Living on a Coupon isn't just about saving money with coupons; its about living a frugal happy & full life! The number one way I do this is by choosing to live a homemade lifestyle. I'm not talking Little House on the Prairie and you DO NOT have to be Suzy Homemaker to do this. Living homemade means less money being spent at the store, getting more bang for your buck all while getting the best quality possible!
By going homemade I have cut my families grocery budget by more than 80%. Before making these lifestyle changes we were spending anywhere from $800 - $1,000 a month in processed yuck I called groceries. I still coupon, I have just changed my style of couponing. I now focus on toiletries and kitchen staples like bread, condiments, milk, sugar, flour, nuts, grains and other main ingredients that will allow me to make my families favorites a healthier way.
I start off by preserving our favorite produce when it is at its peak. By doing this I am able to purchase it at the cheapest price yet enjoy it throughout the year. I personally only can/freeze the items I know we will for sure eat throughout the year. This way I am not wasting my time or resources preserving produce that will just take up space.
For me this includes freezing corn, canning pickles, strawberry freezer jam, canning salsa, pumpkin puree & applesauce to name a few. The top of my cabinets are lined with all my favorite cookbooks I have collected from yard sales, thrift stores & cookbook clubs. I also use meal planning programs like Meals by the Week because they keep my menu fresh and help me plan a menu based on the sales at my stores & what I have on hand. Of course, we also have the web to find new creative recipes & I don't know what I would do without Pinterest!
These resources help me stay creative with my monthly meal planning and makes sure I don't use the excuse of "I don't know how" when it comes to making something homemade. I save a fortune by making some of my families favorites homemade....not to mention we stay away from processed preservative filled versions which makes me happy. Some of the best ones are homemade noodles, flat bread, chocolate syrup & caramel
I do not buy prepackaged snacks; Fruit snacks and other snacks targeted at kids have as much sugar and "yuck" as a candy bar. I wouldn't buy a box of candy bars for my kids to snack on so why would I buy a box of fruit snacks. I like to shop at my local market to buy dried nuts & fruits to make our own snack mix. I buy raw oats and make our own flavored oatmeal. I also choose to buy plenty of fresh seasonal fruits & vegetables as well as saltine and baked crackers to have on hand. Staying away from the prepackaged snacks makes my budget very happy! Plus, it teaches my kids to make good choices that will stick with them into the future.
Another great way to cut your budget is to cut down on the portion size! I always thought I needed to be cooking for an army and always want to make sure my family gets plenty to eat. Though, what I quickly noticed was that my family was getting plenty to eat and I ended up with way to many leftovers. Just by cutting down the amount of hamburger I cooked for one meal from 4 pounds to 3 saves me on average $3 a dinner! I can feed 6 people on 3 chicken breast just by cutting them in half to make them thinner. This helps keep the portions under control and helps me make sure we always have a well rounded dinner consisting of a protein, starch & vegetable. By doing this my family gets plenty to eat, doesn't cost me as much and nobody notices that I have cut the amount of meat down.
Don't waste your money buying canned beans. Buy dry beans, cook in bulk and freeze them. Then, when you want to make beans all you have to do is warm them up and season. When I find a crazy good deal I stock up and freeze milk, butter, yogurt, cream cheese, bread, brick cheese and lunch meat. Stocking up and Freezing these items are essential to staying in budget. They are always expensive and for me is where I spend the most money. I make sure I follow my price point guide to make sure I am getting the best deal and go crazy! My kids enjoy baked goods so when I bake cookies I make a double batch and freeze them. Same with muffins and cupcakes; this way when I have company or a few extra kids spending the night I can quickly pull out what they want with no fuss and no mess.
My Homemade lifestyle doesn't stop in the kitchen! I also choose to make my own cleaning supplies & detergent. I love making my own products because they are clean of added chemicals, more gentle on my families skin and most of all extremely cheap!! Even with coupons usually the best price you will get on laundry detergent is $1.99 for 32 loads (60oz) which breaks down to $.06 a load. Or I can make my own homemade laundry detergent that is scent free & clear of added chemicals that only cost $1.76 for 480 loads!! That breaks down to less than a penny a load!! Some of my other favorites are homemade Febreze, Shout, Ice Packs & Swiffer Wet. Get those recipes and more HERE.
I allow a budge of $160 a month and that is for EVERYTHING! So, by making my own cleaning supplies means I have more money to spend on quality organic products, produce, milk & meats that I want to feed my family without a struggle. Healthy living doesn't have to break the bank, you just have to make adjustments in where your money is going to make it happen!
Sorry for the lengthy post, there is just so much to share! This is the first of a series I plan to share with you on how I live a frugal life without skimping on quality.
Next week, I will share with you how I create an entire month menu at one time!
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