How to Save Money on Groceries - Money Saving Tips
How to Save Money on Groceries
With the price of groceries going up seemingly everyday, many people are looking for ways to save money anywhere they can. Sure you may clip a few coupons, you might even pick up an item or two that you see on sale, but significant savings are possible when you make a specific plan and set out to reduce the money you spend. Saving money on groceries does not mean sacrificing the quality of what you
eat. By changing a few simple habits and watching for the best deals you can drastically
reduce your grocery bill. There are many ways that you can easily whittle down your monthly grocery expenses and your family won't even notice. It's not difficult to budget family grocery shopping when you utilize a few simple tips.
How to Save Money on Groceries
How to Save Money - Money Saving Tips
There’s no doubt food prices are going up, but there are lots of ways to save a lot and shave pennies, dimes and dollars from your food costs.
♦ Buy fruits and vegetables in season when they’re cheaper and at the peak of flavor.
♦ When you have ripe bananas and you know you’re not going to eat them before they start going bad, pop them in the freezer, peel and all. The peel will turn very dark, but the banana inside will be fine. When you’re ready to make banana bread or smoothies, just take out what you need, let it sit for a few minutes to release the peel and you’re all set.
♦ Powdered or Instant Milk - Many people complain that they don’t like the taste of powdered milk. You don’t necessarily have to serve it as a substitute for a glass of regular milk … you can simply use it as a substitute in your recipes that call for milk. The basic rule of thumb: 1/3 cup powdered milk mixed with 1 cup water is equivalent to 1 cup of liquid milk. For milk the consistency of evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk), add one cup powdered milk to one cup water. Dry milk isn’t always cheaper than buying a carton of milk, but the convenience of having milk on hand whenever you need it is nice. No more running to the store at the last minute because you’re out of milk. And remember, any trip to the grocery store that we can avoid saves us money … no extra gas, no temptation for impulse purchases!
♦ Buy day old bread or find a discount bakery outlet. The bread may be past its prime, but it makes excellent bread pudding or French toast. Freeze any bread you aren’t going to use immediately. I make up huge batches of French toast and store it in 2 gallon Ziploc bags in the freezer. The kids have a quick and easy breakfast for only pennies. I do the same thing with pancakes and avoid the packaged convenience items in the freezer case.
♦ If you have the freezer space, bake muffins and cookies from scratch. Grab a muffin for a quick meal on the go, or put a couple of cookies in the kids’ lunch. Not only are your homemade treats more nutritious, you can often make them for a fraction of the price you’d pay in the grocery store.
Use Your Bread Maker
♦ Pull out your bread machine. Besides bread, your bread maker can be used for rolls and
pizza dough. Remember the wonderful
smell of bread baking? Enjoy it and save
money at the same time! There are hundreds of great bread machine recipes ranging from whole grain, white, savory, sweet and gluten free. Bread machine recipes are easy to come by. I think you'll be pleased by how deliciously simple baking bread can be.
♦ If you live in an area that has a U-Pick farm, consider spending a couple of hours picking your own food. My kids love our annual tradition of strawberry picking. We enjoy them fresh, frozen, dehydrated, and even in homemade jam. Blueberries are another wonderful fruit that’s easy to pick and freeze. Add them to baked goods, make a blueberry compote, homemade jam, or add to your cereal. Blueberries are nutritious, low calorie and packed with anti-oxidants. For a listing of U-Pick farms in your area, go to Pick Your Own. This site has a wealth of information on many aspects of picking your own food, how to preserve or can it, and even some delicious recipes.
♦ Learn to can – It can be time consuming, but the results are
worth it! Tomato sauce, jams, jellies,
salsa and pickles are all relatively simple to can. Visit a U-Pick farm or your local farmers
market and get your fruits and vegetables at the peak of season. From market to canned in the same day! Canning jars and supplies are inexpensive and can be used over and over.
♦ Dried beans are an inexpensive protein. Soak the beans overnight in your slow cooker. In the morning, rinse and add about 4c water to 1 lb dried beans along with whatever seasonings you like. Cook on medium/high for about 8 hours. Beans provide a very simple and inexpensive protein to build your meal around. Make enough to freeze for later use.
How to Budget Family Groceries with FREE Coupons and More
Make Your Own Yogurt
♦ Make your own yogurt. It’s fairly simple and if you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out on a delicious treat. Making your own yogurt is easy and fun! A yogurt maker can be used but is not necessary. You will never buy store bought after tasting the yogurt maker yogurt, it's delicious! Yogurt is great with fresh fruit, in cereal, or blended into a smoothie. You can also make yogurt from goat or sheep’s milk, or even from other types of non-dairy “milk,” including soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk. This is a great place to incorporate those frozen fruits you’ve stashed in the freezer.
