Kosher on a Budget is Born

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.

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. YEAH! I am so excited to join you on this journey! You are the best! THANKS!

  2. The proud husband says:

    This is going to be awesome!

  3. We aren’t Jewish so I don’t keep a strictly kosher kitchen – but I personally see a lot of health benefits from keeping kosher in addition to (or maybe just in conjunction with) buying organics. I’m an avid couponer, so I’m excited to have found your blog thanks to a Facebook post by another blogger, and look forward to learning much more from you!

    • @Melonie – I’m so glad you found me! It looks like we have a lot in common, even without the strictly kosher kitchen. Buying organics and *trying* to avoid processed foods are important to me, too, so I plan to post about that a lot :) Hope to keep seeing you around here!

  4. Hi,
    Wow, my friend posted your blog on FB wall and I am so with you! I am constantly saying to my husband that if we didn’t keep kosher or have to live in an eiruv or send our kids to yeshiva we’d have more money than we have ever had. thank God my husband has a good job now and i learned how to budget, but that wasn’t always the case and we are stil paying for it. I am an avid bargain shopper/couponer. I rarely shop without coupons or my trusty shop rite card (and i sign up for every deal on their website). I buy manager’s special kosher meat (which still costs 3 x as much as treif) and i rarely make meat/chicken during the week. I am glad to see a like minded person out there.

    • @Zippy – I just clicked on your new blog and I see we really are kindred spirits. It is such a tough issue and I know I just skimmed the surface, but I’m hoping it will open up a bit of a dialogue. I’m so glad you commented, thank you!

      As for saving money – sounds like we do a lot of the same things. We also eat mostly vegetarian during the week and save the meat or chicken for Shabbat and yomtov. I hope you’ll stick around and share your tips & tricks for getting your grocery budget under control!

  5. happy to find you here. i just moved away from KC, ordered most of my meat from st. louis, and never did jump into the Kosher Co-Op there – though I love the idea and know I probably missed out on quantity savings that come from ordering as a group.

  6. I hope you keep this website up and going. It is very important with food prices going sky high to share resources and ideas. I just sent this link to my wife.

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