Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to eat like you're poor, even if you're not!

I want to start by saying that I've noticed people REALLY don't like it when they feel you are telling them what/how to eat. In this blog, I am only telling you how the Bushmans eat and the changes we have made that saved us big money. Take the advice that you think you can use and leave what you can't and please don't be offended.

Bushman shopping rules that save us money:

  • Don't shop at Wal-mart. I have found that when I go to Wal-mart to get groceries, I end up getting a bunch of other stuff I don't really need. Therefore, I stay away even though I know that sometimes they really do sell an item for the lowest price.
Savings: This saved me about $40/week.

  • Shop where you can buy bulk foods. And I don't mean wholesale clubs. At healthfood stores, Mennonite stores or Amish stores you can get great deals on bulk flour, rice and beans. If you don't live close to these things, try: or
Savings: There are weeks that my grocery bill is only $35-$40 because I already have all I need in bulk supplies.

  • Lower your meat consumption. We Bushmans largely don't eat meat at home. We haven't always been this way, though. We started cutting back about six years ago and I noticed BIG savings.
Savings: When I first stopped buying meat, it cut our grocery bill in half!

  • Make your own bread. This is something I just started doing about a year ago. At first it seemed overwhelming, but once I got in the habit I found that my family actually liked homemade bread better and I could make it super healthy. I cheat and use a stand-up mixer and before I saved for that I had an old bread machine from a thrift store.
Savings: Depending on how fancy the bread I bought, this saved $6-$15 a week!

  • Did you know food literally grows from trees? :) My husband loves apples. He eats one daily if we have them. So for his birthday I bought him two fruit trees. See? I'm cheap AND romantic! Seriously, growing my own fruits and veggies has saved me tons.
Savings: Due to my vegetable garden in summer months, I don't need to buy any vegetables at all saving me at least $5-$10 a week.

  • Don't buy what you can get for free. This is a general budgeting rule that applies especially to groceries. If you have an in-law who loves to give away deer meat and your family would normally buy meat, then take it! Keep trying recipes until you learn to cook it well. There are lots of opportunities out there for free food from someone else's abundance, you just have to let people know that you are receptive to freebies!

  • Learn to eat in season. Yes, I know you make you best guac in town, but if avocados are at their highest price point, then now is not the time to make it! Wait it out. Find something you love that is in season and thus, on sale (or free).

  • Shop only once a week, or less. The more you go to the store, the more you will spend. Set a day of the week (or month, if you are hardcore) as your shopping day and DON'T go to the store until it rolls around.
Savings: I've seen this save couples hundreds of dollars a month. If you go to the store every night or so, please take this advice!

  • Don't buy convenience foods. Buying prepackaged foods kills my grocery budget. To create my own convenience foods, I simply double or triple my recipe and freeze it.
Savings: This saved me about $30 a week but it could be more, depending on your reliance on these things.

  • Consider changing the person who grocery shops. Momma Bushman used to do the shopping, but we actually found that Daddy is the best shopper. This is because he only gets what is on the list. Mom tends to think about sales or the poor little child who loves gummy bears, but to Dad if you didn't write it down, then its not going in the cart.
Savings: $25 a week on average

  • Cook with powdered milk. I know most people don't like to drink powdered milk, but who can tell when its baked in? Also, having it on hand prevents me from running to the store before it is grocery day because I typically don't run out of milk.
Savings: Our family used to drink several gallons of milk a week so initially this saved us $8/week. However, now we don't drink as much milk since I encourage the drinking of good ol' free water!

  • The BIGGIE--Meal Planning! I fought meal planning for years. I don't like to be too pinned down, but I learned the hard way (through wasted dollars) that sitting down before you shop and writing down the meals for the week equals big savings. If you are new to meal planning and live with others, go around and ask each family member to name two of their favorite meals. Viola! Your meals are planned. (Adjust advice for family size.)

  • Change your tastes and those of your family. Your family is used to the foods you buy and if you change their diet to save money or for health reasons, you can expect some negative feedback. Hang in there. Examine your grocery receipts and find the items that are sucking you dry. Getting kids to eat oatmeal instead of sugary cereal can be hard, but they will come around.


  1. This is great! I'm pleased to see that we already follow a lot of your tips. I'm a vegetarian, but my husband is not. He's really coming around though and has greatly cut his meat consumption. That's a big savings at the grocery store. And we've been planting as much as we can... just last night we had garden broccoli. Those broccoli seeds have definitely paid for themselves by now!

  2. Awesome advice! I know that using dry milk in baking has saved us a lot of money too. I definitely hope to grow more in the future, it would definitely help us out. I'm also hoping to start making bread more often again. Thanks for the encouragement! Love that you've started a blog, by the way :)

  3. Does baking your own bread really save you $ when you consider the electricity/gas for the oven? Have you taken that into your figures? We are spending about $5/week on bread(2x$2ish + tax). It seems to me that it would cost about that much to bake a healthy wheat bread. thoughts? thanks!

  4. Good question! says an average joe can bake a loaf for somewhere around $1.58. After buying in bulk, I estimate that I can bake a loaf for under $1. My dollar loaf is organic with no preservatives and no high frutose corn syrup. When we tried to shop for comparable store bought bread, it was quite costly. As for electricity, I bake in an electric oven. I often bake several things at once. Our electricity bill for our whole house runs about $25 a month. I admit that I didn't factor in that cost in my bread. :)


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