A primary concern of many homeschooling families is making ends meet. One of places to easily be hit hard is the grocery bill. Fear not, however, because homeschoolers have long been known for frugality and resourcefulness. Taking money-saving lessons from these families is a great way to implement their cost-cutting strategies in your home. In this post, we’ll look at several great ideas to start saving quick. Look for a sequel to this post for even greater savings!
COUPONS are one way that homeschooling families save money on grocery items. Much has been written about couponing, including the “extreme” variety, so there is no need to repeat it here. But basically, coupons can save a family big money. However, coupon clipping can also consume a great deal of time and — if not careful – contribute to adding less-nutritious choices to the family diet. Some families coupon for food, and then store large purchases and bulk items in a closet or pantry for the future. Others coupon only for non-food items such as first-aid and personal care products. Both work well if performed consistently and the family enjoys the results.
CUTTING BACK is another way. Eliminating all (or most) pre-packaged and snack-sized items, processed and prepared meals, and expensive extras can make a huge dent in the final bill. So can avoiding fast food and dining out. Choosing less expensive brands or eliminating luxury items are good ideas, too. Though these changes mean making difficult choices between needs (nutritious food) and wants (expensive hair products, liquor, the latest fad beverages), they can save tons of money overall.
STRETCHING can work in many areas of the home. Stretching foods can work two ways: by adding just a little bit less to recipes (vanilla, spices, meats, butter) and achieving almost the same results, or by stretching food items themselves to go a tiny bit farther (adding water to whole milk or extra water to powdered drink mixes). Stretching cleaning products and health & beauty aids often works, too. Experimentation will determine stretches that are worth continuing as tasteless meals and ineffective products will quickly bear out the results.
COOKING CHEAPER involves using less expensive ingredients in recipes instead of more expensive ones. Generally speaking, cooking cheaper means using less meat and more of something else. If the proportions are right, the resulting dish still tastes great, but is cheaper to prepare. Adding additional breading to meatballs or incorporating rice and beans into chopped beef meatloaf are just two illustrations of this practice. Adding chopped to meat patties and additional vegetables to stir fry meals are two other examples. As an added bonus, creative recipe modifications can add variety, greater flavor, and a renewed interest in old dishes that families used to find boring.
BARGAIN HUNTING becomes a habit over time, and should be practiced whenever it is practical. Upon entering a grocery store, shoppers head directly to the clearance section or Manager’s Specials before setting off to locate the other items on the grocery list. Incorporating the lower-cost items into the weekly meal plan, freezing them for later, or stocking them away in the pantry is an excellent way to score higher priced items for much less. Combining bargain items with coupons can sometimes make these items irresistible, sometimes even free.
MEATLESS OPTIONS served once or several times each week can significantly reduce the cost of feeding large families. Families accustomed to eating meat every night may find this more difficult to get used to than others. But over time, gradually introducing a fun (fruit or veggie platters with dips), festive (Spanish Omelets) or themed meatless night (vegetarian chili in front of the big game) will win over even the hungriest carnivore in the house.
EATING LESS is a final way to cut costs. In families where there is a tendency to over-eat or make unhealthy food choices, limiting snacks or reducing portion-size can help in the areas of budget — and good health. Making expensive snacks less accessible (cookie packs, individual bags of chips) and keeping healthier options handy (popped corn, raisins, vegetable or low-fat cheese sticks) can work for anyone while the savings begin to add up, too. (Disclaimer: Never attempt a weight loss program without the advice of a professional you trust.)
Homeschooling families can save money and still eat tasty, satisfying and nutritious meals on a budget. Implementing just a few of these tips — or all of them – will begin to yield grocery savings in no time flat.