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During this week’s save money post, I wanted to discuss how to save money on groceries. Recently I reviewed my bank account and calculated that we’ve been spending too much money on groceries. This is mainly due to my lack of careful planning and not really having a set budget and sticking to it.
During the month of February I’m going to implement some changes to save money on groceries. I’ve compiled a list of different strategies and suggestions to help reduce my grocery bill.
My plan/suggestions are as follows:
1. Set an actual budget
For this month, I decided to set my grocery budget at $300. That will include groceries, lunch for work, cleaning/laundry supplies and quick meals to replace eating out. This budget is to feed a family of 3.
2. Print coupons
I can never seem to remember to buy the Sunday newspaper that has the coupon circulars. So to make sure I get the coupons I need for the coming weeks, I’m going to print them out.
These are the major coupon sites that I will be visiting.
3. Price match
My grocery store will price match competitors’ printed ads. What I plan to do is check out two other stores online to see if there is anything that I would want from there that is on sale. Then I’ll drive by and pick up their printed circular
I’ll take the circulars with me to make sure I get the lowest price for the sale items. I know that it will be a little bit of extra work going to the two other stores to pick up the circulars, but I want to see if I can stay within and even reduce my allotted budget.
If you only plan on shopping at one store, be sure to review the store coupons before you leave home. Grocery coupons can be combined with manufacturer coupons for greater savings. Also if your grocery store offers discounts through a savings card, make sure you sign up and use that as well. Many stores now have cards that you can keep on your key chains so you always have them with you.
4. Take inventory & make a list
These two go hand in hand. Although I normally make a list of the things I need before I leave the house, I sometimes forget to take inventory of what I actually have on hand. This usually causes me to buy the same things over and over and waste money.
5. Buy store brand
I plan to buy as much store brand items as I possibly can. Now when I say possibly I mean just that. Some items my husband refuses to eat if it’s not name brand, like cereal, even though it tastes the same to me. Also some items just don’t work or perform properly if they are not name brand. For example, I bought some store brand American cheese the other week. When I tried to put it on my hotdog, like I normally do with my cheese, it would not melt lol. That freaked me out and grossed me out at the same time. Needless to say, I MUST have name brand American cheese lol.
6. Re-purpose leftovers
I don’t know how much food I’ve throw away over the years but it’s too much waste and too much money. My family starts to act funny when they see the same meal too many days in a row. I’m going to get more creative and re-purpose my leftovers by making something new out of something old. I currently have some spaghetti sauce that I will either freeze for next time or use it to make lasagna or baked ziti. Either way, they will see it again.
7. Plan meals in advance
Since I’ll be going to the store twice a month, I’m going to plan out the actual meals I’m going to make so I can only buy the items for those meals. This will help me to know exactly what’ I’m going to make and reduce unnecessary purchases.
I’m also going to check the local ads from the stores to see what’s on sale and what meal can be made from those items.
8. Be Flexible
You may want to buy boneless skinless chicken breast that week but only split chicken breasts are on sale. Instead of spending the extra money on the boneless skinless, you can save by buying the split chicken and just remove the bone and skin. Sometimes the item we really want isn’t on sale so it helps to be flexible and get something similar that is on sale.
9. Repackage meat
The grocery store usually sells large family packages of meat. Instead of preparing or even freezing the entire package, I’m going to separate the meat into smaller servings. I use large freezer bags and just try and press out as much air as a possible to reduce freezer burn. It’s also easy to label the bag with what’s included and the date.
If you notice that your grocery store is selling a larger piece of meat, cut it up into 2s or even 4s. I recently bought boneless skinless breast. The breasts were pretty big so I flayed them. That section was still big so I cut that in half. At that point it was the serving size of what we should be eating anyway. That one package of chicken breast yielded 32 servings of chicken.
10. Eat before you leave
I know we’ve all made this mistake before. Going to the grocery store hungry is almost a guaranteed way to spend extra money. You’re thinking of all the things you would like to eat or maybe even start eating while you’re in the store. Once you open it, you bought it, so be sure to eat before you leave home or bring some snacks with you.
11. Leave your family at home
I personally prefer to go to the grocery store by myself. It allows me to focus on what I’m getting and take my time. I don’t have to worry about my husband putting extra stuff in the cart or my stepson asking for various treats.
12. Go prepared
It’s best to go grocery shopping when you have time and are more relaxed. Generally when you rush through the store you tend to forget what you came for and have to make a second trip later on. Also make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There have been times when I went to the store after work and I had on the wrong shoes. My feet were hurting so bad I couldn’t wait to get out the store.
Also select a time with the least amount of people in the store. This is usually either earlier in the morning or late at night. When I’m at the store and the aisles are packed with people I get irritated and i’m ready to leave. Avoid being frustrated and pick the right time.
13. Find a local butcher or meat package store
Ask around to see if you can find a butcher that offers meat packages. I’ve finally found a friend who knows what I’m talking about and directed me where I can go. You can usually save money on meat by buying it in bulk. Generally with a meat package, you’ll get different cuts of chicken, pork and beef for a reduced price than if you bought everything separate.
14. Shop at Dollar Stores
Another friend turned me on to shopping at the Dollar Tree. I completely forgot they have cleaning supplies, sometimes name brands. Many locations also carry food, toiletries and other paper goods that are less than a grocery store.
15. Buy the smallest size when using coupons
Many stores will double manufacturer coupons. If you buy the smallest size allowed, you may be able to get the item for free or close to it.
For example, let’s say you have a coupon for 45 cents off cheese. With the store doubling your coupon, you’ll get 90 cents off. If you buy 16 slices, for $1.29, it will cost you .39 cents. But if you buy 24 slices at $2.45, then you’ll pay 1.55. Depending on the savings with the smaller item, you may be able to buy 2 of the smaller items.
What things have you done to save money on groceries?