Good Cheap Food1. Buy raw ingredients instead of prepackaged foods. If you don’t know how to cook, learn. You’ll save on food bills, and your body will thank you for it in the long run.
2. Buy in bulk from a local health food store, or place bulk orders directly with mail-order companies. If you can’t meet their minimum order size, go in on an order with another family, or organize a larger food buying club.
3. Avoid the middleman and buy directly from farmers. Look for farm stands, community supported agriculture programs and farmers markets.
4. Eat fruits and vegetables in season, when they are least expensive. (Once, we found organic watermelon for three cents a pound!) Stock up when they’re cheap and freeze or can any excess for later use.
5. Keep up with what’s in your refrigerator and make sure nothing spoils. Once a week, make soup or casseroles to use up vegetables and other leftovers.
6. Calculate the price of food per pound when you visit supermarkets. Doing the math will help you spot good deals.
Keep Home Upkeep costs Down7. Close off unused rooms to save on heat and air conditioning.
8. Be efficient with your appliances. Have a big baking night when you’re going to use the oven. Let your woodstove also be your dryer and water heater.
9. Take advantage of natural weather patterns to heat and cool your house. In the summer, open the windows at night and close them again by noon.
10. Place your refrigerator in the coldest part of the house so it requires less energy to keep the temperature low.
11. Wash your clothes in cold water. It’s the friction that does most of the cleaning, not the heat.
12. Switch off your water heater when you’re not going to use it for extended periods of time.
13. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs. The savings on your electric bills add up fast.
When You Can’t Avoid Shopping14. Don’t go into stores unless you need something. Always carry a shopping list. Remember, stores are designed to get you to buy things you didn’t know you needed.
15. Hit end-of-season sales for as many items as possible, from kayaks to gardening supplies.
16. Before you shop, try borrowing the items you need from family or friends. Check out local Freecycle groups to find out what people are giving away. Set up borrowing co-ops for tools.
17. Try to find it used before you buy new. You can find a wide variety of items online, in the classifieds or penny papers, and at garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores.
18. When buying new, choose high-quality, durable items. It’s often cheaper to spend more upfront if you won’t have to replace the item in the near future.
Get Some Clothes On!19. Buy clothing used whenever possible. You may have good luck finding clothes at garage sales, or find a wider selection at thrift stores, consignment shops and on eBay.
20. Have a clothing exchange party to trade unwanted clothing with friends.
21. Try sewing. Look for cheap material in thrift stores, or try reincarnating your outfits into something new.
22. Watch the clearance racks. It’s always amazing how much stores are willing to mark down unsold clothing.
Happy Families for Cheap23. Definitely choose used clothes for babies. They’re so cute, they don’t need to be stylish.
24. Trade babysitting time with other couples and have rotating playgroups with other families.
25. During the holidays, draw names for gift giving with groups of family or friends rather than buying a gift for everybody. A fun variation or addition to this is the white elephant holiday party, where everyone brings unwanted items and other joke gifts.
26. Invoke a gift giving spending cap.
27. Give homemade gift certificates for a home-cooked dinner, massage or babysitting time.
28. Donate to a good cause that a friend or family member supports instead of buying a gift they don’t need. Not only do you support a worthwhile organization, but you’ll save on sales tax and transportation costs.
29. Coupons, Use them and like it!
30. Start a Coupon club, get a group of friends and cut, save and trade coupons, it works great and you will save lots of money.