Some things that I have done are shop at the dollar store. I am able to get cereal bars and cereal and pop tarts for my stepsons and husband there who do not have food allergies. This is definitely a way to save some money on your budget and still have food in the pantry. You might be surprised what all they actually sell in the dollar store.
I have already shopped around to look for which stores generally have the best prices on the things that I buy. In town, I like King Soopers and Vitamin Cottage. I know many people like Sprouts, and Wal-Mart. I wont shop at Wal-Mart, I refuse to support their business. Sprouts, I wont shop there, when I have gone the employees have not been that friendly and the produce seems to go bad quickly. I only like to shop once per week if I can. Making a menu plan for the week and shopping list is important.
Trying to have a budget beforehand as to how much you want to spend is also important. Set an amount and try to stay within that dollar amount. Bring cash if you can, that way you don't have the opportunity to spend more than you had planned on.
I have multiple fruit trees planted in our yard. Now if they would only grow some fruit! Some I brought with me from before I married my husband - they are 7 years old. 2 of them grew a handful of pears 2 years ago. Last year, we had hail that destroyed all the flowers so no fruit. So hopefully this year! Also have 2 apple trees that are 7 years old, but no fruit yet. Over the last 5 years have also bought multiple other fruit trees - almond, plum, pluot, peaches, bing cherries, more apples..... some day. My dream is to not have to buy fruit from the store, be able to can some, and share some with many of my other friends who are struggling right now as well. I know many people whose fruit trees are full grown and producing and they are able to save LOTS of money this way. They spend harvest season picking, freezing and canning. They then have an abundance of produce for the later months that they are able to use.
Post on freecycle and/or Craigs List. See if you can find somebody that would be willing to let you come and pick their fruit trees. A lot of times people have them in their yard but dont do anything with them. (just post on Freecycle in general as well to see if you can find things that you need on there. i have been able to get many things that my family has needed by asking on freecycle - clothes, stuffed animal nets, cribs, etc. I have also given away many things on freecycle as well. It is a great service!)
Grow your own garden! This summer I really need to get serious about doing that. Normally I am so busy that I have not had a lot of time to take care of mine in years past. My strawberries always grow really well and the parsley even with my neglect. This summer I am going to take care of it and hopefully end up with some great vegetables for the family to eat. I need to grow lettuce, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes..... I will do this by golly. I know many friends who are able to garden and cut back their grocery bill tremendously this way. So if you aren't already doing this, would be worth giving it a try! I am. I also want to grow some flowers (would love to get a rose bush) so I can have pretty fresh flowers for our Shabbat table. I had started composting last year and am hoping that for this summer I will have some fresh new dirt for my garden and also for my trees. Guess we will see.
Another idea would be to shop at the Farmers Markets. Sometimes you can get a bag of produce for a set price. or becoming a member of a CSA. Often times they have a working members option which can get you your produce for less expensive. Another thing to ask about is if you are a drop off point if they will give you a reduced price.
Look in the dollar bin at Vitamin Cottage (or your local grocery store) I have gotten lots of bags of bananas that were ripe for only $1. I then put them in my freezer and use them later for smoothies and banana ice cream. I have often found other produce in the $1 box as well. It is always a treat to get those good deals!
Grow your own sprouts! This is very inexpensive and easy to do! And a great way to get some raw foods into your body and your families body.
See if you can find a local farmer to get your honey from. In some areas you are able to buy in bulk for a good deal.
Cut coupons and buy some stuff in bulk. I am currently working on figuring out where I can get bulk beans and lentils and rice for fairly inexpensive. Have priced at Vitamin Cottage, now to price at the local food coop and King soopers then I will see where I should get them. Find a location and then purchase big amounts to help save you big amounts over the bigger picture.
Another option worth looking into, is finding a source that you can purchase part of a cow from. I have some friends who do this and they say it has saved them TONS of money.
If you have the ability to fish, this would be a way to lower the cost of your food. You could go catch your meal and then prepare and freeze whatever is left. I know several families that hunt to lower their food bill as well.
Raise your own chickens so you can have fresh eggs for your family. Or if that is not an option look for a local farmer who is selling eggs. Often they have good deals and the eggs are tastier.
http://www.honeyvillegrain.com/ is a great source for getting large bags of flour, especially almond flour for less expensive. If you can find others to go in with you and buy at the same time you can save money. Also sign up for their email list and you can get coupons and discounts. This is so much less expensive than the little bags at Vitamin Cottage and Whole Foods.
Ideas from readers on our Mealtime Adventurers Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/269606553134482/) have been:
-Items worth buying in bulk are as follows :
beans, rice, canned tomatoes, broth, cheese, frozen meat & veggies
-Buy store brands whenever possible.
-Look online for coupons, you can pretty much find anything you want.
-Don't buy prepackaged cookies & chips. Make your own. They are healthier and less expensive.
-Rice, beans and squash are really versatile.
-Register for extra savings at kingsoopers.com
-Look at www.mygrocerydeals.com This is a free service that will help you shop for the least expensive items.
-Read a book called "Miserly moms"
-Have theme nights.
-Make a large pot of beans for the week to use, homemade tortillas, and large pot of rice.
-If you find something on sale, purchase a lot of it and then freeze what you dont use for later.
-Grow your own lettuce/greens even during the winter.
-If you are in the northern colorado area, check out Esh's in Loveland. They are a discount store and you can often get some good stuff for inexpensive prices.
-shop for produce at www.milehighorganics.com & have it delivered right to your door for inexpensive prices.
What works for you? Do you have ideas or suggestions that are not listed here? We welcome your ideas, suggestions and feedback!
Be on the lookout for a blog post from my partner Dawn. She will be blogging meal ideas within the next couple of days!