Stretching your Food Budget….

ball_jar.jpgTimes are tough for a lot of us right now. Coupons and deals are drying up left and right. Here are some ways that you can stretch your grocery budget without wasting time or energy.

My Top Ten 99 Cents Only Buys

The eternal question at Costco: Is Bigger Better? Learn about Price Per Unit here. 

In addition to price per unit, you might consider starting a price book as well.

If you live in San Diego County, check out this list of Neighborhood Distributions all over the county. You can pick up 15-30 lbs of free produce each week. No proof of need is required. Just show up with your reusable grocery bags!

If you are low-income, have kids under 5, are a senior citizen, or a college student struggling with food insecurity, there are programs out there that can help you! Don’t be afraid or ashamed to admit that you need help!

There are also food share programs in almost every community in the US.  They provide low cost food boxes to families and individuals. A quick google search can help you find one near you!

In San Diego County, there are monthly distributions through the San Diego food bank at various locations. Colloquially called “commodities”, it’s officially called The Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP). Locations throughout the county distributes USDA food each month. If you live outside San Diego County, check with your local county or municipalities food bank network for more info on this service.

Don’t forget there are tons of money saving and rebate apps. My list is here.

Bartering: Most of us know someone with a backyard garden. Trade your skills (housecleaning, organizing, babysitting, car washing, you get the idea) for some home grown produce, or eggs (some of us live in areas where backyard livestock is ok).  This may not be available to everyone.

Menu Planning is another great way to cut down on food waste- It’s a lot easier than you think once you get started.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear your tips for stretching your grocery budget!

Clean Out Your Closets, it’s SWAP TIME!!

Ya’ll know I love me a good Clothing Swap. If you are a San Diego, CA area resident, there is a great swap coming up on the 29th of September.

Skyline Church in La Mesa is hosting it’s twice a year swap, and boy am I excited! I’ve been cleaning out our closets, dressers, and every space that we store stuff.

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I even cleaned out my trunk to make room for all of the new stuff we’re taking home!

In addition to clothing, they also accept housewares and all kinds of other stuff, so I’ve been going through the kids bookshelves to take along any books they may have outgrown or any duplicate books.

We’re dropping stuff off next Thursday afternoon. I’ve always got extra items, so if you’re a local and want to come but you don’t have anything to swap, let me know!

If you can’t make this swap, but want to learn more about future swaps all over San Diego County, Check Out Thread Bumpin’– It’s a Meetup.com group, especially for clothing swaps. It’s free to join. If you are new to clothing swaps, check out my post here all about them and why they are so cool!

Finally: If you are in need of clothing, but have nothing to swap, two good free clothing resources in San Diego are The Closet on 54th (Men, women, and children’s clothing) and Naomi’s Closet (only women’s clothing).

Talk Back: Have you ever been to a clothing swap? What is your favorite part?

How to Save Money with Bartering in 3 Easy Steps

savemoneybarterYou’ve probably heard or read about bartering to save money, but you aren’t sure where to start, or how it works. I’m here to demystify it for you!

I barter all the time! Thankfully, a lot of my friends have large vegetable and fruit gardens, fruit trees, or chickens produce eggs. I trade my time and services that I can provide for these things. I love to trade my ability and skill with sewing for farm fresh eggs. The price of eggs in California is insane! A dozen eggs can be almost $6.00, depending on where you shop.

Here are a few tips that I recommend you try in order to stretch your budget with the use of bartering:

Step One: Make a list of the skills you have. Can you sew? Can you babysit? Do you have a lawnmower and some free time to mow lawns? There are lots of things that you can do the people need help with. Maybe you have a great eye for organization and you could help a friend or a neighbor organize their pantry or their garage. Maybe you Love to clean? You can use that skill to either earn money or to barter for goods and services that you need. Maybe you have an overflowing garden or hen house!

Step Two: Make a list of stuff that you need. Do you need help sewing, cleaning house, or do you need to stretch your grocery budget a little bit further with the help of homegrown fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs?

Step Three: Ask! Ask your friends or if you’re feeling shy post on your Facebook page or whatever social media that you use. If you’d like to get a broader reach you can even post on websites like craigslist or fiverr.com.  You’d be surprised at what kind of offers you get!
I’d love to hear about the types of things you barter for!