Home frugal living/saving money You CAN Stay Home Series: Cutting the Grocery Bill (Part 3)

You CAN Stay Home Series: Cutting the Grocery Bill (Part 3)

by Kelly Crawford


The kitchen is one of the most flexible areas of finance to a stay at home mom.  As we consider our many duties at home, we need to understand the importance of balancing resourcefulness with variety and nutrition.  Cutting the grocery bill is a task that calls for serious study and practice.

In this post I have two lists of money-saving tips and then two cost-efficient menus.

Please add any advice you may have in this area as it will benefit us to learn from each other!

  • Buy discount. Explore your area for a “bent and dent” grocery store. There are great bargains to be found at such stores if you are fortunate enough to have one in your area.  I buy organic salad dressings for $1, Gain laundry detergent for $5/gallon (concentrated), almond butter for .79, just to name a few.

Aldi has saved us hundreds of dollars a month. If you have one, run to it. Not only that, we can get in and out in 30 minutes and I don’t have decision-making overload.

  • Stockpile on great sales. I’m not so good at this, as I’m always thinking “how little can I spend on this grocery trip”, but when you come across a great buy, it’s much better to stock up!
  • Eat first.  Never go grocery shopping hungry. It really will increase your spending!
  • Shop less often. Stretch your grocery trips out as far as you can. It is better to buy monthly than weekly, because you usually buy more than what’s on the list (impulse purchases) and you spend more gas and time as well.
  • Garden. If it is possible, keep a garden. There are lots of things to learn in this area, as some people have managed to grow a garden almost year round. It will greatly reduce your grocery bill and even more importantly, it will benefit your family’s health.  (Note:  there are some produce items that are basically just as cheap to buy at a farmer’s market than to grow.  Consider that when planting.)  Think ahead too.  Freezing and canning for the winter is an important part of resourcefulness.
  • Free food. We have an abundance of blackberries around our house.  No, picking isn’t easy.  But it’s free!  (My kids actually love to pick.)  We bake pies, make blackberry jam and syrup, and freeze berries to make jams and butters later for Christmas presents.  Not free but cheap, we also take advantage of the u-pick farms around.  Blueberries are $4/gallon and we love stocking up!
  • Coupons. I am not good with coupons. I know there are great savings to be had, but I seem to lack the skills of finding the right coupons. This is the part where I say “HELP” to all you coupon experts out there 🙂 I will offer this link I found (and there are many on the Internet) that seemed to have some good coupon resources, including free printable coupons.  I know MoneySavingMom is a great resource too.

Menu Planning.

Menu planning is crucial to saving on the grocery budget. Some very organized people (my not being one of them), have all their menus written out for the month and plan their grocery list around those. I plan for the week. Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette suggests that you first buy your groceries, based on what’s on sale, and THEN plan your menu around your food. That makes more sense to me.

Regardless of your menu-planning style, it is important to regularly plan frugal, inexpensive meals, that are still fairly nutritious (this definition will vary from family to family), and that your family enjoys. I am going to list a few of our favorite frugal meals, and then I hope to hear some of yours!


More Saving Tips:

  • The number one way to save in the kitchen is to cook more from scratch. For some of us, this may require some stretching and learning. It’s a glorious part of our job!
  • One of the things that helps reduce the cost of meals is using less meat. This makes casseroles and soups an important staple meal of the frugal family. When I purchase meat, I divide it up into smaller portions and freeze. For example, I often boil a whole chicken, and divide the meat into three parts to use in soups or casserole. Getting used to eating less meat may be a challenge, but your family will adjust! (I would suggest an exception be made if your husband insists on his “slab of meat” 🙂 Maybe you could coax a compromise! Beans and rice are a great substitute or filler for meat.
  • Buying items at grocery warehouse clubs may save you money. Because these things are usually sold in larger quantities, dividing them and freezing smaller portions helps keep the family from gobbling everything up. I have found, for example, that shredded cheese is much cheaper bought this way and divided.
  • Consider making your own sauces. Spaghetti sauces, white sauces, etc. can be made in large batches, divided and frozen. Cheaper and more convenient!
  • Turn squash and zucchini into spaghetti noodles. I’m going to purchase a spirulizer after hearing our neighbors talk about how healthy and delicious “vegetables noodles” are. They can be eaten raw or sauteed in oil and seasonings. Yum!

