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Monday, June 28, 2010


Keeper of the Home Apprentice ~ in our Kitchen ~ Meal Planning

It’s amazing how much extra food we find when doing an inventory of the pantry, freezer and the refrigerator. Food tends to hide in corners and underneath something else. I was amazed what Leah and I found when we completed our kitchen inventory today. Although I buy groceries once a week, I’m sure I could go much longer in between shopping trips for most items. Leah and I are now in the process of putting our recipe list together for meal planning. A lot of our recipes are stored in memory. But we are scanning through our recipe collection and cookbooks. I’m hoping this stimulates some new ideas and more creativity, something Leah thrives on.

Our main goal here is to continue to eat healthy, to improve better nutrition intake as well as try to cut back on grocery expenses if possible. At times I feel we have to compromise something but the intention now is to re-establish this cost-cutting habit and still maintain our health convictions. I realized that when I planned my meals in the past, I always tried to keep costs down but still lacked the sense of trying to take advantage of discounts through coupon cutting. I’m glad Leah and I are conquering this together. She is learning a new skill and also learning from my mistakes.

I recently came across a series on Moneysavingmom educating moms to budget groceries costs. The series is called 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Feel free to click on the series name for more complete articles which will take you through a step by step process. Stephanie, the author does an excellent job taking the appropriate steps without making you feel overwhelmed. Within the 19 posts the series teaches how to systematically stay on budget by giving recommendations on meal planning with strong emphasis on searching out for deals through flyers and coupons. In short here is what the author recommends.
  • Take inventory of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer of what you have on hand. You’ll be surprised at what you find which could be used for an entire meal! Make a list. It will come handy when menu planning.
  • Consult sales flyer, look to see if there are items you’ll need within the next few months. Front page of flyers usually list the biggest deals for the store. Check to see what’s on sale first before planning meals.
  • Survey coupons and compare them to the sales flyers ads you have chosen.
  • Menu plan – make a list of 30 meals that your family likes. Maybe a pre-established theme, such as Sue Gregg’s ideas found in her Master Index and Menu Planner book, ie, Vegan Sunday nights, Beans Monday nights, Turkey Tuesday nights, Do you see the pattern? -my comment.
  • Be willing to shop at more than one store, make a list of possible stores where you can take advantage of discounts. This could be food coops, CSAs, Sams or Costco; health food store; basically any store where you can purchase food related items.
  • Inform yourself of your local Stores’ Coupon and Mark-Down Policies. Questions such as, does your store accept expired coupons or will your store accept coupons from other stores would be beneficial to know. The better educated you are, the more you will be able to take advantage of money savings.
  • Determine Which Store(s) Regularly Have the Lowest Prices and Best Sales. Some upfront work is involved before determining which store has the lowest prices and best sales. Filling out price books either by product or by store may take some time but it seems it may be worth time and money in the end. This may be something Leah and I will tackle at least just once.
  • Be willing to invest time. It’s suggested that if you spend at least two hours a week, you will see fairly significant savings. Example: Invest 30 minutes in planning and clipping/organizing coupons and an hour and a half in shopping. I’m thinking that if I spend a little more time planning, maybe I’ll spend less time in the store, time is of the essence, something that we all agree. When shopping, decide which store has the best deals as it may not be feasible to hit all the stores and get all the deals.

I have to say that reading through comments which follow each posts, I have gleaned many tips from moms who agreed with the author or followed similar eating habits which our family has.

Although I do recognize wonderful suggestions would be beneficial to those who use this system, I’m not sure how the coupon cutting would help save money for our family. We currently eat whole foods and don’t really purchase name brands. But we do take advantage of sales when we can. I will plan to spend time going through coupons in the next month or so to see if there is anything else we can take advantage of to help reduce grocery expenses.

Here is a list of what we currently have established to keep costs down.
  • Most baked goods are made at home from scratch, including sprouting our wheat(something we just started), grinding our grains most of the time, for breads, snacks, granola.
  • We try to purchase a lot of our food in bulk. Items such as, beans, rice, grains through coops, Wholefoods and other stores. Azure Standard will soon be making deliveries in our area, I can’t wait to take advantage of more deals!
  • We purchase grass fed meat through a local farmer and only eat minimal amounts.
  • Honey and eggs are purchased locally.
  • In-season produce purchased and sometimes frozen for late use.
  • Purchase from farmers markets when I can.
  • Grow my own herbs. Our garden took backseat this year as major priorities took place, although I do have some tomato plants
  • Our cleaning products comprise of baking soda, dish soap, peroxide and vinegar.
  • Laundry and dish detergent are purchased from Costco.
For more information on money saving tips on groceries, please visit:
Keeper of the Home 
Saving Naturally (new site listing deals found on real food-author of Keeper of the Home
Real Food on a Real Budget  Please Review this book for more tips on real foods on a budget.  I just ordered my copy and am excited to read it with Leah.

For more on the Keeper of the House Series, please visit:
Keeper of the Home ~ In Our Kitchen
Keeper of the Home ~ Apprentice in our Kitchen ~ New Skills

(Note: The products mentioned in this post are products we recommend.  We receive a small commission if purchases are made through these links.  You are under no obligation to purchase through these links but if you do, we appreciate you supporting Pebble Crossing. 

I know it is important to be a good steward but I know at times, other priorities may take precedent in other parts of our lives. God always provides and He understands our sometimes difficult situations whatever they are. I would love to hear how your family keeps costs down in your home. What tips could you share which wouldn’t involve major amounts of time?

This article was shared with: Raising Homemakers


  1. Hi Carmen! Interesting post, concerning one of my favorite subjects. I call it 'living small,' and I am constantly on the look-out for new ways to live more simply. A few things I do: I try to make our own dog food. This cuts my cost of feeding them in half. Recipes are fairly simple, and would make a fun cooking project for a new cook. The dogs aren't picky, and actually the food is much more wholesome than most of what you buy at the grocer's. We eat a lot of vegan meals. Probably half of the year. I get a lot of my recipes off of the Internet, but many of them also come from The Big Bean Cookbook, by Nicola Graimes. I do a lot of my shopping at Fiesta. I think it has cut my food bill by at least a third, and the produce in there is so interesting and varied...not to mention the variety of grains that they carry. We eat like you do, so I'm with you on the coupons.

  2. Thanks so much for your suggestions, we will definitely be looking into making dog food. I believe I've visited Fiesta once before~time to make another visit! Thank you Helaine.

  3. How blessed you are to be learning these things now!


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