- Personal Finance»
- Frugal Living
Saving Money on Groceries
Let's face it, saving money is difficult. In today's unstable economy families are scrambling more than ever to find ways to stretch their dollar. Discretionary funds are thing of the past for many families and finding enough money to put food on the table is a challenge for some. The following are a few ways that you might save money when purchasing food for your family.
Clip Coupons & Double Coupons
This sounds simple, but it surprising how many people go through the checkout without using any. Coupons are available for anything from dairy to hygiene products and everything in between. It can be tedious to bother with, but if you have a large grocery list, it can save several dollars per trip. I've saved up nearly $30 at one time by clipping wisely.
Many grocers have double coupon days. If you can arrange your schedule to accommodate it, plan to shop on double coupon days and save twice as much!
Highlight Coupon Items on Grocery List
If you're like me, you tend to forget what items you have coupons for. Mark the items with an asterisk on your grocery list to help you remember to turn in the coupons at the checkout counter. You can pull these coupons out and put them in separate envelope or pocket so you can retrieve them easily at checkout.
Buy It Even If You Don't Need It Today
This sounds counterintuitive, but if you have a valuable coupon that is set to expire, buy the item and save the money, even if you don't need it today. This only works on nonperishable items such as canned goods, meats that you can freeze, toiletries and paper products. If you don't use the coupon, you'll wind up buying the item several days or weeks later for more money.
Outline Your Store and Plan Your Shopping Trips
Making your grocery list according to how your store is laid out will help cut down on time spent shopping and reduce impulse purchases. Next time you are in the store, make a list of every aisle, by number, and include what is in each aisle. That will help you stay focused and reduce the aimless wandering that can lead to purchases you do not need, the next time you shop. It will also enable you to go straight to the proper aisle if you have to run to the store for only one or two items, thus cutting down on the potential for those pesky impulse purchases.
Avoid Shopping When Hungry
This is a commonly known tactic, but we all do it. Shopping when hungry causes us to significantly increase the number of impulse purchases because everything looks good when you're hungry. The best time to shop is right after a meal or light snack that curbs your hunger and allows you to remain focused on purchasing only the items you came for.
Never Shop Without a List
Impulse purchases are also commonly made by persons who shop without a list. Keep a blank paper on your refrigerator and write down items as you realize you need them. That will help you stay focused when you shop.
Plan Your Grocery List Around A Menu
People who plan weekly menus are far less likely to purchase prepackaged, more expensive foods. Decide what items you will need for the week by perusing your cookbooks and selecting recipes that your family will enjoy. Keep your menu on the refrigerator and refer to it each day so that you can take out meat to thaw in advance and plan for last minute market trips to buy things such as fresh produce. If you do not use a weekly menu, you will be more likely to scrounge for last minute meal plans that can lead to a need to stock more prepackaged foods.
Plan Menus Around Your Schedule
If you have a hectic lifestyle that includes things such as working late, kids' sporting events, volunteer commitments and homework, you need to have a plan that will enable you to maintain a healthy diet for your family. When making a weekly menu, coincide plans with your family's calendar. Determine what nights you will need to use the crock pot and on which nights you can afford to take a little more time preparing dinner. On some nights, it may be necessary to prepare sack lunches that can be sent with the family to their various activities. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is far healthier than opting for fast foods. Freezing juice boxes can provide a natural way to keep the lunch box items cold throughout the day, until kids are ready to eat. Sack lunches might include wraps instead of traditional sandwiches, hummus and pita bread, raw veggies with dip, cold cheeses, fresh fruit, or other healthy fare.
Alternatives to Prepackaged Foods
So many families are pressed for time and find it difficult to avoid fast food and prepackaged options when they are very busy. Crock pots do come in handy, allowing you to put on a meal before you leave for work and have your food ready when you get home. In addition, consider simple side dishes such as raw, fresh vegetables and dip, fresh fruit salad, and rice or pasta. These dishes are simple to make and nutritionally sound. Grilled sandwiches can also be easy to prepare using items you likely have on hand such as bread, butter, lunch meat, onion, lettuce and mayonnaise. Other simple options include breakfast for dinner items such as pancakes or scrambled egg casseroles with toast and bacon. When completing your grocery list, consider such alternatives and stock up on the proper ingredients.
Avoid Paying Convenience Charges
It is always more convenient to buy foods that are already portioned, cut and washed for us, but this is also much more expensive. Opt for items that you can prepare and package yourself. Examples include slicing your own cheese, fruits and vegetables; purchasing things such as jello and pudding mixes and making them yourself; using refillable water bottles for beverages and portioning your own chips. Having a stock of small tupperware containers for use in packing lunches will help to avoid buying the prepackaged foods.
Use Rebate Cards for Purchases
If you have a credit card that offers cash back for things such as groceries and gas, use it to pay for your purchases. You may not like to use credit cards for routine purchases, but if you don't, you're turning down free money! You can always pay off your balance in full using money you would have spend anyway, and you'll have spent less of it when your rebate check arrives.
Take Advantage of Store Incentives & Bulk Purchasing
In addition to double coupon days, stores often have specials that can save you money on groceries or other items. My store, for example, offers an incentive program called Fuel Perks that applies a percentage of my purchase toward gasoline at BP. I have saved nearly $3.00 per gallon on many of my fill ups. Stores also have other specials for doing things such as purchasing in bulk. If you have the space and will use the items, it makes sense to do this.
Purchasing in bulk doesn't just mean buying 10 cans for $2.00. It also means buying the jumbo condiments and cereal boxes. If you can afford the space and will use the items, this is a more cost effective way to shop. Some bulk items may be able to be broken down into smaller portions and frozen until needed. Do so if you can.
Bulk shopping trips will cost more up front, which makes shoppers nervous. The finances balance out over time because they allow you to shop less often.
Shop Alone if Possible
Those of use that take our kids to the store with us probably spend a lot more money than we intend to because the kids have no shortage of culinary demands. We also want to avoid the temper tantrums that usually occur when we try to put our foot down. It is far more expedient and financially responsible to shop alone. You can stick to your grocery list and get out of the store quickly.
Designate a Private Spot for Overflow Food
If you are able to carve out a place to stock excess food at home, do so. What typically happens in most households is that immediately after a shopping trip, the family tears into the snack foods and other items, reducing the amount of food in the house by a disproportionate amount. Consider your eating habits. When you have readily available food, you're more likely to snack on it. When it isn't there, you are more easily able to restrain yourself. Often, when faced with the need to think about it, you find you weren't terribly hungry after all. By managing your food in this manner, you can promote healthier eating habits in your children and yourself, and you can better manage the amount of money you spend on food.
Hopefully you've found a few new tips here that will be useful to you. Best of luck!
More Useful Hubs
© 2011 Jaynie2000