Crockpot Mexican Chicken

This is the best of all the worlds–delicious, cheap and super easy!

  1. Put 1 lb. bag of black or pinto beans in crockpot.
  2. Pour 3 1/2 cups water in.
  3. Pour 1 jar salsa and stir.
  4. Place 3 or 4 frozen chicken breasts on top.
  5. Cook on high for about 5 hours or on low for 7 or 8.
  6. When chicken shreds easily, shred and add taco seasonings.
  7. Serve with cheese, sour cream, guacamole and chips.


Creamy Chicken Pasta

1/3 diced chicken from whole, boiled chicken (save broth)

1/2 to 1 onion, chopped

chopped tomatoes

1 stick butter

Approx. 4 heaping Tbls. flour

garlic powder

parmesan cheese


Pasta–shells, penne, noodles, etc.

Desired vegetables


Put water on to boil and cook pasta.

After chicken is cooked and de-boned, divide into thirds, freeze two portions and set aside the other. White sauce: Place a stick of butter in skillet, melt and then add flour. Stir until bubbly and sticky. Pour chicken broth in while stirring, one cup at a time until sauce is thick. Pour about a cup of milk until creamy. Add garlic powder and parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

In another skillet, on med heat, add 2 Tbls. olive oil or butter. Add chopped onions and chicken. Saute until onions are slightly tender. Add any additional desired vegetables (I use frozen mixed vegetables.)

Drain pasta, and pour all three together, tossing and sprinkling with parsley or desired seasonings. You may also serve creamy sauce on the side.

Note about pasta: The options are endless for pasta recipes and it would take me all day to list the different versions we use. This is where a homemaker needs to learn what spices/combinations go well together and begin experimenting. Different meats, meatless versions, different sauces and spices–pasta dishes are the frugal family’s best friend!

I have several frugal recipes listed HERE as well, on our website (including a delightful milk shake recipe made without ice cream!)

A Note About Bread

Homemade bread is a wonderful addition to every meal. It is a great filler, it is inexpensive and it is healthy. I personally use a bread machine, but many large families have graduated to a mixer to make multiple batches of bread. Either way, these machines make homemade bread-making a cinch. Just dump the ingredients for your recipe in, and the machine does the rest.

The other great thing is that I usually mix on the “dough” setting, take it out and make rolls, a loaf, cinnamon rolls, stuffed bread, pizza crust, etc. There are so many options!

Some of you may have never baked homemade bread in your life. That’s OK…you can learn! We buy wheat berries, grind them in a grinder, and then use the wheat. It’s a small investment well-worth the nutritional value (in my opinion!)

I have a few more ideas and recipes in our ebook “Simple Cooking to Save You Money, especially a good read for those who are just beginning to cook from scratch.  Since this is a saving-money series, I’d just like to offer it to you, for today, for $1.00!!!

To get the $3.97 discount, just enter the coupon code “save” at checkout.  I love ya.

Buy “Simple Cooking to Save You Money” now for $1.00

Part 1-Living On One Income

Part 2-Cutting Expenses

Part 4-Paying Off Debt

Part 5-Earning Money From Home

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Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings September 12, 2007 - 1:44 pm

This is a great post Kelly! Thanks for sharing those recipes.

I have a post on my blog about couponing and refunding that may interest you and/or your readers.

Laura’s Couponing and Refunding Hints & Tips

Kelly September 12, 2007 - 3:35 pm

Great tips Kelly. My family recently realized how much less you spend if you cut down on meat. As americans we probably eat to large of a serving of meat anyway. We started to change just to eat in a more healthy way. We were so surprised when our grocery bill went down because of eating less meat.

Lisa in ND September 13, 2007 - 5:57 am

Thanks for the great post, Kelly!

When I was working outside the home, it was amazing how much money we spent on fast food/deli food/restaurant food, many times just because I was too tired and/or stressed to go home and cook, meal plan, etc. I don’t think most working women realize how that adds up.

Shopping in bulk for items (we have a Sam’s Club here) has saved us a ton of money too.

