10 Ways to Nourish Your Family and Save Money

Earlier this week I got to work early and sat down to write "10 Ways to Nourish Your Family and Save Money." Lacking inspiration, I didn't get any further than the title before I had to get to work. About an hour later, I got the call. The call from my sweet husband, telling me he had been laid off. All things considered, it could be much, much worse. We have savings, and his prospects are bright. What hurts is the blow to his confidence. He was doing so well. He was exceeding his sales goals. He has a fantastic attitude and owns his work with all his heart. What went wrong? Maybe we'll never know, but it's time to step up. I'm no longer trying to buy whole food on a normal budget. I'm looking for serious deals on serious nutrition, because we are now facing a truly limited budget.

So know these tips are not "fluff" I came up with to draw in readers. These come from my heart. My experience. My NEED to feed my family well and "make do" with what we have. This is no longer a nice article containing some decent ideas. It is a brainstorming session that will fuel my determination through our new circumstances. Know that I STILL believe you CAN do this somehow, no matter what your bottom line!

Bulk Foods
No, I'm not talking about buying 213 pounds of something to store up for the winter or the impending nuclear holocaust (though that's not a bad idea, either, if you have the cash up-front and the storage). Look at the photo above and see what I'm talking about. Not every store has this. Maybe you don't have access to one that does. But IF you do, it's worth checking out! "Bulk" doesn't mean you're forced to buy things in 20 pound quantities. Rather, the store buys in bulk, and dispenses it to you by weight, passing on their savings to you. Do you see the price on those lentils? Do you know how many lentils are in one pound? Plenty! I'm able to save substantially on most any dry good by utilizing the bulk section. I can buy the amount I need (and ONLY the amount I need) for a fraction of the cost of packaged goods.

Skip the Meat (Sometimes)
Don't get me wrong...I, for one, am tired of so many people hatin' on meat! Vegetarianism has become so politically correct that some people convert to it just because it seems cool. I'm a firm believer that animal products are the best source for many vitamins and minerals, and the only source for truly complete protein. Yes, I know you can sort of cobble together a complete protein by mixing your grains and veggies wisely, but I believe in the synthesis of the complete protein existing in one source, and I don't believe you should have to have a degree in biochemistry to cook dinner for your family.

Now that I've made that clear, Americans do typically consume more meat than necessary. The proper portion of meat is about 3 ounces per person, and you don't have to eat meat at every meal. Have a meatless meal from time to time and save a little! And when you do eat meat, make sure it's the proper portion and it will go much further.

Save up for that Side of Beef
This won't be practical for every family, but if you do have a stash of cash somewhere that you can spare, buying a side of grass-fed beef, or other meats directly from the farmer will cost substantially less than buying similar quality meat from a store. I found a source of truly humanely-raised, organic, grass-fed beef and lamb that runs roughly $5 per pound. Yes, that's still a bit higher than USDA corn-fed, lot-finished, hormone-laden stock. But that's not the standard we're going for, is it? To give you some perspective, the grass-fed beef at my local market is anywhere from $8 (ground beef) to $22 (steak or roast) per pound! Now that's savings!

Eat Less
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it bears pointing out. Just as we tend to eat more meat than necessary, we also just eat more than necessary! I'm not going to pump you full of statistics and measurements, but the general rule of thumb is that you shouldn't consume an amount of food in one sitting that exceeds the size of your stomach. And your stomach is roughly the size of your fist. Yes, your fist! Not your giant plate! Eat sensible portions. You'll save money, and get that svelte physique you've always wanted.

Use Less
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! No, I'm not a tree-hugger (though I do come dangerously close), but this just makes sense, doesn't it? Why do conservatives bristle at the phrase? Our grandparents lived by this philosophy. They used things until they "wore slap out," as my Paw-paw would say. And stewardship is a Godly principle. Finding creative ways to reuse what you have will not only save you money, but invite blessing from the Lord.

Before I throw anything away, I simply ask myself: "Is there any way I could use this for something else or reuse it in its current form?" And when I need something new, I ask myself, "Is there any way I could fill this need by repurposing something I would otherwise throw away?" It's really that simple, and it's actually fun!

