I don't know about you all, but there's something about Tax Day looming on the horizon that inspires me to buckle down and clean up our finances. Admittedly we've gotten a little lax with our spending, but also as our children continue to grow, our grocery bill is creeping up along with them. So in an effort to trim our food budget, I'm going to be focusing on some of these tactics:
- I'm making more staples at home. We've been enjoying fresh bread, courtesy of my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook, slathered with homemade butter (made in under 10 minutes!). I've also continued to make my own homemade Bisquick mix and try to cook from scratch whenever possible.
- Snacks are a big challenge for us with the kids. They love the Clif Kid Bars, but the five of them can go through them in no time flat, and they're not exactly inexpensive. We're encouraging them to try eating more fresh fruit for snacks by having it cut up and readily available in the refrigerator, and Cuties are always a hit (however, finding a good batch of them this year has been a disappointing endeavor). This is still a work in progress, so I'm hiding the Clif Bars and rationing them out in the meantime.
- When we do choose to eat out, we always make sure we're getting the most for our money by utilizing loyalty programs, coupons, and special promotions. A smart choice for our family is always IHOP. My husband and I can choose from their 7 for $7 meal offerings, and the kids can choose from their reasonably priced kids' menu. Plus I hate bringing home leftovers because they typically go uneaten, and I never have to worry about them not cleaning their plates here!
- We'll be joining a CSA again this year. Yes, it can seem like a lot of money out of pocket up front, but our weekly CSA baskets were more than enough for our large family each week, and we're still enjoying some of the excess fruit in our smoothies. Plus having a set amount of money already deducted for produce makes budgeting a little easier.
- The whole family is drinking more water. We do purchase bottled water for the kids to easily grab when they're playing outside, but for the most part at meals and during the day, we're all drinking tap water from the refrigerator dispenser. My husband and I like to squeeze a little lemon into ours, but we've discovered that they kids are perfectly content with a big glass of ice water. The only downside is our ice maker is having trouble keeping up with the seven of us, so I've been trying to turn on the ultra plus feature at night before we go to bed and emptying it into a bin first thing in the morning so we always have some extra on hand.
By this time I think we all have a good handle on how to save money with coupons, but lately it seems like the number of food coupons is dwindling. Did you notice how many health and beauty and cleaning product coupons were in the recent inserts?
What strategies are you using to save on food beyond coupons? Are you making more staples at home too? What about saving on eating out?
Disclosure: IHOP has provided me with compensation for the time and effort spent creating this post. However, my opinions are entirely my own -- always have been, always will be.