Imagine a world where your grocery bills shrink and your kitchen becomes a hub of cost-effective goodness. It’s possible! Join me as I spill the beans on how to slash your grocery bills this year.
I’m Eryn, your fellow homesteader and homeschool mama from West Tennessee. I’m so excited to share this info that accompanies podcast episode #46 and is also available on YouTube. I’m breaking down wisdom my savvy mother taught me, and even more I’ve learned traveling the homemaker journey the past 13+ years.
First: what’s worth making vs. outsourcing
When saving money on foods, it’s usually the bulk buying of core ingredients and making items from scratch that packs the most punch in the budget saving area. But, diving into the whole homemade food world is a bit like a balancing act. If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, making many items from scratch can be a money-saver. But, if both parents work outside the home, you’ve got to be savvy about what’s worth spending time in the kitchen on.
It’s a kitchen strategy game.
Focus on the stuff your family eats a lot of and that packs the biggest punch for your health and wallet. Prioritize, my friend! Of course, we can’t be in the kitchen 24/7, so it’s okay to outsource a bit when needed. Let’s make our kitchen time count, finding that sweet spot between homemade goodness and the realities of our busy lives!
Once you’ve got the hang of a kitchen skill, it’s like unlocking a new level in a game. Mastering the art of bread-making is a great start—it’s a cornerstone of homemade goodness. (It’s also one of the best ways to save money. You can make a loaf of bread for under a dollar, or purchase a nice quality loaf at the store for around $8-$10.)
Once you’re comfortable with a new skill, it’s time to layer on top of that by incorporating another. By focusing on one thing at a time, you avoid the overwhelm and keep that kitchen juices flowing.
Take a moment to write down five items you’d like to start making at home. From there, pick the easiest, and spend the next few weeks getting really good at making that one thing. Then head back to the list and pick another. Continue until you’ve mastered them all, and start a new list! Each skill and recipe you conquer adds to your efficiency and confidence.
For us, the core items I make each week are:
- Bread goods. I always make two fresh loaves every Sunday afternoon and also any English muffins, hamburger buns, etc to accompany our meals the upcoming week. (You’ve got to try my no fail pizza dough)
- Cookies. We make cookies every week as well, (this is my favorite chocolate chip recipe) to snack on and to go in lunches.
- Yogurt. It’s cheaper to purchase a gallon of milk and whip up a huge batch of yogurt than it is to spend over a dollar on each individual cup for our family.
- Mayo. To go along with our sandwiches for the week, I make a fresh batch of mayonnaise that takes less than three minutes from start to finish. Recipe here.
- Milk Kefir. I have a whole post on why we incorporate this fermented milk into our diets daily. We love it in smoothies and as a base for popsicles in the summer.
I also shop our freezer, but more on that later.
Where to purchase bulk foods and ingredients:
Azure Standard is a fantastic resource for quality foods. It operates as a bulk-buying co-op, providing a platform for individuals and communities to access organic and natural products at reasonable prices. Members can browse a diverse catalog of items, ranging from grains and pantry staples to fresh produce and wellness products. Azure Standard consolidates orders from multiple customers, allowing for cost-effective bulk purchases. These orders are then delivered to designated drop points, creating a convenient and efficient way for homesteaders to access quality goods. Check it out and find a drop point here.
Costco is another great place to purchase in bulk. I often compare prices between Costco and Azure when making orders. I look at ingredients, quality, and price. Some items I’ll find cheaper at Costco, others are standards I purchase from Azure.
I’ll also shop at Kroger or Fred Meyer for other staples I’m unable to find at the bulk retailers. And that’s about the only places I frequent. I’ve also been known to find good deals for some items off Amazon. Once you spend a bit researching, you’ll have shopping down to a science.
Let’s get down to the meat
Meat – oh, the game-changer!
Navigating the meat industry can be a bit like walking through a maze. The dangers lie in that labels which can be misleading, making it challenging to decipher the true quality and ethical standards behind the product.
Many times, the country of origin remains elusive. To sidestep this confusion and ensure a more transparent and ethical meat source, turning to local farmers is a game-changer. Connecting with a local farmer provides the assurance that the animals were treated well, and you’re getting top-notch, quality meat. It’s a more direct and personal approach, allowing consumers to make informed choices that align with their values while supporting local agriculture.
Buying half a pig or cow might seem like a big move, but it pays off. Not only do you get quality meat, but you also find yourself essentially shopping your freezer pantry for your upcoming week’s needs. And that feels good, let me tell you!
The mindset shift
When attempting anything new, you have to go through a reteaching of your brain and habits.
While shopping and picking out products, constantly be thinking: “Can I make this at home easily, and/or would that help our family? Would it be an efficient use of my time and save us money?”
Invest in the tools for your success
Investing in kitchen tools that make you more efficient is also a smart move. Things like a good vegetable shredder or a trusty KitchenAid might seem like a splurge, but it’s an investment in efficiency and long-term savings. A lot of the time, when leaning into something new, there are larger up front costs associated with it.
My tip, save and purchase the items over time.
Again, it’s about picking what you need most, and then working your way down the list. When we first got our Kitchen Aid, it wasn’t a few months in before I realized the regular size was too small for my bulk baking needs and the engine was burning out. I upgraded and can now bake and cook worry free because my appliance supports my kitchen needs.
Don’t Stop With Just Food
I was embarrassed with how many paper towels my family was blowing through.
From a tiny accident or a huge spill my children were sure required half a roll to clean, we were going through paper towels like we had stock in the company. Once I took a moment to realize how out of control and silly it was, I went on Amazon and bulk purchased these white washrags.
I found it was less expensive to run the washing machine an extra time a week and keep these in rotation than constantly burn through once time use sheets. It’s not just about being eco-friendly; it’s a serious cost-saving move. Get a pretty basket and place your towels in it beside the paper towel and help retrain your family on when to grab which one.
To Sum it All Up
More than anything, it’s a mindset shift and a realization that it’s going to be more brain power for the first few weeks as you and your family lean into a new way of shopping, and spending time in the kitchen. Like any habit, give it some time to stick and I guarantee you and your pocket book will love that you pushed through and advocated for better spending, and healthier options for your family and home.