Frugal Tips – Feeding Our Family of Seven For $150 a Week

The only thing that seems to be a certainty these days is that gas and grocery prices are going up. While my husband has a good job in a reliable field, we are working on becoming debt free, so every penny counts. Frankly, even if I was filthy, stinkin’ rich I wouldn’t want to spend more money than I had to. So, here is how my family saves money on groceries each month without scrimping on the quality or healthfulness of our food.

There are seven people and one very large (130 lbs) dog in our family. That means diapers, formula, and dog food along with the regular groceries for meals and snacks. For all of this we spend approximately $150 a week on average.

1. The first thing I do is make a menu for two weeks worth of meals and a list of desserts and snacks I want to make for those two weeks. Here is a sample of our  Menu and a Desserts and snack list.

2. I try and incorporate at least one meatless meal per week into the menu. I try to make it a fun and healthy meal that I know my kids will like, for example, broccoli ranch pizza is a kid favorite around here.

3.I make a lot of homemade breads and other baked goods.While there are a few convenience items that I do regularly purchase, I try to keep them to a minimum…like one or two items.  Not only does this save money but it is healthier.Especially where bread is concerned. Bread prices are creeping up, and most breads still have high fructose corn syrup and an ingredient called L-cysteine which is derived from human hair and bird feathers (yuck). Read more on that  here or simply type it into a search engine and see what comes up…it’s gross.

4. Drink water, iced tea, lemonade that you can make yourself and avoid sodas and other beverages that can add extra cost to your bill and aren’t very healthy anyway. We do purchase fruit juice (100 % juice…not juice blends) if they are the frozen kind you mix yourself or if it is on sale.

5. I make a grocery list from my menu and lists (I also keep a running list on the fridge where I can jot down items that I need throughout the week). I try and incorporate meals into my menu that I already have some ingredients for in my pantry.

6. Try to keep the pantry stocked with staples like flour, sugar, yeast, cornmeal, etc. I have two ways that I accomplish this. One is to pick up an extra item or two for the pantry on each shopping trip to keep from running out. We also make the occasional trip into Sam’s Club for bulk items. We try to make those trips only once every three months which keeps our overall grocery bill lower (but is higher than normal for that particular month).

7.Shop “no frills” stores like Aldi and use coupons when you can. Typically, we use coupons for items like toothpaste, soap and razors. Coupons are difficult to use in the town in which I live.  Our local retail managers seem to have acquired the unsavory practice of watching the circulars to see which coupons are out and raising the prices accordingly so that we do not save any money. This is why my money saving methods do not rely on coupons.

8. Shop every two weeks. This works well for us because my husband’s workplace is on a bi-weekly pay scale. Also, the less times you run to the store, the less money you will spend overall.

9. I have a dog breed that must have some amount of meat in her daily diet and cannot rely on plain dry dog food alone. However, feeding only canned dog food would cost a fortune for a dog her size. So we mix can food with dry food which makes it go farther, and keeps her healthy and happy. We buy dog treats in our bulk shopping trips and they usually last until the next bulk shopping trip.

10. You can cut cost by buying generic formula from Costco or some other warehouse club. If you have a baby with digestive issues (like we do) and must use a brand name formula (like Enfamil) you can usually sign up on their website and they will send you a stack of coupons each month for about $5 apiece usually about $20 worth  each month.

Also, this doesn’t really help save money, but I find it useful to keep my shopping list fairly well organized. This keeps me from getting confused and missing items on my list, or from buying duplicates by accident and also saves me time in the store.

These methods have drastically reduced our grocery bills. It takes a little time to find all the methods that will work for you and your family, but you can work on one small area of your grocery bill at a time until you get the bill down.

I’m sure there are a lot of other ways to save money and I’m interested in hearing yours! 🙂 So…how do you save money on groceries each month?

It’s Really Not Complicated – Make Your Own Laundry Soap

For those of you who haven’t tried it…making your own laundry soap may sound difficult, messy, or just too complex to mess around with to make it worth the money you save. I promise you, it’s really not that hard. And you don’t need a lot of hard to find ingredients. 🙂

All you need is a bar of hard soap (remember whatever scent your soap is will be the scent of your detergent), 1 box of baking soda (that’s right…baking soda!), and (optional) 1 cup Borax powder.

You will also need a grater and a medium saucepan. Or you could use my sister’s method, which involves wrapping the soap in a towel and pounding it with a hammer. I prefer the grater because the soap flakes end up more uniform in size.

Here’s my soap all grated.

Put just enough water over the soap flakes to cover them. Melt the soap over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Fill a large stockpot or bucket with about 2 gallons of hot water. Pour melted soap into the hot water and stir well.

Stir entire box of baking soda into soapy water and stir.

If you want, you can stir about a cup of Borax in.

This will just about fill three large laundry soap containers. Be sure to shake it before using…the contents will gel a bit after settling.

The benefits?

First of all cost:

I bought a 3 pack of hypoallergenic Dial from the Dollar tree. I only used one bar of soap so it cost about .33 cents.

Baking soda cost about .60 cents (you can use generic which is cheaper…about .40 cents)

One cup Borax approx. .70 cents (that’s figuring high)

Total cost  $1.63 for approximately 168 loads of laundry!

Another benefit is that it is hypoallergenic. If you have family members with soap allergies, this is the perfect, thrifty solution.

The soap may look different than the store bought brands, but it cleans very well  You can use it  in standard and HE washers as it doesn’t make a lot of suds.

This soap is more eco-friendly because it does not contain the harmful toxins that store bought soaps usually have.

I hope this makes the idea of making your own detergent less complicated, and hopefully answered some of your questions. If you have any more questions about making your own laundry soap feel free to ask! 🙂

Linking up here:

Creations by Kara

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