Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Money Saving in the Kitchen

If you're like me, you're always looking for ways to trim the fat from your grocery bill.  Especially with the rising costs of food these days and the current state of our economy.  Here are just a few tips to hopefully help you stay on budget.

  • Make a meal plan.  If you've done much looking around my site, you'll find that I try to post a new menu every Monday.  This serves a couple of different purposes.  It helps at 4:30pm when the kids are running around and I still have no thoughts of making dinner.  But it also helps me to better plan and utilize the food in our refrigerator and pantry.  Perhaps I bought several boxes of Rice a Roni when it was on sale.  This way, I have a resource of ideas on how to use it.
  • Make a list. Base the bulk of your grocery shopping on your list and base your list on your meal plan.  This will keep you from buying unnecessary items.  Of course, you may deter from this if there is a great sale on common items.  However, for the most part, try to stick with it.  Cross reference this with items already in your pantry before you leave home.
  • Clip coupons.  As many of my local stores don't accept Internet coupons, I don't do much clipping.  However there are many shoppers who have great success with this.  Check out Money Saving Mom to start.
  • Don't shop on an empty stomach.  This can be hard if you're shopping with kids, going with their schedules, and just trying to get out of the house whenever you can.  But if that's the case, pack an extra snack to eat on the way there.  You will over shop if you shop hungry.
  • Know where to look.  Avoid end caps and eye level shelves.  The most expensive and brand name items will be at eye level.  Try looking above and below for better deals.
  • Buy generic.  For the most part you'll find that you  won't notice a difference.  The taste and quality is often just as good.
  • Be a discerning shopper. Read labels.  I do have a few exceptions to my generic policy.  For example, when reading labels, I found that generic granola bars are higher in fat and sugar.  Buy generic is more costly if it affects your health.
  • Limit snacks.  Snack food is costly and unnutritious.  With a toddler in our house, it's inevitable; however, we limit it to a few "essentials:" granola bars, rice cakes, raisins, and graham crackers.  Occasionally, we buy a bag of chips, but we've found that cutting out cookies, chips, and soda have saved a significant amount on our overall grocery bill.
  • Buy in season.  Produce is a large chunk of our grocery spending.  Buying in season may keep us from buying cantaloupe year round, but it exposes my kids to a variety of our fruits and vegetables that they may not have otherwise experienced.  Produce in season can also be bought at a significant savings.
  • Get a club card.  For the most part, Safeway is the most expensive place in our area.  However, upon watching their ads, I find that I can get fresh produce at a significant savings if I have a Safeway card.  I recently purchased Mangoes 4/$1 while other places were selling them at $.60 a piece.  This price was only available with a club card.  Additionally, we are able to purchase gas at Safeway at a $.03 discount with our club card.
  • Avoid impulse buys.  Cookies, gum, and magazines are at the checkout for good reason.  While you are waiting to pay for your groceries, they are an easy temptation.  Look at the price and think of how you could better use that money, such as an extra pound of grapes, or a loaf of french bread.
  • Do allow yourself the occasional spurge.  When I'm having a bad day and I've braved the store with two kids, I'll pick up bottled soda to chill at home and enjoy during nap time.  I consider this cheaper than therapy.  It allows me the occasional spurge and keeps me focused for the next time I have to stick to my budget.
These strategies Work for Me.


Anonymous said...

lots of great tips! i don't use many coupons anymore though because I have been shopping at Aldi's and that helps me feed my family of 5 (7 if you count when my daughter and her fiance come over, which is often) and I save a lot of money over the other grocery stores.

Anonymous said...

Great tips! I find I shop at Safeway more now than the cheaper stores because their sales are so much better. AND knowing I'm at the "expensive" store makes me stick to my list and budget - I only buy what we need and end spending way less than at the other stores.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Good tips. I have also found the grocery game to be worth the investment, but only because I shop at Kroger that doubles and triples coupons. If they didn't, I am not sure it would be worth it.

You can try it free for 2 months and find out if you think it is worth it. www.thegrocerygame.com

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