Saving Money On groceries
I spend a whole lot of time and mental energy trying to find ways to save money. I have found that the grocery bill is actually one avenue that I can truly make some progress with, even after being so frugal for several years now. Here are my top budget-friendly tips:
1. Probably most importantly is to create weekly menus and shop off a list. Monday night I clean out the fridge (less than 3 minutes of time), eyeball the food cupboards (1 minute) and gather my grocery list and calendar. I then come up with meals for the week based on what we already have and what needs to be used up, what my family or I have been craving and/or what is budget-friendly. This Monday night routine takes less than 20 minutes and sparks several budget-friendly results:
A. I go food shopping only once a week, cutting down on over-buying, duplicate buying, gas money to/from store and all around time spent in the grocery store that could be used in way better ways (like hitting the playground with my toddler).
B. I am only buying what we will actually eat eliminating spoiled food and/or those random packages or cans of something you have sitting in cupboards or in the freezer for months and months because you went shopping in a tizzy and bought whatever looked appealing even if it didn’t really fit into a meal. No more wasted food, storage room and money!!
C. Because I cook the same dozen or so meals routinely (and I cook every night as a necessity even though still a bit grudgingly), we do not spend a lot of money on new ingredients and/or ingredients used only once or twice. You wouldn’t believe how the savings really do add up if you’re only trying a new recipe every month or so. Also, because my recipes are fairly simple, we save money in the quantity and “less fanciness” factor of the ingredients.
2. Shop at the same stores each week. I have scouted out the grocery stores, discount grocery outlets and health food stores nearby. Because I know what I can by where, cheapest, I can consolidate and make fewer trips to that store. Also, because I know my stores’ layouts my trips are quicker and I am less likely to be shopping trying to find something and then being tempted to grab something we really don’t need on an impulse (a few dollars saved here and there really do add up). In addition, because I am familiar with the general inventory and prices I can identify sales and deals more readily.
3. Sign up for your store’s “membership” and spend time making sure you are getting as many deals as possible. This task I resent greatly! I HATE spending time each week going on my Safeway smartphone app and having to “click” on coupons to get the deals. But, it is worth it. Honestly it only takes about ten minutes but it still drives me crazy! With Safeway some deals are automatic if you are a club member but the others require this extra step. I assume they do this to encourage further data collection possibilities and/or promote certain goods. Annoying! Your stores may have other options including paper coupons, double coupon days, partnerships with other businesses for deals like gas stations, etc. Check them out!
4. Figure out your dietary needs and values. What I mean by this is clarify for yourself what areas you are willing to be cheap about or let go of completely and what areas you aren’t. For example, we only eat meat that is labeled humanely-raised. Because it is more expensive it means we only eat meat once or twice a week. This might not work for other people’s palates but it is non-negotiable for me. In another example, we buy organic produce for our kiddo but not for us.
Good luck in saving big money at the grocery store! In general I have found that a little time spent equals a lot of money saved.