Great ideas!!

Carmen September 13, 2007 - 8:34 am

Great post Kelly and yummy recipes to boot!

I posted a few things on my blog about vinegar and baking soda…


Mom2fur September 15, 2007 - 2:38 pm

I, for one, have become an avid couponer over the past years. I belong to a site called “The Grocery Game.” It works out to be less than $2 a week to save you upwards of 30% on each week’s grocery bill by combining coupons and savings.
I think there’s a site called “Coupon Moms” that does about the same thing, but for free. Grocery game makes up a list for you (you check off what you want and print it out) each week. I think with Coupon Moms you have to do your own comparing, but I’m not sure about that.
As far as stocking up…if you see something you love on sale for an excellent price, buy 2 or more. We like Hellmann’s mayo, for instance. I buy it cheap and keep it in the pantry. So much nicer to reach in for a 99 cent jar than having to run out and pay $3.49 for one!

Delilah October 13, 2007 - 10:58 am

Another great book on saving money for groceries is Shop, Save, and Share by Ellie Kay. She teaches you all kinds of tricks to save money on coupons. One week I went to the grocery store and got $500 worth of groceries for $200 and that lasted my family of 5 for a whole month other than milk and bread.

Kim M June 16, 2010 - 9:46 am

Good old fashioned hunting! We eat a lot of venison, wild turkey, and fresh water fish around here. 🙂 Obviously hubby has to be on board for this one and mine is happy to do it.

Natalie June 16, 2010 - 10:29 am

Country Life Natural Foods is a great place to buy in bulk. Also, price comparisons are my friend… around here, many things are cheaper at Walmart, but they are more expensive on olive oil and honey, so I pick those up in larger quantities and make an occasional trip to the discount store that has them.

One thing I have found is that frequently you’re just paying for convenience. Premade tortillas, bread, pizza crust, etc. Prep time is limited with small children (and none big enough to help yet), so one thing I try to do is use my freezer… I make a 4 loaf batch of bread and freeze three, or make a double batch of home made baked macaroni and cheese and freeze half for an easy meal later.

LucyT June 16, 2010 - 10:30 am

thank you kelly for another great post.

Diane June 16, 2010 - 10:30 am

We do a couple of things to help keep our grocery bill under control… the first is that we pick up “discard” food from a local grocery store. This is done under the umbrella of a food pantry, and we must use the tax exempt number of our church. You simply cannot believe the amount, variety and quality of food that we get from this each week! Organic produce galore, breads and frequently dairy and meat items… all that would be thrown away! Sometimes the store inadvertently orders too much of an item, so the extra is given to us. Sometimes a shopper will open a package, so it can’t be sold- we get those. For example, we have gotten those bulk packs of organic milk in the little boxes with only one taken out, that type of thing. I would encourage other families to at least call local groceries and ask what they do with their to-be-discarded food items. See if you can arrange some sort of pick-up arrangement. It is so worth it!

Secondly we do a bit of bartering… a family we know raises chickens for meat. I’ve done sewing for them in exchange for chickens. My daughter raises chickens for eggs. Sometimes you just need to let folks know you are interested: a member of our church is a master bow hunter and he gets more game than his family is able to eat. He is happy to share with us too!

I ditto you on the meatless eating too. Our family is in the process of changing our eating habits to eliminate most animal products, except for those we can get locally or organically. Whereas we used to eat meat at most meals, it will now be a rarity. And here’s a thought for all those dear hubbies who love their meat: Papa can have his meat while the rest of the family eats mostly vegetarian. I know this sounds odd, but hear me out! We are a family of girls except for my son, who loves meat and positively thrives on it. I really think that males have a need for meat that we girls don’t. As I have done my menu planning, I plan vegetarian meals but my Noah will sometimes get a piece of meat along with his, cheese on his pizza, milk with his cookies♥ I don’t look at it as unfair, but more as catering to the varied needs of my family members. How much more appropriate for the king of the castle to get his slab of meat, if that’s what he wants and feels he needs:-)

Katie Grace June 16, 2010 - 10:36 am

One of the ways I save on meat is whenever I’m going to be ” in town” and near my grocery store, I go in and check the meat sale bin. They mark the meat down on the day before the experation date. I buy whatever looks good and freeze it. I then plan my meals around my freezer meat. Yesterday, I got a pound of ground round, a pound of ground pork, a 4 pound roast, and a 4 pound chicken for $11.04. That will yeild me 5 suppers and probably 6 lunches (leftovers).

