Revisiting Post – Take A Bite Out Of Your Grocery Budget

This post was so popular it was featured on several blog hops and pinned on Pinterest by many followers.  I’m reposting it here for those of you that have come along since the original posting.  Feel free to add your comments on YOUR favorite way to take a bite out of  your grocery budget!

~TMR~

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Originally published 02-28-13

by Tammy Taylor

I was shocked recently when I read from the Texas Health & Human Service Commission that the average monthly food allotment for a family of two in our age group is $367.  WOW!  Our average monthly grocery cost in 2012 was $111, which includes wild game processing costs as well as non-consumables such as bathroom tissue, Kleenexes, toothpaste, etc.  Of course everyone is at a different stage in their lives and with different family circumstances and needs, but most folks are still looking for a way to lower their food expense.  Here’s how we keep ours down:

Taylor-Made Ranch Pantry

 

Now that we’re working for ourselves at the ranch we’re very protective of our financial resources.  We eat well, have a variety of foods, fresh veggies, and even desserts. But our pantry is primarily stocked with the basics – dried beans, dehydrated veggies from the garden, homemade granola, pasta, etc. Buying in bulk can save you money on the groceries you have to buy. Check Amazon’s prices, they oftentimes are much lower than store prices.  If there’s too much month and not enough paycheck, one place I’ve found that can have an exorbitant cost is convenience  foods – even the healthy ones.  Now I’ve never thought of carrots as a convenience food but think about it – for the cost of that small bag of frozen carrots you can typically buy a very large bag of fresh ones.  If you’re afraid your family won’t go through the entire bag before they spoil those carrots can easily be sliced, blanched & frozen in a matter of minutes for future meals.  The same can be said of most fresh veggies.  And if you can raise a garden – all the better!  We have several raised beds and we grow our own organic veggies during the summer and freeze, can or dehydrate them for winter consumption.  It works for me since it’s an activity I enjoy and it’s great exercise.  We just finished the last of our home-raise green beans from the freezer but don’t worry, we’ll be planting our garden in a few weeks to begin the process again.

carrots

Avoiding food waste is another place where lots of money can be saved.  Eating the food you’ve already spent your money to buy without it going to waste is obviously going to be a huge benefit to your budget. In the past I had the same problem many people have of placing leftovers in the fridge with good intentions of consuming it at a later date, only to have it get shoved to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten. Once that happens the battle is often lost.   A simple change in my storage procedure has made all the difference in the world – I now place my leftovers in see-through glass containers.  It didn’t cost anything since I had family members save those large-mouthed jars from queso, pickles or other items and I store my leftovers in those.  Easy to see – easy to use!

glass jars

And finally, I often cook with planned leftovers incorporated into my meal plan.  Recently I cooked a pork roast in my slow cooker.  It cooked to perfection during the day while we were out on the pastures, and we came home to the delightful aroma of dinner ready to put on the table.  After dinner I shredded the remaining pork and put it in a glass container in the fridge.  The next afternoon I pulled out a couple of servings and added BBQ sauce – we had pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches for lunch.  A couple of days later we added gravy to a couple of servings of the leftover pulled pork and we enjoyed it for dinner with garden green beans from the freezer and roasted potatoes.  The remainder of the pulled pork was frozen for use in subsequent dinners.  So far that one roast has fed both of us several meals and there are still at least two more meals in the freezer.  The freezer can be your best friend!

As I mentioned above, we’re all in a different place in our family lives and our budgets, but we can still learn from each other. It’s time for you to weigh in – what do you do to keep your food budget low?

