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Need to immediately and DRASTICALLY cut our food bills - Page 3

post #41 of 105
Originally Posted by USAmma
When I was more frugal and we just had dd1 I could get by on spending $25/week on groceries! No kidding. For formula, you can buy the generic brand. It's just as good as the expensive brand. Trust me, I had to ff two kids due to breastfeeding and other health problems.

When I was growing up we were on a pretty strict $20/week grocery budget.
post #42 of 105
Thread Starter 
I had never known about container gardening... that's something I can give a try if it doesn't cost much to get started. I use Freecycle a lot, but there's not much in Pueblo. I'll try asking for pots and containers... maybe someone will have something like that. We already use generic formula.

There are several things I feel VERY strongly about, it's true. But I can't give in on everything. Weight checks for DD I'll compromise on, but blood draws, I can't. Eating meat isn't a problem, but I couldn't live with myself if I killed an innocent wild animal. Heck, I accidently ran over a bunny and cried for hours! I will check into WIC now that I know more about it. I've tried to eat dark meat chicken, but it literally makes me gag, and I'm allergic to seafood, so not sure how I'm supposed to get around those facts.

I'm taking a lot of the tips and we'll be using them. I can't compromise on my health though. I'm sorry if that's hard to understand. Before posting here my DH and I had gone over everything thing we could think of... I'm still getting some good info though.
post #43 of 105
You should just garden in your yard. Even a yard with terrible soil will yield produce. Heck, till in some llama manure (doesn't have to compost first, pellet manure won't burn the garden). I KNOW you have free llama manure in Pueblo!!
post #44 of 105
Thread Starter 
I'll check with our landlord and see if we can build a garden... we don't have a normal yard, instead we have a horse arena for a backyard. There are several llama farms near us, so I probably could get manure.

We'd thought about getting a couple chickens for eggs, but would it save us money or are they expensive to keep?
post #45 of 105
I certainly wouldn't expect you to compromise on your health, and I hope I didn't come across as suggesting that.

I've been thinking some more on this, and about how we've worked our grocery budget to save money without sacrificing health. Maybe you're doing this already, but I've read about and tried a lot of great suggestions (many from this forum) for cutting non-food items in our grocery budget to free up more money for food. Toilet paper, menstrual pads, paper towels, napkins, and diaper wipes can all be replaced with reuseable cloth -- old cotton T-shirts, boxers, towels, and underwear have worked great for us. White vinegar, boiling water, and baking soda in various combinations will clean just about anything and are super cheap. I've used them to clean the floor, windows, tub, toilet, laundry, shower curtain, carpet, instead of toothpaste, etc. Cider vinegar, baking soda, and warm water can be used instead of shampoo and conditioner for your hair. Hrm . . . what else? Growing herbs is another container garden money-saver -- herbs and spices can be very expensive, and they're sooooo cheap and easy to grow at home. Plus, that really gives you the feeling of having high quality ingredients and flavors to work with, which is a BIG mood booster when you're feeling broke.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful!
post #46 of 105
Thread Starter 
Does using reusable cloth instead of toilet paper and stuff really save money? We don't have a washer/dryer so we have to go to the laundromat. It currently costs us about $25 per week to do our laundry (main cost being the drying... their dryers SUCK!), not counting the cost of the soap. So wouldn't adding in more to wash just increase the costs there? We already buy the cheapest TP, so we're spending only about $5 per month on TP. I'm not the best at figuring out how much it costs to use/wash vs other options, so I really don't know. We have a cistern so we have to buy our water and have it delivered ($24 per 1000 gallons) and hand washing stuff really uses it up a LOT, so washing at home isn't cost effective... we tried making a clothes line but it took our clothes literally 2 days to dry, in the meantime we all wore, and rewore, one outfit since we didn't have anything dry. I'm thinking line drying will work in the summer when it's warmer, but right now it doesn't seem to work for us.

Anyway, I'm willing to switch to using cloth stuff if it works out to be cheaper.
post #47 of 105
I guess it depends on how much TP you use.

