Groceries are expensive; especially if you have large families, or like to buy organic and natural food items. Luckily there are some ways to save on groceries, no matter your specific situation.
What you can do at home:
Plan ahead: Planning for meals that focus around known sale items is a smart way to save. Everyone knows chicken usually costs less than fish, and beans cost less then either. Plan the bulk of your menus around lower cost (but healthy food items). Additionally check out cookbooks at the library for recipes that focus on these food items.
Plan menus that are closer to the earth and homemade: It’s way more expensive to plan meals around pre-packaged and pre-cooked foods. Plan for meals that center around food that’s less touched – brown rice, whole veggies, dried beans, and so on cost less than rice mixes, frozen veggies in sauce, and cooked beans. With this in mind, try to cook with a homemade slant. Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be a big old deal. A crock-pot or microwave can speed things up, even if you skip pre-packaged foods.
Make a list: People who head to the store with a list spend less. Once you’re at the store you’ll have no idea if you’re truly out of cinnamon and apple juice, or if your fuzzy memory is tricking you. Buying items you already have is a waste.
Use what you’ve got before buying more: When planning both your list and menus, start with what you have. You know that time you bought all those cans of tomato sauce on sale, the ones sitting in your cupboard? Plan a good amount of meals around those cans – sauces, soups, and so on.
What you can do at the store:
Shop alone: Shopping with overzealous children or an impulsive spouse can wreak budget havoc.
Shop full: If you eat before shopping you’ll stick to your list and not impulse buy.
Be flexible: If you planned your meals (as noted above) you should still be flexible. If fish or fresh broccoli are on stellar sales you might buy these instead of items on your list that the store doesn’t have on a current sale. Work with your menu, but don’t be a slave.
Shop once: Frequent shopping trips encourage extra spending. Have a designated shopping day each week, or if you have a small family like mine, every two weeks. Once in a while we run out of fresh produce and have to make a mid-week trip, but overall we just shop once, and if we forget something, we deal until our next trip.
Don’t lose food: Losing track of food items you have because of poor organization is an evil budget drain.
Buy in bulk: Bulk foods are almost always a better deal than pre-packaged, and are better for the earth (less waste). If bulk foods freak you out, read – Bulk Food Storage: Flour and Other Dry Basics.
Choose one or two stores and stick with them: Shopping all over wastes time, gas, money, and energy. Choose a store close to your house that has frequently well-priced items. If you have trouble figuring out which store that is shop at four different stores for a month (one each week) – make note of basics like produce, bread, milk, and so on to see which store has the best deals. Good everyday deals will save you more than crazy random sales on juice boxes or coupon cutting will. A grocery price book can be far more elaborate, but that’s a long post for another time.
Visit the following sites before shopping to help combat high food prices…
Learn more about saving money on groceries:
Oddly I didn’t see this post before I started this one, but Katelyn just posted a Save Money on Groceries Round Up. Talk about a coincidence.
Best Foods to Buy Organic – why pay for organic if you don’t need to?
What other tips do you have to save on groceries?
[images via stock.xchang]