Friday, January 7, 2011

Penny Pincher's Club

As some of you know, I organize a local moms group.  Some of the members had been asking me how I can shop for a family of 4 and keep my grocery bills low.  We decided to create a Penny Pinchers club for the group.  We just had our first meeting and plan on meeting the first wednesday of every month.    In the coming months we are going to work with themes.  Next months theme is Meatless Mondays.  All the members are going to try at least 1 meatless meal in the next month, and bring the recipe with them to the mext meeting.  We will then dicuss whether the meal worked or was liked by the family.  We can then talk about what we could change or what we liked.  It will be a good way for everyone to share recipes that they find that work for their family and budget.  Here are some of the tips that I gave out for our first meeting.

- I keep all my recipes in a binder with the plastic sheet protectors because I find recipes from all over the place.  This makes it very helpful to search through and pick out the meals I am choosing to make for that week.  I can also have them out on the counter and they wipe up very easily in the plastic.
-Menu planning is great!  I do 2 weeks at a time, but I don't assign meals for each day.  I plan for 10-12 meals depending on what is going on those weeks.  Like around the holidays I knew we wouldn't be home on certain night.
-I do use coupons, but I don't go crazy over them.  I get the Sunday paper and only clip out the coupons that I know I will be using.  You can search for coupons online also.  If there is a certain product that you are a fan of, check out their website or Facebook page for special deals.  Did you know that Target also has coupons?  Did you also know that at most places they allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufactuer's coupon?  There are also some stores that will double coupons up to a certain amount.
-I do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi's, Meijer, and Dollar Tree.  If you haven't been in an Aldi's in a long time or ever, I really encourage you to do so.  You can find amazing deals on all the stuff you normally buy at the store packaged in their brand name.  Dollar Tree is a store where everything is $1, not like some of those that mislead you to believe that it is.  You can find cleaners, paper goods, and office supplies for a great price!
-I have WIC, and it really does save money.  Not only am I getting healthy food for my family like milk, cheese, bread, and juice, but they now do fresh produce as well.  This last trip to the store I saved $40 just by using my WIC.
-Are you really in a bind and can't make ends meet?  Check out the local food pantry.  Most allow you to visit once a month, and only give a few basics, but sometimes it is well worth it.
-Have you ever tried to bake your own bread, muffins, rolls, bagels?  Well you can and it is super easy!  I have found the book Artisan Bread in 5 mins a Day is very easy.  If you can't afford to buy it, get it from the library and make copies of the recipes that you want.
-In the spring, plant a garden.  Even if you live in an apartment and only have a balcony, you can pick up a few containers and plant some herbs or tomatoes, and that will help.
-While you are preparing your garden, think about composting.  It is not for everyone, but it will make your garden even healthier.  You don't even need a container, just pick a small corner of your yard, and make sure to turn it over with a rake every other day or so.
-I save all my glass jars from my pasta sauce, clean them out, and use them to store all my dry goods like popcorn, rice, beans, peas, crackers, and cookies.  You can always see how much you have, they stay fresh, and they don't get crushed in your cabinents.
-If you have babies, try making your own wet wipes, and baby food.  They are both very easy to do and easy to find searching on the internet.
-Switch to cloth napkins and real dishes.  It will add up to savings throughout the year, and think of how you are helping the Earth too!  Want to save money on that even more?  Head to your local craft shop and pick up some bandanas for dirt cheap, and find dishes at Walmart or even the Dollar store!
-I try to always carry reusable bags with me everywhere I go.  You can now find them at most stores for around $1.99.  If you don't want to pay for bags, go dig in your closet.  Everyone has t-shirts that they don't wear anymore.  Turn them into bags.  Just cut the sleeves and neck line off, and stitch the bottom into a single seam.  They are super strudy and can stretch.  I tested this out by loading up all my library books in one, and taking it to the grocery store.  I have abused this poor bag and it still is working great!
-While you are menu planning, check out free sites to help you. is great because it's free, you can use it to menu plan, make a grocery list, and keep track of the entire family's calendar!
-A place for free entertainment, check out the library!  Not only can you get books, and music, but most have new release movies, and games!  Ours even has free passes to the local museums.  And think of all the great classes they offer!
-Want to know what is in your cleaners and save money?  Make your own!  They are very easy to do!
Laundry detergent 
and here is a nice site that has some other ideas for you!
-Looking for fun cheap crafts for the kids.  Start saving some of those recycleables and head over to Frugal Family Fun Blog and see what fun stuff you can come up with!
-Are your kids getting to big for some toys/clothes/books, then host a swap!  Get a group of moms together and share what you have that the kids don't use anymore.  Your kids will love getting new things that use to belong to friends!

I hope that this has helped a little bit and that you learned at least one new thing.  I'm always looking for more tips, so please feel free to share.  I will try next month to post some things that we discovered!


Crystal said...

Great tips! We do a meatless meal once about once a week too. We love loaded baked potatoes (cheese, sour cream, butter, chives) and a side of steamed broccoli.

I also have a mexican tortilla pie that is meatless. Here is the link to it:

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