I’ve also began to look thru the produce department too for sale stuff. Yesterday, I picked up 3 bell peppers for 79 cents. I chopped them up and froze them for use in stir fry, beans, or cassaroles.

LucyT June 16, 2010 - 10:58 am

I also buy what ever meat is on sale.I have a larger family who all LOVE meat.I usually don’t find enough sale meat of one kind for all of use.I just do a mixed grill with what I have found.

Mrs W June 16, 2010 - 10:47 am

There is a great book called “Family Feasts for $75 a Week” by Mary Ostyn. It’s awesome.

Diane, many WOMEN, including me, LOVE meat too. Meat provides valuable proteins for everyone. I have no clue why people cut out good food that God made because they think they are smarter and don’t need it. God said we need meat and gave it to us to eat. I do make some vegetarian meals though, but I like meat as much as my guys do. We tend to eat more chicken though and steak (which I LOVE) is a rarity, even though it’s good for you, it’s expensive.

LucyT June 16, 2010 - 11:04 am

Kelly, I like your comment thing over on the top right side of your blog.Now I can read everyones comment without serching for them.Thank you.

the cottage child June 16, 2010 - 11:05 am

I have to confess that we’re meat lovers here, but we’ve discovered ways to minimize the “slab of meat” concept most Americans imagine as the ideal meal.

We always have big salad w/lots of veggies and bread of some kind first, like you might at a restaurant, and serve the main course second. My husband might eat an entire chicken breast half, but the kids and I can usually share two and be completely satisfied with an additional vegetable and maybe a starch rounding out the meal.
Also, while I don’t eat pasta, my kids and husband love it, so two nights a week we can go meatless or almost meatless between homemade mac and cheese and spaghetti w/marinara. Omelettes for dinner or Saturday brunch (we sleep in a bit and have one meal instead of breakfast and lunch both, also a saver) make an inexpensive way to stretch even a scant amount of leftover this and that.

I’m a huge proponent of the “reduced for quick sale” section. Our grocery store will collect an entire paper grocery sack of bananas and mark them 99 cents, we eat some and mash and freeze the rest, and organic milk in half-gallon paper cartons $1 (which makes them perfect for freezing), and most meat at around $1/lb, which allows for a nice cut we otherwise wouldn’t buy. If I don’t see something we’re interested in, I ask the butcher if there’s something he’s dying to sell me and about every other visit there is. He likes for me to commit to more than just a pound or two, he likes to mark down the case/box, so I try to be prepared. I got a 20lb. box of ribeyes (over ordered on Mother’s day weekend) for $25.00. It pays to ask.
The butcher in the grocery store can cut frozen turkeys in half for you. This makes taking advantage of sales after the holidays much easier since the halves are easier to store and deal with in cooking.

I wax and wane on coupons. Now that we’ve really moved to a diet that includes very few packaged foods, it is more difficult to match a coupon to something we actually want. But, we do buy Prilosec for my husbands tummy, and there are often great coupons for it that make it far cheaper than even the generic, and I buy OTC hair color, so there’s usually a coupon to be had for that. We’re fortunate that our grocery store makes the effort to put out manufacturers in-store offers (like buy milk, get apples for free, etc) so those come in handy.

Charity June 16, 2010 - 12:10 pm

Kelly, still loving this series! 😉 You mentioned ‘Money Saving Mom’ blog, and I would definitely urge anyone who is new to couponing or wishes to get better at it, to read what she has to say. I check out her site daily! Love it!! There are other coupon match-up sites out there, but hers is by far the best!

