Everyday Cheapskate: How to Feed Your Family for Less
DETERMINE CURRENT FOOD SPENDING
It's not easy! Start writing down everything you spend on food for at least one month. I mean everything -- from the donut and coffee on the way to work to the fast food stops with the kids to lunch money to major shopping jaunts. This is what you are spending on food, and plan on a big shock. Your awareness of this total number is going to be the first and biggest step you will take to get into food control.
SHOP WITH CASH
When I go into the store without a checkbook or credit card, I am keenly aware of how much I have, and I shop very carefully to avoid embarrassment at checkout. If I have a checkbook, I go into some wild trance that "assures" me unlimited funds. It's crazy, I know, but I can just go nuts. So, for me, it's CASH ONLY. It requires that I plan ahead and exercise great discipline.
SHOP ONCE A MONTH
Hold on; let me explain. I call this monthly trip my "major shopping." I make this pilgrimage to a no-frills, membership grocery warehouse. I can fit an entire month's shopping (about 90% of what we need for the month) in my minivan. I shop pretty wisely and cautiously, so this fiasco takes at least half a day. But then I'm done for the month, except for picking up produce and milk.
They're hard to get rid of -- so try and prepare only what your family will eat at any one meal. Many times, I will make two casseroles and freeze one for later. That doesn't qualify as a leftover! I call leftovers those small unattractive portions that are in odd-shaped and mislabeled containers, sitting in the refrigerator until they resemble biology specimens.
ELIMINATE CHOICES AT MEALS
Stick to a healthy, simple menu. Picky eaters will soon come around if they know their choices from now on are two: Take it, or leave it!