~TMR~

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50 thoughts on “Revisiting Post – Take A Bite Out Of Your Grocery Budget

  1. Pingback: Staying Out Of The Store: Making Do

  2. Dani

    Dear Stacy/Tammy, Just saw your comment on the photo we used to promote this post (on Flickr) and responded to it there. It is standard practice to reupload your featured image to an image host in order to prevent bandwidth from being used from your blog from each pageview we generate. It also keeps our blog post intact should your image link stop working for some reason (blog moves/crashes/etc). Utilizing your direct photo is what is called “hot linking” and is generally very frowned upon. If you would prefer us to remove your feature on our blog hop we can or we can hot link to your photo (though we would prefer not to for the above reasons). Hope you understand and know that we were in no way intending to claim credit for your photo. Have a great morning! Dani @ The Adventure Bite

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Dani, I was doing a search one day & noticed my pantry picture in a Flickr account (I don’t own an account) and clicked just to see what it was. Of course I recognized the name on the flickr account as a hop I had participated in, but I’m just a big enough nerd that I got excited that a picture of my pantry was out there! (yep, it doesn’t take much for me sometimes. LOL) I figured I’d post a quick note to perhaps point folks to the original post if they wanted to read about it. No need to remove the feature or change anything, I don’t feel you were claiming credit for a photo. 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
  3. Linda@With A Blast

    Thanks for sharing this post at our ALL MY BLOGGY FRIENDS party ! Looking forward to see what you will bring us tomorrow 🙂

    Reply
  4. April Shaner

    Thanks for the great tips. My husband and I juice so we go through a lot of fresh produce, but we keep our grocery bill almost reasonable by only eating meat on the weekends and our kids love to eat rice and beans and homemade snack foods. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen prepping foods, but I try to do it in chunks of time like Friday afternoon when I get the groceries home I start prepping our fresh veggies for snacks and making granola or granola bars. Over the weekend I crank up the crock pot for homemade yogurt, stock, and soups to enjoy the rest of the week. Love your posts, I found you through Small Footprint Fridays.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      It does take time to feed your family healthy food – good for you! I love my crockpot too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ~TMR~

      Reply
  5. Andrea

    You have some great tips! We love harvesting our own veggies from our garden, too. I just recently learned how to can, and it is a really great thing to know! It sounds like you’ve got it mastered though – I would be ecstatic if my grocery bill was ever $111 a month 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Andrea, I certainly don’t have canning mastered but I am pretty adamant about preserving what comes out of the garden. After all the hard work that begins with preparing the beds and planting the seed itself before even getting a vegetable, I can’t stand the thought of homegrown veggies going to waste! Thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply
  6. Roxie

    The name of your blog, Taylor Made Ranch Blog, are you by chance talking about Taylor Texas? I read another of your posts and you said something about central Texas and our drought. We live in Round Rock and my dear sweet husband was born in Taylor Texas and has lots of family still living there. Where did you buy your rain barrels? We are doing a new roof next week and having new gutters put in with rain barrels…we are trying to find barrels…Roxie

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Hi Roxie, Taylor-Made Ranch refers to our last name of Taylor, we’re located in NE Texas (Wolfe City) Almost the entire state of Texas suffered through the drought of 2011. It was unforgiving and we were forced to severely reduce our herd to have enough feed for our other girls. 2012 surprised us with a second year of gripping drought, this time encompassing much of the U.S. 2013 is hinting at another dry year, only hopefully not as dry as previous years, we’ll see. We bought our rain barrel from an individual selling it as just a plain barrel but it was food-grade plastic so we bought & amended them with water spigots, etc. It works great! Thanks for your comment! ~TMR~

      Reply
  7. Hannah

    Thanks for sharing your post with us! I hope you join us again today (yeah I know it’s a day late… linky issues) at Eco-Kids Tuesday!!