I feed my family of 5 for $30 a week and I couldn’t do it without couponing. I *double heart* coupons! They are as important around our house as cash! I am fortunate to live in an area where most grocery stores double coupons (some up to and including 50 cents and one up to and including 60 cents). Always pair your coupons with the sales, and make your menu before you shop. Also, when things are at rock bottom prices..stock up! (My most recent trip to the grocery store: before sales/coupons $130.24. I paid $18.96!!) I suggest finding out your local stores coupon policies. Some except competitor coupons, which is awesome. Also, a seggestion for purchasing meat. Check and see when/if your grocery store marks down the price on unsold/near ‘sell date’ meat. I buy most of our meat this way at rock bottom price (often I buy all of what is available and they will give it to you even cheaper b/c if it isn’t sold then the store has to throw it out!). For instance, there are 8 pkgs of chicken breat marked down to $1 lb. I ask if I buy them all can I have them for 50ccents per lb. I have never been told no, so it pays to ask!

Also, if you live near a CVS you need to get familiar with their ECB program. (Most drugstores have some type of similar program, CVS is just my favorite!) I get diapers and toiletries for free or for just a few pennies! HUGE help to our budget! (Money Saving Mom can teach you all the details of “playing the drugstore game”.)

Hope this helps someone 😉

Amanda June 16, 2010 - 12:59 pm

Another great coupon site is Southern Savers. Granted, the coupon game is usually geared towards processed food, but I do quite well just with the savings to be had on paper products, pet food, and buy-one-get-one-free deals. Southern Savers provides links to printable coupons and matches them with store sales to maximize savings. All the info is free and I go to church with the operator of the site, so I can vouch for the integrity of the deals. There is also a lot of info about the various ways to use drugstore customer rewards programs (CVS’s Extra Care Bucks, etc.) for maximum savings.

Kelly L June 16, 2010 - 2:03 pm

I’d just chime in about the meat…everyone has different protein needs, so I get some people will need less than others. If you are eating a healthy diet free of junk, your biggest clue on what your body needs is what you crave. (with the exception of chocolate, ladies…lol)
You can only get certain amino acids from meat, so I would just suggest asking God to tell you how much you need. He is, after all, our provider and lover of our soul, He is very interested in our bodies functioning the way He made them to. My 2 cents. But I love the helpful hints..although I am out of most coupons because of the type of food normally offered in them.
I would also suggest eating much live and raw food…it satiates your body better AND you eat less…money saved.

Charity June 16, 2010 - 2:14 pm

I don’t like the misconception that you can’t purchase healthy food by using coupons. Don’t give up on them totally. I am overloaded with coupons for organic things and you can find printable coupons for practically anything! I don’t feed my family very few processed, packaged things, and still only spend $30 weekly by using coupons. I know it varies as to how many coupons/what type of coupons you have access to depending on where you live, but they are coupon swaps galore that you can join to get your hands on what you need for your family. Just saying… 😉

Charity June 16, 2010 - 2:17 pm

“I don’t feed my family very few processed, packaged things, and still only spend $30 weekly by using coupons.” …oops…Take out the “don’t, and you’ll have what I meant to say. I can type 120 WAM, I just can’t spell anything right, and there are tons of errors 🙂

Mrs W June 16, 2010 - 3:20 pm

Charity, I’ve never seen coupons for fruits, vegetables, meat and stuff like that. It’s all been for boxed or canned stuff. Where do you get yours?

Charity June 16, 2010 - 3:57 pm

I clip mine from the sunday newspaper and print them from coupon sites online. There are a host of organic brand fruit and vegetables that are canned and have coupons available (not to mention several different organic brands for meat and dairy products) but you will be surprised at how many you can find for fresh produce as well. Also, as I mentioned in my original comment, my local grocery stores accept competitor coupons, for instance “$off your produce purchase” (also “$off your meat purchase”) from another grocery store will be accepted (I find more of these than I can use by looking on competitor websites and printing them out). Hope this was a help!

Kelly L June 16, 2010 - 5:59 pm

there was no “reply” under Charity’s last comment, so this is where I am in… If you can, can you give a web-site for coupons for fresh fruit and veggies? I do tend to stay away from canned because those are cooked, thus killing some enzymes. Certainly canned is better than none, though. But I would love coupons for produce!!!

