FOOD TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
Spring break is just around the corner and the kids will be home for about a week. Time to stock up the fridge and plan on loads of activities! With my boys, athletic daughter, nephews and nieces, my home has always been the IT house in the family. Needless to say, one of the biggest expenses has always been none other than food! There might as well be a reserved spot for me at the grocery store.
I’ve learned a few life-hacks through the years that has helped my sanity stay in tact. And, since sharing is caring, here are a few tidbits on how I keep it together.
I discovered this great idea a couple of years ago and boy did it add value to my life! Comparing the cost was the deal maker. Considering the amount of items I bought, enough to have a junior store in my pantry and fridge, I quickly found that buying the items as needed based on my meal plan saved me on average $75.00 – $150.00 per month. Knowing exactly what to pick out eliminated those regretful impulse buys and I was able to avoid picking up an item I’d already had in the pantry.
Meal planning was not as difficult as I thought. Depending on what works for your family and time management, you can plan ahead weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. For my family, it was easier to plan for two weeks at a time and as an added bonus, the kids loved looking up new meals and recipes to try which made it so much easier in getting them to help. One way to add a little fun is to set a rotation for the kids to be the “Chef of the Week” or a rotation of who gets to choose a theme night for the week. To kick it up a notch, create a menu board or a meal planning chart and include them in all the fun. I found some great samples for displaying the family meal plans which can range from pretty simple to detailed and elaborate. Everyone gets a turn. Everyone wins. And you get a little break… awesome sauce!!!
Have you ever been in the middle of unpacking groceries at home and suddenly remember that ONE thing you forgot to get at the store? Well, have you ever found yourself crying about it… literally? Not only because you forgot; but because you just can’t see yourself enduring going out to that madness again with kids in tow!
Get a list going honey! In fact, make them write it for you. For my kids, the amount of times they open up the fridge, they can tell me what’s needed from memory. I can tell you how many people I know that always walk out the grocery store wondering what in the world they just bought for that much only to discover they are still in need of items upon their return home. The last thing you want is wasted time at the store and unnecessary spending for sure. If you’ve established a meal plan, you’re already on track!
Coupons and Smart Shopping
Quite recently there has been a rise in this craze of couponing. I think there was even a reality show about it at one time. While I can certainly appreciate the concept, it really is a hit or miss depending on what’s available and what’s really useful for my home. For those who have tried it with success, Kudos! to you.
However, this mama ain’t got time for that! In terms of couponing, it’s the very basic for me and it still does the job. Those bulk advertising mails and coupon envelopes used to go in the trash; but I encourage you to at least take a look and hold on to the ones you could find useful. In addition, I frequent coupons online. Often times, the items you actually need aren’t solicited in coupon ads but I have been successful going directly to the source and have found success on their sites. I also learned from a friend of mine that a company may extend additional coupons or gift cards if you contact them directly sharing why you love their products. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll get perks!Another idea is buying smart… not that you’re buying dumb, just that you make it practical and less costly. To some, it may take some getting use too. You may be one that’s loyal to your usual grocery store, so was I; but all that went out the window when I found the same items available at a much lower cost elsewhere. Or, perhaps, you aren’t too particular about getting the name brand version of an item, consider a knock off or the store’s generic brand. Putting that extra effort to buying smart and strategically purchasing items that were less costly elsewhere made a huge difference in monthly expenses. Look, I thought about it too and dreaded the idea of going to multiple stores, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
(When Possible) Leave ’em Home!
Now that they’ve complied a list, if you’re able to get a trusted sitter or relative to watch them, leave them home! Listen, the grocery store is like a mini stay-cation, at least for me. You can get in and out without interruption. Most importantly, you’ll definitely stay on budget without having to get sucked in to buying anymore unnecessary food, toys, games, baseball cards, candy, movies, video games, etc. Man, those kids know just when to give you those “puss and boots” eyes… right at the check out! Of course this option isn’t for everyone… but I’m just saying!!!
Kids Eat Free Nights
Fun for the kids, check! Treat yourself on a night off from cooking, check! This could also be factored in to your meal plan, but be careful it doesn’t put a dent in your budget. Some places do offer all-you-can-eat nights with purchase of an adult meal. Some places offer kids eat for $1.99 or even less. Some offer free deserts. Hey, whatever floats your boat, there’s always deals. Just check out local restaurants in your neighborhood either online or in the ads. You might even get some extra savings by simply registering online for perks. Invite some friends with kids along. It’s a great way to get out of the house, do something out of the ordinary and “dine on a dime!”
A Little Extra…
Aside from food expenses, of course you got to keep them entertained. Here’s a few extra tidbits on keeping a bit more dough in your pockets.
No Free – No See
This one I actually stole from my brother. So many movies are accessible that it doesn’t always take paying or racking up a fee per movie to enjoy them. With Netflix, Hulu, free on-demand movies, etc., there’s way too many FREE movie options to keep them busy while waiting for the latest movie to come out on-demand. If you’re taking on serious budgeting like me, if it’s not fee – you can’t see! Ha, I love it!
Kids Free/Family Fun Days
Very similar to kids eat free nights, many local business’ offer goodies and feature kids nights as well. Many routinely feature a kids night on a specified week of a month (for example, a toy store offering free workshops and featured toy, every first Tuesday evening of a month).
Hey, I want to hear and learn from you too! What budgeting strategies do you use? Remember, sharing is caring so give up the goods and share below. I”ll feature your idea on this post!
Stay prayed up and be blessed,