This is the first in a five part series entitled ‘Your Frugal House: Five Ways to Save Money in the…’. We will be looking at five different areas of the house and at five different ways to save money in each area. With all sorts of prices on the rise, and the need to make your money stretch even further than before, frugality is more important then ever. Stay tuned throughout the week for the other installments, or better yet, subscribed!
1. Grow your own vegetables
This may seem easier said than done: you might not think that you have the time to garden, or the space, or the necessary color of thumb (in French, your whole hand is green, not just your thumb). But really, growing your own food is a great way to have high quality food for less. If the above reasons for not gardening really aren’t excuses, then try thinking outside the (square foot gardening) box. Maybe you could join a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm or barter with a friend for some of their pickings. For example, I have room for a compost pile, but no time to garden. I trade some of the compost for some of my kids’ nanny’s vegetables; if you ask me I’m getting the better end of the bargain!
Here are some bloggers who garden:
- Frugal Dad and How to Build a Square Foot Garden (and an update)
- Get Rich Slowly has an ongoing project where he calculates the cost and rewards of his garden
- Being Frugal is going to attempt to move her square foot garden
- Paid Twice has tomato plants
- Frugal Babe is going to start a hydroponic garden
2. Menu plan
Simple Mom plans a weekly menu, then a second weekly menu. Next she repeats each menu; each meal is served twice in the month- two weeks apart. Finally, she shops from her menu. I do the opposite, I go grocery shopping first, and then menu plan from my staples. Both systems can work to save you money, the important thing is to find a system that works for you and use it.
If there is a particular meal that your family really enjoys, don’t be afraid to make it often. If you get tired of it, try variations on a theme: chicken noodle soup, chicken rice soup, vegetable stew, you get the picture.
3. Take advantage of good deals and stockpile
The first way to be able to take advantage of a good deal is to know if it’s a good deal. Of course you can keep a price book, with different prices at different stores, but that can quickly become cumbersome and difficult to remember, both the prices and to take the book with you when shopping. Paid Twice has solved the price book dilemma with the ‘buy it now’ prices, a price at or below which you should stock up.
Another important component to saving money in the kitchen is to stockpile food. Not only is this useful in the natural disaster sense of an emergency, it’s also useful in the budget sort of emergency, or the ‘my child just told me he’s responsible for snacks at school tomorrow and it’s too late to go to the grocery store’ emergency.
4. Buy Generic
Generic does not have to mean poor quality. In fact, many times the store brand is the same product as the name brand. The only difference is in the price. I buy very few name brands anymore; the few I do buy are for things like shampoo or the occasional treat of really good coffee. Not sure what generic food or products you’ll actually be able to tolerate? Try The Simple Dollar’s method of separating the wheat from the chaff.
5. Learn to cook
Really, there’s no excuse for not knowing how to cook. Not enjoying it is a different matter, but with the plethora of good food and cooking sites out there, everyone should be able to execute at least a few basic recipes. Processed foods or take-out from fast food restaurants are not frugal ways to eat, not to mention that they aren’t particularly good for you! If you’re looking for a place to start, some easy recipes to master are things like pasta with veggies, roast chicken, salads, or a simple casserole.
Have another frugal way to save money in the kitchen to add? Let us know in your comments! And remember to stay tuned (or subscribed) for the rest of the week for the other four installments in the series.