Charity June 16, 2010 - 6:48 pm

Kelly, coupons.com is a great spot to find coupons for frozen fruits and veggies (organic), as far as fresh go…I go to the websites for the brands that are sold in my stores. And as I mentioned before, I use competitor coupons for $ off my produce purchase. I know a lot of this depends on what stores are available where you live and their couupon policies, but it is worth checking out.

Kelly L June 16, 2010 - 10:27 pm

Thanks, Charity!

» You CAN Stay Home (Living on One Income): Part 3-Cutting the … | Daily Money Saving Ideas June 16, 2010 - 3:29 pm

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Mrs. Santos June 16, 2010 - 5:46 pm

I agree on shopping first with a budget and then planning the menu. We also do not buy convenient foods anymore…no snacks, no juices, or cereals…this saves so much money. We make iced tea or add lemon to water. We will snack on leftovers or make cookies. We buy in bulk nuts and dried fruits. Eliminating all junk food (even if you have a coupon) will save you money and encourage creativity in the kitchen ~ not to mention healthier habits. I have a family of five and don’t spend much, but $30. a week sounds impossible. I don’t really do coupons though ~ maybe I should learn 😉

Here’s a link to a recent shopping trip and what we ate from it.


Charity June 16, 2010 - 6:52 pm

It isn’t impossible, but certainly a challenge (that I enjoy!). Also, my 3 children are small. I would imagine that 3 teenagers would eat much more 😉 $30 isn’t a standard, but it works well for my family in our current stage of life.

yongxiu June 16, 2010 - 6:30 pm

How to live on one income. . .

written by someone who lives on two.

Word Warrior June 16, 2010 - 6:54 pm


You’re right: my readers probably aren’t intelligent enough to discern what it looks like for a family where the SAHM earns a little extra income during the scattered spare hours of her week. They probably don’t know that a “dual-income career” and a mom blogger are any different.

I should have titled this series:

“How to live with one person making a full-time income while you stay at home and earn a little extra”,

By the way, your comments are banned from here out.

Kim M June 16, 2010 - 9:55 pm

🙂 Kelly,
You are an amazing Proverbs 31 wife. Keep up your good work and I know your husband appreciates all you do. Your loyal readers appreciate all the wonderful tips you give as well. Keep up the good work!

Kim M June 16, 2010 - 9:57 pm

Ha! Sorry that was so redundant! Anyway, anyone can use your tips whatever stage they are in.

Kelly L June 16, 2010 - 10:32 pm

If your kids ever do any work, maybe you should disclose that too. What, someone else does lawns, then make it 3! And don’t your kids help out with the family business…then definitely an 8 income household. LOL Keep doing an amazing job. It is only when we aren’t attacked that we should worry if we are making a kingdom impact!

Word Warrior June 16, 2010 - 11:00 pm

Kelly L.,

Lol! I had to take down my first comment–I was really angry. And if any of you women have yard sales–better make sure people understand you’re a “dual-income family”.

SavedbyGrace June 17, 2010 - 7:34 am

What a wonderful start to my day – I got a nice chuckle! Kelly, I wondered how long you would tolerate her. I mean dissenting opinions are one thing, nasty and antagonistic is something else, honestly! One confused chick.

Charity, thank you for your comment to ( good morning laugh): 120 wpm with misspellings and errors – that’s my kind of typist. 🙂

Ladies just keep up the good work. Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of ME. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Our LORD sees and knows and you will be blessed. BTW I’m keeping up and I love the new series, gotta try that meatless dish – we like our meat around here to but I keep trying! I know it’s cheaper and healthy to not have it every meal. Has anybody tried buying 1/2 a cow and putting in the freezer? We get a grass-fed cow butchered each summer and it last all year, that and home raised organic chickens (fast growers & it takes very little space). That is an excellent way to get meat for a year and it works out into organic at a much cheaper price. Just a thought for all us meat lovers.:)

Mrs W June 17, 2010 - 7:49 am

Sorry, but Kelly is definitely in a two income family. For those of us who were one income for the longest time, we would never consider someone consistently earning money from other sources as “not making an income from it”. Not sure why yongxiu had to be so pedantic and picky about it though. Kelly, you are just smart enough to figure out how to make your second income from home.

