Hi everyone! Welcome to this week’s installment in our series “How to Afford Homeschooling”! Today we’re talking about how we cook cheaply.
It’s no secret that feeding a family is really expensive, especially since prices continue to go up so often. And just when you think you’ve settled into a predictable grocery budget, the kids have a growth spurt and your food costs double. (I shudder to think how much we’ll be spending when Pooh and Roo are teenagers.) For now, though, we manage to keep our food budget at about $300 a month for two adults, one elementary-aged child, and two preschoolers. Here are some of the ways we make that happen:
Stick to a shopping list.
The night before we go shopping, I sit down with the store sale paper and base all of our meals around what meats are on sale. I write those items down and then I fill in the rest of our week’s menu with meals that I know I can make for about $5. Stir fry, spaghetti, and split pea soup are some of our regulars for dinner. Once I make the list, I total up the expected cost. At the store, I stick to exactly what’s on the list. Period.
Choose generic brands.
I grew up eating name brand foods and I was actually afraid to try generic brands for years. Surprise! They don’t kill you! Unlike what I heard from others, I can taste a difference. But, it’s certainly not a big enough difference to pay two or three times more for the same product. Naturally, buying generic means I can’t use coupons, but I end up saving more this way than I did in my couponing days.
Eat at home.
Okay, this one’s a suggestion you hear all the time, but it deserves repeating here. We used to frequent the drive thru window at a couple of fast food spots near home, because I was just too tired to cook. But, now that we plan our meals ahead of time, I know what we’re supposed to eat each day as soon as I get up. Christopher Robin is a HUGE help in this regard as well, because he’ll jump in the kitchen and cook dinner often. Which brings me to my last tip…
Involve the whole family.
We do almost all of the things on this list together. I ask for family input on the shopping list and if the kids want something we can’t afford, we tell them that it’s too expensive but we’ll find a way to make it ourselves. Now they’ve pretty much stopped asking for sweets altogether, because they know we’ll always have something they like on the menu. (They’re partial to Daddy’s chocolate chip pancakes.) We also shop for groceries as a family. A lot of times family food budgets go out the window, because spouses shop independently. But when we all go to the store together, it helps us stick with what’s on the list and get some ideas for the next trip.
These are just a few ways we save on our cooking each week. In a future post, I’ll share one of our weekly menus so you all can get a detailed look at how we feed our family on $75 per week. If you have any suggestions of your own, please share them in the comments.
Come back next week for our next post in the series: “Generating Income”! Keep on learning!