How to Reduce Your Family Grocery Expenses
When times are tough, we need to find a way to cut all of our expenses. After all the luxury items have been removed, sometimes we need to see what we can do about keeping the cost of our necessities at a minimum.
Here are some tips on saving money at the grocery store. They provide a way to reduce your grocery expenses while allowing you to provide delicious and nutritious meals for your family.
Don't Waste Food
The best way to save money on food is to not buy things you are not going to use, and use it while it is fresh. We waste so much food and have to throw it away. We can save a lot of money on our grocery budget without reducing the quality of our meals, by simply matching what we buy with what we can actually eat.
When my sister buys a new product she wants to try, she adds it to her menu and eats it within the week, while the interest in the new product is still high. While she will stock up while things are on sale, she makes sure that she does not buy more than her family can eat before the expiration date. Another tip that she gave me was to use a permanent marker and write the date on the top of all the cans that she buys. She does this before putting away the groceries. This helps her use the the older cans first, and helps her know when a can might be too old to use.
Eat What's On Sale
Some people plan their menu first, and then go to the store to buy the things they need to make all the meals on the menu. If you do this, you may find out that some or all of the items you need to make the foods on your menu are not on sale this week.
One way I have found to save money at the grocery store is to plan my meals around what is in the house first, since that will not cost me any additional money. This strategy also helps make sure that I am using the food while it is still fresh. Then I plan around what is on sale. Simply look at the sales ads to plan your menu for the week, then go to the store and buy those items that you need to make all the food on your menu.
The things that are on sale tend to also be in-season, so they help give us fresh and tasty produce and other foods as well.
Shop at More than One Store
All stores have sales prices that are really low to bring the customers in the door. Some of these products are called loss leaders because they are even sold below the cost to the grocery store. The store makes up for this loss because the customers tend to buy other things in the store as well. If these grocery stores aren't too far away from each other, or if you can stop by on your way from work, you can take advantage of these sales and get really good prices on groceries and other items. You are generally not required to buy anything else at the store.
Use a Shopping List
I have notepad with a magnet that is placed on the refrigerator. Whenever we run out of an item, or are about to, each of the family members write the item on the list. This helps us to stay organized, and avoid shopping more frequently than necessary. It also keeps me from buying something, just because I don't remember if we still have enough to last until the next time I go grocery shopping.
For more information about a shopping list, see 2Patricias hub.
Some people do not want to take the time to use coupons, but I do. While coupons do save some money on groceries, I find my biggest savings on non-food items, such as toiletries and cleaning supplies. Coupons and refunds have also let me buy brand name products and try new things for a very low price. Many times, I have gotten things for free by using sales and coupons.
When money is especially tight, I am still able to enjoy trying out a new luxury razor or other treat, simply by combining coupons and refunds. This lets me restrict my spending without feeling deprived.
Stock Up on Sale Items
When an item is on sale, buy enough to last you until the next sale. This will keep you from having to do without the item, and keep you from having to pay full price for the item. I rarely have to pay full price for an item.
Of course, it is important to make sure you don't overdo stocking up on sale items, since you have to find a place in your house to store these sale items. You also should not buy more of perishable items than you can use before they go bad.
This helps me keep variety in my diet, and keeps me from eating only what is on sale that week. For example, if chicken is on sale this week, but I am in the mood for fish, I can cook the fish I bought last week.
Some of my friends tell me they do not have enough money to stock up. Stocking up should not cost more than your regular grocery budget. The aim, after all, is to save money. When you are stocking up on toilet paper one week, there is another product you are not buying because you have already stocked up on it during a previous week. It really is possible to stock up on products without a big financial start. Most people already stock up to some degree. If money is really tight, you can use the food that is in your house to help reduce the amount of groceries you have to buy the week you first start stocking up.
Use the Unit Cost
Sometimes it is hard to figure out which package is cheaper, since they are different sizes and different prices. Some stores provide the unit cost of each item, so you know how much it costs per ounce. Be sure to use those to find the best deal.
Although bigger packages tend to be cheaper by the ounce than the smaller packages, that is not always the case. I have found that by paying attention to the unit cost, I can make sure I get the best deal.
Be careful to check the units though. The store I frequent will generally use one particular unit, such as ounce, on some products, but a different unit, for others. You want to make sure you are comparing like units. Taking a calculator to the grocery store is helpful. A calculator is almost required when you are using coupons, since it helps you decide which coupon to use, and which size of product will give you the best deal.
Brand Flexibility: Buy the Store Brand
If you stay loyal to certain brands, you are going to have difficulty saving money. You really need to stock up and wait for sales. But if you are more flexible in your brands, then you can have some flexibility in your grocery shopping. For example, if you like Prego spaghetti sauce and only that, you will have to wait until that item goes on sale. But if you are willing to substitute other items like Ragu or Bertolli, then you will be able to get whatever is cheaper.
To save even more money, you can try the store brand, which tends to be cheaper than the name brands, and usually tastes just as good.
Consider the Total Cost of the Meal
When you are considering your menu, it pays to calculate the total cost of each meal. You can make meals for the whole family for less than five dollars by using the menus provided by Erin at $5 Dinners. Using her menus helps save money and keeps you from having to come up with your own menus!
Reduce Your Grocery Budget
There are many ways you can reduce your grocery budget without skimping on delicious and nutritious meals or reducing the quality of your life. Using the tips outlined here will help you provide fresh and healthy food for your family while saving money on groceries.