This post is part 3 of a 3 part series on saving money at the grocery store. Click here to read Post 1 and click here to read Post 2. This is a series on what I have found works for me and is my own opinion that I wanted to share with my "groupies" so that you may find an idea or two that you can use! Please read and leave comments of other ideas that you use...
For the past year I have read countless bloggers and how they have slashed their families grocery budgets. If there is one thing I have learned from this is that nobody has one cookie cutter way that works for everyone. You just need to find the way that works for you!
I have taken different ideas from different sources and have come up with my own grocery slashing tips that are working for me. This is the last post I will be sharing these with you, my bloggy friends! I hope that you can find tips that you can use too...
Gardening: There is nothing like fresh vegetables! They not only have more favor but are better for you and your family's health. It's even more satisfying when you know you have grown them with your own hands. Working a garden is also an activity that the whole family can enjoy working together.
Gardening is not hard. I know, I know, I have heard "But I can't grow anything" thousands of times from people!! But really you CAN grow your own vegetables. People have been growing vegetables for thousands of years and so can you! It just requires you to be patient and to think of your plants like you do your animals. Remember that plants need food (good soil) and water (especially during the heat of summer).
If you have a small plot of land you can easily till your land and prepare your soil for planting. Don't worry if you don't have a tractor. Just go to your local rental store or hardware store and rent a garden tiller for a few hours. You can use your grass clippings and leaves to build organic matter in your garden. Remember that more organic matter means not only better "food" for your plants, but will help with holding in more water during those dry summer months. Those food scrapes can also be used to get your soil ready for planting!
Even if you don't have land that you can get your hands dirty in, try container gardening. Many vegetables will do well in containers and small areas. Containers can be picked up at yard sales and thrift stores for fractions of new ones. The one thing that I would not be frugal with would be the soil that you put in your containers. Use of a good quality soil will insure that your plants will get a good start, so that extra money will pay off with higher plant yields.
If you are unsure of your gardening skills, just start small. With a small amount of money you can purchase small seed packs and start planting! Read the seed packs for planting times in your zone. You can also find tons of resources online. Once you get more comfortable with your gardening skills, start getting a little bigger.
The amount of money you spend on your garden is so small compared to the return in the money you will save! You will also know where your vegetables come from, how fresh they are, and who has handled them.
Canning, Freezing: When you get your garden going, you are more than likely going to have more than you, your family, and your friends can eat before everything goes bad! There's an old saying here in our small town where almost no one locks their cars when they go to church on Sunday except during June...that's so no one puts squash and zucchini in your car!
This is when canning and freezing come in handy. It is a way to keep those vegetables from going bad and allow you to enjoy the freshness of your garden in the middle of the cold winter months.
Canning and freezing is not that hard. If you ask around your family and friends, you will be surprised who can help you learn how to can. We are really lucky in our community to have a local Cannery. Cannery's use to be in just about every community before refrigeration became accessible. Local Canneries were where you could bring your fruits and vegetables to safely preserve them. Our Cannery is a wonderful place to go and do all your canning. You can use their cans (tin quarts) or bring your own glass jars. There is a small fee but you don't have to buy the equipment needed or have to heat your home in the hot summer months.
Local Farmers Market: You may not be able to grow everything, so use the farmers market to buy your vegetables. These vegetables are usually picked that morning so you know they are fresh. You'll get to know the farmers growing them and can even sometimes request certain vegetables.
Also visiting your local farmers markets on a regular basis is the best way to get advice! Most farmers love talking about how they got this and that to grow! You can better your own gardening skills by asking questions and listening to the answers.
To me, the best reason to use local farmers markets is that I know the money I spend at my local farmers market is going to stay in my community. Let me explain...say I buy 2 apples for $1.00 at the grocery store but only get 1 apple for $1.00 at the farmer's market. On the outset, the grocery store looks like the better deal, but if we look closer at that $1.00 we'll see that the farmer's market is the better deal in the long run.
Of that $1.00 I spent at the grocery only about $0.02 stays in my community. The rest goes to the grocery store chain, the middle man, and finally some goes to the farmer in another state. But that $1.00 I spent with at my farmer's market is going to stay in my community! It's all going to the farmer! That farmer lives in my community and is going to spend it in this community. So I know that the $1.00 I spend in my farmer's market will come back to me at some time down the road. That, to me, is a more frugal use of my money!!
These are ways that my family and I use to cut our grocery bill.
What do you and your family do?