The Ancient Paths Family Farm

Getting Back to Basics in Health and Nutrition

Saving Money At The Grocery Store

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on May 1, 2008

Several years ago our family began scouring through our lives and our lifestyle to cut costs wherever we could. We had some tough seasons, financially speaking, and it was critical that we cut back wherever we could. I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve done that have been helpful. Maybe someone else can benefit from our experiences. Not only have we cut costs but we’ve found that we’re healthier from this process as well.

Saving Money At The Grocery Store

One of the biggest ways we have saved money at the grocery store was to stop buying pre-prepared and processed foods. While it may be “cheaper” to buy a box of something to mix together on the stove and feed your hungry family, it will not yield long term benefits. Pre-prepared foods are most often full of fillers which have no nutritional benefit. The example has often been used of snacking on potato chips or cookies vs and apple. In the early afternoon when we tend to look for a small snack, many people tend to grab a handfull of chips or cookies or something similar. What we notice is that later on, we’re hungry for another snack. The snack we had first may satisfy our taste buds but our bodies are still crying out for some sort of nourishment. An apple, for example, as a snack may not be what your taste buds are wanting but it will surely ward off those recurring snack-attacks and give your body the nutrients it’s needing. Fillers don’t benefit the the body at all and leave us as hungry, if not moreso, later on.

Not buying pre-prepared foods means that we eat all homemade meals. It may take a little longer but it’s worth it – both in the satisfaction that you get from creating a tasty meal and in the nutritional benefits your family finds. Homemade meals don’t have all of the fillers, additives and preservatives that pre-prepared foods have. Let’s use bread as our example of homemade vs store bought. Rather than a loaf of bread full high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, chemical additives and highly processed flours, your homemade breads are so much more delicious and nutritious. Again, it may take a little more time to bake the bread than it would to go buy it at the store but your family will only benefit from it. And like the other foods, a sandwich made with homemade bread is so much more satisfying and filling than one with store bought bread. You can ensure that the flours used are more nutritious and even add things like sunflower seeds, raisins, or whatever suits your fancy.

It’s much cheaper to buy all the ingredients for making bread separately, than buying them already made into bread. You can easily save $30 or $40 a month by baking your own bread.

This is especially true if you buy as many of your bread ingredients as you can, in the bulk department of a supermarket.

An entire bag of whole wheat flour (enough to make 4 to 6 loaves) could cost $4.00 or less. This is just one example of how cheap baking your own bread is.

source: Should You Bake Your Own Bread?

Change some of your meal routines. For breakfast, have oatmeal or toast with homemade bread rather than a boxed cereal. Our children used to have 3 or even 4 large bowls of cereal for breakfast and not bat an eyelash at the amount. Some boxes of cereal don’t hold much more than 5 large bowls of cereal to begin with. When we switched everyone to oatmeal or toast and jam for breakfast, the volume of food they consumed changed drastically. One bowl of oatmeal was much more filling and satisfying than 4 bowl of cereal. Not only that, but they could hold out till lunch time without being hit by a severe snack attack. We do have some small breakfast eaters who will do fine with one slice of toast and we have some others who require larger breakfasts consisting of a bowl of oatmeal or toast and eggs. But in reality, even these larger breakfasts are so much less in volume than when we had boxed cereals. The reason is because they are filling up with food with nutritional value and the body doesn’t need as much to be satisfied as it did when they were filling up on fillers, additives and sweeteners. Oatmeal is cheap. Homemade bread is cheap.

Buy frozen as opposed to canned goods. Often times fresh produce is expensive, or so it seems. Sometimes it’s not in season and that increases the price and other times what we do buy is just not good – those oranges that taste like dry cardboard aren’t worth our money. I try to always have some fresh produce on hand – apples are a staple – but when it comes to vegetables I tend to lean toward the frozen vegetables over fresh unless it’s fresh and local. The same principle I’ve mentioned above holds true with vegetables – the nutiritive qualities are better preserved in frozen produce than in canned and because of that, your body doesn’t require more food sooner meaning that you fill up on less.

Dish up smaller portions at meal time and have left-overs for lunch. In America today we have huge meal portions and then we often waste our left-overs. The volume of food that is thrown away in our country is mind boggling! In our homes we need to be dishing up smaller portions at meal time, you can always have seconds if you’re still hungry. Save what’s left in the pot for someone’s lunch the next day or after a few days have a left-over dinner night where everyone gets to choose from the available left-overs for their dinner that night. Favorite meals will quickly be noticed as will the less favorite. There’s nothing wrong with left-overs for lunch and, in fact, my husband prefers them to a sandwich anytime.

This brings me to one huge principle: Make weekly or monthly meal plans. We started with a weekly meal plan and moved gradually to a monthly meal plan. When the dinners are scheduled ahead of time it not only relieves the stress on the chef but it helps streamline the grocery shopping. When you know what meals you’re going to have you can shop accordingly and this prevents us from buying “whatever looks good” as well as prevents the panic that sometimes sets in in the early evening when someone hasn’t given tonight’s dinner a first thought, let alone a second thought. It also helps us plan our time in the kitchen for meal preparation. This not only has saved us a lot of money but it has saved us a lot of time, not to mention the peace it brings just knowing that “dinner is taken care of for tonight”.

Buying ingredients rather than pre-made meals has proven to be not only more cost effective but healthier for our family. Eating whole foods as opposed to processed or prepared foods has also proven to be more cost effective and healthier because we don’t require as much food to be full and satisfied as we once did. Preparation is the biggest key to saving money – it requires that we plan ahead and know what we’re doing. Impulse buying is almost completely eliminated, which saves us a lot of money

My husband works entirely too hard for the money he earns for us not to spend it as wisely as possible. Over the past several years we’ve learned, the hard way, about stretching our dollars as far as we can. I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is still much more that we could do to cut costs without cutting into the quality of our lives/food/health and I look forward to the next thing we’ll learn.

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