    Reply
  8. Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life

    Wow $111 for the whole year? Amazing. This is a great post. I love in the city but have fruits and veggies growing in most planters. We are a mild temp locale so I can grown year round.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Elaine, I wish! $111 was our average monthly grocery cost last year, but that’s well below the Texas Health & Human Resource estimate of what our household should be spending. Good for you for having container gardens – the fresh produce it rewards you with is priceless, yes? I’m pretty excited to see the blackberries are blooming here in NE Texas, I enjoy harvesting some of God’s bounty in wild blackberries, wild plums, persimmons and pecans. I ran out of pecans last year and was utterly shocked at the prices for them in the store! LOL Thanks for stopping by. ~TMR~

      Reply
  9. Rosemarie

    Great post! I’m on that learning curve with you. I’m in my second year growing my own food with 15 large raised beds. (Planning to add 5 more in the fall.) Last year, I made raspberry preserves for the first time, and I plan to learn how to can my tomatoes this year. I also froze string beans and turnip greens and escarole. I have a small dehydrator, and I dehydrated my carrots and celery last year. This year, I want to go to some local farmers markets to buy food I don’t grow, then dehydrate or freeze that. I also make my own bread in a bread machine. Next year, I want to build a chicken coop for 5 chickens, so I can have fresh eggs, too. I have to work full time outside the home, so it makes for long days! But the goal of being self-sufficient is so rewarding!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Rosemarie – how exciting! I’m increasing our raised beds as well. Last year I was hit by the dehydrating bug and I plan on dehydrating more this year. Like you said the days are long but I love your phrase “the goal of being self-suficient is so rewarding!” Love it! ~TMR~

      Reply
  10. Heather M

    I love using glass jars. Didn’t think of putting leftovers in them though. Depressing thought – my grocery budget is $360 per month for FIVE of us, including 2 growing boys! My trick is to go to a discount grocery for our snack items since I currently don’t have time to make all my own. We also have the advantage of several discount produce stores so I can still buy TONS of produce for a fraction of grocery store prices. Thanks for linking up with Fabulously Frugal Thursday.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Y’know Heather, we’re all in a different place in our lives, with different needs for our groceries. Some are still buying diapers and baby food, some have dog food and occasional paper goods. Some are all organic and grass fed. Other than always avoiding waste, I think the key is are you satisfied with your grocery budget? If the answer ever comes back “NO!” then there are steps each of us can take to reduce that expenditure. I think balance is the key. ~TMR~

      Reply
  11. Mrs.PJ

    Your glass jars are so pretty. I have some secondhand tupperware (it might be third hand it looks like it is from the 1970s), but I might start saving my glass jars soon. I like that you can save the ones that are the most convinint size for you. Do you have any tips for getting the labels off? We save money by packing our lunch everyday, reusing leftovers, and cutting coupons. I work hard for my money and I don’t want to squander it away. Thanks and TALU, Mrs.PJ

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Hi Mrs.PJ, I get the labels off by washing the jar thoroughly, then filling it with the hottest tap water possible. After screwing on the lid I place a rag soaked with hot water on top of the label. The heat from the hot water on both sides of the label softens the glue and the label often peels right off. I use a bread-tab (used to hold closed bread bags) to scrape off any residual that may remain. Easy Peasy! Thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply
    2. 'Becca

      Baking soda or vinegar (not together) also can help remove labels, depending on the type of adhesive. For really stubborn ones that leave behind lumps of glue, I use Goo Gone, which is not totally natural but is safer than most solvents. But usually, soaking in hot soapy water will get the label off.

      Reply
  12. Debbie McCormick

    Thanks for sharing this with TALU today. I am on a quests to get out as cheaply as i can where food costs is concerned. I have saved a huge amount of money using coupons matched up with items on sale. It’s addictive. lol

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Debbie, it’s surprising how many ways we have control over our own food costs, it’s all just be conscious of what’s being bought and what’s being consumed mostly. ~TMR~

      Reply
  13. Selene Galindo

    Great tips, thanks! We have a family of 3 and I always try to be wise with our money when it comes to groceries. I never buy any junk food and try to use up what we have. Selene

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Selene, being conscious of using up what you already have is key – good for you! ~TMR~

      Reply
  14. Lisa Lynn

    Thanks for sharing your post on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again this week! theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/04/the-homeacre-hop-16.html

    Reply
  15. Rachel E.

