Ok so let’s face it – EVERYONE has a different definition of household “necessities”. While some people might just have toilet paper and food on their list, others have paper towels on their list and others might be as detailed to have specifically branded products. Everyone has a different “need” level for their comfort so I totally get that, not to mention that everyone has different family sizes and budgets!
SO here are 7+ items that your family may not be able to “live without” and some ideas to help you save money on these “necessities”! Of course always look for coupons and deal saving apps like Ibotta but here are a few further suggestions!
1. Flushable Wipes
These things are golden in my house and if we run out heaven help us! My husband and kids make sure I ALWAYS have this on our grocery list. I have to admit – they have helped us make it through potty training, illnesses, and all sorts of other things we’ll just not talk about! My suggestions for this is to BUY them in a reusable container so that you can purchase bulk bags! (unless you are traveling of course and then you should totally buy the to-go packs or place some in a ziploc bag!) I also put this box of flushable wipes on my Subscribe & Save list so that I get a bulk discount each month. Walmart is also pretty reasonable on these and oddly enough I’ve found Sam’s & Costco a little pricier unless you can snag a sale.
2. Coffee (and/or Tea)
This is one of those “must haves” for some people, and others just gag when I mention it! I sure like my cup of coffee in the mornings but it can add up to quite an expense if you have a taste for a good quality like I do (or if you drink more than a few cups a day). This is one area I struggle in saving money in sometimes because I do NOT like cheap coffee at all! I’d rather just not have coffee if it’s not one that I like so it’s totally my personal splurge. If you can find a coffee that you like at a Sam’s or Costco in bulk that is absolutely the way to go! I’ve even found some incredibly reasonable fair trade organic coffees this way that I’ve started purchasing!
If you have a Keurig of course buy the reusable filter to save on the little pods! AND you can absolutely ask for gourmet coffee for your birthday/holiday gifts which will not only be a splurge for you but will help to offset your budget! As for tea goodness knows gourmet tea can be quite costly!! If you want amazing tea for a good cause I LOVE A Pinch of Happiness which employs people with disabilities – she has an amazing story. Tea Forte on Amazon and Mighty Leaf are also both delicious gourmet teas that run cheaper than Teavana.
3. Meat & Produce
This is a tough one because everyone lives in different areas! SO I’m going to share some suggestions that have helped us in the past and maybe you’ll get some new ideas! If you can’t find a local farmer to buy fresh meat from (try your state agricultural department or local FFA!) buy meat in BULK at Sam’s or Costco and separate it down to smaller portions when you get home. Yes, it takes a little more time and prep but it has the potential to save you a TON of money!
Also, if you know when your grocery store “clearances” their meat you can really save a bundle! I always know to hit up my store on Thursday mornings and I can walk out with a cart FULL of meat for half of what I might have paid the day before. Purchasing an extra deep freezer can absolutely be worth the cost for you to buy meat in bulk or on clearance! If you have some extra time growing your own garden can save you an insane amount of money on produce! Now that we live in the Midwest again (I find gardening easier here) I grow a very extensive veggie garden that provides us with produce year-round. If you live near a “U-pick” farm stock up on produce and freeze/can the produce for use later! It’s cheaper than buying it in the off-season.
I’ve also had (mostly) good luck with buying meat at Aldi but only when it’s on sale otherwise I find it tends to be pricier. After the Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays is a great time to stock up on turkey and ham too!
4. Pet Food
Pets aren’t a “necessity” per se but for our family we can’t live without having pets! And I know many of you love your furry babies just as much! I am particular that we feed our animals healthy pet food and not the cheapest junk on the market so I’m definitely always looking for an extra bonus sale on our animal feed. I have found that the Kirkland brand dog & cat food specifically is pretty good quality. Sam’s is pretty good too.
If you have chickens, pigs, goats, etc. usually your local farm store has deals when you buy 10 bags you get the 11th free, or whatever specials they run. Also many times they’ll offer “freebies” when you buy a bag such as a reusable egg carton, etc.
5. Toilet Paper and Paper Towels
I admit, although I can use the cheap stuff when we can afford it we prefer the nicer cushiony toilet paper! I’ve also found that although you get “more” with 1 ply toilet paper we use a lot less when we purchase the 2 ply! I keep an eye on prices on Amazon as well as my local warehouse club. Lately I have a monthly subscribe & Save order with my Prime membership since you get a bigger discount with more items. If you have a local janitorial supply store you can also check there for items in bulk! The same applies for paper towels, although we just reuse towels & rags in our house most of the time to save money!
6. Laundry & Dish Detergent
I have to say honestly that I’ve found the cheapest way to do laundry detergent is just to make my own! You can see my laundry detergent recipe here. As for dish detergent I’ve tried homemade (here’s my recipe) and pre-made and cost wise it seems to equal out for us when you factor in how well they clean our dishes! I purchase one small container of either “soaps”, and then buy the rest in the largest bulk I can find and pour it off as I need it. It makes it MUCH easier for me when pouring it on a daily basis but saves me quite a bit of money in the long run.
7. Babies & Young Kids
Ok, there is a TON that can fall into this category but not all of you have babies so I’ll just touch on this one briefly! Biggest cost savings for diapers of course is cloth diapers (which I totally adore!) but if you’re not into cloth diapers keep an eye out for sales, buy bulk at warehouse clubs, and definitely keep an eye on Amazon. If you have Prime you have have an auto-order priced at a better discount which is great!
As for baby meds I always tended to go with the generic brands which saved us OODLES of money over the years! Baby gear that can be wiped down and cleaned secondhand is totally the way to go for some of it (not car seats or cribs though!). I prefer to purchase things before I need it so that I can work it into my budget easier than NEEDING to go out and buy it when I’m desperate with a sick kid! Plus I can keep a better eye out for coupons and deals that way!
Baby formula – hands down cheapest at Sam’s or Costco if your “brand” is there. Baby food – make your own! It’s SO easy and WAY WAY WAY cheaper (and healthier!). You can totally make it all in one day and freeze it for the rest of the year!