Saving Money and Cutting Back

Updated on August 18, 2008
M.M. asks from Salt Lake City, UT
13 answers

Hi everyone,

Here are my questions. 1)What do i feed my family of 5 on $35.00 per week for breakfast, lunch and dinner? We have to include milk and beef and chicken. We had to really tighten our purse as our income has been reduced. 2)Do any of you use Winder farms for milk delivery? How about the grocery delivery from Albertson or Smith's? (I am thinking of using these to save on gas in my car.) 3)How do you all save money on other bills-natural gas, electrical,other bills? Thank you for your responses and have a wonderul day.

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So What Happened?

WOW!! You all rock!Thank you all for your responses. We are trying all of the tips included and will be rethinking our grocery buying and meals. I have started planning a week in advance and have been trying to use what I have on hand. And I am including 2-3 meat free meals a week. It is good to know that others are having to tighten purse strings too. We decided not to use the delivery for now and have been walking to the store-great gas saver and wonderful exercise.
As far as saving money on the electric and natural gas bills we have found things to make our home a little less drafty(I made some window covers from some fabric I had here) this winter and have invested in some warm throw blankets and several sweatshirts and warm pj's. I am also looking into having the electric company and gas company come do a home inspection to see what else I can do to help our bills. Thank you, Thank you!! I apperciate all your responses.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Contrary to what others have said...I save money when I use Albertson's Delivery. Online, I can see the total amount I'm spending instantly. Then I put stuff back if I'm over budget. It's great. I also am not tempted by in store deals. Paying the $10 delivery fee is worth the money I save by not buying as much. Not to mention gas! Also, Albertsons sends me coupons that usually offset the delivery fee.

I also keep my staple foods on a saved list so I can buy them every time - saving me time.

I've heart that Winder farms is very expensive - but haven't had personal experience with it.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

My brother's family used to get Winder Dairy (milk, bread, eggs and OJ), but they increased prices not too long ago and just found it wasn't worth the money, but the loved the OJ.

We save on bills by keeping the thermostat set a little higher than most in the summer and don't use the A/C at nights and open windows instead. And in the winter, we keep the thermostat set low and just wear warmer clothes and use blankets when watching TV or on the computer. Keep your window coverings closed when the sun is coming in during the summer (at least until it's not directly shining in the windows) and open them in the winter to let the sun shine in and warm the house.



answers from Provo on

How old are your kids? If they are 5 and younger you may qualify for WIC. And if you do, you can get milk, cereal, eggs, cheese, beans & peanut butter for free. And if you happen to be nursing exclusively you can also get tuna and carrots.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I use Winder and have for 18 years. The products are great - you will never find fresher milk! However, depending on how much gas you use going to the store, you may not find any savings. The prices for home delivery are higher per gallon and there is now a delivery fee. For convenience and quality they cannot be beat because they have produce, ALL kinds of dairy products, meat, condiments, etc. It will just take some comparison to see if they are cost effective. They have a great website and you can see what they offer. They will also come out and bring you a huge list of what you can order. They also may offer you discounts or samples if you are a potential customer. I still have them deliver even after my "kids" have kids of their own because the quality and freshness are exceptional. And you never know in the store how long they may have left the containers of milk bottles sitting out, or they may have returned from the checkstand. With home delivery it goes from cow to processing to your home in less than 24 hours (I think) and is quality controlled the whole way (I know for a fact). One big bonus is that their cows take NO hormones. Hope this helps!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Wow, I know exactly where you are coming from. We too just had a deduction of $700/month in income, while all our expenses continue to rise. I can only offer a few suggestions.

DO NOT use delivery companies to deliver your groceries or dairy. You will NOT be saving money. They are expensive to begin with and now that gas prices have gone up they have been affected to and if their prices have not already increased--
they will! The best advice on saving on utilities bills is to learn some key things.

Water: Turn off water while washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.. Shorten your showers. Only water your lawn at appropriate times of the day and only as much as is necessary.

Power: Wait to turn on your swamp cooler/air conditioner until you really can't stand the heat anymore. Learn to open and shut the house on the sides as the sun and shade move around. It's amazing how cool your house will stay if you shut the windows and blinds on the sunny side of the house during the heat of the day and open up the windows and shades on the cool side and vice/versa. Change all your light bulbs to compact fluorescent (soon you will have no option anyway as all bulbs manufactured will be these - standard bulbs cease to exist within the next couple of years, but I can't remember by what date.) It is expensive at first, but fluorescents last much longer and save tons on your bills.

Gas: Turn down your water heater. In the winter be sure to have well insulated doors and windows, use draft dodgers at the bottoms of doors, and turn your heat down while people are sleeping. Shut vents and doors to areas of the house that are not being used such as guest bedrooms, storage areas etc...

I hope this helps you some.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I could not agree with Erin W. more.

You say you have to include meat, but what if you had just one or two vegetarian days a week? My husband thinks he needs to have meat at every meal, but when I cook vegetarian (as long is there is plenty and he can get FULL) he never even notices or cares that I didn't serve meat. Beans and rice (my favorite are black beans and brown rice) are cheap and yummy and nutritious. Dried beans especially are cheap and can be made in so many tasty ways. People think they are a pain to cook, but a little planning in advance or the use of a pressure cooker, and it's no big deal.

Buy steel cut oats and have them for breakfast. Cold boxed cereal is an absolute rip-off, has very little nutritional value, and you have to use more milk (which is getting more expensive all the time.) Steel cut oats take about 30 minutes to cook so you have to plan a little in advance, but they taste so good! My family hates regular rolled oats, but will eat steel cut, which is good because it's more nutritious anyway. I buy it in the bulk section at Whole Foods.