Kids income is different…as it is theirs…unless you live in certain households that I know of where the daughter is almost 30 and daddy locks up all the money she makes and only gives her an “allowance” from it.

Word Warrior June 17, 2010 - 8:01 am

Mrs. W.,

For all practical purposes, yongxiu began the argument stating that we are a “dual-career family”. And while technically we make multiple streams of income (and so should really be called a “multiple-income family”), the application of terms is an important one because of what comes to mind with said terms. I consider my “career” to be my home-making, since that is what I do the bulk of my day. But her term is misleading as the common picture associated with that term is working full-time outside the home.

A dual-income family is thought of by most as both spouses working outside the home AND answering to two different bosses. These posts are about specifically how a mom can stay at home and NOT be enslaved to another boss, not whether she earns money from home or not.

The term “how to live on one income” is necessary to achieve the message in the posts: how a working woman can come home. EARNING income from home simply adds to her husband’s income, it is not a separate one the way we think of dual-income.

The big hang up you and yongxiu have with this terminology is that you are not viewing the husband and wife as one, and thus their income as one. When the family is seen as one industry, then all the money is pooled, the “employees” receive compensation, and mom gets to be home.

Get over the wording and grasp the concept.

Word Warrior June 17, 2010 - 8:06 am

Mrs. W.,

Another interesting thing you said:

“Kids income is different…as it is theirs…unless you live in certain households that I know of where the daughter is almost 30 and daddy locks up all the money she makes and only gives her an “allowance” from it.”

When an adult works for a company, that company “locks up all the money and gives an allowance”. It’s called a “paycheck”. Why do you make it out to be abusive if a father runs his home that way?

SavedbyGrace June 17, 2010 - 8:07 am

You know, I don’t care whether you call her a dual-income family (triplet, quadruplet or quintuplet either) or not. There is no need to be nasty- not meaning you Mrs W. However, even the IRS views hobby businesses differently than regular businesses. Now I don’t know if Kelly spends 2 months a year working her business or 6 months – total cumulative time over the course of the year. But she is not working a job. It is something that works around her family and the needs of the family not something where she is a wage-slave to someone else.

How is this really relevant to the topic? From what I remember reading from this blog – their family has been in dire financial straits before and I’m sure Kelly remembers it well (after all who amoung us has not?). It’s just a mean sidebar really and this is meant to inspire us to be more frugal.

Mrs. W technically if a child is < 14 years of age the income belongs to the parents – unless the IRS has completely changed their stance since I became a SAHM.

Word Warrior June 17, 2010 - 8:26 am

Really, the most frustrating part about this hang-up with “two-income family” is the simplicity of my job as a blog writer. Search engines match readers with the keywords they type to the keywords in the post titles.

If I want women who are trying to figure out how to come home to find my posts, it necessitates I use the words “living on one-income” in the title because that is the most likely words used in a search.

That’s what is driving me crazy about this silly side-trail. It’s not about how much money the family is making, people–it’s about helping mom to be home!!!

SavedbyGrace June 17, 2010 - 8:51 am

Here, here!

mrs. imperfect June 16, 2010 - 7:42 pm


Great post – great tips too.

Cooking from scratch, growing a garden, and wasting less food (serving portions that are appropriate – and won’t be thrown away by kids who can’t eat it all – a lesson that took me quite a few years to learn!) are probably the best tips I could share.

As we eat mostly organic foods, doing these things help a great deal to reduce our food expenses. We also can and freeze garden produce, and keep a root cellar for over-winter storage.

We raise our own chickens for meat and eggs, and though I realize that this may not be an option for many of your readers, it is quite do-able for many people (even with a little land).

Perhaps the most important items in my garden, though, are the herbs. You can grow them in the garden plot, or in containers, and it is so simple to dry them for use all of the year – much less expensive than buying them in the store, and you needn’t worry about pesticides.

I’m so enjoying this series – thanks for sharing!

Kelly L June 16, 2010 - 10:34 pm

How do you dry herbs, just in a low oven? I get to have a starter garden this year with mostly root veggies, but some herbs and peppers on top. I am SOOOO excited!!! Love to have your advice on the drying thing.