    Funny how you save jars. I’ve been doing the same. I save the coconut oil jars because they are all the same size and have a wide mouth. They are much safer than plastic containers which leach chemicals. In fact, I’ve been thinking I need to weed through my jars and get rid of some (recycle). Our pantry is filled with rice, beans, oats, grain, pasta, and sugar. I rarely buy canned foods because of the lining. However, I haven’t been here long enough to can my own tomato sauces, so I have to buy that as much as I hate to. We buy some organic frozen veggies, but I also buy a lot of fresh. It’s amazing how much fresh produce can bring up a bill. Yet, it isn’t as expensive as milk. We are trying to cut back on milk because of the research we have done regarding milk. The calcium in it isn’t even absorbed. We would love to have access to raw milk, but in VA you need shares which cost a fortune. We have switched to organic, but it isn’t like it is much better. I plan to use milk for making yogurt and kefir, switching drinks to something else. Problem is when the younger ones want milk. Sometimes milk just tastes good with certain meals. Cutting costs is something I desperately want to do. We are a family of 7, almost 8. I don’t buy convenience foods and we rarely eat out because of our stand on genetically engineered foods. I still spend far more than I would like to each week. Our weekly amount fluctuates, but I order a lot of goods via Amazon for a cheaper deal, but in larger amounts. It costs more up front. I know it will be years before our land produces food in amounts we would like because of the cost of preparing soil. Our fruit trees will take years to mature, but we will hang on until then.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Thanks for your comment Ranchel. The wide mouth glass jars are handy! I purposely over-plant our tomatoes in the garden each year but I haven’t canned them yet. The easiest thing for me to do is wash the tomatoes & cut in half, then place in the freezer. When we’re in the mood for homemade salsa (and living in Texas that happens ALOT) I pull out a bunch of tomatoes and let them thaw. I’ll pour off some of the juice & stick the tomatoes, skins and all in the blender with a handful of onions, a couple of garlic cloves, a few jalapenos and anything else appropriate I have fresh. I’ve made a blended spice mixture that I add to it as I whirl the whole thing into some pretty delicious salsa. I like to chop fresh tomatoes & onions if I have them to add into the finished salsa to add some texture but it’s not necessary. We used to go through lots of salsa and I hated the containers it kept bringing into our home. Problem solved! I love reading about your path as well, thanks so much for sharing! ~TMR~

      Reply
    2. 'Becca

      Rachel, if you can buy local, grass-fed milk at a reasonable price, although it isn’t raw it is healthier and tastes better and has lower environmental impact. Here’s my article on what milk we buy and why. It includes a link about non-dairy sources of calcium because I agree, the research shows the calcium in dairy products is not very readily absorbed, so it’s important to eat those other foods rather than increase dairy.

      Reply
  16. debra@ HOMESPUN

    I started to just buy enough for a few days at a time ( in regards to fresh veggies and fruit ) Freezing portions of meat and roasts etc just as you do…

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Buying just what you need for fresh veggies & fruit is one way to make sure it all gets consumed before going bad – good for you! ~TMR~

      Reply
  17. Cynthia L.

    I love this article and find your information so true. I have been saving glass jars for a few months now and am beginning to use them in our pantry. Do I spy some smarties in one of the jars? I am so glad you shared this at Living Big on Less Money. I am going to pin it for others to see! Cynthia at http:FeedingBig.com

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Cynthia – LOL, you do indeed spy smarties in one of the jars – it’s the perfect sumpin’ for even our younger grandchild. Smarties don’t melt and their small size makes it easy for our grandbabies to enjoy. Hey, being a grandmother is one of the greatest blessings in life, I’m gonna fill ’em with candy when they come visit! Thanks for the pin. ~TMR~

      Reply
  18. Heather may

    I LOVE THIS!!! My husband said that I was crazy when I said we were spending over $300 a week for our family of 7 when we used to eat out a lot and grocery sop without coupons….Now we are down to half of that just by making our own things we previously bout prepackaged and by couponing and eating fresh!! LOVE IT!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Heather, YOU GO GIRL! Making your own items that were previously purchased prepackaged is really not difficult at all and it’s very empowering (and healthier!) ~TMR~

