Do you know how much you will eventually pay for a mortgage over a 30 year span of time? With the average interest rate you can get today on an in bank loan and on a thirty year commitment you will eventually pay almost double! I don’t know about you but I for one do not want to have to pay double for my home and, even it means living a little less comfortably, having an old car, or not being able to take a vacation, I will be happy to do that! Our grocery budget every month is only $150 compared to the average grocery bill for a two person household of $500 per month in the United States. All out Savings: $4,200 PER YEAR! (The following tips for saving money on groceries is all based on where I live so your own prices in your grocery store may be very different then mine. Go and look! Do your research!)
The first major savings when it comes to our grocery bill is that Joe and I hunt and fish enough for at least three meals per week all year. We grind our venison into “burger” and we cut it into roasts, steaks and stew meat. We also get a wild turkey tag whenever we can. Joe is always out fishing and we eat just about anything that’s in season that we can catch: bass, walleye, trout, crappie, blue gill, sun fish etc. So, before I even step foot in the grocery store our grocery bill is already cut down by over half of the average household’s because we don’t buy beef or fish. (Joe and I practice serious conservation, we only keep what we will eat and we never ever waste life. We support all of the lakes we fish on and feed the deer year around.)
Let’s talk about meat prices. Beef right now is around $4-$5 per pound, pork is around $2-3 per pound, chicken is around $2 per pound and turkey is sometimes literally less then $1 a pound. I remember when I was a kid how Hamburger Helper seemed to be the inexpensive go-to meal, buy a box and a pound of ground beef and you were set. But these days you can save a ton of money by just NEVER buying beef. Joe and I get enough in venison meat to feed us all year but we wouldn’t be buying beef regardless and that’s for moral reasons, cost reasons, health reasons and just personal preference. We just don’t believe commercial beef is safe and morally I don’t want to support the industry. (I feel the same about all of the commercial meat industries in the United States actually and really hope to replace buying all of it with local or our own home raised someday too.)
I rarely buy chicken pieces, instead I buy the whole bird (around $5 per bird) and break it down myself. I’ll usually buy two birds at a time then I’ll freeze four thighs in one package, all eight of the wings and drummies in another package and then two breasts in one package and two more in another. Each of the carcasses I boil and make one batch of chicken noodle soup a piece. It ends up being six meals of protein for $10 and that’s a very conservative estimate – Joe and I always eat our leftovers and one batch of chicken noodle soup generally feeds us for three meals. With turkey it is even cheaper but tackling a whole turkey is usually something I only do a few times a year and I’ll wait until they are marked WAY down around Christmas and Thanksgiving etc. When I break down a turkey I usually do it a little different then a chicken – I’ll cut it so the wing stays attached to each breast and the leg stays attached to each thigh and then freeze each section separately: Four meals per turkey not counting then boiling the carcass for turkey stock or soup. (You will never need to buy stock again!)
We’ve totally given up on canned vegetables. (I honestly believe that anything commercially canned has added sugars and salts and all sorts of other crap that I don’t want us to be eating anyway.) The cheapest way to avoid buying canned anything is to buy produce in bulk when it is at its peak (and thus at its cheapest) and then freeze it (or can it) yourself. However, if you can’t manage to get that done, frozen vegetables are generally cheaper then canned and I believe them to be better for us anyway. We’re fortunate to live out in the country and have a lot of farmers, neighbors and friends who put in big gardens every year. This year alone we were literally given months worth of veggies for free! I just had to break them down and freeze them. Of course, I plan on one day growing all of our own produce – big dreams but one step at a time!
Starches (potatoes, beats, rices, beans, pasta etc) are really the cheapest you can go when it comes to saving money and filling bellies. We love sweet potatoes, squashes, beats and yams but they are actually a bit of a splurge compared to plain old potatoes. I buy jasmine rice in bulk, it’s usually cheaper then potatoes and we get a bunch of wild rice as a gift every year from family that harvests it (or on trade) and I also make pasta at least once a week as well, it’s cheap, easy and filling. Pasta sauce is easy to make and cheaper then buying it! Compare the dried bean prices to the canned and you’ll never go back. Dried beans take a little longer, soak them in water and a tablespoon of vinegar over night in the refrigerator then they’ll cook up in around twenty minutes and the vinegar helps with the beans noted side effects 😉 Or, you can just throw them in a crock pot and they’ll be ready when you get home at the end of the day!
Beware paying for marketing, brands and pretty packaging. I found myself avoiding the cheaper looking off brands that gave me the impression that what they were selling was probably 20% plastic, 20% artificial coloring and 60% fake sugar. That line of thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth. This is what I’ve found: if we can’t afford to buy truly organic, farm raised (etc etc) then it doesn’t matter what brand it is or how much it costs it likely is the EXACT same thing as the cheaper not as pretty off brand that’s hiding at the bottom of the shelf. Look at the ingredients before you choose what to spend your money on, a lot of times you’re just paying for prettier packaging. I just found the most gorgeous Amish Wisconsin butter that is $2 less then the other stuff, its in a big roll of wax paper, not individually wrapped etc.
