At our workshop a couple of weeks ago, a big question was how to save money on groceries. Saving time was also an issue for the participants as it is for many of us. Here are some ideas to save you time and money.
- This tip will cost you some up front but will save you money over time. Purchase enough cloth napkins to last a week for your family or however long you go between doing laundry. No more buying paper napkins. The same concept works for paper towels. Many clean ups can be completed with a cloth towel rather than a paper towel. Old kitchen towels that have gotten thin are perfect as paper towel replacements.
- Thinking that first tip will cost you more for laundry? Make your own laundry detergent. This takes a little time up front but saves you LOTS of time and money. You can easily find a recipe that works for you by doing an internet search for “homemade laundry detergent.” I spent less than $5 for the ingredients and have 10 (yes, 10) gallons of liquid laundry detergent. I suggest you start with a small batch to see if it works for your family.
- Use ordinary household products for cleaning. Not only are they healthier for your family, they will also save you money. Examples:
- Use baking soda to clean sinks instead of those harsh powders you buy in the store. Baking soda also works for deodorizing just about anything. I keep a container next to my kitchen sink and use it to clean stubborn stains from pots and pans.
- Clean windows and mirrors with a mixture of vinegar and water plus a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent. Vinegar also works for cleaning toilet bowls.
- Use microfiber cloths for dusting. No need for any sprays.
Food saving tips
- Whenever you can, make double of meals your family likes. Eat one and freeze one. It won’t take much extra time but you will have those meals in the freezer for those days when you are crunched for time.
- Use your imagination to get more meals out of the meat component of your meal. For instance, we get at least three meals out of a whole chicken.
- Meal #1 is roast chicken in the oven. To save time, put the frozen chicken in the oven before you go to work and set your oven to come on about three hours before you want to eat. When you get home, cook some veggies, make a salad and you are ready to eat.
- After meal #1, pick most of the meat off of the chicken bones and save them for a later meal. Put the bones with some meat left on them into your crockpot, cover with water and add chopped onions, carrots, and/or celery plus whatever seasonings you want to use. I let mine cook until the next evening then I take all the bones and meat out. I leave enough broth in the crockpot for soup, take all the meat off the bones and put it back into the crockpot with the broth, add noodles or rice and we have meal #2 — chicken soup.
- The extra broth plus the meat from meal #1 can be used to make meal #3 — creamed chicken on biscuits. Start your biscuits and while they are baking, make the gravy and then add the chicken to the gravy. All you need to complement this meal is a vegetable or salad.
- If you had lots of meat left from meal #1, you may even be able to make another meal. Just use your imagination.
- Have breakfast for supper. Eggs are a great protein source and less expensive, portion-wise, than most meats.
- Speaking of breakfasts, when you make pancakes or waffles, cook all the leftover batter. You might even want to make extra batter to cook. After the pancakes or waffles cool, put them in freezer bags with wax paper between the pancakes/waffles. Quick breakfast for everyone in the family: Heat up the pancakes in the microwave or put the waffles in the toaster. Each person can just heat up however many they want, and the rest stay in the freezer for the next day.
I would love to hear your ideas for saving money and time on groceries.
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Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.