Thursday, January 12, 2012

Simplifying Life

I have been on a mission for many years now to cut back spending, simplify my life and enjoy the little things. This isn't always easy with the fast paced, spend, spend, spend world we live in now, but it is possible.

Some of the things that I have used to cut back the shopping budget are:
  1. Stop buying all prepackaged pre-made food. 
  2. Buy local produce, in season.
  3. Buy meat in bulk
  4. Remake left overs
  5. Recycle old clothes
  6. Grow your own veggies
  7. Shop with your local farms
  8. Shop thrift stores
  9. Buy in bulk, Rice, Beans, Pasta
  10. Avoid stores that sell "everything" stick to just what you need. 
I love to cook and bake but nobody wants to be a slave to the kitchen. I premix pancake mix myself, I bake my own bread with simple recipes that don't require a lot of attention or fuss. My ultimate goal is to get enough made one day each month to be able to forgo having to do it often.

I always buy meat on sale, and always in the large "value packs" or "family packs" I then divide the meat into at least two meals. I always buy whole chickens when I can find them at a good price. I rarely buy boneless or skinless chicken, It's not hard to skin the pieces and if you want the bone out own a good knife and follow the bones and viola you have boneless and skinless. Use the bones to make a healthy broth that you can freeze for use in soups and stews later.

Having leftovers go to waste is one of the top money wasters of today's average family. I keep an arsenal of recipes that turn left overs into something new. One of my families favorites is Turkey Casserole. Of course it can be used with any poultry but I don't often have left over chicken.

Remaking old clothes is something that we have recently taken into our family as a must. Old clothes that are no longer serviceable (torn beyond repair) are being stashed away to be turned into rag rugs. This was something our grandparents or great grandparents did with old clothes and it served two purposes. 1. It recycled those clothes for yet another use and 2. It helped cut down on drafts and cold in a room. But they often were made in certain colors and can be made to beautify a room as well. We have also reused old clothes to make doll clothes, pieces for puppets, and of course rags for cleaning. I should say that we always pass on clothes that are still serviceable. Clothes that children have just outgrown always get passed onto a local charity or posted for free on Craigslist.

Growing your own veggies is not hard, even if you have limited space. You could choose just a few of your favorites and grow them in containers. Learn to can or "preserve" your own food if at all possible! this is such an easy way to save some of your favorite foods for later, plus you will cut the cost of groceries even further if you can your own home grown foods. Container gardens can be just as fruitful as plots and if you are growing what you love best to eat you will eat them more often.

If you are not sure where to start when it comes to finding a local farm try Local Harvest They are one of many websites that help you find local farms. They happen to be my favorite for many reasons, one being that they allow you to search by zip code. This means that you can search them and find several within a certain radius of you. Go to the local farms and talk to them, often they know of other small farmers that may not have a listing on Local Harvest. Also check Craigslist in your area in the farm & garden section. You can often find people who may be selling just certain local foods in season. Sometimes they are just back yard farmers who have a surplus of food from their own gardens. They will often sell you what they have at a deep discount compared to what you would find it for in the grocery stores.

Shopping thrift stores is a no brainer. Most of them have some awesome finds and you can not beat the prices. I recently bought a perfect winter jacket for my Cuddle Bug who has outgrown everything lately for 1.95! That's right a less then two bucks!!! He chose the jacket himself and it fits him perfectly. In two months when he out grows it I won't feel horrid that I spent so much money on clothes that he no longer fits.

Buying in bulk is not possible for everyone. Since relocating to the east coast I have had a hard time finding stores that sell dry goods in bulk. If anyone from NC happens to know of any please pass on the info! In California I had a favorite store that I always bought my dry goods in bulk. Buying these items in bulk cuts the cost by almost 1/2. My dry goods list consists of; Rice, Pasta, Beans, Legumes, Quiniua, Flax seeds, Nuts, and all Flour.

When I say avoid stores that sell "everything" I mean box stores, IE walmart, target, kmart. Stores that sell both groceries and everyday household items. It is easy to over spend in these stores because you find something "on sale" or its "only 5.00" these items add up fast and you often don't need them. If you start shopping with intent behind what you buy you can save money. Should you need to replace towels you shop around for them and find the best sale and shop within your budget. If you are shopping for groceries only shop in stores that offer you fresh local produce and only groceries. Shop the perimeter of the store and hit and miss down the internal isles.

These are just a few of the tips I have used to cut down my family budget. I average 100.00-150.00 a week on groceries for a family of 6. This includes toiletries. The budget is on the lower side of that number more often then not.

Coming Soon...
How to cut costs on toiletries, soaps, laundry soap, and cleaning supplies.

Also don't forget to enter for your chance to win in the drawing I am holding. Give Away You have to go to that blog and comment there to be entered. Its really that simple. :)

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