Okay, I posted a few things to get you going in the homemade cleaners department. I will follow up with more of those soon....
I wanted to move on briefly to help get you started on saving at the grocery store. Something that is VERY hard to do these days. I am not going to get into couponing right now, although I think it goes without saying if you see a coupon for a product you use by all means clip away, just remember to bring them to the store...my biggest downfall.
When I started out being budget conscious, I did a couple of things. I sat down and made a list of my families favorite entrees, side dishes, breakfasts, lunches and desserts. This may take some time, so I suggest getting a notebook and just start jotting things down as you remember. When doing this get an idea of how many meals you can get out of one purchase. (5 side dishes from one bag of russet potatoes, 3 meals from one whole chicken and so on) Stretching these types of purchases will really give you a bang for your buck. Once you have a solid idea of the types of foods you would be making on a regular basis. Start a list of staples. These are items that you will have on hand and stock up on when you have the extra cash, usually things that have a longer shelf life. For instance, I typically have on hand different cuts of pasta, grains, baking goods, cereals, etc.
The toughest part about saving at the grocery store, I think, is the fact that much of the inexpensive items are processed and loaded with things we can't pronounce. I try very hard to budget for a trip that allows me to make my family healthy, well balanced meals and I make as much as I can from scratch.
The best way to do this is work with a budget. You may have to fuss with this at first. But if you follow the basic idea then you can get it down over time. For instance, say you want to try and spend $80.00 for the week (my typical amount...some weeks I go WAY low and some weeks I have no choice but to spend a little more depending what we have going on) then you plan out a menu according to what's on sale and stick to your plan.
So, this week I found a pork roast & cod on sale. I have 4 nights covered with these purchases. I searched the produce section for sales on veggies and with the items I chose I will have spent approx. $6.50 a night to feed a family of three. I of course will use a couple of things from my stockpile. My total for this shopping trip was $60.16, with lunch items, snacks and milk. We buy as many local ingredients as we can afford, so this even includes Organic Maine Milk and cheese. Because my budget was $80.00, I will then save the overage and use it to stock up on items that are on my staples list, or run back and get the things that I maybe have forgotten about and still be within budget. (I am human after all, hehe!) I have enough on hand to make a couple of meals to supplement the rest of the week.
When you start a stockpile it allows you to purchase items at a lower price and combine them with sometimes unavoidably pricier ingredients and still save over all.
The one thing that will help is also knowing proper portion sizes. Before I started doing this it was common for my husband to over eat. Heck, myself too! What I like about knowing where these items are being used thru the week is that when it comes time to dividing up the goods, there is only so much allotted for each night. So we don't over eat AND we don't waste as much as we used to.
When you get into a routine it really is a breeze. It won't take much of your time to pull together a week's menu and you will get to the point where you know what you have on hand automatically.
A few ideas for S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G your foods....
Oven roasted or slow cooker pork roast with mashed potatoes, gravy and steamed veggies.
Pulled pork sandwiches, oven baked fries.
Baked Beans with Pork
Pork fried rice to accompany an asian entree
Baked chicken, with side dished of your choice
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Stir Fry
Chicken Noodle Soup
You get the idea....I come up with these types of menus and then when I see something on sale I can refer back and already have a game plan in place. And please follow the guidelines for all foods in regards to leftovers.
Again, this will get you started with a basic idea of how to collect more dimes at the grocery store! Enjoy!