A friend on face book asked her friends how to save money on groceries. The answers were many, but the ones that most people said was couponing or extreme couponing. Coupons are a wonderful thing if you actually use the stuff the coupons are for. Since I don’t they are recycling for me.
I responded to her request with cut the cleaning supplies and make your own. Some one else said to plan out your meals. Other suggestions were shop at Aldi’s, grow a garden, buy meat in bulk, and use store saver cards.
I started thinking about what I already do to save money. Now I am not a young married woman anymore and I am not working either. But I did raise 4 kids on a farm with very little income, while I worked full time.
Groceries don’t just include food you know. There are cleaning supplies, paper products, pet foods, and whole host of other things that are included in grocery shopping.
1. Plan your meals. You can either plan it by the week, month, or year. The best way to save is to buy a years worth of everything you eat and watch the sale ads to replace what you are using. This is a big upfront cost, so it may not be for you. It isn’t for me.
2. Watch the ads. You can get a good idea of what is on sale at the grocery stores, but if you are like me you don’t go to most grocers. In the area that I live in we have Publix, Winn Dixie, Wal Mart, Save a lot, & Aldi’s for most groceries. Wal Mart and Aldi’s don’t have that in depth of ads. Oh and a market Target. I use the ads as a guide for what the prices should be when grocery shopping.
3. Make meals do double duty. A whole chicken is one example. I bake a whole chicken, and we have roasted chicken for dinner on Sunday. Then you take the meat that is left over and chop it up. You can make a pot pie, creamed chicken, chicken salad, a chicken pasta, or chicken enchiladas. We sometimes end up with a whole chicken equalling out to 3 days of meals. If you use the bones of the chicken you can make a chicken soup or broth. The same can be done with a good size piece of beef or pork.
4. Find stores you like that save you money. I shop at Aldi’s, Thrifty Produce, and Wal Mart, Rarely at Publix and Target.
5. Make your own cleaning supplies. I harp on this, but it is the easiest way to save money. Vinegar, borax, oxyclean, bar soap, and baking soda are pretty cheap to buy. Much less than $3-5 a product. Plus they do many things rather than one.
6. Buy generics. You know the store brands. The majority are just as good, some are even better than the name brands.
7. Use less meat in your meals. Use more pasta, rice, and veggies in your meals. Meat is very expensive. I actually use only one chicken breast to make our chicken and pasta dishes. Infact a meatless meal can be very healthy and cheap. An ex aunt of my husbands used to make at least one meatless meal a week and sometimes more depending on how much money they had for the budget. It wouldn’t work for me back when the kids were younger they wanted the meat piled on. Luckily we raised our own meat.
8. Cut up and freeze the meat, and veggies before hand. Actually make a few meals and leave in the fridge for nights when no one wants to cook. Make a lasagna or spaghetti sauce or even a pizza before hand and freeze. This doesn’t save you money on the grocery bill, but it saves on fast food.
9. If you can get meat or veggies on sale cheap buy in bulk and freeze.
10. Don’t let food go to waste. I wrote yesterday about checking out your veggie drawer. If things look sad freeze it. Don’t leave milk sitting on the counter or butter too. Also freeze your milk if it is close to the expiration date and won’t be consumed before it goes bad. Just freeze in small 2 cup containers and thaw as needed.
11. Garden if you can. Not everyone has space to garden, but there are ways to if you look hard enough for most people. Even a couple of tomato plants can be a cheaper alternative.
12. No more processed food. You are paying extra money for that pasta side dish than if you made your own. Find easy ways to cut down on premade things. Chocolate syrup is one really good example. You can make it in 5 minutes and it tastes just like the store bought stuff. Those celery sticks, pre cut lettuce all cost you more than if you did it yourself. I can’t tell you how proud you will be when you start doing these things for yourself.
13. Find a way to buy your paper products cheaper. I use rags made from old wash clothes and towels to cut down on my paper towel usage, but I have Mr. Kitty and he likes to pee on the bathroom floor when he is upset. So paper towels are a necessity here. I only buy Viva paper towels. Yes, they are expensive, but they don’t use many towels to complete most tasks. Where I would literally use a 1/4 of a roll of paper towels only take 3 or 4 Viva paper towels. So the cost to me is more effective.
14. Something I don’t do, but should is a master price list. You make a list of what you buy at the grocery store and you price compare at all the stores you shop at. Write down the prices and update as needed. This way you know when it is a good deal to purchase and if it really is on sale.
15. I buy the majority of my spices online at www.myspicesage.com. I only buy the spices that I can’t get cheaper and I only order when my list is over $20. Free shipping over $20. This company has tea, spices, and flavored salts for reasonable prices.
16. Limit those grocery store trips! We go once every 2 weeks, but go in the middle to pick up cilantro for salsa. It is so easy to spend $20 when you only needed to spend $0.88. Make a list and stick to it even on the tiny trips.
I can promise you that once you start doing this it becomes second nature. You begin looking at what you buy and think why am I spending money on this? I can make it cheaper, better, and know what each ingredient is.
The internet is your friend with curbing your spending. You are tired of spending money on cleaning supplies? Search for natural cleaners. Go to Pinterest and search or search this blog because there is a recipe for it here. The more items in your cart the more you spend. The fewer, less complicated items in your cart the less you spend and the further those products go.
My final suggestion is a pet peeve of mine. DON’T BUY STUFF AT CONVENIENCE STORES! That 20 oz of soda (pop) is more than a 2 lt at the grocery store. Everything at the convenience stores is so much more than the grocery store. Plan and prepare for trips. Invest in a small cooler and carry snacks and drinks in it. You will be miss stopping into your local convenience store, but your wallet will be much happier. You could even go out to dinner with the money you saved.
Please let me know what you do to save money on groceries. Oh, and subscribe to this blog if it helps you save money and live more creatively!