Managing the Grocery Budget

Getting Started

Do you tend to eat out a lot? Do you find that you are spending a lot of money every week or each month by eating out or getting food and bringing it home? Grocery Shopping is one area of the family budget where you can save a tremendous amount of money. In this article, I will examine several areas that can save you money and restore some equilibrium to your family budget.

Before you shop

Planning is the key to saving money on your grocery budget. You need to prepare before you go shopping. The most important piece of advice I can give you and hope that you retain after you read this article is that in order to save money at the grocery store it is essential that you make a list and stick to it! Have a list handy of the products that you know you need and stick to it as much as possible, unless you find a good deal of a product that you know you use a lot.

Wednesday is the day our newspaper has the grocery store sale flyers in them so I pick up a copy that day if I am going grocery shopping in the next few days. I go through the flyers and make a note of what is on sale and if I need anything I add it to my list. If the thought of going to more than one store is a turn off for you, consider going to Wal-Mart. They will price match things for you. Just show them a copy of the store ad and they will sell you the item for the same price. This way, you can eliminate going to more than one store and that saves you time.

Meal Planning

Meal Planning is an important part of saving money in the grocery store. Sit down and make a list of the meals you plan to make for the week. Some people save money by making a list for two weeks and shopping only twice per month. I have friends who shop only once per month and make a list accordingly. I have done the once a month shopping too and it does save a tremendous amount of money and takes good planning on your part to make it happen.

If you have trouble coming up with meals for the week, bring out the cookbooks and get some ideas. There are plenty of recipe sites available on the Internet that can help you in your search. Once you have a list of meals you would like to prepare, go through each meal and write down the items you need to prepare each dish and add them to your list. Once your list is finished, check your freezer and pantry to see if you have the item on hand, if you do, cross it off the list. Once you are done, you will have a list of things you need to buy. Now, unless you find a great unadvertised deal, buy only those things from your list and those things you found on sale in the flyers.

Using Coupons

We are unable to get home delivery of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, so I go to the Dollar General store on Sundays where they sell for $1.50, which saves me $1.00 (I buy 2 copies) since they sell for $2.00 each at the gas stations/mini marts in the area. Once I have my coupon books, I cut and sort them into 2 piles. Ones I will use and put into my coupon binder and the other I will share with friends.

My coupon holder is nothing fancy, but a zippered pouch, which I keep in my purse.

My system works for me and I hope that everyone finds what system works for them and uses it to his or her benefit.

Name Brands versus Store Brand

Try not to be name brand loyal. Many times, the companies who make the name brand foods manufacture the store brand foods as well. And the store brand products cost a lot less than name brand. If you are brand name loyal, just buy one or two store brand products a week and try them on your family. If your family likes them, you will save money by buying that item. If your family ends up not liking the store brand product, switch back and when a sale comes up on that product, stock up! Only use coupons when it is cheaper to buy the product with them, or if your family does not like the store brand.

Price Book

Have you ever been shopping and happen across a sale and think, is this really a good price? This is where a price book comes in handy. A price book is a small notebook that you use to keep track of the lowest prices on items that you buy.

Nowadays, two stores that I know of, Aldis and Save-A-Lot, print a flyer of all the items they sell and the price of each item. You can pick one of these up in the front of the store. Since Save-A-Lot consistently offers the lowest price for me, I have replaced my price book with the flyer. SAL even beats Sam’s club prices on many items.

If Wal-Mart is selling toilet paper for .89¢, I can check my price book/flyer and see that SAL sells it for .79¢ and the sale at Wal-Mart is not that big of a deal. If however, they were selling it for .59¢, I would stock up because that price beats the lowest price that I can buy it for.

You will find that as time goes by and you familiarize yourself with prices that a price book is not necessary, but it can be a very useful tool for those who are just beginning to learn how to save money on groceries.

Stocking Up

When I find an item on sale at a price that I cannot beat, I usually stock up. Sales tend to run in cycles, and that helps me to determine how much to buy. But this is not always the case and it helps to know your stuff. For example, canned salmon is a staple in our home, it sells for $1.50 per can but I never pay that price for it. It is usually on sale every 6 weeks for .99¢ a can and I stock up with enough to last until the next sale. Some items rarely go on sale, like tea bags. I can buy 100 tea bags at Save-A-lot everyday for .99¢. Earlier this summer I found 100 tea bags on sale for .79¢, I bought 10 boxes. Enough to last a long time or until another good sale comes up. We drink a gallon of tea in our home every day. It is much cheaper than soda pop. When you find a good sale on a product that you use, stock up on it.

Using the Freezer

Our freezer has been a great asset to us in saving money. We stock up on meats, sugar, flour, and vegetables when they go on sale, and freeze them for later use. For example, ground chuck is usually priced at $1.59 a pound where I live. Several times each year, one of the grocery stores will have it on sale for anywhere from .99¢ to $1.19 a pound. I buy around 20 to 30 pounds of it. I bring it home and package it into smaller packs and stack it into the freezer to be used later.

We have a small freezer above the refrigerator but mostly use it for ice cubes and things we will use during that week. We have a larger freezer that a friend gave to us that I store everything else in. Consider buying a separate freezer when you can find it on sale, It is a very good investment.

Leftover Wizardry

Another way to save money in the kitchen is by using leftovers. You can reheat them the next day for lunch or you can make another meal out of them. We eat tacos every Saturday night. If there is any ground beef left over from the tacos, I make Beefy Baked Beans with it. They are delicious, nutritious and my whole family loves it. And it saves me money. If you have chicken for dinner and have leftovers, the ideas on using it are endless. You can put it in your crockpot and make soup, roll it into tortillas for chicken enchiladas, make chicken salad. Use your imagination and see what if you can create leftover wizardry at your house tonight!

Organize Your Kitchen

Having your Kitchen organized will go a long way in helping you to be able to cook at home. Keep a list of what is in your pantry and freezer, date items and use the oldest items first to keep things fresh. I have the pantry here organized so I can finds things easily. I have all the corn in one area, all the peas in another, you get the idea. I keep my spices all in one area and in alphabetical order but that is not necessary, it just helps me because I have so many. By being organized, I can go into the kitchen and find things that I need to make a meal easily and this helps motivate me to want to go in there and cook. If I can’t find what I need I would get discouraged very easily. So organization is a good rule to go by for me.

Clean the Kitchen Every Evening

It will be much easier for you to go into your kitchen and make dinner for your family if the kitchen is already clean. It is harder for me to motivate myself to get in there and cook dinner if the kitchen is a mess. I would rather go out and eat if the kitchen is messy and so that defeats my purpose of saving money by cooking at home. It is a little known fact that a person will save more money and eat healthier when they cook meals at home.

In Conclusion

I hope that I have given you plenty of ideas to save money on your grocery budget. There are many more ideas that I have not even mentioned here and as you begin your journey of saving money in the kitchen, I hope you find some new ideas that can help you save a bunch of money. I hope that my article has been helpful to you and thank you for taking the time to read it.

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