In this 4th and final part of “Cutting Back on Your Food Costs”, let’s look at the last two SOS Principles. In my earlier articles, we have observed that we must: 1.SOS: Set Our Spending (eat at home so food costs won’t roam); 2. SOS: Salvage Old Stuff (eat up what’s old before it gets mold); 3. SOS: Stop Over Spending (plan your menu to have a venue); 4. SOS: Stay Out of Stores (don’t go in and you won’t spend); 5. SOS: Safeguard Our Savings (stash ten and give God ten to find more in the end); and 6.. SOS: Support Others Spiritually (give food away and watch God repay). So check out the last two SOS Principles. The 7th is SOS: Spot Opportunities to Slash (slash to keep the cash); and the 8th is SOS: Strive Only to Simplify (simplify and exemplify)
When most people think about slashing their food budget–the 7th SOS: Spot Opportunities to Slash— they pull out the coupons, but that isn’t necessarily “healthy eating.” Instead, if there is a nutritious product that you regularly use, call the 1-800 number on the label and request that company’s coupons. Here are some other ideas:
- Locate generic–Generic products are usually NOT at eye level in the grocery so stoop and bend. Good for the thighs!
- Shop generic or warehouse–For your best money saving, shop at a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club or buy the generic at a chain store like Safeway. Consumer Reports May 2012 confirmed that shopping for 20 items using a store-brand cost $66.23; whereas, with the same items at a warehouse club, the cost was $67.64–only a $1.41 difference between the two shopping experiences.
- Think close to the earth–Shop around the outside aisles for fresh items. Use real butter, cheese and milk. Consume sugar versus artificial sweeteners (except for stevia), for the man-made ones can cause everything from weight gain to MS.
- Think beans and rice–This is a staple in many undeveloped countries, and if you look at the obesity rate of these countries, we would do well to imitate their simple diet.Try a basic cookbook such as More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre found at amazon.com Doris, a Mennonite, gives suggestions on how to eat healthily and consume less of the world’s food resources.
Now let’s take a look at our 8th and final SOS principle, SOS: Strive Only to Simplify. Below are some ways my family has learned to simplify over the years.
- Dinner is a three point meal—1. a meat or meatless, 2. a starch, and 3. a vegetable or salad.
- We eat dinners two nights in a row except for Sunday steak. (see Cutting Back on Your Food Costs–Part 2)
- We don’t eat desserts except on birthdays or for company.
- We use a bread machine to make breads and pizza dough which helps me stay out of the store (SOS) because I never have to go pick up a loaf of bread (and everything else).
- Concentrate on homemade and prioritize eating together as a family as much as possible.
- Limit your paper products. Use a dish rag instead of a paper towel and a cloth napkin in a labeled napkin holder for each member of the family. Just wash the napkins after a few uses.
- Skip fancy cleaners. Try this WILD CLEANER. Use a gallon jug and fill it with one container of rubbing alcohol, 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of ammonia then water to fill. Put the solution in a spray bottle and use it for everything.
- Create your own and save big. Make baby food in a food processor and freeze in ice cubes for future use. Grow sprouts in a jar. Cook dried beans overnight in a Crock Pot without soaking them. Use a 3-to-1 ratio of water to beans, cover and cook on low overnight for 6 hours or cook on high setting for 3 to 4 hours. Drain and use. Put a frozen chicken in the Crock Pot and cook on high till done. You can also cook the chicken on low overnight. Make Freezer Bowl Soup or The Frugal Catholic Casserole from scraps (found in my October 3, 2010 blog article). Create your own salad dressings; recipes are in all standard cookbooks, or finally pop your own popcorn in a popper instead of purchasing more expensive chips.
- When baking, substitute half of the oil with applesauce.
- Use frugal vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, onions, and carrots to stretch meat so you use less.
- Put leftover cooked rice or pasta in Zip Lock Bags and freeze; then microwave the bags for one by leaving the frozen bag slightly open.
- With laundry, forgo fancy pre-washes and dryer sheets or softener. Just add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash and wash with detergent. You will have a better clean.
- Stretch juices by adding an extra can of water.
- Leave your butter out in a covered container so you use less or even whip it together with olive oil to stretch it.
When we begin to take a hold of our food expenses, we begin to corral our overall expenditures and learn to live within our means, or even under them. SOS: Spot Opportunities to Slash and SOS: Strive Only to Simplify means consuming less, living with less, and having more to give. Jesus addressed excess when the rich young man came up to him and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17 RSV) Jesus answered, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” Controlling our food budget with these 8 SOS Guidelines helps us to more effectively limit ourselves and follow Him better.