Being a mother of 2 kids still in diapers I know the meaning of how to stretch every dollar. We live in a area with a higher cost of living, I just can’t seem to convince my dear husband to move somewhere else with a lower cost of living. So I have been on my search for ways that can save me money. My advice is to anyone who is living paycheck to paycheck is to look for ways that you can cut back, you don’t have to eat out to have a quick meal. I don’t like to spend a ton of time in the kitchen every night so I have scoured the web for recipes that I like but don’t take more than 30 minutes to prepare, with the exception of baking something in the oven.
Some basic foods that I have discovered as being really cheap are things like rice, beans, and pasta. Just add in some meat, vegetables, and maybe some seasonings or sauce and you have a quick meal. Last night I shredded up some leftover chicken legs, about 2 cups of rice, and 2 cans of canned mushroom soup then mixed it up and my family loved it! I really took about 20 minutes to make and less than 5 dollars to make, I still have some leftovers for lunch too! Another favorite dish, especially in the summer time, is tuna noodle salad. I just cook some noodles, add a can of tuna, some mayo, and chop an onion, then chill it in the fridge for a few hours and theres dinner! You really have to be creative and dont be afraid to try new stuff or subsitute somethings if you dont have a certain item. Buying in bulk tends to make things cheaper as well if you have room to store it.
Depending on whether or not you stay home to eat your breakfast and lunch will also add to your food expenses, both of my children are young so I make all of our meals here. Some examples that are cheap, that I have found that my 2 1/2 year old will actually eat, are grilled cheese, ramen noodles, mac n cheese, crackers with cheese, chicken nuggets, and french fries. None of these are more than a dollar or per serving. You can pair these with vegetables, fruit, chips, or whatever you have or like. Try to cut back on the amount of soda you drink as well, frozen juice that you add water to, home made ice tea or kool aid are all cheaper than a 2 liter of soda most of the time, or you could always drink water.
I also have found that shopping at stores like Aldi’s or Save A Lot will also save some money, I only use coupons on things that I would normally buy. Just about everything is cheaper at these stores from canned goods to produce, but shop around or check out your sunday paper just in case. For me shopping once a week works well, occasionally i will have to purchase small things like bread, milk, or eggs in case we run out. I generally spend about $80 a week for a family of 4, that includes diapers, wipes, cleaning products, ect.
Saving money does take a little bit more time and effort in the beginning but after you do it for a few months you get the hang of it and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner! I can’t believe how much money I wasted going out to eat or picking up fast food when I could have made it myself so much cheaper.