10 Tips for Reusing:
  1. Stop throwing away food scraps! If you roast a bone-in cut of meat, make a bone broth from the carcass and pan drippings. Whatever you strain out of the broth, feed to your cat or dog. That will be one less bowl of pet food you have to pay for. Fruit and vegetable scraps can be composted, and citrus rinds can be used to make {homemade cleaning supplies}.
  2. When you  buy bulk items at your whole food/health food store, save the bags to reuse for school lunches or other food storage. If you don't like storing in plastic, you can at least take the bags back to the store with you when you buy more bulk goods. It may not save you money, but it is better for God's Earth!
  3. Save fabric scraps or old clothes unsuited for donation. You can make craft projects out of them or use them for rags.
  4. If you sew and have a designer's eye, save your old clothes to make new ones! OK, I have no expertise in this area at all, but it's something I have always wanted to try...repurposing an older item of clothing that is no longer in style. 
  5. Use kitchen towels instead of paper towels as much as possible. When you do use paper towels, don't throw them away...compost them!
  6. Save your liquids. If you boil potatoes, strain off the starchy water and freeze it to thicken soups and stews later. Save and label your soaking liquids from rice, oats, beans, etc. to use for {accelerated fermentation}.
  7. Forget Pampered Chef. Look for antiques, instead. Really! My mom has inherited heirlooms from both my grandmas, and has just collected so much "stuff" over the years. I almost never get home from a visit without a new bowl, pot, or pan in tow. Not only do these items keep me from having to spend money on something new, they add a touch of warmth and history to my ecclectic kitchen. If you can't raid your mom's kitchen like I do, shop antique stores for deals on interesting and useful items.
  8. When you buy groceries, skip the reusable bags once in a while and get paper sacks. Use the paper sacks to wrap gifts or send packages. You can decorate a brown paper package to make it super cute! After all, how can you go wrong with one of Maria's "favorite things"?
  9. Don't throw away greeting cards. Cut them up and use them to make craft projects, or cut elements from them to decorate homemade greeting cards.
  10. Make your own home furnishings. I'm not as crafty as some, so I'll direct you to the {most inspiring blog} I've ever seen on this subject.
Grow Your Own
Even if you live in a high-rise apartment in the heart of New York City, you can accomplish this to a degree. A container garden is an option for most places, no matter how limited the space. If you have a home in a suburb, or live in a rural area, this is even more do-able! I currently live on about a half acre, and I raise tomatoes, cucumbers, greenbeans, onions, garlic, peppers and herbs. When everything starts yielding, it saves us so much money on groceries, and I know exactly how my food was raised (i.e., without harmful chemicals)! It's not only healthy and inexpensive, it's fun and enriching! Don't get started without a couple good books. Two I can recommend are here:

Make a Plan
If you do not currently plan a weekly menu and shop only for those items, you will save a ton of money by doing this! I used to fly by the seat of my pants when it came to my shopping list, and I invariably ended up with stuff that rotted in the fridge, or I would make 10 trips to the store throughout the week to pick up missing items. It doesn't take as much time as you would think to plan a menu and make a list. You can even do it while you sit on the couch and watch your favorite TV show. Anyway, the time investment is worth it! You are far less likely to waste food, and far less likely to waste fuel on needless trips to the market.

Eat in Season/Locally
Farmer's Markets are Heaven on Earth! It goes without saying, doesn't it? When you cut out the middleman and buy directly from the farmer, your food will be cheaper, fresher, and more nutritious. It's a great outing for the whole family, and it supports the farmers who are on the "front lines" in our battle for real food. Do an internet search and find out what farmers markets or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are available in your area. {Local Harvest} has a massive listing that has been extremely helpful in my own search.

Shop the Internet
Amazon. They don't just sell books! I have a really hard time beating their prices on just about anything, and you most certainly won't find a bigger selection online. There is a little-known program, Amazon Subscribe-n-Save, which allows you to subscribe to a monthly shipment of qualifying items. I buy my honey, agave, and some dry goods this way. You get a 15% discount on the already-low Amazon price, as well as free shipping. All the items I order are also tax free, and I don't have to travel to get it, as it ships right to my door. Can't beat it! And please know, Amazon has not paid me to say this. They most certainly don't even know I'm gushing over their program on this blog.

Drumroll Please...Get Out of Debt!
Stop being a slave to creditors. Seriously! I know this isn't something most people can do overnight, and it is certainly not an easy process on anyone. You may have to sacrifice. It may be painful (at first). It may take a long time. But it's worth it! I truly do not believe the Father intended for us to live in debt. Not even house debt. I know a home is a good investment. However, living simply for a few years and saving up for that home so you can pay for it outright is a much better investment than paying half the value to a mortgage company over the years! And if you suddenly find yourself in our situation (unemployed), you don't have to worry about losing the roof over your head. If you can't get out of debt right now, downsize until it hurts! Live as simply as you possibly, possibly can. Cut back on everything that isn't a necessity, and trust God will bless it. The less you spend paying interest to banks, the more you can spend on whole, nourishing food and investing in the health and vitality of your precious family. The more you can expect to have a healthy body with which to love and serve the Lord! This isn't a blog about managing your overall financial situation, and I'm no expert, so I won't get into any more detail. I will, however, suggest {a fantastic book} that gave hubby and me some really great ideas, wonderful encouragement, and a clear path to succes.