I think this week’s $20/$20 Challenge submission is from our largest family yet. Melissa has eight kids and not only an incredible pantry setup, but a pretty stellar system for feeding her family a mostly whole foods diet! Here’s her story:
My name is Melissa. I live in Washington State with my husband and our eight children, whom we home school. Since most of us are home most of the time, we go through a lot of food. Over the years I’ve learned how to stretch our grocery dollars while still feeding our family a mostly whole foods diet.
The biggest money saving tactic I’ve ever implemented was when I started to menu plan. Writing down what our family will be eating for dinner each week has been a huge money saver, not to mention a sanity saver. I make notations on my menu plan to remind me when to transfer meat from the deep freeze to the refrigerator so that it will be thawed in time for its designated dinner. I also make notes to soak beans overnight, make rolls early in the day, etc. We waste very few leftovers, which is also a money saver.
Since the days of extreme couponing are over, I’ve had to retool my money saving strategies at the grocery store. I do nearly all of my grocery shopping at three stores–Costco, Walmart and Fred Meyer. I also frequent the bread outlet to take advantage of their $1 marked down bread. I love Walmart’s price matching policy, especially for produce and dairy deals. I never leave Fred Meyer without cruising through the store looking for yellow mark down tags. I do occasionally stop by the Winco bulk section as well. I still use coupons, just not to the degree that I used to.My biggest grocery expenditure months are November, December and August. I stock up on baking supplies around the holidays, as well as rock bottom priced turkeys and post holiday mark down hams.
August is our big canning month. We are blessed to live in a great agricultural area where produce is plentiful. Our peach trees finally produced enough of a harvest last summer to provide for some of our canning needs. I still picked peaches at a local orchard where I’ve picked for years, but I hope to be phasing out of this in the next few years as our own trees mature. I also buy local pears and apples for canning. We freeze local corn, berries, cherries and peaches as well. Nearly every year, someone gifts us with some fresh asparagus and green beans (yeah for free produce!), which I love to pickle.
Our oldest daughter has a small raised bed garden which provides us with some of our fresh produce needs in the summer. We supplement with produce from local farm stands. I picked a bunch of spaghetti and butternut squash for 29 cents per pound at a local farm last fall to supply our needs for the winter.
Our oldest son keeps chickens which provide enough eggs for our family and a few customers. Since it’s winter, the girls aren’t laying very well and I’ve had to resort to buying eggs at the store. When eggs go on sale for $1.25 per dozen, I buy ten dozen to tide us over until the next sale.
My uncle is a farmer and he provides us with wheat that my oldest daughter grinds and makes into fabulous bread and rolls. We buy a grass fed cow every year from a farmer friend of ours. I buy brown and white rice, flour, sugar, oats and pinto beans in 25 pound bags and store them in buckets which I’ve picked up for free from bakeries and restaurants.
Are you getting your pantries camera ready? You can participate in the $20/$20 Challenge by simply sending in pictures of your pantry. Find out more about the $20/$20 Challenge: Show Your Pantry – Fill a Pantry!