      Reply
  19. Kendra @ A Proverbs 31 Wife

    That number is about right for us. There are a few things that make it that way though. Hubby packs a lunch each day (which is good, because it’s way cheaper and healthier to pack), we buy a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, and we live in town. But, we have a small garden, and I preserve as much as I can. I make tortillas and plan to start making bread again. Buying in bulk is a good idea, but we don’t eat it fast enough to justify. Another thing that helps with the leftover problem is I will make more than we need and freeze half of it. Then there really are no leftovers and I have another meal ready for a pinch. 🙂 Having dehydrated foods is great too, I’m trying to find a dehydrator at a garage sale, but until I do, my mom uses hers for me. 🙂 Stopping by from A Life in Balance.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Kendra, I’ve always wanted to make my own tortillas (we go through LOTS of them) So far I’ve not been able to make them soft & pliable, although I keep reading it’s easy to do. Still trying though! Thanks for your comments. ~TMR~

      Reply
  20. Pamela

    Whew…that seems high for food. Great tips here. And saving money isn’t the only benefit when you think of how much healthier we eat, too.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Thanks Pamela for your compliment. And you’re absolutely correct, the health aspect of eating healthy food at home really can’t be underestimated. Thanks for stopping by! ~TMR~

      Reply
  21. 'Becca

    This is great advice! I do all of these things except dehydrating vegetables. My family spends less than average on groceries although we have hardly any garden and buy a lot of organic food and some convenience foods–we save by eating very little meat, stocking up on things on sale, and using leftovers wisely. \ Carrots can be frozen raw if they’re grated and the air squeezed out. Then they’re ready for carrot cake, soups, etc. and can even be used without defrosting in some recipes–see instructions in my article on articles.earthlingshandbook.org/2011/06/29/homemade-frozen-shredded-vegetables making your own frozen vegetables. I love glass jars for storing leftovers, too! I think they actually keep food fresher longer than plastic tubs, and they are easier to get completely clean from greasy or tomatoey foods.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      ‘Becca, I never would have thought about grating carrots for cooking later – <3 ~TMR~

      Reply
  22. Alison at NOVA Frugal Family

    I plan my monthly meals based on what I have already in the house with very limited list of fresh foods that I need to get that I use around the same time. Like, I get lettuce from the store and plan two or three meals to use up the lettuce before it goes bad and we don’t have lettuce in the house for some of the other times because I know that I am not going to use it. I do the same with potatoes. It is always best to plan based on what you have and use what you have! Great advice 🙂 I love the glass jars and I have just started using them for a lot of things in the cupboards.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Excellent Alison – we try to go through our fresh veggies first as well. Getting through them before they go bad is a good budget choice. 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Laura, we enjoy rice and beans. I often make WAY more than we will eat and we enjoy it with jalapeno cornbread on a cold winter’s night. Then I’ll take the leftovers, mash the beans, combine with rice, add a little salsa and roll into tortillas with a little shredded cheese & we enjoy them as burritos. I’ll freeze all the leftover burritos and we can pull them out one at a time for a quick & healthy lunch. ~TMR~

      Reply
  23. Rhonda

    So glad I came across your post. It’s always nice to have reminders and new ideas on how to make the most of our food budget. The biggest thing for me it to always buy meat on sale. I base our menu off of what is in the freezer, then when I’m at the store I pick up meat, chicken and fish that is on sale to freeze for the following week. ~TALU~

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Everyone is looking for ways to cut back on the grocery budget these days Rhonda. Sounds like you’ve got a system that’s working well for you – thanks for your comment! ~TMR~

      Reply
  24. Rose

    All good tips. We are SO terrible about wasting food, and I know it needs to change. Grocery shopping for us is today, so why not start now??? Happy to have found your post. #TALU

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Grocery shopping today, Rose? What perfect timing! Glad you stopped by and thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply

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