I knew when we decided that I would stay home that we would have to tighten our purse strings. I didn’t want to have to change our standard of living too terribly much. We weren’t going to be living on ramen noodles if I could help it. Before even Squeak was born we would have a monthly budget of around $500 for the two of us. Looking back I can’t even fathom the amount of food that was wasted every month. As of January of this year, saving on groceries has taken top priority.
We were also shopping twice a month for our big trips and then stopping by the grocery store several times a week to pick up extras. So much money wasted. Genuinely hurts my feelings in reflection. Of course, I’m still tweaking our schedules while I’m adjusting to the once monthly paycheck. I’m thinking that we will continue with our large, staple buying trip and then maybe one additional trip for produce. If anyone has tips on how to make produce last a month, I’m all ears.
So what have I done to drop our monthly spending $200 a month after adding our wee one?
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This is absolutely critical to saving on groceries. I try to buy as little as possible when something is not on sale. Of course if you need it, then try to buy it for the best price you can find. Sometimes this means stocking up on staples while skimping on other staples, but it usually evens out. Also, speak with the butchers and find out when they mark down their products. Marked down meats are safe to consume immediately or freeze for later. We got lucky and racked up this month because we timed our trip just right.
I wish I could be one of these extreme couponers, but that has never worked out in my favor. I also don’t need 20 bottles of shampoo at a time. However, most store typically run sales that match up with that week’s coupons. I did have a problem in the past where I would buy something just because I had a coupon. That is not the best way to do it. Especially if said product is not something you would typically eat. Now, if I’m buying something any way, I’ll use a coupon. A lot of stores now have apps that automatically connect your selected coupons to your account. This has been a time saver for me.
Start a Price Book
This is a bit of a tedious task, however, we’ve benefitted from it recently. Right now, my price book only covers meat, but I’m working towards expanding it to cover our staples. Check sales ads and when you see a sales price, write it down. Eventually you’ll have a book with the lowest prices for items you normally purchase. Once or twice a year almost everything gets to its lowest price. When that time comes you will be able to stock up. Trust me, it is so frustrating to buy something and then see a better price the following week.
Purchase the Family Size Packs
Not always, but generally there is a better price per unit on the family packs of meat. So we try to purchase those whenever possible versus the smaller packs. Of course, this does not mean that you should buy the largest packs of everything. You don’t want to waste any of the food and if you buy more than you eat, then it could get thrown away and that’s not good. Playing off of this point…
Break Down and Freeze/Store
This has been a struggle of mine for a while, but I am doing better about it. Take the time and break down larger packages of meat into portions that fit your family. We don’t need 6 chicken breasts, but before I would just throw it in the freezer and once it thawed I’d have to cook it all. This can also be done for produce that is in season and at its lowest price. Corn 2/$1 – stock up, break them down, blanche and freeze them and save them for later.
Grow a Supplemental Garden
If you have the space, this is an excellent means of adding to your diet without taking too much from your pocket. Of course, not every has the room for a full size garden, but even some container gardening is beneficial. If you like tomatoes, plant tomatoes in a container on your patio. Every little bit helps and it is fun for children to become involved in the process. Farmer’s markets are also an excellent place to get produce and depending upon where you live, you can get excellent prices.
This is another one of my weak points, but I am working on it. If you know ahead of time what you’re planning to make, you can better prepare your list. OR if you prefer to shop sales and then make your meal plan so you’ve got your ingredients and nothing goes to waste. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish my post on meal planning soon. Shelby with Little Coffee Fox has an excellent post about starting a recipe bank here.
** Update **
Make a List!
I have no clue how I managed to miss this because this is my absolute #1. I list everything especially groceries otherwise I tend to wander around aimlessly and buy what I think I need (usually ends up being something that I want, but don’t need). Nowadays, most big grocery stores have their own apps and you can even make and keep your lists within the app (which also has coupons) so it is extra helpful and can save time. I most always have my phone with me and usually leave my lists at home.
What are your favorite money saving solutions while grocery shopping?