The grocery budget is one of the most flexible lines in your family's monthly budget. Utilites don't change much, car payments and mortgage are consistent, and gasoline is a requirement...but are the ho-ho's that you want to buy? NO! Grocery shopping is the one place where you can get flexible and creative. If you are struggling with your check-out totals, if you are bug-eyed when you get to your car, if you are embarrasssed to tell your spouse what you spent...then this is the post for you, my friends!
So, in traditional, Hope-Filled Home style, here are my...
Top Ten Ways to Start Saving NOW at the Grocery Store
10. Love Your List - make one every time you step foot in the store. Even if you are going in for milk and bread, write it down and keep yourself accountable to it.
9. Make a Meal Plan - know IN ADVANCE what you are going to be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week that you are shopping for. Knowing what you are going to be eating makes your shopping easier, promotes less waste, and gives you no reason to hit a drive-thru.
8. Shop Sales - make your meal plan based off of what is on sale. Hamburger on sale? I see meatloaf... Good price on apples? I see apples in lunches and apple crisp for a special desert. Don't plan your list around what you want to eat, plan what you want to eat around what's on sale!
7. Clip Your Coupons - clip coupons on Sunday afternoons. 15 minutes clipping and filing can save you major moolah every week. For every coupon I clip, I am able to: buy a luxury item (Dove chocolate), pay down debt, take a trip to Disney, etc. Don't believe me? Taking only 5 .50 coupons to Meijer/Kroger saves you $5 off your bill (they double coupons at that store.) That equals $20/month or $240/year. If you took 15 coupons each visit, that would equal $720/year. I think that's enough for park tickets, don't you?
6. Stockpile for Savings - when something goes on an exceptional sale, buy more than one. Buy as many as you have coupons for. Ask your neighbors to save their coupon inserts for you for a FREE way to get extras. Some people buy extra coupons that they want on ebay, but I see no reason to spend more money to save money. Regulary, frozen vegetables end up free after sale and coupon. Buy 4 bags, or 6, or 10 and use them when you need them.
5. Lose the Loyalty - don't think that you are always getting the best deal when you shop where there are "low prices everyday." You aren't. You are getting conveiniece, but may possibly spend more money. Check out your ads and go where the best deals are. I regularly shop at 2 stores and then hit Aldi once a month to stock up on some canned goods there. I never shop somewhere "just because." I know exactly why I am going there, and it's because the have the best deals on...cheese, chicken, crackers, pasta, etc.
5 1/2. Lose the Loyalty Part 2 - don't always buy Skippy because you've always bought it. Your family may like Peter Pan better...if not, you can always hide it in cookies :) Buy what's on sale and/or what you have a coupon for. More times than not, you will be surprised.
4. Make Meatless Meals - once a week, enjoy a meatless meal for savings on your grocery bill. Have pasta with sauce, pancakes with fruit, or baked potatoes and salad. Think simple and save.
3. Use Cash Only - never ever use a credit card to buy your groceries! Do you know how much you would end up paying for them after interest? I don't even recommend using your debit card to buy groceries. Why is that? When you take cash to the grocery store and you commit to only using that cash, (ie $60) you are less likely to impulse buy and more likely to stay under budget. What happens if you get to the register and your total is $62? Put something back. Don't use your debit/credit because then you are more likely to add even more (like the candy bar, magazine, gum, or pop by the register.) Just don't do it, trust me on this!
2. Freezer Cook - spend a Saturday cooking up some of your favorite meals or casseroles and deep freeze them for a later use. Have company coming? Pull out a lasagna instead of hitting the store. Need to feed a crowd? Thaw out that chowder in the microwave and crockpot it for down-home comfort food. Forgot to make a meal plan/feel uninspired with the grocery ads? See what's already in your freezer and go from there! In 5 hours (with the help of 2 girlfriends), we put up 45 meals (15 per family.) What a helper and a timesaver that was (and so much healthier than the local drive-thru!)
1. Start Small - be encouarged! Make attainable goals. Be realistic with yourself. You don't have to go into the store and save 80% on your bill... Evey dollar counts. Every time you eat leftovers instead of pizza, every time you say no to an impulse buy, every time you find something for free - celebrate! Bring out the nice dishes and toast yourself on a job well-done. You deserve it!