Saturday, July 26, 2014

Money tips: groceries!!

I am the money manager at our house and let me tell you, our budget is tight. It takes a lot of effort on my part to make it work, and I've accumulated a lot of tips on how to live well on a small budget. It is possible!
First up, grocery shopping. 
I've got a small budget here: $325/month. I just bumped it up from $300 because I kept going over, no matter what I did. I was at $300 for many years, though! 
First, some disclaimers:
  • I don't coupon because I never see coupons for things that I actually buy: most seem to be for name brand, convenience items.
  • I don't even bother price matching often because Walmart seems to always have the lowest price anywhere.
  • I do all my grocery shopping at Walmart and no complaints from me. I feel like the produce is just fine (I've had worse luck with Costco produce, as far as freshness goes)
Now the tips:
  • Limit your trips to the store. I shop twice a month, and that's it. If I run out of something before shopping day--oh well, we go without. My produce keeps just fine for two weeks. We usually eat up the produce that doesn't last as long the first week of my two-week menu, and then eat the heartier produce the second week (tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, spinach, peaches, strawberries, etc first week; apples, carrots, oranges, Romaine lettuce, etc second week)
  • MENU PLAN. I can't stress this enough. Do not go to the store without a plan. I plan out our dinners for two weeks (we always eat leftovers or oatmeal on Saturdays), plus breakfast and snack ideas, and a dessert for each weekend. When I make my menu, I think about what's in season, what's on sale, and what I already have at home. If I want to buy an ingredient that's more expensive than I normally spend, I try to find several recipes that will use it so it's worth the purchase.

  • Take the time to prep foods the same day (or soon after) grocery shopping. I chop green onions and put them in the freezer, rinse strawberries in vinegar to make them last longer, things like that. If you let your food spoil because it wasn't properly stored or prepared, it's like throwing money away!
  • Eat healthy food. My cart is probably 50% fresh fruits and veggies. I could probably save some money by cutting those out, but to me, it's important that we have lots of fresh produce.
  • I make some kind of chicken almost every night. Really. Sorry, family, but it's cheapest, and I make it allllll the different ways, so it's not repetitive. 
  • Go meatless a few times a week (pizza is good for this, or breakfast for dinner! I also like grilling a ton of different vegetables and serving it with poached eggs, shaved Parmesan cheese, toasted pecans, and crusty bread). Or use meat more sparingly and let veggies be the star of the 
  • dish.
  • We cut way back on milk and are down to a gallon a week--we drink it at breakfast and with treats, and that's pretty much it.
  • Speaking of breakfast, I don't buy cereal. It's expensive, it's empty calories, and it's full of preservatives and junk. I do make homemade granola and we also have eggs and toast, quick cooking oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins, yogurt with frozen berries on top, things like that.
  • Steer clear of convenience and processed items. Make that stuff from scratch if you have the time! You can make all kinds of stuff from scratch, trust me.
  • Snack foods are a budget killer. Here, we snack on fresh fruits and veggies, yogurt (I splurge on Gogurts to freeze), roasted chickpeas, pita bread and hummus, air popped popcorn, smoothies, homemade tortilla chips, etc. I do usually keep a box of graham crackers around, too.
  • Splurge on some things. Everyone needs a treat once in a while. I always have tons of baking supplies on hand to make goodies--chocolate chips, coconut, craisins, marshmallows, PB chips. That is one thing that I will always make room for in my budget! 
What do you do to save at the store?

1 comment:

Claire said...

I really needed this reminder about a lot of these things! Especially about menu planning! Our grocery store is practically in our backyard so I get lazy about menu planning and end up there twice a week because I know I can just go but I really need to be better! Thanks so much for your tips!