Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stretching your grocery budget!

I have 9 days left to stay within my new monthly grocery budget of $300. I had been spending at least $360. My grocery budget includes pet food, toiletries, cleaning products and household expenses such as batteries, refrigerator filters,etc. I have to make this work since my income has dropped by nearly $400 a month.

I'm always thankful when I can stretch our small income to meet our needs and even a few wants.  My husband reminds me that we have more than so many. I've prayed hard and worked hard this month to keep my grocery budget under my new target of $300. I previously had been spending at least $360.  But, the work is not done just at the grocery store.  Once I bring the food home there is work to be done in stretching what comes through the doors.  I'm always looking for new ways to make the items last longer.  It's like a double savings.

Artichokes (Yellow bags covered with Vaseline to trap white flies)

Here are a few things I do to stretch what I have on hand:
  • Tomato sauce (rinse out the sauce left in the can).
  • Coconut milk ( Add up to 50 % water for recipes).
  • Less meat and double other ingredients. 
  • Hairspray (water added up to 50%).
  • Eggs (water replaces an egg when scrambling). 
  • Washing machine rinse water runs into garbage can with a hose to water plants. 
  • Vegetable leftovers frozen and added to soups or stews.
  • Shampoo (water added to stretch it). 
  • Soap ends (I'm saving these and will make a crocheted sleeve to use them again). 
  • Mascara (water added when it's almost empty to stretch a little further).
  • Face makeup (water added when it's almost empty).
  • Toothpaste: I cut open the tube to use the last amount.
Here are a few things I did in my home this week:

1.  I pulled out all 3 bread makers this week. I remember reading years ago at Laine's Letters how she kept extra equipment on hand if she could find it cheap. I was given 2 of the bread machines and bought the other one for $10.  I made 3 loaves of white bread for my mom. She loves it. I also made 3 loaves of wheat bread for my husband's lunches. I've never priced out the cost of each loaf but I know it's cheaper than store bought because I pay less for 10 pounds of flour (which make a LOT of bread) than I do for 2 loaves of bread.

2.  I had a difficult time grinding the Stevia into powder with my coffee grinder. I think it's fine enough to put into my baking recipes though. I'm looking forward to seeing how it tastes in my low carb muffins. I hope to post that recipe soon. 

3.  I'm sewing a couple of neck pillows for a friend. I had some old T shirts put aside to make rag rugs but decided the material would be perfect for the pillows. There are so many things you can do with old T Shirts.

4.   I preserved my fresh basil in ice cubes.  I'll take them out of the tray and put them in a plastic bag. This winter I can just throw a cube or two into my soups for that wonderful basil flavor.

5. A dear friend gave me a bag of baking apples from her trees. I peeled and slice and froze them for holiday pies.

6. I'm on Goodwill's email list to be notified for their $1 sales. I was able to find 2 pairs of pants and 6 blouses (and another one for my sister) for $1 each. I paid less for 9 items than I would have for 1 new item in the stores.

7.  I have been setting aside $5 a week to stock my pantry if I find a good sale. This week I found mayo and SF syrup on sale for a dollar less than normal retail.

Outdoor canning 

8.  My daughter in love gave me a bag of pecans and I still have some walnuts left that need to be cracked. I tried waiting until the end of the day to crack them while watching TV but I'm always too tired.  I decided to crack a few while talking on the phone. If the conversation is 'light' then it doesn't distract me. I was able to crack a small bowl full this week and put them in the freezer for Christmas baking.

9. The garden is still producing a lot of green beans. I found a new recipe that was wonderful!

Spicy Sichuan Green Beans

 10. I'm still working on Christmas gifts. I'm nearly finished with one sewing project. I'm using the afternoons to sew for 1 hour. I'm so glad that I was able to start early on Christmas gifts. It will help prevent last minute stress and save money.

So how did your week go? I love learning from you gals. Do you have anything to add to my list of stretching what you have on hand?

Blessed to be a keeper at home,


  1. The earbuds I buy at the dollar store come with a mesh drawstring bag. It is perfect for my soap ends:)

    1. Great idea Alice! Do the earbuds work? I paid nearly $15 for a pair to fit an IPOD I bought for my husband quite a few years ago (when we had more money). :-)

    2. I look at them as "disposable" as they are only good for a few months before one side will stop working. At $4, I feel like that's okay, but not exactly frugal in the long term. I am looking into investing in some nicer ones when I can.

  2. I've been reading some of your older posts and enjoying them. :) Especially about how you find yourself less tempted to be short with hubby etc.-- if you work too much away from home. That is something I figured out too--I need to be home--although I do some work from home-- art that I sell-- I have no urge to make more $--I'm more interested in managing what we have already better. If I have a couple sales a month--that is enough to contribute groceries or gas ,etc.

    I think women are all different and some thrive on having a job--but I am not one of those. My nervous system also cannot take the stress--I need to be able to do things in a way that makes sense for me.

