This is the second part of our series on frugality. Last week I wrote about how we discovered that we were bleeding cash. Today we’re going to work on that theme some more with probably the best tip for saving some money right now. I don’t know anyone who’s not crunched for cash right now. Milk is about four dollars a gallon. Do you have any idea how much milk four kids can drink a week? It’s crazy. But it has to be bought unless we want to go buy some cows and frankly I’m not ready for that. Getting up at three a.m. to feed babies or change diapers is hard enough. Milking the cow everyday would be way over the top.
One of the ways we began to fix the holes in our grocery budget was to stop eating out. I left this hanging out there yesterday, but the secret is that you can get by without going out to eat at all. Let that one sink in for a moment. Three meals a week for the cost of twenty one is what we’re faced with here. The big question, if we go out, is what are we going to do about the other eighteen meals? Starve? Kill our own meat? Of course not, we’re going to pony up the other hundred or so dollars a week for groceries so we can cook those other eighteen meals. This effectively doubles our grocery budget for the year and let me tell you we can flat put away the groceries.
The solution to this for us was spending time together. That’s all it took. With a little time spent together with my spouse—which is nice, actually, and hard to come by otherwise—we manage to get by on about a hundred bucks a week in groceries. This time is spent doing menu planning, writing a grocery list with what we need to cook those meals, and finding coupons. We’re about to start ‘comping’ sale ads too. We sit down together each week with a pile of cookbooks and our recipes and the calendar—as awful as that is—and decide what we’re going to eat for that week and what we have time to cook. Usually we can get by with two or three recipes with leftovers plus whatever can scrounge up on the weekend. It really depends on the week. Either way, for the cost of three or four trips through the fast food line I can cook all week for my family of six: Healthy, good, hot meals that never sat under a heat lamp or languished in a deep fryer.
Next I’m going to discuss some things that torpedo my resolve when it comes to begin frugal and what I can do to help prevent it.