Welcome to a mini-series on: how I plan menus; tips and tricks I use to save money when it comes to groceries; and stretching my food and food budget as far as possible. So, whether you're on a tight budget, just want to learn some ideas for having a food plan or just want some ideas on saving money, I hope this mini-series will help. :)
A little background on our food budget and bragging on my amazing husband ;) Currently, my hubby is a full-time Master's Degree student (a 90-hour Master's program, so pretty much another Bachelor's degree ;)), and is also working full (over) time to provide for our little family. I am truly blessed to have an amazing man that is working so incredibly hard to: a) earn his Master's and maintain A's and B's b) working 4 part-time jobs (he has his own business, is a soccer goalie coach, teaches 8 private guitar/drum lessons per week and edits/writes weekly for a national church sound and production magazine) c) finding lots of time to spend with our sweet son and myself and d) serve in our church... all the while with a genuine smile on his face and an amazing God-trusting attitude (even when mine might not be ;)).
God has been so faithful and provided for every need, and it has been a challenging season of making every.single.penny.count. :) And as far as our food goes: It's been a great time of growing and learning how to grocery shop and create nutritious, filling meals on a super-skinny food budget :) Now of course, we do work in the occasional weekend Chinese food take out, as well as other extras here and there such as a trip to the bakery to have a bagel, a $5 Little Caesars Pizza, or a trip to Krispy Kreme (which is a little over a mile from our house and the "Hot Donuts Now" sign is ALWAYS on. Mmmmmm. I have to pass it every time I go to Target ;)). Sometimes we will also purchase extra ingredients to make special meals or snacks. So thankful for these little extras. :)
With all of that being said, I've been writing down ideas that work for our family - I realize that these might not work for each person or family out there, but hopefully you can glean some useful tips. Please comment with any sort of tips or ideas you have about how you make your grocery budget work, what kind of meals you prepare, what works for you! :) It's always fun to learn new ideas and info!
This week to start, I wrote down a list of staples that I have in my pantry pretty much at all times. These are items that you don't necessarily use a whole lot of (like spices, crisco, soy sauce, etc.), and most of them have a long shelf life, so they aren't needing to be purchased frequently. If I see a particular item on sale for a great price and I know I am running low or (getting ready to run low) on that item, I will incorporate it into my budget (and if necessary, shave something else off- like foregoing a certain side dish for a meal that week). Feel free to print out the list, add to it on the blank lines, and keep an inventory of your pantry! :)
Over the next couple weeks I will be posting about various subjects related to groceries and food, such as: creating a food planning binder, menus, my thought process of creating a menu/grocery list, recipes, creating a price book and more :)