♦ If you don’t want to try your hand at making yogurt, you can always buy the larger 32-oz container and portion it out into four 8-ounce servings. This works out to approximately 16 cents less per serving, or a savings of 64 cents. If your family goes through yogurt as fast as mine, this can add up fast!
♦ Tough cuts of meat are usually the cheapest. This is the time to pull out your slow
cooker. Put your meat in the slow cooker
in the morning and by dinner time it’ll be so tender it will literally fall
apart. There's nothing like the aroma and taste of a slow cooker roast waiting when you get home from work. You’ll also walk into a kitchen
that smells like you’ve been cooking all day – which you have! There are online forums dedicated to slow cooker recipes, you won't run out of recipes for slow cooker meals.
♦ Grow your favorite herbs year-round in your kitchen
window. It’s convenient and costs pennies. Another benefit, you don’t have to worry
about your herbs going bad, you’ll always have fresh picked! Growing herbs is something anyone can do and it'll add a lot of flavor to your meals.
♦ Plant a garden. Even
if you only have a few containers on your patio, you’ll enjoy the low cost and
delicious benefits of homegrown produce.
There’s nothing like the flavor of a tomato straight from the vine. Container gardening is becoming very popular and is a wonderful alternative for those who don't have the space for a full size garden.
♦ Have you ever bypassed the rotisserie chicken at the deli thinking it was too expensive, or that you could make your own cheaper? Think again! Check your local supermarket and you may be surprised to find that rotisserie chicken is actually cheaper than buying raw and baking it yourself. Sometimes it’s nice to indulge.
♦ Try to shop at a farmers market. Not only are you supporting your local agriculture but it’s healthier, fresher and always in season.... not to mention that the prices are about as low as it gets.
♦ Frosting – Before using that tub of store bought frosting, whip it in your mixer for a few minutes. It will double in volume and you can frost more cake or cupcakes with the same amount. You’ll also consume less sugar and calories per serving.
♦ Wash your own lettuce. Bagged lettuce is EXPENSIVE! You can wash the whole head of lettuce at one time, tear it into bite size pieces and put it in a bag or plastic container for use throughout the week. You get the same convenience for a fraction of the price, and seriously, how long does it take to wash a head of lettuce?
♦ Drink water with your meals. Fill a pitcher with ice water and add a few slices of lemon or lime if you like. Eliminating just one glass of juice per day would save a family of four, $467 a year. Eliminating one glass of milk each day would save the same family over $300 a year.
♦ Don’t assume homemade is cheaper. Compare the cost of ingredients. A bag of chocolate chips can be quite
expensive unless you find a good sale on them. Grocery coupons can be used to bring down the cost of your home baked goods, but be sure you compare overall costs.
♦ Don’t assume bulk is cheaper. Again, you need to compare the actual cost
per unit. Sometimes the smaller package
is the best bargain. Wholesale food stores offer great discounts, but you always need to compare cost per unit.
popcorn bags may be convenient, but they’re also expensive. Pull out a large heavy saucepan and pop it on
the stove. You’ll have control over how
much butter, salt and other seasonings you add.
The nice thing … it really will be all natural. If you’re interested, you can make your own
microwave popcorn. Combine ¼ cup
popcorn, ¼ tsp olive oil and whatever seasonings you like. Put it all in a brown lunch bag, fold it over
a couple of times and crease tightly.
Microwave until you hear the popping slow to about 3-5 seconds
apart. You can also do this with a large
bowl with a plate on top. You’ll never
need to buy microwave popcorn again.
♦ When items you normally use are on sale, such as spaghetti sauce, pasta, peanut butter or canned goods, it’s time to stock up.
♦ Use and rotate your food storage. If you aren’t using it, it is basically a waste of space and money. Rule of thumb: Store what you use and use what you store.
♦ Have a meatless day. Meat can be very expensive. Try a cheaper alternative, such as tofu, which is completely tasteless but is packed with protein. Dried beans are another good alternative for your protein source. Experiment! Tofu picks up the flavors of whatever you're cooking it with and there are many different types of beans. Check out a vegetarian cookbook from your local library, or do an internet search, there are many sources of great protein rich meals with no meat. It’s easy to find delicious vegetarian recipes your family will love.
Delicious Recipes on a Budget - FREE Recipes
Leftovers and Leftover Recipes
♦ When you have a small portion of leftover vegetables, keep a container in the freezer and add to it. Use this medley of leftover vegetables to add to soups or casseroles. You can also mix these vegetables together, microwave and top with a little cheese to make a fast and easy vegetable side dish.
♦ Before storing leftovers in the freezer, be sure to label them with the date and contents. You’ll be much more likely to actually use it if you know what it is.
♦ Homemade soups are a good way to use leftover meat and vegetables. Their liquid content also makes them more satisfying. Make a stock with leftover bones; skim and strain. Use this stock as a base for your soup.
