Grocery Savings Tips
Your Kitchen is a Gold Mine!
Grocery savings will free up a significant amount of money if you need to balance the budget, speed up your debt elimination goals, or fund your savings accounts. Your grocery budget is the most flexible expense and can be drastically reduced to help you live within or below your means.
If you haven’t figured it out already, your kitchen is a goldmine. There are numerous ways to reduce the grocery budget and free up money to use in other areas of your budget. Let's review some important grocery savings tips, facts, and strategies.
Grocery Savings Tips. Save Money on Food
How Much to Spend?
One of the biggest obstacles to grocery savings is not knowing how much is too much? The first task is to determine how much should you be spending on groceries?
Review the USDA Food Plans at the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Click on the most recent publication and you will find a chart that includes individual and family plans.
Currently, the Thrifty Plan for a family of 4 is at $100 to $116 per week depending on the age of children. This should give you at least some idea what the average family spends.
I recommend you shoot for something less than that figure if at all possible by implementing as many grocery savings tips as possible!
One Tip to Save Money Now!
Your grocery budget includes ALL money you spend on FOOD! That means that dining out is part of your grocery budget. The first big, and sometimes difficult grocery savings tip is to .... Eliminate eating out!
O.K. if you’re family is screaming mad at you then take them out. But, no more than once a month. More often than that will eat up any grocery savings fast. Make dining out an occasion. Most of us get caught up in fast paced living and eat out at least one, two, or even three times per week. If you must eat out save with then at least save with discount restaurant coupons and certificates.
Eating out on a regular basis is just an insane waste of money. Your family will appreciate a dinner out much more when it's not such a regular event. Consider it "quality time out".And, your grocery savings will increase immediately.
So, You're Not Eating Out Anymore. Now What do You Do?
This may seem like a strange question if you're used to preparing your own meals. But, if you've been eating out on a regular basis your kitchen skills may be slacking a bit. The inexperienced cook may turn to convenience foods as a quick fix.
While you probably would be still save compared to eating out, you certainly won't be getting the most for your money! Here are some grocery savings strategies to help you get started.
Minimize the Use of Convenience Foods
Don't panic now that you're kitchen is staring you in the face! Don't rush out and buy every family meal in the freezer aisle. You can make it yourself for a fraction of the cost, try it! Many of us are so accustomed to convenience foods that we forget we can make it ourselves. You'll maximize grocery savings by minimizing convienence foods.
Don’t Use Prepared Mixes
Increase grocery savings by making your own mixes. Cake, breads, muffins, pastry, pizza dough, pancake, and waffles all come in a variety of prepackaged mixes. Make your own for not much more effort and a lot less money!
You'll find some of my favorites in our Frugal Recipes
Cooking Your Own Meals
If you already love to cook from scratch then congrats!
For the rest, I know this is a scary thought. It’s hard to go back into the kitchen and actually get your hands messy. However, I must insist you try this.
There’s Gold in Them There Hands! Use ‘em.
If you don’t have a lot of time, don’t worry there are literally hundreds of recipe books for the busy lifestyle. There are many that promote frugal living, and focus on grocery savings as well.
Need some Ideas for Dinner?
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Check out some of my favorite frugal recipes to help save on groceries.
I recommend these Frugal Books to increase your grocery savings. These books are great resources for making your food dollars stretch! You'll find valuable grocery savings tips like substitute guides and recipes for everything from baking mixes to shake and bake and salad dressing.
Savings Tip: You can check them out of the library before deciding which ones are right for you!
All it takes is a little extra time to make it yourself. Even if you had to pay yourself for doing the cooking you would come out ahead.
What Groceries Should you Buy?
Planning is an essential part of saving money in all areas of your household budget. Investing a little extra time in planning will help maximize grocery savings and reduce the food budget!
Grocery savings can easily be increased by simply taking a few minutes to create a menu! Here are a few planning strategies to maximize your food budget savings.
Do your homework! Know what’s on sale and plan your menu around the weekly sales flyers. Sounds simple. It is! If chicken is on sale, guess what, you'll be eating at least one meal, and possibly more, that have a chicken dish on the menu.
I make it a rule to never buy meat over $2 a pound. Although I allow myself $2, I usually only spend on average 39 cents to $1.69. With prices rising constantly this is becoming increasingly difficult. I gauge my price tolerance according to what I find is the cheapest price I know I can buy the item for. Occasionally, (rarely) I indulge in something special if it’s a really good value.
Eat meatless meals at least twice a week. Here are some examples:
Beans and rice
Vegetable Stir Fry served w/rice
Use leftovers wisely! Leftover meats and veggies can be incorporated into stews, stir frys, and casseroles. Here's a favorite scenario I like to use to get my point across. This is what I call Recycling Food!
