After yesterday's entry, you can see where I'm going with, the purpose behind these posts. It is vital that we, as a society, do NOT depend on the government to "save" us in times of emergency. Not only do I just not believe that is the government's job (ALL of my feelings about the government aside- it is simply not, in my view, the government's job to feed my family or take care of us in an emergency. This, again, is not to say that people who need assistance shouldn't get a hand up - but I am talking about my views for MY family - I'm not passing judgement on ANYONE for getting help- be it disability, be it unemployment, be it food assistance, I think people need to do what they need to do to take care of their families and if they need help feeding their children, I'd much rather my tax dollars go to feeding a family than any number of the pork projects that our tax money goes toward.) That said, as yesterday's entry clearly stated, this is coming from a different mindset... I am coming from a place of wanting to not change my lifestyle in case of an emergency, whether that emergency is the fall of civilization, a tragic economic downturn, a natural disaster, a political takeover or the zombie apocalypse... doesn't matter what the emergency is, I would like to continue to be comfortable and have my family warm, cozy, well fed and healthy... without having to depend on any governmental bodies to provide for us. As I stated yesterday, my grocery bill LAST WEEK (for the same items I buy all the time) had increased 15% - in a matter of just a couple weeks since the last shopping trip. Groceries are going up. Gas is going up. It is UP TO US to prepare to take care of our families. This is part two of what we are doing to continue to eat well and keep costs low at the grocery store.
* Go through fliers/ circulars of a few different stores and stock up on those "Loss Leaders" - if you see chicken legs and thighs for 59 cents a pound, go to that store and stock up - and leave that store. Go to the next store and stock up on the frozen veggies for 60 cents a bag - get the maximum number of those items allowed (and pay for them and go back through another line if you need more) and then leave the store. Then go to your regular grocery store and do the bulk of your shopping there. This ONLY makes sense if the stores are near each other - it does not make sense to spend gas money on running all over town to save money. It DOES, however, to me, make sense to spend TIME in doing it this way. I figure that it is my job to spend wisely and I am willing to spend some extra TIME in shopping this way. Spending my time is the trade- off for saving money. If you have an Aldi or Save-a-Lot in your area, it might make sense to use these stores as your primary grocery store to stock up on staples and supplement your groceries elsewhere. The number of items available at these stores is limited, but, for me, (especially in the Winter when we don't have a sufficient number of eggs being laid or milk from the goat), the savings in milk, eggs and cheese alone makes a stop to Aldi very worthwhile. (Eggs, 78 cents a dozen, milk $1.89 a gallon, cheese $1.79 for 8 oz), and I can also get a few staples here - white flour - which I use very limited amounts of and sugar - same thing, but I can also find canned beans (for stockpile and for bean use if I don't have time for soaking and boiling) and spices for the stock pile. Sometimes, their produce is decent as well... I don't do all of my shopping here, but it is VERY worth a stop to check out what is available. The items I do buy at Aldi, I generally save about 40% over the same items at a regular grocery store.
* Figure out what you need to keep on hand. With a house full of growing boys, a Daddy who is Diabetic and a Mama who eats healthfully, "Snacks" are a necessity. "Little Debbie" snacks are not only nutritionally empty and not good for anyone, but they are expensive and don't last long and are not filling (as well as the artificial chemicals in them creating an addiction and wanting more... not happening here!). If I don't have carrots in cold storage, I can buy a 10# bag of carrots for $3.99 - $4.99 and we have carrot sticks plus all the carrots we need for soup, stews and roasts for 2-3 weeks. (Same thing applies for apples, celery, oranges, bananas, grapefruit, cheese and whole grain crackers) So "Snacks" might be a staple, a necessity, but be wise about snack options. Add some peanut butter to those apples, carrots, celery or crackers or add cheese to the apples, carrots or crackers and you have a perfectly acceptable and completely healthful snack. In my home, if a child doesn't want one of the many options for a snack, I call their bluff... they're not hungry, they are bored, and they get to wait until the next meal.
* This one should go without saying, but stop eating out so much. If we go out to eat, we go to the local buffet that offers free coupons for children and so my husband and I and the three boys can eat out for under $20. And that is a treat. And it is a good choice because there are plenty of healthful options, a big salad bar, roasted meats and broiled fish available at all times instead of the standard fried fare. Still cheaper to eat at home, but a good evening out, a nice treat.
* Buy in bulk. When you hear "bulk", you may think of 50 pound bags of flour. Re-think bulk purchases. There certainly is nothing wrong with buying 50 pounds of flour (if you can store it properly and can use it) but think about this: Mama and kiddos eat a container of yogurt each morning... why buy 20 individual containers of yogurt when you can buy a couple quart size containers of vanilla yogurt and cut some fruit on top of it? Bulk doesn't necessarily mean going to Sam's club and buying 50 rolls of paper towel at once. In our home, it is not uncommon for me to buy a 10# bag of oatmeal, 10# bags of whole wheat flour and pasta (semolina) flour, 5# of barley, beans, lentils, large tubs of spices and other baking goods as well as seeds for sprouting. This is the norm here. It is cheaper and it lasts longer. It just makes sense.
* Possibly the most important part of grocery shopping is to remember to buy whole foods. It may take time to chop carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, cheese, garlic, onions and watermelon and make your own pancake batter, bread dough and noodles, just to name a few things, but the $ savings you will see will more than pay for the time you spend chopping them yourself.
Friends, this is such an important thing for all of us to be doing. Not only is saving money more important now than ever, but our world is undeniably changing, we owe it to our families to be prepared for anything from job loss to natural disaster to anything that is just so terribly unspeakable that I'd just as soon not think about it. Our government is telling us the recession is over...I didn't feel "crunch" during ANY of the official recession, we bought a new house, everyone who needed to be employed was gainfully employed, we had food, shelter, clothes, entertainment, vehicles, vacations... only now when the recession is "over" are we feeling a financial crunch - with groceries, of all things. We (our families) can not operate as our government operates... if there is less money coming in or even just a set amount of money coming in, we have to live within our budgets, we can't spend more than we have. As I sit here and type this, I'm listening to news of riots in Egypt, the government shutting down Internet and communications, an earthquake in the Middle East. Folks, I'm NOT an alarmist. I am fully relying on God to keep my family under His protection, but God gave me a mind to use and to protect my family as well. I am a keeper of the home. I am a wife and a mother. I will continue to use our finances to do the best I can and make them stretch a far as I possibly can to continue to ensure that we have enough in the event of something happening. Gas prices are rising. Food costs are rising. WE, as keepers of the home, are the ones who need to learn the skills to ensure health and safety for our families. Simple things like learning to sew, so that we can re-purpose clothes that no longer fit our little ones, setting up networks of like-minded moms so we can have a group that we can rely on to pass along clothes that no longer fit our little ones, even passing along toys to moms who have younger children, will be a social circle that will become a need. Neighbors, coming together and growing food together, preserving food together, helping each other learn skills that have become obsolete in the past few generations, will be increasingly necessary. I state again, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I have no idea what the "change" will be, and I'm not going to scare non-Christians with "End Times" thoughts... because this is not the time for fear. Now is the time for actions. Action to prepare to keep our families well no matter what comes our way. Actions to get ourselves as healthy as possible to ensure we can weather whatever comes our way. And taking actions to make sure our families are fed well, well within our budgets. Look Up, my Friends. Look ahead. Don't look back, and don't be fearful. The time to make positive changes is right now. It doesn't matter what we did yesterday. We can start making changes today, so that tomorrow is better because of it.