What is ahead for us in the 2012 forecast?
It has been a tough few years for the economy. It is difficult to know what is next. Some people say the recovery is here. Others say that we still have not hit rock bottom, which will have to happen, before a real recovery begins. What we do know is there are many unstable factors in the world today. One of them is the cost of fuel. Gas is getting really expensive and there is talk of it reaching $5.00 a gallon by summer.
This could make a lot of other things (FOOD) more expensive. It seems that being frugal is becoming a lot more attractive to the average person. I have friends that are making their own laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and soap. I have been exploring these recipes to see if it would save me money. My strategy so far is cooking from scratch as much as possible.
Our food budget is a huge part of our expenses. When feeding a family of five, keeping everyone feed is a full time job. The USDA provides charts to help you estimate how much your family should be spending on food each week. Click on the U.S.D.A Low-Cost Food Plan to see how your budget for food measures up.
It will ask how many meals your family eats away from home. This can quickly drain a budget. Even premade foods at the store can drain your budget. They may save time, but not money. Buying things premade can become a crutch, and an expensive one.
The good news is there are other ways to enjoy convience without the premade foods. Recently my focus has been making my own "premade foods." Which really means, if I am cooking a meal, I double or triple the recipe. It takes the same amount of time and effort, but I can freeze two portions of what I cooked for meals for another day. Do this a few times and it starts to add up!
I also find this helps with when I am sick. I am not tempted to buy food out. I know there are people out there that love to get together and make freezer meals with friends. Maybe I should be more adventurous and try this too.
In December, I spent a week cooking triple meals and feezing the extra portions. My meals have lasted for two and a half months. If I would have kept it up, I would have more meals ready, but it was such a great break from daily meal cooking, I spent my time organizing my life instead. Now it is back to the kitchen, cooking, freezing, and saving.