Hello world! My name is Mara – nice to meet you! I am a mom, a wife, a freelance writer and a freak about saving money. Since moving to the greater Kansas City area two years ago, I have become borderline addicted to the world of coupon shopping. (And yes, I have the stockpile of shampoo, razors, diapers and toothpaste to prove it!)
But here’s the rub: Unlike most of the bargain bloggers I read, I am an Orthodox Jewish woman, raising a strictly kosher-keeping family of five. Which means, when it comes to grocery shopping, I’ve got a number of dietary restrictions that makes many of the sweetest deals off limits in our strictly hechshered home.
So, I skip the $.99/lb fresh chicken filet deals in favor of my $5/lb frozen, boneless, skinless breasts at Costco, and I order my meat overnight delivery from a grass-fed, free-range Glatt kosher rancher in Denver. I stock up on kosher cheese from our local co-op or at Costco (when they carry my beloved 5-lb bag of shredded mozzarella — for ‘only’ 4 times the cost of the non-kosher Kirkland brand.)
But when it comes to cereal, rice, pasta, produce, condiments, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, and, of course, toiletries, I fastidiously study the deals and make my dollars weep from frugality.
All together, I spend $400-500 per month on groceries and household goods, and put aside another $100 per month to cover quarterly orders of kosher meat and cheese. Each month, I allot our grocery budget taking into consideration which Shabbat meals my family will be hosting and what chagim I need to cook for.
Now, compared to the $45 a week some frugal bloggers say they spend, our budget might seem outrageous. But if you keep kosher, eat organic, or have other dietary limitations, you know how easy it is to blow a hundred dollars or more on just one Shabbat, let alone make that money stretch for four long weeks.
While reducing our grocery budget has been a painstakingly slow process, I have learned some good lessons along the way. Lessons I am eager to share! In fact, after sheepishly showing a few close friends the stockpiles in my storage room, I kept hearing the same refrain: “Teach me how to do that!”
So I would send them to my favorite websites, but they kept coming back with more questions. Until finally my friend Amy said, “You need to start a blog for keeping kosher on a budget!” And so, Kosher on a Budget* was born.
I can’t promise I’ll post every day, and I don’t plan to reinvent the wheel when it comes to sharing CVS deals or Target specials. But I will tell you what I’m buying, where I’m getting the coupons, and what kosher brands I prefer to stockpile. I might talk a little bit about our family’s Dave-Ramsey-journey from debt to freedom and my still constant struggle to “live like no one else”. Heck, I may even share some frugal Shabbat menus or tell you how I plan to road trip on the cheap with my three kids later this summer.
I’d love to hear from you, too! Comments make the blog-go-round, so please don’t be shy! Tell me what brought you here, and if you’ve got a blog, please tell me where I can find you!
*I know it’s been attempted before, but honestly, this seemingly ripe field is notably barren — at least by every imaginable Google search I have ever run.