With the new tax our governments have instilled, both provincially and federally, and being a one-income family, I got thinking about how we can be good stewards of what we have. A Sunday morning conversation with a friend about grocery shopping sparked the idea to collaborate with some mamma friends on ways they try to incorporate health and following a budget in their homes.
So this is two-part series of a collaboration between multiple homes. I will post the other half tomorrow! Whether you have a whole crew of kids or one like us, are single or newlyweds – these will be helpful tips!
- Make Costco work for you – What is worthwhile to get? This will probably be mostly a matter of opinion, but some things are hands-down best to get wholesale.
- Meat – I go to Costco once a month and buy most of our meat for the month. Things like chicken breasts/whole roast chickens, ground turkey, and steak, are much cheaper at Costco. Their portions are easy to divide up into bags and freeze for multiple use.
- Pantry or produce – Amongst friends, the conclusion is that produce is best bought at stores like Walmart or Superstore, as Costco is usually more expensive. There is the odd thing in the fresh section that works out to be cheaper, if you can consume it in time, but generally it’s cheaper to shop elsewhere.
- Coffee beans – Definitely cheapest at Costco! This past month we opted not to buy the 100 pack Keurig box at Costco ($40) because we would easily use them up in a month, along with the odd coffee out. When I realized we were spending well over $50-70 month on coffee alone, that seemed a little ridiculous. This month we used one bag of their Kirkland brand beans ($14), and make a pot at home instead. A friend suggested we get the reusable Keurig pod (Amazon, $15) so that we can use ground up beans when we want a quick one-cup, so we plan to do that.
- Shop clearance – keep an eye out for when your local grocery store or drug store has sales, and buy items accordingly.
- Vinegar & Water spray all-purpose cleaner – You’ll spend between $2-4 (based on brand) of white vinegar and mix 1-1 ratio (I do a bit more vinegar than water usually) as an all-purpose cleaner. Is this not the cheapest all-purpose toxin-free cleaner you can buy? I put in a few drops of lemon essential oil for added kick to the germs 😉 Use this on countertops, mirrors (with a Norwex cloth this works perfectly!), bathrooms, walls, to wash fruit and vegetables, etc. Another friend suggested using Dawn dish soap/baking soda/vinegar as a stain remover.
- Go meatless one day a week for health and to save financially. Some people may call it Meatless Monday, you can call it or pick whatever day you like. But when you think about using a can of chickpeas (roughly $1.75) or some lentils (bulk, super cheap), it can’t compare to the price you would pay for including meat on your menu. Here’s a couple to try.
- Meal plan on the weekend for the whole week
- Spending 30-60 minutes on a Sunday helps keep you on budget for grocery shopping for the week and enables you to plan healthy meals ahead of time.
- Our local Superstore offers Click and Collect, which is a great service that only charges $3-5 gathering fee after you have placed your order online (can you say “shopping in your pj’s”!?). There’s the odd time I forget something when I do our groceries this way, but I know it also helps me stay on budget and is a HUGE time-saver!
- Make the meals earlier in the week that require fresh herbs etc, to eliminate waste or things going bad before you can use them.
- Another option is to buy your groceries based on sales, and meal plan AFTER, so that you aren’t out buying fancy items for meals you really can’t afford.
- Use coupons for dates
- Groupon always has 2 for 1 offers, or save up your gift cards for date nights
- McDonald’s $1 coffee days are cheaper than Starbucks. Usually they will add a muffin to your regular coffee order for only 10cents extra as well. You can also collect their stickers for free coffees.
- Pantry must-haves: coconut oil, baking soda, vinegar. These items are relatively cheap and offer so many uses throughout your home from cleaning to cooking. Coconut oil is an absolute favourite! We use it for cooking oil, toothpaste, face wash, dog dish (cleansing for dogs mouth and coat!), replace vegetable oil in baking recipes, lube, baby wash/face lotion… you get the idea. The others are handy for cleaning, baking, stain removal, etc.
- Wash and cut veggies at the beginning of the week. Put into bags for lunches or containers for cooking. We all know we SHOULD eat our veggies, but it’s the prep time that usually does us in! Do all the prep in one sitting, and you’ll be much more likely to choose healthy snack options during the week.
- DIY in the kitchen
- Make your own greek yogourt – A friend has started to do this, and after looking in to it, it doesn’t look all that complicated! She said it costs about $5 per batch. Elizabeth and I eat this on a daily basis, so it’s definitely something I want to try. I found this recipe here I want to try.
- Grow your own green onions – I just started doing this, and it’s super easy! Once you use your onion, keep the white bulb part and immerse in water. Within about a week, the green will have grown back! Trim as you need, and it will keep growing back! I keep a little mason jar on our windowsill. I know green onion is super cheap, but I found it would usually go mushy on me before I could use it up.
- Make your own bread at home. Many of my friends make their own bread, buns, muffins, you name it, since it allows you to know better what you’re feeding your family. Let’s face it, bread is a staple for most households! Over the past year, I have experimented with sourdough and kefir bread, and recently found a yummy bun recipe that is super easy. When you consider a loaf of bread (whole grain) usually costs $3.50, and a bag of flour is anywhere from $5-7, your bag of flour will go a lot farther in feeding your family bread. I don’t have a breadmaker or mixer (someday!), so I do it the old fashioned way for now 😉
- Wash Ziploc bags or other containers that you can reuse for storage or to hold leftovers, or even for craft supplies with the kids.
… to be continued…
There were just too many good ideas to share… the rest will be posted tomorrow!