When my husband and I find ourselves putting more prepared foods and snack foods in the grocery cart than we probably should, we challenge ourselves to stick to the "5 ingredients or less" shopping plan.
"Challenges" work well for us because we are both all-or-nothing type personalities, so just trying to cut down doesn't really work for us.
- don't buy junk food. There's no nutritional value and one can sit and eat it forever (I.e chips)
- buy staple items. I never buy for specific recipes because you'll buy a bunch of ingredients that will go bad before you can use them again.
- compare price per oz/lb. when shopping. Especially withb fruit. Some weeks frozen fruit might be cheaper than fresh.
- if there is a SUPER SALE on an item, stock up and freeze what won't be used immediately. Lastly, in some tates foodstamps can be used at the farmers market and they'll match you up to $5. So $10 worth the fresh food for $5 in stamps. Go near closing time because a lot of stands will reduce their prices to sell it quickly.
Making a challenge to ourselves and sticking to it for a few weeks or months helps us to re-set our shopping and eating habits.
We goe through $150-200 of groceries a week, and we seldom eat out. But that's eating comfortably, not frugally, and we're no longer using our time clipping coupons or some of the other excellent suggestions here - I just wanted to give a point of reference.
Using the same grocery store for a while has helped - I know which items they tend to put on sale, like Life cereal that will be BOGO every 2 months or so, or one of the brands of laundry detergent, so I can wait until those sales come along.
If you are doing most of the cooking answer: what are you generally preparing for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Here is what I do. You don't have to follow it exactly, or at all. I'm just sharing in hopes to help.
- Go through the circular for specials. Sometimes its available online.
- Plan out your meals and buy according to those meals. I use this to help me plan groceries related to a weekly menu.
- Incorporate veggies as 1/2 the plate, grain as 1/4 and meat 1/4.
- Do not buy things that historically goes to waste in the cupboard or freezer. Double-so for the produce.
- Once a week, everyone eats leftovers to clear out the fridge. I love to take leftover chicken and rice, and make a fried rice like this one. Frozen peas are a good substitute.
- Tuna casserole, goulash, tacos, enchiladas, etc. go over really well because you are adding a starch with meat, stretching the servings.
- Salads don't have to be just lettuce. My hubs loves a salad with mushrooms, cheese, leftover meat, and a homemade dressing of olive oil and vinegar with seasoning.
- Add some vegetarian meals to your rotation. I know you said the family mostly wants chicken-based meals, but there are lots of vegetarian meals that are not noticeably vegetarian that the family would probably love.
- For your remaining meat-centered meals, cut back on the meat used. Bulk up the meal with vegetables or whole grains.
- Cut back on processed foods. Other folks suggested cutting out junk food, which is critical, but I'm suggesting a step beyond that. For example, if you are buying things like boxed cereals, pre-made sauces, pre-cut meat, etc. you should buy the whole food equivalent. Make your own sauces, cut your own veggies and meat, but whole grains and cook them from scratch. For example, make your enchilada sauce, buy block cheese and grate it yourself, etc. This is one of the very best ways to save money and eat healthier in the process.
- Ever since someone posted in on Reddit, I've been trying 1-2 recipes per week. Its dropped my groceries down about $40 a week. No kidding.
- You don't need to buy soda anymore. Water, homemade tea, coffee at home, and milk are your friend. Seriously. I love grean tea and its replaced my soda habit.
- Buy store brand when its comparable to the brand name. Such as, bagged cereal compared to boxed. It lasts longer and its cheaper. Who cares that its not exactly the honey flavor?!
- Don't let people shame you into spending money on things you don't need. Like chips. Or magazines. or girl scout cookies. Consumerism is a group experience.
- Know your portions and who will eat what while buying. Sometimes I buy a huge pack of chicken, and freeze half to use on another meal because there is no way we can eat all that.
- Add homemade dinner rolls or Jif cornbread to a meal to fill up big eaters.
- Follow frugal bloggers for meal ideas, like this one.
To expand on point number two just a little I will not always make something different. I will often blance the meals so that one can role into the next. Like my go to recipes are cream cheese chicken in the crock pot, paramasean chicken, hand breaded tenders, enchiladas with whatever ground meat is on sale, pasta with meat sauce, kielbasa with onion peppers pasta and a tomato sauce, and sometimes ham and cheese gnocchi. Most of us don't eat breakfast but when we do it's generally just eggs and toast.
And then lunch is generally just a sandwich or maybe leftovers.
Check the policies of your local stores and see if they will price match competitors' advertised deals and coupons. A little bit of homework and planning can save a lot of money!
What does a cool teen look like today? When you ask somebody in that demographic you will probably get a bunch of different answers, but the ones that I thought were the cutest.
Be aware that those asked lived in the south so things like hunting and camouflage and who has the biggest truck are extremely popular.
But some other things are:
- Being funny, it seems, at my school at least, that if you're funny and can make a good joke every now and then, you're popular
- Being smart isn't considered nerdy, people actually seen to appreciate the "nerds"
- Instagram. The more followers you have= the more popularity.
- Sperrys, vans, basketball shoes (even if you don't play basketball...?)
- things like partying. And there are these things called barn parties that are really cool right now... It's just a party at a barn
- And as I said before any kind of hunting is extremely popular
- And when it comes to cars it's either who has the biggest truck or sportiest car
There is a new study that shoes children prefer to read books on paper rather than screens.
I feel like it's so trendy right now to say you prefer paper books to ebooks. "The feel, the paper, the smell...", etc.
I mean it's fine if that's your opinion, but I think the best medium is the one that lets you ignore it to focus on the content, and for me, that's my Kindle.
What I would like to see is people becoming more encouraged to use recycled paper in the first place, allowing that industry to become more profitable, allowing them to reduce prices and compete better against the traditional paper that trees are specifically cut down for.
Outside of nostalgia, books really do have a lot of good interface qualities... but I have this thin portable device with my entire library in it. It wins.