I have had some great experiences and adventures surviving in this crazy life of mine and this morning as I was having my coffee and going through all of my social media stuff and reading emails, I came across a post about how to live on $20 a week on groceries. I didn’t read the post (shame on me) but it did remind me of when I actually had to do just that. The fun part was I had a teenager still living at home at the time, the last one to leave the nest.
It was back when I was trying to come back up from being laid off my job after working there for 10 years. I had been on an involuntary sabbatical for about 9 months. I had definitely depleted all of my reserves and right about that time I was really scrambling for some hope. I remember visiting my agent friend at the insurance office, (telling her I could only pay 1 month of insurance instead of the full premium) she looked at me and said ‘hold on’. She got on the phone and called a local trucking company that desperately needed office help. I drove directly to the company and was hired on the spot.
The answer I was praying for!
The pay was less than I wanted to be comfortable, but was just enough to pay my bills and leave me with $ 40 a week for gas and groceries.
So, with my upbringing of always having to be frugal and my mother who taught me how to make a meal with very basic ingredients; I put my skills back to work and my daughter and I ate on $20 a week.
This time of year is always tight for most of us. Taxes are due, recovering from overspending during the holidays, in my case, hours are being cut way back since spending has taken a nosedive. Or for whatever reason or situation any of us are in. I thought I would share some of my old standby grocery budgeting tips that has got me through many tough times.
Powdered milk- you can use this to add to regular milk to make it stretch and also use it for cooking so you’re not wasting precious real milk.
Baking Mix- you can make biscuits, pancakes, scones, breads, cakes, dumplings gravy (flour is best, but it will work) the list is endless
Dry Beans- a very good source of protein.
Can tomatoes and sauce- for soups and sauces
Dry noodles- for soups and sauces
Your local farmer:
Check around the outskirts of town and visit with your local farmer or neighbor that has a garden and ask them if you can take excess fruits, veggies and eggs off of their hands. Or do a skill swap with them. You would be amazed at how much gets thrown away that is perfectly edible.
Learn to can and freeze your goodies. The internet has many resources to learn this almost forgotten skill.
Grocery Outlet Stores:
Ask around, check out the local paper and find those outlet stores in your area. Those cans that look a little funky are perfectly fine most of the time. Or that off brand that came from a different part of the country that we aren’t quite used to are also okay. Do take the time though to learn what items could be tainted. For example, jars that the lid has already ‘popped’ are no good and if the dent in the can is deep enough that it ruptured the integrity of the can could also be spoiled. Also, the best before date on items such as mayonnaise and salad dressings are just a guideline for grocery chains. These foods are still good beyond that date. The dates range, so it’s a very good idea to learn the time frame on these items.
The local butcher:
Talk to the butcher at your favorite grocery chain or your local butcher. If they are allowed they can sell you cuts of meat that don’t look star quality at a discounted price. Something definitely worth checking into.
Buy off brand:
The quality of off brand items are just as good as or better than the name brand favorite 95% of the time. Every once in a while this isn’t true, just have to do a little experimentation.
The Dollar Stores:
Most of my paper goods, spices, vitamins, medicines and toiletries were found at my local dollar store. Just have to spend a little time and do some comparative shopping to find the best deals.
No matter what your budget looks like, I hope this knowledge can help you make it stretch just that much further. Thank you for reading, and I would love to hear your thoughts and tips too!