That kind of thing doesn't add a lot of bulk to a load of laundry, so I've found it worth it. But if you're having to haul everything to a laundromat, they might have health concerns about washing family cloth there, so it might not be worth the hassle.

I'd definitely line dry during the summer; that money could then be transferred to your grocery budget. Freecycle might also offer the chance to find a couple inexpensive clothes racks to dry at least some of your clothes inside in the winter; I did that for the first time this winter when we found a couple racks marked "free" on the side of the road, and with the heat being on at least part of the time and with me flipping the clothes over a couple/few times for even drying, they dried within a day if not less.
post #48 of 105
If you're in a semi-rural area with lots of farms, I wonder if you can develop a relationship with any of them, barter for things you need, etc?

What about vehicle expenses - anything you could trim there?
post #49 of 105
I've seen washers and dryers offered on our Freecycle and our area is way less populated than Pueblo. If you have a big enough car or could rent/borrow one to drive to outlying areas, you could even join other Freecycles (Colorado Springs?) and get a washing machine/dryer off one of those. $25/week just to do laundry is really ridiculous. Heck, if you skipped doing laundry for a few weeks you could probably use the saved money to buy a used washer or dryer. Check Craigslist as well.
post #50 of 105
I'd like to second the drying rack. I got mine for $10 about 5 years ago and it's still going strong. I use our building laundry room and the dryers are terrible for heavy items. I dry about 1/2 of my clothes on a rack to save money and it rarely takes less than a day to dry. Heck, when I do laundry there are towels hanging off every chair in the kitchen and my elliptical too. You do have to flip things over. I'll put things out in the am and flip them over before bed. I hang things that seem to take forever to dry in the dryer. Socks, tshirts, towels and jeans are my main hangers. They do feel a little stiffer but with a good shake and possibly an ironing you can't tell the difference. I save about $10-15 a week by hanging. I almost forgot sometimes I even hang wet clothes right on the hangers and hang them (NOT TOUCHING EACH OTHER ) in a closet. Works like a charm!

Can you turn your heat down a little. I know you have a small baby but even a fex degrees can make a difference on the bills. Does your house keep it's heat? If it doesn't you can get the plasits chrink wrap the covers the windows in the winter to form a seal. I have a friend that did this and her bill dropped by 25%! It's available pretty much anywhere now.

Good luck!
post #51 of 105
Thread Starter 
I keep checking Freecycle and so far there have been no washers or dryer offered... everything asks for them, but no one is giving. I've joined the C.S. freecycle as well, but I don't have a way to bring back anything big like that. Believe me, I've mentioned to DH that if we could skip laundry for a few weeks we could afford a used dryer at least... unfortunately we don't have enough clothes to make it through a full week, much less two. My DH has LITERALLY 2 pairs of work pants and 4 work shirts. No way to make that stretch for several weeks. ~sighs~ We do use my MIL's washer and dryer when we can, but it's not enough.

We already keep our house between 58-60 degrees, I don't think I dare turn it lower. It's already SO cold here. We don't have much for heavy winter clothes since we just moved here in September from AZ. The house doesn't hold heat well though, so I KNOW that's contributing to the high gas bills. I finally had enough money today to get the plastic wrap to do 3 windows... it's a start... now I have to borrow a hair dryer and we'll get those windows sealed.

As for car expenses... I really don't see how we can lower those. We are borrowing my MIL's car so we don't have a car or insurance payment. Only gas. I have to drive DH to work and back every day since he doesn't drive, and other than that we rarely use it. I do the occassional trip to the library for DD, art classes for school (we've started HSing), and grocery shopping (which I try to do when Ii'm picking up DH so to combine the trips)... that's about it. We don't live on a bus route, and DH's work isn't on a bus route either.

We do have cable, but we're getting a deal right now which basically means it equals paying for cable and getting internet for free. Since we use Vonage we need the high speed. Plus with long distance costs we're paying less now for cable, internet, and phone than we were when we had no cable, dial-up, and long distance bills.

We've been trying to do everything we could these last few months since moving to cut costs that now we're at a wall... what else can we do that we haven't already done?
post #52 of 105
RE: low cost meat.

