There are many of us in today’s economy that are thriving. That said, however, there are also many in our communities that struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table. That includes tons of financially challenged parents as well as single folks who simultaneously are also health and environmentally conscious. Here’s a few cost saving ideas I personally have utilized over the years.
Food Purchasing & Cooking: Organic or naturally grown consumption is optimal, for those on a tightly fixed budget, the next best route at least temporarily, is to purchase healthy foods at the least possible price.
Dry Beans: Though canned beans are so convenient for time strapped folks, dry beans are consistently cheaper than their canned counterpart. Pinto beans in the largest sized bags (at Walmart) & bags of lentils at (The Dollar Tree) are the lowest prices I have recently found.
Make Substitutions: If a recipe calls for a particular spice; say for example, oregano, for a spaghetti sauce, if you are out, just improvise. If you have, for example, other Italian type seasonings such as basil or parsley just use that. It may turn out a slightly different, but just as tasty and modifying makes each meal a bit of a surprise.
Garden Sharing: For those without the space to grow a garden on privately owned land, in many locals there are community/-shared gardens. In my local and nearby town gardens, there are typically empty plots. Your local town hall or community Parks and Recreation often manage them or will have contact info on who does.
Wild edibles: While this one is unconventional in today’s society, Maine has lots of plant-based food free for foragers. Of course its vital to ascertain what is safe to consume. There are learning resources on this subject such as books that can be rented for free through the interlibrary loan from your local library.
Multi generational households:
In this modern society, for a variety of factors, there is a stigma surrounding adult family members living together and combining resources. Ironically, it actually is not financially prudent for gainfully employed or college enrolled family members to live in separate households.
Responsibilities & Resource Sharing: Though my housemates and I do not work as professional gardeners, and have separate full time jobs, we do work together within family real estate business on the side, we all employ teamwork to provide sustenance and livelihood for the three of us.
With the exception of our seed order, which, we all monetarily chip in with voluntarily, as much as each can personally afford, we do not require that a specific percentage of money from each household member to go towards food expenses. Each of us contributes by purchasing up what we collectively need and that averages its self out. In other households, a more rigid system such as chore and bill payments assigned to individual members may be required.
Seed swaps: For the past few years, I have gone to the yearly MOFGA seed Swap and Scion Exchange. It an event in which people donate seeds and scion wood (a tree shoot or twig) in turn exchange them for seeds they would like to grow and scion wood they would like to graft onto trees. Don’t worry if you have no seeds to trade. Many such as The MOFGA swap allows for seed swappers to bring in baked goods etc in exchange for seeds. To find a seed swap in your area, your nearest Cooperative Extension may have a listing on Reddit-seedswap.
Freebies: The internet has loads of swap and give away groups and listings. Freecycle is one such free for the taking listing site with groups throughout Maine in which no money exchanges hands: Freecycle-Maine.
Free Stuff in Maine is a public Facebook group with lots of free item listings. Type in free in the search bar on classified ad websites such as Craigslist-Maine and Uncle Henry’s regularly to search for needed items.