Pennies in jar
Image by alamosbasement

I've been reading your blog for some time now and was wondering
where you purchase your beef and chicken? I've done a lot of research
and want to make sure I'm getting the best deal before I make a final
choice. I appreciate your time in answering my question. Thanks

Monica 

Monica, I purchase my beef and chicken (all of my meat and poultry, actually) through a small, local deli shop. It's located out in the country, about a 20 minute drive from my house. The reason I love it is because they carry animal products that are grass-fed, free of antiobiotics and hormones, as well as some specialty deli products with little or no preservatives (sausage, sandwich meat, ec.). What's equally fantastic is that because they are not certified organic, and they keep their family run business small and modest, the prices are affordable!

I think that finding local shops and/or farmers like this is ideal, and most likely the way that you will get the best deal as well. To find places like this, you really need to start digging around and researching. Ask in local health food or supplement stores, or at farmers markets. Ask other health-minded moms and dads. Ask a naturopath, nutritionist or even a midwife. Also, here's a post I wrote with a lot of online resources that will help you in your search.

As for knowing what's ultimately a good deal or not will depend on just doing a lot of research. Until I began to really pay attention to where I could get good quality meat and poultry and what the typical prices were, it was hard for me to know whether I was getting the best deal or not.

Expect to pay more than at the supermarket (just keep telling yourself how it's worth it!), but know that there are lots of places out there where you don't have to pay an arm and a leg! It helps to buy in bulk, such as buying a 1/4 or a 1/2 of a cow, or buying many whole chickens all at once. I try to save up money throughout the year to make this possible, and another good option is to find another family or two who would like to purchase with you and then split it up, to help keep costs low.

Garage sale 

Image by John Beagle

One area that you have really inspired me lately is in your segment
about clothing your children without breaking the bank.  With the
change of seasons upon us, we are all thinking about the new wardrobes
that our little ones will need.  Hence, the money will we also need to
spend!

   Here are my questions:

1) How far would you travel
to save money on clothing or even food items? (All of the resale shops
or food outlet stores are a good 30-40 minute drive from where we live).

2)When
do you shop for the upcoming season? (I am afraid that I am already
behind in shopping for this Spring/Summer.  Garage sale season won't
start for another 2 months or so, if I wait until then to buy for this
year my kids will be wearing long sleeve shirts and fleece pants in 80
degree weather! Should I be buying for NEXT year now?

3)How do you find your swap meets,garage sales etc?

Thanks so much!!

Blessings!
Beth

Great questions, Beth!

1) Personally, I don't drive longer than about 20 minutes (each way) to any food store or market. My only exception to this would be if it was somewhere that I only went a few times each year, bought in bulk and stocked up significantly. Then I would consider driving further (and have done so in the past).

For clothes, I might consider going further, if I only went occasionally (again, a few times a year), and then I would make sure that I had saved up or discussed a budgeted amount with my husband and that I had a detailed list of exactly what we did and didn't need, and could stock up on excellent deals (like clothes for next winter, etc.). I just think that if I have to drive further (or more often) than this that it starts to become poor stewardship of my time and gas, and just isn't worth it. Obviously, everyone's situation is a little bit different, and you need to weigh all of these factors as you make your decision.

If you have times when you will be in these areas anyways (to visit friends, do something special with the family, etc.) then take full advantage and plan to stop and shop as well! Killing two birds with one stone is always the best way to do it!

2) Yes, buy for next year now! I try to always be one year ahead, although it's not always possible. At the very least, 1-2 seasons ahead. So in the winter, I will buy for the upcoming spring/summer (if I haven't already), as well as for the next winter (and hey, even the one after that if it's a great deal!). This summer I've been focusing on just filling in the last gaps for fall/winter, and also picking up anything that's a year or more in advance if the price is right. This weekend I grabbed some size 7 jeans and shirts for my daughter at a garage sale. She's only in a size 5 right now, but I paid 5 cents for the jeans, and 25 cents for each shirt, so I figured it was worth it. :)

3) My source for swap meets is local recreation centers and churches. They regularly host swap meets, as often as every month or some of them just once or twice a year. It helps to really ask around to other moms, and even to google "kids swap meet" for the area or city where you live. Try calling some local rec centers or community centers and see if they know of any that are happening!

For garage sales, I don't do it regularly enough to say that I have a real plan for it. We just occasionally pick a Saturday morning and decide to head out and look for signs in nicer neighborhoods. We'll also just stop at a sale if we happen to drive by one that looks worthwhile, even if we weren't planning to go shopping. If you really want to be purposeful about doing it, most local newspapers will have a section with either a map or just a list of the garage sales in the area and you can make a plan that way. Also, Craigslist has become a good source for garage sale info (look for "garage sale" under the "for sale" section of your local area Craigslist site), as tons of people will post up their sales the week or even the day before it happens!

For those who missed it, here is my series on Clothing Kids Without Breaking the Bank:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

How would the rest of you answer these questions? Where do you get your meat and poultry? And what do you think about travelling, buying ahead and finding places where you can score the best deals?