We are vegetarians, and non-hunters. But if anyone WANTED rabbit for the stew pot, we would be very happy to provide. We have a significant number of extra rabbits in the back yard. We also have very good back yard fishing, that we do not use at all due to being vegetarian. If anyone is near York PA and hungry, PM me.

I would like to suggest CraigsList.org. Put together a list of what you want (venison, a cook pot, size xxxx jeans, work boots, working washing machine, etc and post there) Lots of people have extra stuff and will be happy to help. There are also jobs posted there.

Very best regards, sleeplessmommy
post #53 of 105
Thread Starter 
I just checked craigslist but it looks like the closest is Denver which is a couple hours away. Shucks! I keep hearing such good things about it!
post #54 of 105
With a budget as tight as yours something's got to give (I'm sure you know that). I think you are going to need to find a place to compromise, I know it's hard but you are talking about feeding your family.

Figure out a way to eat parts of the chicken you don't like, stew maybe?

Ask your doctor about modifiying the diet a bit, you said your husband is also on it, does he need to be? Could he cut back a bit?

Even every other dinner being a "beans and rice" varation would help quite a bit, if he can do that.

Getting WIC is good start, but it isn't going to cover that much meat.

When we lived in an apartment we got a small "apartment style" washing machine that you attached right onto the sink, it washed about a days' worth of clothes then hang them on the drying rack, it was about 100 bucks, which I know is a fortune when you don't have it, but maybe you could borrow that money and you'd have it paid off in a month. Then that would free up more time and money

You said you can't work right now for legal reasons, is it really worth it? I'm asking honestly. When it comes to eatting in a way that you need to, maybe it's something to look into.

Why were your benefits cut so dramatically? Could you somehow appeal this?

If it comes down to it can you do with cable and the long distance I know you have a deal but again, a diet for your health or long distance.
post #55 of 105
Thread Starter 
Dh has agreed to cut back a little on the diet, but it's really helping his health, so he can't give it up completely.

We don't have anyone we can borrow more money from actually. DH's family is as broke as we are, and my mom has "cut me off" because I gave her a hard time about giving my DD a cell phone. The rest of my family has disowned me.

I've tried hanging clothes around the house to dry, but we run out of space ~laughs~ It's pretty small here. I hung things all over the bathroom, on the computer chair, back of the couch, hanging from doorknobs, etc... it was pretty funny. Things STILL didn't dry. The actual WASHING at the laundromat only costs about $6-7.50, depending on if I have to wash blankets too (DD still wets the bed sometimes).

Our benefits were cut because DH got a job. Problem is, it only pays $10hr. From what I understand, that's pretty good for Pueblo... before that job came along everything else was starting around $7! But $10hr for a family of 4 is pretty tough. Especially since we're still paying off our deposit for the house. Only 3 more months and the deposit will be paid which gives us an extra $100 a month. That'll be nice.

We can't get a landline phone anyway though... the phone company here both DH and I owe money too from back in AZ. So this is the only way we can have a phone.

ETA: I posted on Freecycle earlier today about produce and someone just offered me some squash. Cool! DD#2's favorite is mashed squash!
post #56 of 105
Last weekend my husband and I randomly stopped at
a meat plant w/direct sales.
If you needed cheap protien, it was the way to go.
They had meat for a little as 40 cents a pound.
Now I already checked and peblo isn't close to this plant.
But if you do your research you may be
able to find a meat plant with direct sales near you.
post #57 of 105
Thread Starter 
I never knew any meat plants did that. I'll definately check into it! May I ask how you found out about it?
post #58 of 105
Thread Starter 
Making a chicken soup right now from the leftovers from dinner. Wish me luck!
post #59 of 105
Have you ever considered slashing the nonfood portion of your grocery bill with coupons? If you cut that down to the bare bones you will have more money for real food.Also, there are occasionally coupons for real meat in the paper.
post #60 of 105
Thread Starter 
To be honest, I hadn't though of doing that in a while. I got so frustrated with all the JUNK that the coupons were for that I gave up. You're right though, could be worth checking again!
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