After the holidays, many of us have a larger waistline and a higher credit card balance. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow tackle these challenges? Eating homemade meals is healthier than going out to eat and is less expensive. It takes a little planning but is so easy! Below are 4 tips to help get you started!
Shop at the commissary and buy local – The commissary is a great place to shop for groceries and household items and to save some money! You can save a nice percentage on most items which really adds up at the end of a grocery trip. Total this up over a year and you have saved a nice amount of cash. Many commissaries even have a wide selection of organic foods and special dietary foods which is wonderful. If you live off post and the commissary is too far of a drive or if you can’t find specific items, buy from your local farmer’s market. The food is fresh, you are putting money back into the local economy, and the prices are reasonable. The farmer’s market I shop at offers a military discount, so chances are you might have a farmer’s market that will offer a military discount as well.
Supper Clubs and Meal Exchanges – Supper clubs are a great way to gather and socialize with your friends and neighbors while keeping food costs to a minimum, not to mention you get a lot of food! Supper clubs typically have a set number of participants, maybe 8 – 10 and each person (or couple) takes turns hosting in their home. When you host, you prepare the main course and have others bring sides dishes, appetizers, and desserts. You and the members of your club determine how often you would like to meet for supper. If you aren’t in the social scene, a meal exchange is a great option. A meal exchange is where everyone in the exchange club briefly meets and brings frozen meals that they have prepared. You will bring enough for each family in the club, along with needed instructions. The members of the club will exchange the meals so that everyone takes home one of each meal that they did not prepare. Many posts already have these types of clubs and exchanges in place, but if can’t find one, start your own! Ask your neighbors and friends if they might be interested. If you participate in a FRG, this would be a great place to get your club or exchange started.
Sales and coupons – Always check to see what is on sale and use these sales to help plan your weekly menu and don’t forget to use coupons. If you find a sale on an item you use regularly, like chicken, buy in bulk and freeze it (or use those items for your next supper club or meal exchange). If you shop at the commissary, you can sign up for coupons at http://www.commissaryshopper.com.A great resource to learn couponing techniques is from the Couponing Mama Ft. Bragg. The lady that runs this site is a military spouse and I attended a class she held at Ft. Bragg and learned a ton of information. She shares a lot of her tips on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/couponingmamaftbragg. Couponing is very popular these days, and many places have coupon meet ups where couponers get together and exchange coupons. Another person may have several coupons for items that they do not use and would be more than happy to give to you. In return, if you have anything that is not of use to you, but might be to them, you swap.
Make ahead and freeze – If you aren’t into couponing, meal exchanges, or if you just don’t time to cook all that often, plan and make your meals ahead of time. Planning out your meals helps to save money because you buy only what you need, rather than buying things without a plan in place and wasting those items. Plan out the meals you would like to have for the week (make sure it is something you can make and freeze), go shopping, prepare the meals in one day and freeze them. Each night you will have a different and planned meal. I do this with lasagna, casserole dishes, and crockpot style dishes. It takes away the question of “what’s for dinner” and there is no mess to clean up later!
Angelique is a proud Army wife and happily married to her husband, Ray. After being PCS’ed from one side of the country to the other, Ft. Bragg, NC, is currently home. She has a degree in Counseling and a career background in Corporate Human Resources. She is an advocate for animal rights and enjoys supporting military and environmental causes. She is an accomplished flute player of 23 years and in her spare time she enjoys crafting, decorating, genealogy, travelling, watching horrible B rated movies, and is obsessed with anything pertaining to Disney. She and Ray are the proud pet parents of two dogs, Maddie and Ringo.
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