So, Austine has been out of a job for such a long time now. He graduated from college 2 years ago with his B.A. (which has done nothing for us) in Graphic Design. He's been working with his dad since he was 16, so he's pretty handy with a hammer and some nails, and that's what gets us through our various expenses. Unfortunately, that kind of work can be really unpredictable. One month you will make buttloads, and the next month you'll have nothing. Right now we are in a nothing month so I am in super saver mode, especially when it comes to groceries.
Tip #1: Whole Chicken
Yup, that's right. The whole bird. There is so many things you can do with this (that is super super easy), and it's so cheap. A largeish chicken will cost 5-6 dollars, which is as much as a pound and a half of chicken breasts. The good thing about a whole chicken is that it's really useful for up to three meals. That's a lot when you're dirt poor. Normally, I will roast it up, eat one side as a meal, then use the other side shredded in tacos, pot pie, or something else. Then I will save the bones and leftover meat and make chicken and dumpling soup. All in all I think each meal costs about 2-3 dollars each this way.
Tip#2: Wholesale Stores
Ok, so this may not be the most unique and secret technique to save money, but it works. The key at stores like Costco and Sams Club is to buy shelf stable items, toiletries, and other things you tend to use on a daily basis. If you buy veggies, meat, or other unstable food items you're going to end up wasting money. I don't know anyone who can eat 10 lbs of grapes in a week. We typically buy toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, condiments, canned, and freezer items there. Our toilet paper managed to last us a whole year (I know, how did that happen with Austine's butt? Only God knows).
Tip#3: Make everything from scratch
Yeah, it's a pain in the butt. But in the long run it saves you money and tastes better. I know our grocery bill always ends up higher when we buy a lot of stuff from the freezer aisle (our own laziness). I can always whip something up from a bit of flour and butter, and it's definitely gotten us out of a few messes (also known as, we have no food, what are we eating?).
Tip#4: Treasure Box
My mom clued me in on this community site that serves California and Arizona. Treasure Box is a website that has a monthly menu that you buy from; you buy a whole box at a time. In this box is a weeks worth of food: for 30-35 dollars. It's a huge savings and makes a big difference on our grocery bill. Obviously we are needy enough to get this, but if we were making more money I don't think I'd feel comfortable using it anymore, there are enough people who really need them.