    This week--
    Hubby is home every couple of weeks for a few days-- he has decided that we need a dish washer. I am fine with hand washing--but he says I don't do it as well as I used to. (probably true) He's been talking about it for a while, but he surprised me this weekend.

    Yesterday He found a 2nd hand-new condition- counter top dishwasher on Craigslist for much less than a new one. It is on my counter now, next to the sink. It can be installed inside a cupboard but we need to do some remodeling for that. I think we likely will do a little work on the kitchen in the future, I have cut out some pix of ideas and put them on my fridge. It is not big enough for a crowd but will work for the time being and I can put it away if we have a lot of people and want to save space.

    He saved money buying used on craigslist- and if we/when we remodel Hubby will do the work as usual--he has tools and skills.

    Our next big project however is going to be the landscaping at our rental house--where my youngest and her family are living. It needs some work to stop erosion and to create a manageable hillside and a play yard for the little ones. We will start that in December as Hubby gets a bonus--but I anticipate a lot of it won't be done til March. How do we save? First I'm praying for solutions to various problems with a hilly wooded lot with red clay dirt.Also, I'm making a hobby out of considering different options and I'm also thinking of ways we could plant a crop that might make us a little spare $ as well as help with erosion. Hubby will also probably get the sod at a discount due to his job--he works with people who are experts on turf--so we hope to get good advice as well as a discount and we will rent equipment and do the work ourselves rather than hire someone. So we save by paying for it and DIY no loans or credit.

    Those are biggies.

    On the smaller scale-- I'm looking for more ways my daughter and I can 'share' resources--and right now we're looking at freezer meals & me helping with child care and such like. Cooperation is a great way for both of us to save $. Since I'm alone most of the time--its nice if I can do things with my daughter.

    I'm getting ready to save plants for winter. I have a lot of plants outside that are fine over our mild winters--but there are some that must come in the house. I enjoy propagating plants too--so I have shelf unit with lights that I do that with--in our downstairs. I'm looking for the least expensive ways to save my plants for next year. Some I will take cuttings, and some I will store in bigger containers. Looking for cheaper ones.

    Theres a lot more, but that comes to mind.

    1. I always enjoy hearing from you Mary. I imagine you have so many wonderful plants. I enjoy learning how to 'stretch' my plants, too. I've mentioned before how the family benefits from my mother's flowers that she shares.

      I like the idea of coming together with your family to find ways to help each other. I imagine that families will need to depend on each other more and more in the coming years.

      I love Craig's list. We have sold a ton of things on Craig's list when we sold our homes and I've bought a few things, too. :-)


  3. Another use for soap ends. Chop them up and put in an empty dish soap bottle. Fill with warm water and shake well. The soap bits will dissolve slowly and make a watery soap liquid. I put several squirts of this liquid when cleaning extra greasy pans. I wipe out excess grease with newspaper, then a couple squirts then scrub with a small brush. Keep adding new soap bits and more water and the bottle is always full.

    1. Thank you for reminding me about this. I've done it in the past but had forgotten about it. I'll have to try it again. :-)

  4. I love seeing the pic of your canning business being done outside. My dad has been doing the same setup for the beets and carrots. He said that the heat is more even on that camp stove.

    1. I imagine that may be so! I like it because it keeps the house cool! :-)

  5. Georgene, this will be a tight Christmas for our family, so I took your inspiration for making soap as gifts. I did invest in a nicer soap mold, but I have most of the other ingredients to make most of our extended family four nice big bars of soap. I'm on the lookout for nice but frugal soap dishes to wrap them up with. Thanks for the idea!
    We also found some nice (free) pinecones that I'll let my boys decorate to make tree decorations with. I'll buy some gold spray paint, then let them put on glitter and ribbon. Those will be gifts too.

    1. What a wonderful idea Stacie! Your boys will hold those memories in their heart. I was remembering recently about an ornament my mother taught us to make as a child. It was a tuna can with both lids taken off and then we covered it in velvet and put gold rick rack on the edges with a Christmas scene inside. They were actually lovely! Keep us updated.

  6. Georgene, please allow me to introduce my self. My name is Bonnie. I have been following your blog for a while and want you to know that I enjoy learning from you. I share your ideas with a girlfriend of mine who retired a few years ago and enjoys hearing about your ideas. She does not have a computer so she will ask me about what you had to say.
    Just thought you would like to know a couple of strangers are fans.

    1. Hi Bonnie and welcome! It's so fun to meet new friends. I'm very blessed to meet so many wonderful women all over the world! Thank you for introducing yourself! I'm thankful to know that some of the things I do to save money help others stretch their income, too.

  7. I work in a group home with a lady who relies on disability payments to survive. She uses a leg from an old pair of nylons and saves up her smaller soap pieces in it. She then uses that to wash up. It is a brilliant idea, because it uses up all the soap and none of it slips out. You may want to try that instead of crocheting something. It does not look as pretty but totally effective.

    Your blog is an inspiration to me. Your faith in Christ is so encouraging.


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