A few of my closest friends in town, who also eat like we do but do so for 1/3 of our cost have inspired me to try to improve this. Now, they don't have the dairy, wheat or organic restrictions on their diets which alone will create havoc on the bottom line, but they do have 3 children and both families spend about $400/month on food.
My friend in the valley is a master at couponing - so much so that she does talks, leads seminars, and has this blog. I read it and truly don't get it! I am horrible at detail management so this blows my mind - but many of you are gifted here so her tips will help you! It works - she feeds her family of 6 for CHEAP!! check it out: http://momsequipped.blogspot.com/
Anyway, here's what I did. We spend $800 to $1200 on food. Now granted, since we started eating clean, we don't spend money on doctors. So, in the end, we spend less then we used to on cheap food and doctors/drugs/supplements...but, I still sought to improve this as I know I can do better then $1200! Hubby is losing money this year and next year at work, so we really don't have a choice and I enjoy the challenge.
- I stopped creating my meals from recipes. I used to sit down with my favorite recipe books and sketch out a month of recipes and create my shopping lists this way. It forced me to purchase lots of extra food to create gourmet type entres. No more!
- I pull out $600 in cash and keep it in an envelope and that's how much money we get for groceries, period. When it runs out, we call you and come over for dinner. :)
- I create my meals by looking in our freezer and pantry and seeing what meat, beans, and grains we have to create an entre around. I then go online to sites like www.cooks.com and do a search with that ingredient. I pick the healthiest recipe with the fewest exotic ingredients that contains the most amount of ingredients that we already have and print it out.
- We purchase our dairy and eggs from our friends - I make our cheese and yogurt from the raw milk and the eggs are so rich in flavor and nutrients, we tend to need less of them to feel satisfied. By not having to go to a store to buy milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs I have avoided that easy temptation to throw spontaneous purchases into the cart.
- We stopped buying cereal and make granola each week from whatever we have around: I currently have 5 pound bags of wheat germ, ground flax meal, oat bran, and coconut that all add depth of flavor and nutrition to the organic oats, walnuts, almonds, raisins, dried apricots, dried mangoes, and sunflower seeds.
- I hit the Canned Food Outlet now first - and then supplement with the more expensive Fred Meyer and Costco store second. Canned Food has surprised me with a nice selection of organic and clean foods. But, you do have to be careful here.
- I don't go to Costco as much, if at all these days. I thought it saved us money, but really we end up just buying more of what we only "kind of" needed. Some things we need to get from there but I sat down with the husband and outlined exactly what we need from there and disciplined myself to not throw other random things in the cart. Those random things at Costco add up super quick as it's large quantities which means $10 to $20 each - that's a lot to spontaneously spend I have realized.
- Eat meat once in awhile, not weekly. We are getting really creative with all kinds of beans.
- Eat rice or potatoes almost every dinner.
- We buy in bulk from Azure Standard, as always. Cheaper then any store, fresh, with every item offered in organic as well.
Share your tips in the comments! I could use all the help I can get and I am sure everyone else can too in these penny pinching times