For each and every one of us, there comes a time in life when we need to pinch our pennies. Often, the easiest place to save is in the grocery budget. If you need extra $ going to savings or bills, consider implementing a few of these tips! But don’t do too much too fast lest you give up completely. Choose a few and try it for 1 month. Keep record of expenses and see if it proves worth your while. The numbers won’t lie!
Practice Simple Cooking At Home
Cooking at home does save money and unlike many folks think, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Make pasta or rice instead of going out. Bake muffins for breakfast or snacks, a roast for dinner with carrots and potatoes. If you are a working individual, learn to use the crock pot. There’s thousands of recipes out there! Do whatever it takes to cook at home, because this is one of the necessary elements to saving money on the grocery budget.
Cut Back on Desserts
Are you the type that needs something sweet every night? Consider cutting back on desserts. Pleasurable? Yes. Necessary? Probably not, particularly if you never make your own. Replace your pre-made pastries and cookies with fruit (fresh, frozen or dried), frozen yogurt or made-from-scratch sweets. If you have to make a cake after coming home from work, your “sweet needs” may decrease. If not, dessert will be healthier and you can have family fun, making food together.
Not only will it do wonders for your health, but drinks are often a big expense in many homes. Consider cutting out soda pop, juices and alcoholic beverages. Drink water instead. If you have difficulties doing this, refrigerate the water (cold water goes down best) and add juice of fresh lemons or limes if desperate for flavor. A drop or two of liquid stevia makes for a natural drink that won’t spike blood sugars.
Make Your Grocery List BEFORE You Shop
Whenever I go grocery shopping without a written list, I always come out with a few things I didn’t need, forgetting a few that were necessary (like TP). Your grocery list isn’t just a reminder: its your accountability! I finally had to change the way I operated: if its not on the list, its not an option! The only exception are bulk sales for items used on a regular basis.
Shop According to Needs, Not Wants or Sales
Plan your grocery list according to the needs of your home and purchase only what you need. It’s easy to let “SALE” signs throw you off track (the cheese isle gets me every time). Don’t allow yourself to become distracted. Unless you are purchasing dried goods, canned or freezable foods in bulk, don’t stop to entertain the idea! Looking is like bait on a fishhook. Don’t nibble, no, not even on cheese!
Stick to your
grocery accountability list. If needed, write the question at the top of your list: “needs or wants?” And before you purchase the contents of your cart, take an honest look. Ask the question again: need or desire?
Shop Basic Foods
Shop for foods that not only stretch a long way, but also for foods that are basic. Basic foods are usually cheap and versatile. If you are always purchasing salmon, shrimp, steak, special cheeses and wines, you’re shopping extravagantly. Think beans for chili, tortillas, soup, of grain products for spaghetti, muffins, porridge and bread; think of a 10-30lb bag of potatoes for everything potato (raw-fried, baked, mashed, salad, etc). Don’t think about just eating, but instead, about the versatility of the product.
Shop Less for Larger Amounts
If possible, purchase in bulk and when a product is on sale. For produce, this usually happens when its in season. Buy canned or dry goods by the case. Make use of your freezer. Bread, butter, yogurt and milk can be successfully frozen. Carrots and most root vegetables, plus many fruit varieties (apples, pears, citrus) will keep a long while in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator. Eggs purchased in flats will keep for months. Shop less for larger amounts. And if you can’t possibly use a 20 lb bag of carrots or a case of oranges before they spoil, consider dividing the cost and product with a frugal-minded friend or two.
Budget & Shop with Cash
Nothing is so easy as waving the credit card. Handing a wad of $20.00’s over to the cashier because you’ve purchased too many “wanted” items will make you more aware of your spending habits. So shop with cash. Set a monthly budget and remove only that much from the bank account. If you’re having difficulties sticking to it, take out cash weekly or bi-weekly. Remember to keep it in a secure place and when it’s gone, eat from food storage in your home!
Reserve Fast Food and Restaurants for Emergencies & Special Occasions
If you or your family eats out (or does fast food) on a regular basis, consider taking a break for 1 month. Instead, make dinners together at home. Pack lunches for work and school. Reserve restaurants, coffee shops and fast food visits for emergencies (forgetfulness, working late, traffic complications) or special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Going Long Term? Choose a “Special Occasion” Item
If attempting to cut back long-term, pre-set a date (the end of every month or every other) and allow yourself a special occasion item. What do you/your family love that has been given up? Ice cream, seafood, cheeses or special drinks? On that pre-chosen date, give yourself a little break from the grind. If you do, you’ll be more likely to stick with your plan long term.
Tally Up the Difference
Regardless of how long you choose to carry out your grocery savings plan, tally costs at the end of the first month. Also tally up average monthly grocery costs from before you began the plan. Multiply each by 12 months. Over a year’s time, how much is spent on food? And what is the difference in savings? Were you doing well already, and the saving is minuscule? Or does sticking to a plan help you save significantly over a year’s time?