My food budget is usually the first to be impacted. For example:I took a girls trip away with my best friend last month. Only way I would of been able to go is if I paid my own way. Well I dont work and the only money I am in contact with is my food budget. My husband is in charge of all other bills and living expenses. So all month ( he gets paid once a month) I pinched and used what we had. And guess how much I spend for a month of groceries for a family of 6? Only $300. We were not deprived, we didnt go without, and my kids didnt even notice. Yes, we came out fine.
How you might ask? Well I stuck to my plan. I only bought what we needed. I used what we had. I kept an eye out for free with coupons items, and didnt go into any stores if I didnt need to. Here is what I need on hand to get by and save money. All or most of these items are bought in bulk or are a store brand. If any are name brand, its due to me getting it out of the markdown sections because the can is dented or discontinued.
1. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2. Baking soda
3. Baking powder
6. Baking cocoa
8. Flax Seed-used in anything we bake
9. Brown Sugar
10. Whole Wheat Noodles (any type pick the cheapest)
11. Dried Fruit (cheapest.make sure no added sugar)-used for muffins or homemade trail mix
12. Nuts (roasted not fried. Low sodium if possible)-used in muffins or homemade trail mix
13. Small chocolate chips (if cheap...Try dark chocolate-less sugar)-used in muffins
14. Dried Beans (pinto is cheapest)-soak in water 1 day. Cooked in crockpot for a few hours then freeze for later use.
15. Canned whole tomato's (use potato masher to mash and use as sauce)
16. Frozen corn and pea's (taste fresh and usually cheaper)
17. Meat (mark downs only or $1 or less per lb)
18. Tomato sauce
19. Saltine Crackers-used in school lunches. Make your own peanut butter/cracker sandwich
20. Seasonal fruit (less than $1 per lb or banana's 59 cents per lb)
21. Milk-can be frozen if you buy markdowns for cheap.
22. Eggs-can be frozen
23. Butter (Buy on sale for $1 or less and freeze them)
24. Brown Rice(which ever is cheapest)
25. Spices-chili powder,cumin,etc.
26. Cereal (freebies or bought for $1 or less)
27. Cheese (used only when needed..not as a snack)
28. Whole Wheat Bread
29. Ground Coffee (do not buy from any coffee stands. Make your own)
30. Crystal Light type drinks (Cheaper than real juice and no sugar!)
31. Seasonal Produce (if no good sales buy carrots, celery, onion and potato's)
32. Corn Meal
33. Olive Oil (used spairingly)
34. Vegetable Oil (for baking)
35.Natural Apple Sauce no sugar added (sugar substitute when baking)
All items are changable. If I find something for cheaper somewhere else, thats where I get it. No particular brand, we eat whatever brand is cheapest. We always buy bulk over prepackaged. Its 100% of the time cheaper. If I come accross a major sale, I buy a lot and freeze or put in the pantry for later use. We plan our meals around seasonal sales and what is in our garden. I try recipes with no egg if im out of egg, and try to get by without going to the store. For snacks I make muffins or healthy treats. Whole wheat keeps you full longer so it balances out the fact that its usually 10 cents more than regular noodles. When baking I cut out 50% of the sugar needed with apple suace. Make your meals 50% vegetarian and you will save a ton of money. Replace with beans and you will get your regular protein. Get creative and try new things. Dont keep making the same meals or your family will get bored. Keep trying new things. Get the kids involved and let them help you make dinner. This will get them to eat the actual food and get creative along with you.
Keep this up and you will be saving a ton of money. When you need to go to the store, go through and inspect what you have and need. This way you dont buy what you already have. A full pantry is a full belly.