How Others are Eating Well and Spending Less (Frugal Friday)

Over the last years our eating — and shopping — habits have evolved. Despite an economic downturn and a desire to source better foods, we’re still eating well and spending less.

As you may know, I am a total grocery geek. I love to shop for food — and cook and eat. And I love to do it all the while staying in the black.

Many years ago, when our budget really couldn’t stomach it, I tried to “go all healthy,” purchasing only organic products without any real knowledge — or financial backing — to guide my purchases. Not only did that end in miserable failure, but I also added to our family’s debt by spending money we didn’t have.

That was 2007. Later that same year, we realized just how much debt we were in (16K, to be exact) and made some drastic shifts in our spending. Yeah, eating organic foods was the least of my worries. Having food was priority #1.

In that journey toward paying down our debt, establishing an emergency fund, and learning to live without credit cards and consumer debt, I also trimmed our grocery budget to an all-time low: $400/month to feed 7 of us. Couponing and learning to build a stockpile played a huge part in that. We ate well; the bills got paid; and we even saved some money.

It’s hard to prepare for tough economic times, but so worth it.

My children ate more boxed cereal in that 18 months than they ever did in their lives. This was in the “couponing heyday” of 2008 and 2009 when I could pick up 30 boxes a week for less than fifty cents each!

While we ate more processed foods than I ever dreamed possible, I was hoping that it would be a means to an end. Perhaps someday, Lord willing, we’d be able to afford more of those healthier foods that I wanted to serve my kids.

Today our debts our gone, our emergency fund is fully funded, and we no longer spend money we don’t have. Praise God! Our family has grown in number and in size. We have since moved back to our home state of California.

While my grocery budget is higher than $400/month and couponing has taken a back seat in how I shop, we’re dedicated more than ever to eating well and spending less.

Earlier this week, I shared my journey over the last year and how the Eat Well Spend Less series got its beginning. Here’s a round-up of how other families’ shopping and eating habits have changed over the last 12 months:

Hop around and check out these ladies’ wise tips for eating well and spending less. They are each making it work where they live with the budgets they have. You will, no doubt, be inspired.

Today’s Frugal Friday! Time to swap ideas and inspiration for saving money.

How do YOU save money?

Please remember to follow the Frugal Friday Guidelines or be deleted.

  1. Post a money saving idea and explain how it is helpful in your post.
  2. No giveaways or deals posts.
  3. Recipes are allowed, but you must explain how it saves people money.
  4. Please include a link back to Life as MOM.



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Comments

  1. I’ve heard groceries are EXPENSIVE in California…along with everything else. I always feel lucky when I find those coupons for non-processed items like meat. I think it was a twist of fate…my frugal entry is about cooking economically. :)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      The expensive part rears its head for gas ($4.19 was a steal yesterday) and real estate. Our rent is $2250 for a 5bed, 4 bath, but it’s cheap compared to smaller homes that cost the same or more.

  2. Hello there! I am new to your blog and loving all of these great Frugal Fridays posts.. Im learning a lot and I look forward to working back through your series (and that of the other bloggers as time allows) about learning to eat well on less. We try to do this ourselves, but it seems like those dollars only strecth so far, eh? :)

    I have just made my first entry for Frugal Fridays, the one about Inexpensive Toddler Fun, and I hope it qualifies for the carnival. If it doesnt, I understand if you need to delete it (its more of a specific money saving idea as opposed to a system for saving money) and Ill try again next week. :) Thanks for hosting this and God Bless!

  3. We save a lot of money ever since we stopped buying processed food and make everything from scratch. We buy flour and rice in bulk, other than that I do most shopping at Trader Joe’s and we only spend about $200 – $250 a month on our family of four (two littles). The money is mostly spent on meat, dairy, and produce, as well as some nut/dry fruit snacks, rarely if anything in boxes :) I used to spend a lot more 5 years ago when we bought processed food!

  4. Thanks so much for hosting! I’ve really enjoyed the Eat Well Spend Less series. :-)

    I’ve linked up a post from my site about Life Insurance for SAHMs. It’s not really about saving money…because you pay for the insurance. But, it IS about saving money for later if something should happen to you and you need to take care of your children….most moms don’t even begin to think of their value.

    If you feel this doesn’t fit the theme, please delete my link. :-) Thank you!!

  5. Great post – it is important to eat well, but you CAN do it for less – especially if you just don’t buy the expensive processed food. This week I’ve shared how I store my greens to keep them fresh (and ready to eat) longer. Good way to use up what you buy and not waste money by throwing rotten food away!

  6. Thank you for continuing to share your journey! I keep being inspired to do better with my grocery spending. Right now, I’ve gotten a routine going for raw milk, local eggs, and local cheese. However, I still haven’t ironed out the meat purchases. That’s my goal for May.

  7. I harvested free spinach from a local garden, about three bags, woot and served 25 plus froze enough for many meals later; now that’s frugal!

  8. Hey, I tried to link my post (20 Tips on Saving Money in the Grocery Store) back to this page, but blogger wouldn’t let me. It kept giving me some error. Sorry….

  9. Kay Gellerstedt says:

    My twin daughters have developed diabetes at a VERY young age. As a result, I had to make some drastic changes to the way we eat. For instance, NO over-processed foods, more dried beans I cook myself, homemade breads, LOTS of fresh fruits and vegetables, less red meat, and so on. Since the twins and I live on a very limited budget, your frugal Fridays articles help … a LOT! Thanks so much!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you guys are facing, but so glad to know that we can help you from long distance. :)

  10. hey, Jessica, the Kitchen Stewardship link is coming up as suspect by both McAfee and google. Could you let the blog owner know that there is malware on her blog and server?

  11. molly mcmillan says:

    Thanks for sharing ladies!! One way I spend less and eat better is shopping at fresh and easy. If you have a friends card, they email you coupons for $ off your total purchase. Love that I don’t need to clip many coupons and remember which ones I have.. I save 20% that way because I print multiples of the 10 off 50 to cover my whole purchase. They have gotten wise to me and send me the $18 off $90 and still I use 2 or 3 of those. To use multiples, you do not need to do seperate purchases, just ring up everything together and then use as many coupons as you have. You will need an overuse on each coupon after 2, but the employees are kind about it. I guess the CEO of F+E said if we’re spending the money, then why not? I used to shop at Vons or Staters, but now mostly F+E and Costco.

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