One Dinner: Beans and Rice
Another Dinner that week: Add a pound of ground beef and use leftover beans to make chili.
- Another Dinner: Add a lb of macaroni noodles to leftover chili to make "chili mac."
Once you plan your menu, you can make your grocery shopping list. This is what you will buy with your grocery budget monies. Write down everything you will need. Include all the neccessary ingredients to prepare all the menus on this weeks plan. There! You have created your grocery shopping list! Or, use this printable grocery list and just check off what you need.
Coupons and Rebates?
Coupons are great if you use them correctly. My motto is......
Look for coupons for products you're buying. Don't buy products because you have a coupon!
If you follow this guideline for using coupons you will never go wrong. It seems coupons are available everywhere now. But, before you go coupon crazy I suggest you consider some other grocery savings strategies!
I don't think anyone gives a clearer more practical explanation of how to "win the grocery game" as Lana Dorazio.
Lana uses a combination of practical grocery shopping strategies that anyone can do. She even throws in a couple bonuses to help start you down the right path.
And, you don't have to use coupons or rebates to succeed at this simple, proven, grocery savings strategy. Coupon's and rebates can be useful if you use them correctly. But they should not be the focus of your grocery savings strategy!
I find Lana's witty and honest step-by-step approach to "winning the grocery game" to be refreshing. I highly recommend Save Thousands Grocery Shopping and Cook Great Food and consider it an essential resource to maximize your grocery savings!
When you want to go looking for those coupons here are some valuable resources:
Your local newspaper may prove to be sufficient for all your coupon needs.
- If you frequent any home and garden, family, or cooking magazines you may find coupons for items you frequently buy in them.
Check product packaging and inside products for some of the best coupons
Online Grocery Coupon Resources
Please be sure to check with your favorite stores to see if they accept computer generated coupons before printing from these sources. You'll save time and energy if you know what to expect.
This goes back to being an informed consumer. I can't stress this enough.
Informed Consumer = More Grocery Savings!
Printable Coupons - Look for the coupons you need and print them right from your home computer!
- Check out FREE grocery coupons and more at CoolSavings!
Be an Informed Consumer!
Know what your local stores offer. Which ones have the lowest prices? Which ones provide the most options for grocery savings? Start carrying a price book, like the free price book bonus provided with The Grocery Book, to record prices of items you buy regularly. You can organize trips to save time and money when planning your grocery shopping.
Who accepts coupons and do they double? Do they have a rebate program? Do they have a clearance or bargain area? What other grocery savings policies are in place? For example, do they pay for their mistakes?
Here's what I mean:
Many stores offer a refund of full price policy for items that do not register the correct sale price. I have cashed in on this one many times. Remember, these price adjustments are usually entered by humans. Human error is always a possibility, so cash in on it!
Always check you cash register reciept. If you find a product that has not rung up the correct price, take your receipt to customer service and they will refund the entire cost of the product. What a deal! All because someone made a simple error in data input. Isn’t technology grand! Because of a simple mistake, you have increased your grocery savings!
Combine Strategies to Maximize Grocery Savings
Once you know:
What's on sale and what to buy
Where to shop
Use all your resources
Combine rebates, sales, and coupons whenever possible for maximum grocery savings. This takes a bit more dedication but, you can literally get paid to purchase items if you’re willing to invest the time.
Many times my local drugstore has items that are free after rebate. I simply apply a coupon to the purchase and I’ve earned money. They are actually paying me to use the product! I LOVE IT!
I rarely pay for toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, or shaving needs. When I do pay it’s usually .50 cents or less.
Grocery savings aren't just for the grocery store. many drugstores now have food sections where you can save on groceries. Also, items you usually buy at the grocery store (i.e. toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo) can sometimes be purchased at a drugstore increasing your grocery savings.
Many people include personal care items in the grocery budget, rather than have a separate budget expense for them. For even more savings check out our personal care money saving tips. Save on hair care, skin care, personal hygiene, and cosmetics.
Send us your grocery savings tips to share with other readers.
Homebound or Too Busy to Shop?
You don't have to depend on fast food delivery to survive on a busy schedule or if you're homebound for some reason. Check out some of the new delivery services to see if any are available in your area. Many are offering introductory savings. Take advantage of these grocery savings!
Mexican menus can save you money. Tacos, enchiladas, and chili are all money-saving meals. If your family loves Mexican foods you can find specials, save time shopping, and get specialty online.
Food and Nutrition Related Reading
Cooking, especially baking, can be a good activity to do with your kids. It's a sneaky way to squeeze in some more "quality time" that we find so hard to enjoy in these fast paced times. Read more about how Time-Crunched Families can Turn Baking Time into Family Time
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