Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24
About four years ago, our family was in a financial crisis. It was so bad that we moved in with my parents for 6 months until we could get back on track. It opened my eyes to really start looking at my spending habits since I do 95% of the spending for our family. Even when I thought I was getting deals I really learned I wasn’t maximizing our budget to its full potential. I made a spreadsheet of all of our expenses for a year then I looked at what we spent the most one outside of uncontrollable expenses such as home payment, utilities, loan payments, etc. What I focused on is what we spend on clothing, food, cleaning supplies, entertainment and so on. We spent the most on food groceries and eating out. We are averaging close to $1200.00 a month. That’s not too far off from an article I found in USA Today a family of 4 can spend on average $1156 in a month.
I started doing research on how I could at least drop this down to $800 a month (this was my first goal).
- First things we starting to do was eat out less, taking food to work saves a load of money real quick – plus, it’s so much healthier for your body.
- Second I started changing the way I shop for groceries. This is not an overnight process, it took about a year to really make it a habit and lifestyle.
- No quick stops – when you shop last minute or just go in for a couple items you naturally are more likely to spend money on impulse buys.
- Shop at the discount stores – Winco, Smart Food Service, Costco (for limited items), Grocery Outlet, Walmart. I stopped shopping at places like Albertsons, Safeway, Fred Meyer and dropped the bill down by $200 in the first month. It might take some trips to get used to a new shopping center but, it will be well worth the savings.
- Third I began to buy in bulk. It takes some time to build this type of storage up, but it’s the best investment I’ve ever made.
Buying in Bulk –
- You have items in the pantry ready to go.
- Saves time no quick stops at the store every couple of days.
- You save money buying when items are on sale.
- The per ounce price drops.
- It’s easier.
Simple bulk purchases
- Canned goods – only buy when they are on sales just buy a dozen at a time.
- example – The normal price for diced tomatoes is $0.78 for a 15oz can ($9.36), but about every 3 weeks they go on sale for $0.58 each for the same can. I know 20 cents doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but when you buy 12 cans that save you $2.40 if you do that 6 times a year you’ve already saved $14.40 which again I know doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you do that with everything you buy all the sudden you have HUGE savings.
- Grains, Beans, and legumes
- This is probably the easiest to buy in bulk and really see the savings.
- I pulled these prices from Winco Bulk food and Walmart (Great Value store brand)
25 lb (400 oz) per ounce 16 oz bag per ounce savings Lentils $19.24 $0.048 $1.06 $0.07 $8.76
10-grain pancake mix
$40.85 $0.102 $4.48 $0.22 $48.75 Black-eyed peas $28.74 $0.071 $1.38 $0.086 $5.76 Quinoa $44.89 $0.112 $4.27 $0.27 $63.11
As you can see the savings really start to add up quickly. 25 lbs of Lentils could last your family a couple of years as well.
- If you don’t have a deep freeze, I highly recommend one use the money you are saving to your pantry to save up for one. We actually found on Facebook Marketplace for only $250 and it was only a couple years old. I also recommend an upright freezer that way your food doesn’t get lost in the bottom of the pit.
- Items to buy in bulk for the freezer.
- frozen veggies
- meat – (1 lb of ground beef $3.44, 5 lbs $2.58/lb)
- My favorite place for the freezer bulks is Smart Food Savers (aka Cash and Carry). Such great prices try it out!!!
Space and Storage
I know the number 1 excuse I hear from friends when I talk about this is I don’t have space to store food. Lies, I tell you lies. You have space you just don’t realize it you can make the space. We’ve made it such a lifestyle my husband and I built a food storage room in our basement, which is a little more extreme the some of you might do. For us, we have only 3 kitchen cabinets and 3 drawers in the kitchen, so this was necessary. I’ve seen RV’s have more kitchen storage space than mine. We’ve had to get super creative with our organization. You can too! Do you have a junk closet or guest bedroom closet that some shelves could go in? A section of the garage? Basement? Under a bed even for long-term food storage? Maybe even a covered porch that a deep freeze could find a home? Needless to say, there is a space you can use to store you may need to just time outside the kitchen.
Things to consider for storage:
- Food will last longer in a cool dry place.
- Make it pest proof.
- Label it clearly.
- Do a regular inventory to make sure you are using what you have.
- Know how long the food will last, Winco has a great post on this.
- 5-gallon buckets and gamma lids https://youtu.be/kWxohmplrko
They are an investment but well worth it friends. It secures your food and allows it to be easily accessed as well.
Get shelves that are easy to organize and that are strong enough to hold the weight of 5-gallon buckets.
You also should have 1-gallon food storage containers.
Really what this all comes down to is being stewards of our finances and resources. Here are some verse that have inspired me to be better at spending and food storage.
Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest. – Proverbs 3:9
So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? – Luke 16:11
Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all. – 1 Chronicle 29:12
We started this journey with our family spending close to $1200 a month on food. Since, I’ve taken control of the spending, started spending smarter, buying in bulk, and just being smart it has saved our family tremulously. My goal was to cut the food budget down to $800 a month now 3 years later I’ve gotten it to a pretty consistent $400 to $450 a month. We eat healthier and never do without. Buying this way has also saved us on lean months. There was honestly one month this year our take-home pay wasn’t enough, because of the food storage I only spent $25 in some fresh foods for the month and we ate out the pantry and freezer. I was praising Jesus. We ate good meals too.
Please leave comments or questions if you’d like to learn more about my crazy spending habits and the changes I’ve made to my shopping. I do hope this inspired you to make your family stronger. God Bless you as He works to make your life more radiant as you seek him.