin keep lasting when it was supposed to be empty.  I just kept scooping and another scoop would come out and I knew it had to be God.  Then there was our maple syrup jar that miraculous filled itself back up about 1/4 of the way!  Don't tell me that God still doesn't things like this today because you came too late!!
  2. Plan for the Month - planning for the month will bring success in your meal planning.  Not only are you prepared, but you save money overall and you go to the store less, which in turn, saves money because you aren't tempted to buy things you don't need!  If you don't have a plan, you have no idea what you are doing or need and you will spend more money and time!
  3. Stock up on Staple Items - having 6-months to a year of a stockpile of items that you always need/use can be beneficial because you usually get a deal when you buy in bulk and you don't have to buy these items but once or twice a year and that opens up more money each month in your budget!  We stock up through Azure Organic Farm on things like: flours, rice, oats, beans, canned tomato products, lemon juice, mustard, spices/seasonings, etc.  You can also stockpile non-grocery items that you know you buy every month like: deodorant, hair products, toilet paper, teeth products, cleaning products, etc.  Once you have a good pantry going, you only need to purchase perishable items each month like meat, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, etc.  I explain more about how I do this at the bottom of this post.
  4. Keep a Price Book - I normally keep a price list from various stores and update it each month, that way I know where I can get items I buy cheapest.  I shop from 3 grocery stores and sometimes 4 but remember, this is only ONCE a month for my big grocery trip!  I shop from the butcher once every 3 months for my meats for freezer-cooking, so I'm not running around town every week (unless of course I want to for fun lol).  I do go weekly to get bananas and milk or food-craving items or items for fellowships.
  5. Make Your Own - this is probably one of the biggest areas you will see savings in, just make your own!  Especially if you buy only organic, making your own will save you a lot of money, but even if you don't eat organic - most things are cheaper homemade, also healthier!  Getting away from processed/packaged food will also benefit you because homemade tastes better and you won't be so hungry because its usually more filling as well.  Years ago, I started making my own products, bit by bit and today I make my own: bread, tortillas, spaghetti and pizza sauces, salsa, hummus, pizza, ketchup, BBQ sauce, granola bars, desserts, and on and on.  I actually just added in salsa and hummus homemade this month - I used to make fresh salsa from my garden a few years ago but haven't since then and this month I'm making it in bulk and freezing it!
  6. Choose Frugal Recipes - this is one area that most people don't think about.  Choosing recipes is just as important as all the other steps.  If you are using a recipe that calls for all these exotic, hard-to-find items, then how much are you spending to make that one meal?  I like simple, easy recipes that taste good.  I bypass most recipes that have hard-to-pronounce ingredients most of the time lol - although, sometimes I do venture out and try one but simplicity is something I go for.

We just got our most recent Azure Farm order and some from Amazon:

You will notice we have a LOT of tomato products lol - that is because I make my own spaghetti and pizza sauces for 3 months at a time and then this month, doing the salsa as well and the leftovers from the cans go in recipes that call for those items.  We are eating more beans now since we changed our diet to a more Mediterranean style (which we are loving by the way!), so I stocked up on the beans we are using.  I stocked up on Masa, which is the corn flour that is used to make corn tortillas and more as you can see.  The 2 cans of oil are organic olive oil from Spain and this is our first time trying it out after hearing good things about it.

I use food-grade, BPA-free plastic 5-gallon buckets to store our food with gamma-sealed lids that make it air-tight.  I've NEVER had a bug in my food in these buckets!  I'm not going to spend my money to have my food go bad and go to the bugs, so to speak lol.  We now have 11 buckets and can you believe we use them all? They are easy to store as well - they stack!

I also wanted to tell you guys about the great program that Amazon offers.  It is called "Subscribe & Save."  You find an item your family uses regularly, and you get 15% off by subscribing.  You can subscribe to receive that item every 1, 2, 3 or 6 months.  They only charge you when it ships and you can cancel your subscription to an item at any time.  We are using it more and more and finding it is very cheap for most things and I'm saving a lot since using their program!

Hope some of that helps you and your family, happy savings!

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