♦ Use pasta or rice to stretch small amounts of food into a meal. Chop up that leftover piece of meat and add it to the pasta or rice. Be creative. Stir in some diced peppers, leftover vegetables, whatever you have on hand. Adding a can of creamed based soup or stock makes an instant casserole.
♦ Don’t waste those leftovers. Every couple of days take all the leftovers out of the fridge and have a smorgasbord. Kids love the variety and you save the cost of another meal.
Food Coupons offer great Grocery Deals
At The Grocery Store - Coupons for Groceries
♦ You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. Do NOT go shopping while hungry and do NOT go shopping without a list. The number one rule is to make a list and STICK to it!
♦ Plan your menu. You have to have a plan. Make a list of some basic menu ideas. Be sure to plan your menus around the week’s grocery sales. Whatever is on special for that particular week is what you should be building your menus around. Having a plan also eliminates the 5PM “what’s for dinner?” plight.
♦ Make a shopping list. Use your menu plan to make your shopping list, be sure you have everything on hand that you’ll need. Having the ingredients you need for the week eliminates extra trips to the supermarket, where those little “incidental” items end up in your grocery cart.
♦ Consider making from scratch many of the things you usually buy in prepared form, such as brownies, pancake mix, salad dressing or boxed meals like Hamburger Helper.
♦ Try shopping with cash, taking only an allotted amount to the store. Studies have shown that consumers, on average, spend 12-18 percent more when they go shopping with credit cards instead of cash.
♦ Try to shop at a farmers market. Not only are you supporting your local agriculture but its healthier, fresher and always in season .... not to mention that the prices are about as low as it gets.
♦ Do some shopping around. Know the prices of simple things at your local stores, a few cents here and a few cents there really add up!
♦ Avoid convenience stores; they generally have much higher prices than your local supermarket.
Store Discount Cards -
♦ Many stores have their own Discount Cards. Be sure to sign up for the card, it’s free, and then use it. It may not save you a lot, but every little bit helps!
Loss Leaders -
♦ Many stores offer weekly fliers advertising exceptional savings. These loss leaders are sold at or below cost and are meant to bring you into the store where you are likely to buy other items. Use these loss leaders to your advantage and visit two or three different supermarkets each week. While shopping for these “loss leaders,” you’ll of course do your regular shopping from your planned list.
♦ Clip coupons. There are some really good savings in the Sunday paper.
♦ You can get printable coupons online at Pinching Your Pennies, Coupons , or Coupon Sense. Use your coupons in conjunction with sales at your local grocery store. By using the coupon with the sale price, you can get items for a fraction of their original cost.
♦ Multiply your savings. Some people have multiple subscriptions to the Sunday paper, just for the coupons. You can also ask your friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers for the coupons from their paper.
♦ Check other sources for coupons. Look for coupons in the coupon dispensers on the grocery store shelves, home mailers or coupons that are adhered to the product itself.
♦ When shopping with coupons, be sure to only buy items you know you’ll use. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale, or you have a coupon. You also need to look to see if you’re truly getting a bargain. Check unit prices and compare to store or generic brands. Sometimes that name brand item, with the coupon, is still more expensive than the store brand.
♦ Some grocery stores will match competitor coupons if you have the advertisement with you. Be prepared when you go shopping.
Sale Ads -
♦ Watch your local newspaper and store fliers. These advertisements are where you’ll generally find your stores loss leaders. These weekly sales are a great time to stock up and save on items you normally use. Remember, it’s not a savings if you don’t use it! Don’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s on sale. My local store has some great savings on BOGO (Buy One, Get One), items. My kids never ask for cereal unless we have a coupon AND the store is offering a BOGO sale. Yep, double up those savings!
Save money at the food store
Food Coops and Warehouses
♦ I think most people are aware of the advantages of shopping at large discount warehouse stores. These stores can offer a tremendous savings, but remember to factor in the cost of membership and don’t succumb to impulse buying. Are you really going to use 7 lbs of canned peaches? If you have a freezer, you can freeze in smaller quantities. Just be sure you buy in quantities you can use, or repackage for future meals. Wasted food is no bargain.
♦ Food cooperatives such as Angel Food Ministries and SHARE Food Network offer great bargains. With Angel Food Ministries, you pay $30 and receive about $60 worth of food. You can buy more than one box, or buy one of their additional packages. A typical box will feed a family of 4 for one week. SHARE offers a basic package for $18, a produce pack for $6 and specialty packs and meat boxes that are individually priced. The food cooperative programs use the buying power of multiple buyers and spread the savings on to their participants. These programs are open to anyone who wants to save money; you do not have to be low income to participate.
Angel Food Ministries
** REMEMBER, the most expensive food you can buy is the food that goes to waste.
Bread Machines, Slow Cookers, Freezers, Food Dehydrator and More
Four of my favorite appliances for a Frugal Kitchen
Freezer – The advantages of a freezer can be significant.
