Things just went from bad to worse. You got the call that your husband lost his job, the car needs major repairs, or another medical bill just found its way in your hands.
You’re already frugal but this news demands even more cutbacks. While it may seem that you are already doing all that you can to skimp and save sometimes you find yourself needing to cut back even more.
If you’ve found yourself in this position, I’m here to help.
I’ve recently had to reevaluate our already frugal lifestyle. I will admit to you that cutting back an already bare bones grocery budget isn’t fun or easy, but it is possible.
I’ve talked in the past about Kitchen Stewardship so you know my feeling that we have the most control over our finances in the kitchen with regard to what we put into our shopping cart.
In an effort to encourage and inspire you should you find yourself in a similar situation, here are the changes our family will be making until our storm passes.
1. Oatmeal – We enjoy our oatmeal made with apples, raisins, and Craisins. The Craisins add a flavor we really enjoy, but they are expensive so when those run out, we won’t be replacing them. The same is said for our favorite cookie – Healthier Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. In the meantime, I will use less than I normally do to make what we do have last longer.
2. Bacon – Because we have chickens, we have bacon and eggs for breakfast 1 -3 times a week. I already purchase turkey bacon as it is significantly less expensive than regular bacon, but for now we will learn to enjoy our eggs sans bacon (or at least with less).
3. Toast – I already make homemade bread for toast and sandwiches, but I’m thinking we can forgo using jelly. We can be happy with just butter or cinnamon sugar.
4. Sandwiches – We already eat lots of peanut butter & jelly and grilled cheese sandwiches. Very rarely do I purchase lunchmeat but I do occasionally when I find a good deal. For the time being, I will forgo all lunchmeat.
5. Salads – My family could eat salad every day! If we don’t have one for lunch, we enjoy having one for dinner. We will continue to eat salad as long as the price of lettuce remains reasonable but we will do without the addition of meat. I already mix up my own Ranch Dressing, but I will be researching a less expensive dressing option.
6. Soups – We eat a lot of soups because they are healthy, frugal, and filling. I will focus more on our vegetarian favorites like Creamy Vegetable and I will cut back the meat in soups like my Enchilada and White Chicken Chili.
7. Breads – I enjoy serving muffins like my Oatmeal Raspberry w/ Chocolate Chips with soup but I will save those for an occasional treat and serve a more frugal choice like The Easiest Bread You’ll Ever Make.
8. Baked Potatoes w/ Broccoli – a frugal and filling lunch we need to enjoy more often is that of the baked potato simply topped with butter, steamed broccoli, salt, and pepper. Sans cheese or meat, this is a meal we need to eat more regularly.
9. Fried Rice – This is a meal that I serve regularly for lunch. I usually add a chicken thigh or two, but for now we will get our protein from the egg.
10. Whole Chicken – Most of the chicken we consume comes from whole chickens purchased on sale, but I do occasionally buy chicken thighs and tenders from Costco when I have the opportunity. I will learn to make do with just the whole chickens, however, due to their frugality. (You can read about how I roast two of them without heating up my kitchen here.)
11. Cutting back on meat – I already cut back on the amount of meat I use in my recipes, but I will continue to cut back a little further and compensate with extra rice, beans, or veggies.
12. Tortilla Chips – I do occasionally purchase a big bag of tortilla chips from Costco because it really is a good deal for a fun addition my family enjoys with our Mexican themed dinners. We will be doing without this one for now though.
13. Granola Bars and Cereal – I don’t purchase these packaged products too often but I do like to have a few on hand for “emergencies”. I will need to nix this habit for the time being and make them from scratch.
14. Nuts – Gone are the days of the pistachios, almonds, and cashews. Those are our favorite snacking nuts but the humble peanut will be our invited guest as he is a much more frugal choice.
15. Coffee – I love me some coffee! It is, however, a want and not a need. Between the coffee and the half and half I
need like so much, this is a costly indulgence. Instead, I search for strong flavors of tea that I pretend are coffee. Because my husband and I both drink our tea without the addition of cream or sugar, this is a much less expensive option.
16. Milk – We already reconstitute powdered milk to save money and we drink it sparingly as it is. I use the majority of it here – How To Stretch Buttermilk. I’m not sure how to cut back any more in this category, but I mention it in case you need to consider cutting back.
17. Butter – Use less butter w/ caution – it’s my experience that fat doesn’t make you fat – it makes you full. So while I will continue baking with butter, I will cut back on the amount I slather upon my fresh baked breads and muffins. I also need to get back into the habit of making my spreadable butter. (I’ll be sharing that post soon!)
18. Drinks – We already don’t purchase alcohol, soda, juice, or any other flavored drinks. We drink a lot of water to save money. It wasn’t fun at first but we have become used to it. For more encouragement, see 11 Reasons to Drink More Water and How To Freeze Lemon Slices.
19. Eating intentionally – Isn’t it true that we all sometimes eat even though we know we aren’t hungry? Maybe we’re stressed or bored or we simply have something temping us because we enjoy eating it.
I am learning to be more intentional about my hunger. If it is at the end of the night, I’ll go read a book or turn in rather than heading to the kitchen for a snack. If I’m feeling hungry during the day, I’ll drink a glass of water before reaching for food. If I do find that I am truly hungry, I’ll reach for a frugal snack like a banana or a handful of carrots.
I know that these simple changes may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but when you are counting your pennies, every one of them counts.
This is a subject big enough for a book (one of which I am writing, by the way!), but I just wanted to give you some suggestions so that you can start rethinking your own family’s grocery cart should you find yourself needing (or wanting) to cut back your expenses.
While many parts of the world struggle with malnutrition due to extreme poverty, there are far too many people from prosperous nations who struggle with poor nutrition due to poor food choices.
Whether we choose less quality foods based on income restrictions, convenience, or simply desire, nutrition is an important aspect of our health. There is a very fine line many of us walk between making food purchases that are healthy but frugal. For my thoughts on that subject, see Health vs. Finances.Print This Post
What do you think? Are you currently in this situation or have you been here before? Do you have anything you’d like to add?
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