The cost of food is second only to the Mortgage in our household. It's quite difficult to buy healthy, nutritious foods and stay within a sensible budget. I would LOVE to buy all organic foods and never buy another thing that came in a box or a can. I suppose, that is possible for some - but for me, there are financial and time constraints that prevent an all inclusive, militant Natural Diet.
Around the new year this past December, God started working on me about what I was buying and where I was shopping. Our family was spending over $800 per month at the grocery store. I was shopping at a premium grocery store and buying organic whenever possible. While I justified this as a health benefit - I was spending outside our means.
Last night I went to the local discount grocery for milk, bread, cheese, cereal and fruit for the last time of the month. I came home and added up the receipts for the month of June and was pleased to find that my efforts got the food bill down to just over $500 last month! Here are the things I did to cut the cost, but keep the healthy nutritious foods.
1. Angel Food Ministries - This program has a variety of food "boxes" that can be purchased online and picked up at a local distribution sight. You can buy month by month with no obligation. Sometimes there are a lot of pre-packaged meal items, which I try to avoid, but on a whole, I've been rather pleased with the variety and quality of the food.
2. Stop the Big Haul - I used to shop one day per week and get everything. We would also make a trip mid-way through the week for apples, milk, bread, bananas, diapers.... Since we were going twice a week anyway, I decided to just shop 2 or 3 times per week and hit different stores with a sale going on.
3. Give Up the Gottas - I don't know about you, but there are certain foods I just "gotta" have - or at least I thought that I did. Things like yogurt, protein bars, and electrolyte replacements are things I had to have a certain brand and flavor of no matter the cost. I've had to either change my mind a bit, or not eat it the weeks it isn't on sale. And it hasn't killed me. Also, showing the kids that I can make the sacrifice, has encouraged them to try different brands and flavors of things they like.
4. Home Cookin' - Eating out is so convenient, and if you hit Subway it can be cost effective and fairly nutritious. But nothing is as cost effective or good for you than making it yourself. I sometimes think that if I don't have the energy to make something outstanding for supper, I should order out. A take out dinner for our family can easily cost $35! I can feed our family for TWO DAYS on $35. I had to change my thinking, and when I was to tired to cook - accept that sandwiches, or cereal, or scrambled eggs would be just fine. No complaints, yet!
So, those are a few things that I've been doing to cut the food bill. I actually experienced a bit of anxiety in the store over this. I shopped last night and spent $60 on fresh fruit/veg, cheese, bread, milk, crackers, etc. I realized that in a few days all that food would be gone and I'd have to do it all over again. Our children are only 12, 9, 4 and 2!! What on Earth will the food bill be like when they are 17, 13, 9 and 7!?!
I keep praying over our spending and trying to make right choices. If God is in it, it can't fail!