Wednesday, January 15, 2014

8 Ways to Save Money On Groceries

Here are some tips I use to save money at the grocery store:

  • Shop Aldi's and other discount stores
In my opinion, there is no way I could feed our family for less without stores like Aldi and UGO (United Grocery Outlet).  I find so many things that are cheaper than regular grocery stores and Walmart.  Aldi is great for just about everything, but especially meat and produce.   UGO is our local discount grocery store.  They carry things that will soon be expired.  I buy my bread almost exclusively from UGO.  They have "day old bread" most of which is still way within the "sell by" dates.  I can buy whole grain breads for $1.29 a loaf. 
  • Eat beans and lentils
If you look at my menu, over half of our meals are centered around beans or lentils.  Aldi sells 2 lb. bags of pinto beans for $1.79.  When cooked in the crockpot will usually last us for 3 different meals.  Check out my pinto bean posts for ideas on how to do that!   Lentils are another great vegetarian protein that is versatile and inexpensive. 
  • Use smaller portions of meat 
Meat can be a very expensive part of a grocery budget.  I stretch my meat purchases to last over several meals.  So, 1 lb. of ground turkey will be cooked and split between two meals.  A package of country style ribs (boneless) will be divided into thirds and used to flavor three different recipes.  I will split a package of Italian sausage in half.  You get the idea.  Some recipes I will use the entire amount of meat called for, but not usually.  My family doesn't mind this or even notice.  I will say that if your family is accustomed to meat centered meals, you might have some resistance to doing some of what I've suggested.  I would suggest to do several things:  gradually decrease the amount of meat you use in a dish or casserole, have some vegetarian dinners to expose your family to different recipes, continue to have some meat-centered meals just less of them.
  • Buy less expensive brand name products
Since we started shopping at Aldi's primarily, we have become less brand sensitive.  I think the only food we buy a specific brand of is my husband's coffee.  That is our only non-negotiable (or his only non-negotiable).  I save lots of money buying Aldi's brand mayo instead of Kraft which is twice as expensive.  Pick a couple of things you wouldn't want to give up your brand and the rest buy the cheaper counterparts. 
  • Plan menus around things you already have or things on sale
Most of the time when I sit down to plan a menu, I will start by looking in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.  I take stock of what I already have and try to plan meals around those things first.  So, if I look in the pantry and see spaghetti and sauce.  Then, I automatically put spaghetti on my menu for the week.  Sometimes I will do a search to see if I can find recipes for random ingredients in the pantry or just get creative and make something up!   Checking store ads for sales and stocking up on certain items is a great way to save as well.  I do not use coupons because I do not usually find coupons for the types of things we buy. 
  • Buy less convenience and/or processed foods
The more something is processed the more expensive it can be.  A 2 lb. bag of carrots un-peeled and un-cut is the same price as a 1 lb. bag of baby carrots.  You get more if you do some of the work yourself.  Sometimes it's cheaper if you make it yourself.  I remember looking for some cupcakes for an event and realized that I could make them for prob. less than $3 for 24 cupcakes vs. $20 from the bakery at Kroger.  We try to make our own muffins and other breakfast foods.  We stopped buying cold cereal a while back.  There are some things I will buy because it just saves me time like tortillas, but I know how to make these and could/would if I needed to cut my budget more.  
  • Make one bigger trip instead of several smaller trips
This is something I'm working on now.  I tend to make several smaller trips throughout the two week pay period and buy things as we need them.  I do not have the willpower to only buy the one/two things on my list, because there is always something I've forgotten or just want.  So, I'm trying to make the effort to just "make do" if I forgot something.  Making one bigger trip, takes a lot more planning.  I had to go through the pantry pretty good to make sure I wasn't forgetting something important.  
  • Menu plan and stick to it
Menu planning is another area that I'm working to improve.  I make menus, but sometimes don't thoroughly plan for busy times.  I stray from my menu because I was too tired to prep or prepare what I had planned on making. When I came home from the grocery store,  I prepped the meat for several meals instead of freezing it first.  This will hopefully make it easier to follow through with my menu plan, because I've already eliminated one of the steps.  

One huge way to save money that I left out of this list is GROW YOUR OWN!  Since it's winter, we aren't growing very much right now.  So, growing our own vegetables and/or fruits is not really making a difference in my food budget.   It does make quite a bit of difference in the spring/summer/fall months! 

How do you save money on groceries?  
I'd love to hear your tips in the comments below!   

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The Chicken Chick


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