Hunter, Cadence, and 21 month old Spencer,
consulting his financial advisor.
Toddler mom Clarisse (aka ReesesPieces) has been sharing her penny-pinching strategies for getting out of debt and cutting household costs with. No, you don't have to be born this way -- Clarisse is living proof that frugality can be learned, practiced, perfected -- and even enjoyed. This stay-at-home mom has been busting her way through a monstrous debt in a short time on a very small income.
And these habits have been key toward that goal.
Yesterday, Clarisse shared her strategies for saving money on the single biggest toddler wallet-drainer: diapers. Now she's tackling what to many moms is the next greatest expense: food.
KID MEALS AND SNACKS
Make it from scratch Occasionally we will buy popcorn or fruit snacks, but usually it's more economical and healthier to make it myself. Yes, it takes time and effort, but you learn to streamline the process, like setting up routines and making extra for freezer meals.
Plan before you shop We always plan a menu for two weeks, since that's how often I grocery shop. We plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. If it isn't on the list, it doesn't go in the cart. When you actually write these things down, you can really evaluate what you're feeding yourself and your family, and it makes it a lot easier to cut the junk food out.
I just write out a list. I generally stick to about 15-20 meals that are our old favorites, but I do try new ones if I find they are cheap (I love hillbillyhousewife.com). Start by writing down what you like to eat and then pick 2 to 3 new recipes to try out.
Control your portions! We do eat a lot of pasta, rice, wheat, and potatoes because those things are filling and are inexpensive, but we've come up with some yummy and creative ways to make it not seem like we are on a beans and rice budget.
None of our meals have a slab of meat -- it's all cut up so that it stretches further, and meat isn't the focus but something that's added. We always have vegetables in our meals and desserts and snacks are fruit based. I think more than anything, the success of making our dinner dollars stretch is portion control. We eat until we're full, we don't over-stuff ourselves, and we are not afraid to eat leftovers.
Get cheaper produce Whenever you can trim the fat, literally and figuratively, from your shopping list, there's more money left over for healthier choices. We are eating way healthier now than when we were spending $600 a month on groceries. Yes, fresh fruits and veggies are pricey, but we will often buy frozen veggies. We usually cook them anyway, so getting them already frozen isn't a bad thing. They are still nutritious and usually much cheaper -- pound for pound.
Grow your own If you prefer fresh vegetables and fruits
over the frozen stuff, and can't afford farmer's markets and roadside
stands, try planting your own. You don't even need a yard; containers
on a sunny patio will do the job. We are going to be planting a garden
in the next couple weeks and I couldn't be more excited. You can always can what you don't eat right away, and enjoy your garden all year round.
Read the store circulars We plan our menu around what is on sale when I go shopping. That way, I'm saving money by getting the sale price, and since I clip coupons, I can usually get double the savings. Whatever money I can save by comparison shopping, clipping coupons, or cutting out the junk can be used to get out of debt, build our savings account, or heck, even have some family fun when we need it.
++Check back tomorrow in Toddler Buzz for the final installment of Clarisse's tips -- saving on babysitters, activities and outings, and kids' clothes!