The Polka Dot Household is on a constant mission to save money. Because we eat a mostly whole foods & entirely gluten free diet, it’s difficult to coupon. I’ve come up with a couple of ways to cut our grocery budget back.
1). Don’t buy pre-made gluten free (or any) snack products. (We do occasionally.)
2). Shop at discount stores. Today I purchased 24 bags of gluten free (non-gmo) corn pasta for $1.69 per package… this will last us 3 months. I also purchased gluten free cookies for .99/pkg (I can’t make them that inexpensively!). Our local Grocery Outlet can be a gold mine for gluten free items like these. I was also able to buy packages of 6 BabyBell cheeses for $1.49 and Greek yogurt 2 for $1.00.
3). Buy in bulk, but watch price per unit/ounce/pound. Think about buying beef, pork, and poultry directly from a farmer (by the whole, half, or quarter animal). You can’t get better quality meat for anywhere near the price at the market.
4). Skip breakfast cereals. My rule is that I will NEVER pay more than $2.00 for a box. We buy Rice Chex or gluten free Rice Krispies when they are on sale. Otherwise we eat homemade muffins, eggs (lots of them), gluten free oats (I buy in 25lb bags from Bob’s Red Mill for $1.27lb vs. over $3.00lb in stores). We try to limit cereal to NO MORE than 2 days/week. It’s not healthy (despite what the boxes say) and it’s expensive.
5). We are instituting “Poverty Week”. Once a month, for one week, from Monday-Friday, our family will eat VERY simply. Our first week will be Rice and Beans. I will calculate the difference in the cost of a normal food week and we will donate the savings to a feed the hungry program. I am hoping this will teach our children just how lucky we are and give them some sense of gratitude and instill a desire to help others. (Wishful thinking?) This could be done merely as a money saving measure, but I feel its more important to use it as a time of helping and teaching.
6). Set a budget. I also have specific prices I won’t pay over… for fresh produce, my max is $1.00/lb. I purchased two bags of frozen organic broccoli today at 2lbs for $2.99, however they were crowns only. My cereal budget is $2.00/box. I don’t buy gluten free pasta unless I can get it at the outlet store. I spend a little more to get organic spring salad mix because the nutrition cannot be matched in a lower cost option.
7). Plan ahead. This is the one that always gets me. If I don’t plan my menu in advance, I end up making extra trips to the store which ALWAYS results in spending money I wouldn’t otherwise.
8). Avoid junk food. It’s highly processed, has no nutritional value, and is expensive. Plan wisely, to get the best nutritional value for your buck.
9). Don’t drink your $ away… soda, juice, and other “drinks” lack nutritional value, add empty calories and cost a fortune!
10). Stock up when you find a great sale on non-perishable items. This will save you from spending too much later for the same item.
11). Eat in season. By purchasing local produce when it’s in season, you can save a lot of money, support local agriculture, and naturally diversify your diet.
12). Chose simple meals. We are so caught up in variety, we’ve lost sight of the value of a simple, nutritious meal.