SavedbyGrace June 17, 2010 - 7:36 am

Try hanging your herbs on a clothes line in the house – absolutely no cost and it takes about 3 days. Plus the house smells house good.
So MUCH cheaper and the taste -WOW! You will be so tickled with your reward from this one. I’ve got to agree with Ms.Imperfect totally.

Heather June 18, 2010 - 12:28 am

For coupons, I subscribe to a couple of blogs. They have posts regarding grocery stores, drug stores (LOVE CVS!), printable coupons, free samples, and more. I use Mama Cheaps, Thrifty Divas, Frugal Catholic Mommy and Saving Money Plan. Sorry I don’t have the actual websites, but you can probably google them and find the sites.

I absolutely love it when find good deals. My last two CVS trips resulted resulted in $25 for a $120 worth; and $5.50 for about $80 worth.

Thanks for this series.

Sarah H. June 18, 2010 - 5:15 am

I use coupons of and on, buy tp and such in bulk, and stock up when something is on sale. The biggest thing that I haven’t seen mentioned yet, I try to double or triple stuff I can throw in the freezer….like lasagna, chili, or some other freezer friendly food, so I can pull it out on nights where we’ve been running all day or busy, instead of feeling like we have to order in. With four munchkins under 9 and another on the way, really we don’t have to have a “busy” day for me to feel like I need a break, so I just throw something in the crockpot or oven that has been in the freezer.

Darcy June 18, 2010 - 8:03 am

There have been some very good tips not only in the article, but in the comments following it.

One major way our family has been able to survive on one income is by turning to natural remedies instead of “modern medicine”. Some of my husband’s health issues cleared up just by increasing his water intake each day (he had been on prilosec for a few years before that).

Another thing that saves us money is homeschooling. While some people think they can’t afford to homeschool, I’m here to prove you wrong. We spend less money on books than we did in extra gas driving for special things at the school (they rode the bus most days), snacks, activities at the school, special school clothes, etc. In addition to saving money, we are a lot less stressed for time.

I feed my family of 10 on about $500 a month (varies slightly by month and includes toiletries and such) and we eat about 50% organic. We do this by buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, growing a garden and preserving, taking advantage of our apple trees and our neighbor’s pear trees (they don’t do anything with the pears!). We usually put 3 deer in the freezer each year (although we need to increase this!). We have a goat for our milk and her feed is included in the “food” budget as well. We’ve been blessed with someone who gives us 4-5 dozen eggs a week since one of our neighbors’ dogs killed our laying hens. Also, eating whole grains has reduced our food budget. While it might cost a “little” more to buy whole grains, you will find that you eat less because they actually fill you up.

As far as the meat debate goes, it is actually blood type that determines the amount of meat needed. O Blood types need more meat than A blood types (I’m not sure about AB or B since we don’t have anyone in the family with those). There are often times I will make the meat separate for those who need it and then just eat the side dishes for myself. We also need to remember that a serving of meat is the size of your palm (how many of us would eat a whole steak if it was set before us?!).

Some quick and frugal meals that I sometimes make are:

Hamburger gravy over potatoes, bread, pasta or rice.

Black Bean Soup–cook dry black beans in a crockpot. After they are soft, add one jar of salsa (that I never pay over $1 for), a splash of lemon juice, some salt and some parsley. Blend about 1/2 of it to make it smoother. Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips.

Stir-fry is always quick and frugal–you can use less meat and lots of veggies with brown rice for a very filling meal.

Word Warrior June 18, 2010 - 9:43 am

Sarah H.,

“I try to double or triple stuff I can throw in the freezer….like lasagna, chili, or some other freezer friendly food, so I can pull it out on nights where we’ve been running all day or busy, instead of feeling like we have to order in.”…

LOVE this trick and am purposing to do it more often. It also helps to have a ready dish to carry to a friend or neighbor in need of it.

Word Warrior June 18, 2010 - 9:47 am


Great tips! And “Another thing that saves us money is homeschooling.” is so true.

Kristy November 11, 2012 - 10:56 pm

Man. Three articles in & I’m addicted to not only your helpful & encouraging articles but also the great comments. 😀

Word Warrior November 12, 2012 - 8:26 am

Kristy–I’m so glad you’re here!

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