Make your own yogurt. It's way cheaper! It takes getting used to if you've been eating commercially produced and flavored/sweetened yogurt. You can google how to do it and buy a starter culture from Kitchen Kneads or a health food store. If you don't like the taste of it, sweeten it with Stevia extract (an herb found at healthfood stores) or put it in a smoothie.

Try breakfast for dinner one night a week. Make it a tradition! You can buy bags of wheat and grind your own flour with a quick electric mill. Use that to make a quick and easy waffle or pancake, and you've got a quick dinner with some nutrition. It's a fun sort of novelty for the kids to have breakfast for dinner, and it's super cheap.

If you do buy bags of wheat another great way to use it is to make wheat berry salad. You soak the wheat and boil it for a few minutes and they make a nice chewy base for a salad. You can google instructions and recipes. I make wheat berry salads for pot lucks all the time, and people love it!

I save on utilities by turning off my water when I'm brushing my teeth, washing dishes, etc. Use the minimal amount. Also remember to turn off lights in rooms you're not in, or don't even use the extra light if you have a lot of natural light in a room. Set your thermostat just two degrees warmer in the summer or cooler in the winter (this makes a HUGE difference in your energy bill). Unplug things that aren't in use (if the plug is easily accessible). Just turning things off doesn't save as much energy as unplugging it. Turn off the TV. Keep your freezer and fridge well stocked so you're not wasting energy on empty space. Only run your washing machine or dishwasher if you have a full load. Make sure your attic has insulation (UT gives you a tax deduction for the price of the insulation if you need to put some in) Fix the weather stripping around your windows and doors.

As far as your gas bill goes, planning your menus and grocery lists in advance so you only need to shop once a week is key! If you live close to your store and just need a couple of things, walk! I frequently put my daughter in her stroller and walk to the grocery store. I get exercise, I save gas, my daughter have a fun stroller ride; it's a win win win situation.

In fact, walk everywhere you can. If you're visiting a friend just a few blocks away, going to the park, going to the library, etc. Anything that is within walking distance, make it a habit of walking. You will get fit, lose weight, have more energy, save money, and have fun. I know it's hard with three children, but if you get a wagon or a good stroller, that's just more "resistance training" for you.

I just rattled off what came to mind, hopefully you find some of it useful.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Why do you need to include chicken and beef? There are a lot of advantages with vegetarian receipies and you can save your cash and still feed your children hightly nutritional meals.

You can look online for some great recipes. Dried beans are super inexpensive and there are lots of way to prepare them that are healthy and cheap!

Freeze dried textured vegetable protien is also a good meat repleacement and Morning Moos in Salt Lake has great deals.

Sprouting is super cost effective and packs huge benefits for the whole family.

I have used the Winder Dairy home delivery and it was outrageously expensive compared to going to the grocery store. You can save on gas by making one trip a week instead of a lot of little trips through out the week.

Planning is the key to saving money on groceries and there are coupons galore available online.

Also there is the local extension agency that can help you with meal planning based on seasonally available foods. You can also apply for food assistance through the Department of Workforce Services - food stamps.

I hope this helps ;-) !

Good luck with everything!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Have you looked into WIC it is a state program that will help you with your groceries. Especially with a big family I am sure you will qualify. I think you find it through the state website.



answers from Salt Lake City on

You might look into joining the Utah Food Coop ( You can get a lot of good food for very inexpensive. Look them up.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I use Schwan's and love it, the food is great. It does seem kind of expensive but when you figure out portion sizes it really isn't bad.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi Melissa,

I do use a dairy service and the milk is great. However, it isn't cheap and if you are on a budget, I would probably say no. There is a delivery fee each week. You can get a good deal on milk and bulk type things at Costco or Sam's Club, and that could help your overall grocery bill.

The obvious suggestions would be shop sales, buy in large amounts of those items on sale, avoid pre packaged food, make sure nothing goes to waste (save for left overs), avoid pricey cereals-use coupons. and buy local produce and buy it in season. And eat at home-restaurants are expensive.

Good luck; hope my few suggestions help.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Don't do delivery! Go to the store as few times as possible! Try every two weeks - plan menus ahead, buy only what you need for those meals. Use coupons, watch for sales. Meatless really is cheaper, but if you can't do that, try meat only once a day. I find cooking from scratch save a ton of money! Also, try places like NPS/Market Square (1650ish S. 1900ish W. in SL) they have dents and odd lots. Some of their prices are excellent!
Good luck!



answers from Salt Lake City on

bean and rice, rice and beans...the least expensive foods you will find. My husband and I recently began our Total Money Makeover and have decided to cut down on our grocery budgets by preparing mostly beans and rice. Beef, we have found, is too expensive, though we do still use chicken and ground turkey meat. The great thing about these recipes, we still spend only $25 a week and it makes a TON of food, so we freeze leftovers. For breakfast, utilize the age old method of oatmeal. If you'd like for it to be more nutritious, use steel cut oats/Scottish/Irish oats. But oats should be inexpensive enough to feed your family. you can mix it up and do oats one day, and cream of wheat the next, and then cold cereal on another day. Growing up, my mother had seven children when Dad was laid off, this was how we did it. We also used powdered milk mixed with real milk.

As for saving gas on groceries, I don't think the delivery is very good. I prefer to choose my own produce rather than leave it to someone else. Also, if it's expensive for you to drive, then it costs the store money to drive too, and you can bet they'll be passing that cost on to you, the consumer. Depending on how far away you live from the grocery store, ride your bike or walk, a little exercise never hurt anyone. Or find a friend and go shopping together, carpool. Also, learn to become a coupon queen and it could save you tons at the checkout line.

Let me know if you need any recipes, we've been collecting and trying to see which ones cost us the least. Good Luck, and remember your priorities.

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