I've decided to do a post about Grocery Shopping for our Large Family.
I don't know how many of you will be interested in this post, but I want to do it anyway because maybe somebody out there would like to know how we do things and also, in later years when all my Baby Chiles are gone I will have a record of how it used to be when we had a Full House. God, please don't let that day come too soon!!!
Before I start, let me just say that I am in no way implying that the way we do things is the Perfect Way or the way you should do things. We've just found ways that work for us. I do not intend to preach or legalize or judge you. You may be shocked when I reveal how much we spend on groceries. I offer no justification for my spending here in this post, and I in no way feel guilty for how much we spend, except to say that groceries are the only thing we really spend money on. I am eternally thankful that my husband has a very good job and that he has had for the past 18 years. Again, I say this is the way we do things, so please, do not judge us!!
So, my husband gets paid every two weeks. He works all the overtime he can at work, which means that he is literally signed up on the Overtime Desired list to work as much over 8 hours a day as he can, and as his boss wants him too. The person who is lowest on the Overtime Desired list gets the most overtime until everyone on the list is equal. Being on the Overtime Desired list also means you get called on your days off to come to work, at a rate of double time for the first 8 hours, then double time and a half after 8 hours. His work day starts at 8 AM and he used to work 11 hour days. When we lived in our hometown, he had a 3-minute commute. Now his commute is 39 minutes, so sometimes we don't see him until almost 8 PM, depending on how much overtime he gets each day. There are seasons that are heavier for overtime. He's been on the Overtime Desired list practically since he started his job, so we hardly know any different. When he gets off before 5 PM, it's like he has a day off!! It works for us. It's a way for him to earn lots of extra money, which we really need, and he actually likes his job!
Since he gets paid every two weeks, we grocery shop every two weeks. I have used cash. I have written checks. I have used a debit card. I've used the debit card for the longest period of time. We have even used the Envelope method. This payday I took out cash. To be able to use cash I must know exactly how much I am going to spend on groceries, and this payday, I did!
Typically in the past, I have always gone waaay over my grocery budget. I would traditionally spend anywhere from $1600 to $1800 a month on groceries, and that includes toiletries, laundry items, cleaning supplies, diapers, and anything else we would need for the house. But I would just put anything I wanted on my list. Lately, we have been trying to tighten our belts a bit in our spending. My husband asked me to see if I could shave some money off of our grocery bill, and at first I was totally resistant to it, even offended that he would suggest such a thing! But now, I think I'm kind of getting into it!
The past couple of months I have been working hard on cataloging every single thing we buy and writing down the prices for everything. This is so we can have a record of what we buy and now, since I've done all of that extra work, I know exactly how much we will spend on each grocery trip. Yesterday, what is usually a one hour shopping trip at Costco turned into a three hour trip, as I walked through the entire warehouse, looking at everything we would need and writing each and every price down. I found that indeed, it is going to be cheaper for us to shop there, and now we have a record of prices so there isn't any doubt about how much I will spend in the future. This has made my husband soooo happy!!
We also have access to a Co-op that we can order online from and have the order delivered locally. Many large families in our county order from this co-op. They offer everything under the sun, and boy, is it tons cheaper to order from them! It is a family owned co-op in the next state down from us, and they are believers, and we love that we can support families who love the Lord and our lifestyle as much as we do! Usually families around here go in together on an order, because it has to be for a certain amount before they will deliver it. We can order every single thing on our grocery list from them, even refrigerated items, and if we spend a certain amount, we can tell them where to drop it off.
I buy mostly organic, natural things. Yes, this is more expensive, but we are actually saving money due to the fact that we are not putting harmful, deadly chemicals and genetically modified organisms into our bodies, thereby saving thousands of dollars a year on doctor bills for the side effects of eating an unhealthy, unnatural diet. I sincerely believe that our children are healthier and heartier because of our diet. I could get on a soap box about this, but that's another post! Let me just say, we are passionate about organic and all natural diets, but we hope that we are passionate in a gentle, kind way!
I make all of my own cleaners. It's so easy and CHEAP!! That way, I know that we aren't inhaling any harmful fumes and I can feel good about that!
We are working on being totally self-sufficient. We have plans to get a milk cow. We have planted numerous square-foot gardens, and we have a large green house and another garden plot which will be totally planted with berries. Last year we planted several orchard trees. We have our own chickens and raise our own beef. This will shave more money off of our grocery bills when our trees and berries and vegetables come to maturity.
I almost never buy boxed convenience foods or mixes. I make 99% of the things we snack on and eat from scratch, including our bread. We believe it's just healthier that way! I can see exactly what is going into our food and I love that!
I usually take two kids with me on Shopping Day. And of course, since I'm still nursing, Pennie gets to come along everywhere we go!!
Now, just because we are passionate about eating organic and all natural, this does not mean that we don't eat out once in a great while (does that make us hypocrites??) Lately we have been making lunch to take with us, especially if we know we're going to be gone all day. But occasionally I'll stop at Wendy's or Jack in the Box and the kids will order off the dollar menu. We really love Burgerville because they tend toward organic and all natural items that are raised and grown locally, but it is very expensive. Anyway, what we make at home and bring with us tastes so much better!!
I do not clip coupons because usually, organic and natural items are not included in the coupon discounts. I also believe that some people out there have gotten really good at "working the system", which I think is purely unethical. I truly do not have time to watch the various papers, clip umpteen coupons for umpteen different stores and then, figure out where to put all of the coupons so I won't lose them! I don't want to waste precious and expensive gas running around here and there, thither and yon, just to save 50 cents. The things we usually buy are never on coupons anyway. I just decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to stress out about clipping coupons. As I mentioned in my previous post, I choose the one-stop shopping at Fred Meyer, and now the savings I get at Costco.
I have been getting my diapers on Diapers.com, but two of my friends have told me that Amazon sells them cheaper, so I am going to start ordering my diapers from Amazon. Most of the time I get free shipping and the quick shipping blows my mind! The box of diapers is typically on my doorstep two days after my order. Sweeeet!!! Plus, I can order the diapers I love for just as cheap as the cheapest diapers at the store, which means more money saved there because I'm not changing a soaked diaper or outfit every two hours! I'll do a separate post on diapers soon.
We never buy meat. We have been purchasing home-grown beef for several years now, at least 10 years. We used to buy our beef from Dave's dad. After that it was from a neighbor of my parents. The past couple of years my father has raised a calf for us. We paid half of the cost of the hay and the butcher fee. This year we paid the full cost of the hay and we will be implementing the concept of Salad Bar Beef. If you've never heard of it, it's worth researching. Home grown beef is so much cheaper.
So, I think that about covers everything in the category of Grocery Shopping. I'm always refining my methods. We do have a lot of storage space in the form of a storage container out by the hay barn. Shelf systems from Costco line the walls. Plus, we have a chest freezer on the back porch and we are thinking about buying another fridge.
There you have it. Like I said, this is only how we do things. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. And soon, I'll post about diapers and what I've learned after having 8 children!!