- You can save money by buying on sale, in season, and in bulk.
- Control quality. When correctly prepared and packaged, many fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats are as good frozen as they are fresh.
- Buy local and support your nearby farmer’s markets. Also reduces shipping which saves gas and the environment at the same time.
- Store your own garden produce.
- Prepare family favorites in quantity and freeze meal size portions for extra time and cost savings.
Bread Maker – Nothing tastes better than hot bread straight from the oven. With a bread maker, you can toss in the ingredients and do something else until your loaf is ready for sampling. In fact, if your bread maker has a timer, you can set it before going to bed and wake up to the smell of fresh baked bread for breakfast. Homemade bread is much tastier than store bought. It’s also preservative free and less expensive.
Slow Cooker or Crock pot - One of life's most useful pleasures in the kitchen is the faithful crock pot or slow cooker. Load it up as you head out to work, and dinner will be ready when you return. The slow cooker can turn an inexpensive tough cut of meat into a succulent fork tender meal. It also works well for soups, stews, chili, applesauce and preserves. Dried beans, long-cooking whole grains and hot cereals are simple to prepare with a slow cooker. There are entire cookbooks and websites devoted to recipes for the slow cooker.
Food Dehydrators – A
food dehydrator gently evaporates the moisture content from the food. It’s the least destructive method of
preservation because unlike canning, there’s no need to boil foods to kill
bacteria. In fact, in some respects,
it’s even healthier than the food it replaces because dried food is
concentrated giving it a higher nutrient density than most foods. Fruits, vegetables and meats can all be
dehydrated successfully. Fruit leathers
or roll-ups are simple to make and have no artificial colorings or
ingredients. Just pure, simple
fruit. Dehydrator food can be stored in freezer to extend it's freshness.
Cleaning and Miscellaneous
More Money Saving Tips
This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people who don’t follow this basic principle … Do NOT run the dishwasher unless it is FULL. It wastes water, electricity and soap. Rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher, it only takes a few minutes. When the dishwasher is full, add soap and turn it on. You can also utilize non peak hours to run the dishwasher and turn the heated drying cycle to off. The heat built up during the wash cycle will be sufficient to dry the dishes.
Unclog Drains –
Instead of buying expensive drain products, pour two cups of baking powder in a large pot of water. Bring it to a boil, and then pour it down the clogged drain. It will unclog immediately!
Zip Lock Bags –
I know what you’re thinking … YES; Ziploc bags can definitely be reused and are an easy place to save a few dollars each month. Let me give you an example. Shopping at our local discount club I can buy bags in larger quantities than the supermarket, this translates to a discount in the final cost per bag. BUT, let’s see if we can reduce that expense even more. A 125 count box of sandwich bags sells for $8.72, which comes out to 7 cents per bag. A 117 count box of gallon size bags is $22.18, or 19 cents per bag, and a 360 count carton of quart bags sells for $36.64 or 10 cents a piece. Let’s say you typically use 10 sandwich bags, 5 quart bags and 5 gallon bags each week, that would mean you spend $2.15 each week on disposable Ziploc bags… or roughly $9.32 per month. If you reuse your bags 6 times, you’re now saving approximately $6.45 per month. This savings is even greater if you typically buy your Ziploc bags at the supermarket. The only time I would not reuse a bag is if I have stored meat in it, it’s not worth the risk.
Recipe ideas to save you even more
Cook for your family. It’ll save you money and you’ll enjoy better tasting, more nutritious foods. Get everyone involved and make it a team effort.
Dig out your old cookbooks, go to the library or search online. Try new recipes, incorporate new foods, get out of the dinner rut and have some fun. Here’s a list to get your started with some great ideas that incorporate low cost, nutritious foods.
Start Small –
Don’t expect to make huge changes overnight. You need to learn gradually how to incorporate your new money saving strategies and investment planning. Try cutting $25 or $50 a month from your food bill. Even if you cut back only $50 a month, you will save $600 a year. If you save just $1 a day, that’s $365 a year! You can then apply that $365 a year to paying off your credit cards. At 21% interest, you will save more than $70 a year. This will eventually cause a snowball effect since the more you pay off, the less you pay to interest. When you pay less to interest, you have more each month to apply to paying off your overall debt. This means that as you pay off the debt, the rate at which you can pay it off increases.
I hope you found this HubPage useful. I’m a single mom trying to raise 5 kids on my own. I know it can be challenging to keep good healthy food on the table, so please let me know if you have any other suggestions. We learn the most when we share with each other.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in helping feed the poor, here’s a fun game I think you’ll enjoy.
♦ How to Play:
· Click on the right answer in the middle of the page.
· If you get it right, you get a harder question. If you get it wrong, you get an easier question.
· For each answer you get right, FreeRice will donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program