So, the other day, I was standing in my local grocery store staring at the price of a jar of organic coconut oil knowing full well that I couldn’t afford to buy it but I was out of lotion (My homemade body butter). I pulled out my phone and promptly purchased the same jar of organic coconut oil for ¼ of the price on Amazon and left my local grocery without buying anything. I hated doing that – I want to be able to support all of my local shops etc especially when it comes to their organic offerings but I literally just could not afford it. Its so easy to check prices when you shop nowadays that I do it with everything we purchase now. In my post about How we save over $10,000 a year I mentioned how we have an Amazon Prime membership and use it instead of paying for Satellite tv. Amazon Prime costs us $100 per year and gives us free two day shipping but the shipping is really just a perk. Not paying for Satellite tv already paid for Amazon Prime many times over for us but there is something else in the grocery department that makes Amazon Prime invaluable to us. BULK SPICES! For example, right now, you can buy a 16oz bag of dried organic basil for $12 or you can buy the shaker with 2.5oz in it for $8 – not much to think about really. I just resuse my shakers and replace them with glass jars as they break and wear out.
Also, as often as I can, whenever I make a purchase on Amazon I choose the “no rush” shipping option and sometimes it drops in a $5.99 credit toward our next Prime Pantry purchase. Prime Pantry is relatively new and, so far, I absolutely love it. With Amazon Prime Pantry you get one really big box with a flat rate of $5.99 shipping with whatever it is off of the Amazon Prime Pantry that you can fit in there. This means I usually do a prime pantry purchase once every two-three months and purchase at least the following: All of our toilet paper, paper towels, kitchen garbage bags, rice, beans, pasta, granola bars, razors, shampoos, conditioners, soap and batteries and really anything that isn’t fresh produce that we need for the next two-three months. Now with the $5.99 credit the prime pantry box was already getting sent to us for free so it wasn’t costing us anything more as long as the prices were comparable to our local prices in town. So, one day I spent a very ridiculous amount of time at both of our local grocery stores and walmart comparing the Amazon pantry products’ pricing to those in town and, almost every single time, Amazon Pantry BEAT them in prices or, at least, Amazon Pantry was always comparable.
Garbage bags are expensive along with everything else that we buy just to throw away. We don’t have a compost pile (yet!) but I don’t throw away most food scraps in our kitchen garbage can instead I throw it all in the trees beside our house. The wild critters get a meal, its good fertilizer for the ground, it doesn’t stink up our kitchen and it reduces our trips to the dump! We burn any products that are safe to burn: paper towels, napkins, newspapers etc. We have one large garbage can in our kitchen and smaller garbage cans scattered throughout the house but I only buy garbage bags for the can in the kitchen. All of the other cans in the house get plastic grocery bags instead and they’re kind of awesome for the job too because they have handles! So, whenever I go to the store and forget my cloth bags and end up bringing home a pile of plastic grocery bags we have a great use for them!
Beware buying items just because you run out. It is so easy to check your pantry and your refrigerator once a week, make a list and get yourself into the habit of always buying something before it runs out. This habit can become really dangerous. There is SO little that we actually need in our homes to sustain us so, unless it is an absolute staple in your home, LET YOURSELF RUN OUT. Live without it for awhile and I bet you’ll be really surprised how you never needed it to begin with. Joe and I don’t keep snack food in our home besides pop corn and then we pop that ourselves (we have a great air popper you can check out by clicking here) and we do not buy soda either, we make that as well (we have a soda stream and carbonate any liquids we want and you can check that out by clicking here). Snack foods do not sustain a person at all: they are very expensive empty calories and, quite frankly, they can ruin your dinner! A great example of a staple in most homes that we no longer keep around is milk. I started using water in my recipes instead and boom, turned out I didn’t need milk in the house at all. This is also something I’m working on with butter and boom I cut my butter usage in half and haven’t even been able to tell I’m hardly using it in our dinners at all; what a savings and what a waste all the butter I was using before was!
I make our laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, hand soap and my own lotion (I call it body butter) and have not purchased any of those items in their commercial form since we moved in in August 2015. We also don’t buy or use any commercial cleaning products or fabric softener. (Yes, we literally buy vinegar by the gallon.) We also never buy anything to make our house smell better, honestly so many of those sprays just add toxins to the air and the idea of spending money just so a room can smell like a fake flower for half an hour seems really silly to me.
All in that savings totals over $4,200 A YEAR! Head on over and check out How we save over $10,000 a year on top of our grocery savings!