8 Ways To Save Big Money On Your Food Budget –
When I help folks with their household budgets the first place I look to save is their grocery bill. More often than not I find most families are spending more than they actually need to on food.
Sometimes a lot more.
They are surprised to find that with a few simple tricks they can quickly and painlessly lower their monthly food bill and save big on their budgets. Money, they can use for other things. Fun things.
How great is that?!
Over the years I think I have tried just about every hack out there trying to save money on groceries. Some worked and some, well were epic fails. I finally came up with my top list of simple ways that will save the most money on food.
And isn’t it great when the simple ways get you the biggest impact?
8 Ways To Save Big Money On Your Food Budget
1. Always, always, ALWAYS use a list.
Now I am not talking about a list you whip up the night before you head out to the store. I am talking about a rockstar list that every member of your family helped to create.
To get a list like this made you will need to go a little old school. A phone list app simply will not work. If you want to make sure you are buying everything you need, then you will want your family to let you know when you need it.
The easiest way to do this is to put a grocery list on the front of your refrigerator. Let your family know that if it’s not on the list it won’t get bought. This will make sure you have a thorough list of everything you need.
When you shop, stick to the list and only the list. When you do this, you will eliminate impulse purchases which can totally wreck a budget and quick.
2. Use a meal plan.
Don’t be tempted to skip this step. This is the key to saving money and it will completely change the way you shop. When you have a weekly or monthly meal plan you will make your shopping list based on your menu rather than the other way around. This will keep your shopping to a minimum and free up quite a bit of freezer space as well. Freezer space you can use to stock up on killer deals like turkeys at Thanksgiving.
To make a meal plan take a look at what you have in your freezer and refrigerator. Start with meals that will use those items with the shortest shelf life. This will also save you money. No more spoiled produce in the trash. Use it up and save!
3. Know where to get the best prices.
Another old-school tip I simply love is a good old price book. A price book is a little book that you keep the prices of items you purchase regularly at the stores you visit most.
Let’s make it easy and break this one down a bit.
Step #1 Find yourself a notebook and divide it up into columns. Tip: Keep the notebook small so you can keep it in your purse at all time. Each column will be for a store where you shop. Write the store name at the top of each column and carry it over to every page you use. At the left of each page write down items you regularly buy and use.
Begin listing all those items in your book.
Step #2 Next, you will want to record the prices found at each store you shop at. Yes, this part takes just a bit of time but once it is done you will be amazed at how much money you are going to save. To make it a little easier you can refer to your receipts for prices. The rest you can build as you shop.
Step #3 Figure out the price per ounce and list only that number. From here on in you will shop by ounces. Also, make sure to record ONLY the regular price and not the sale price.
When you are shopping, in order to see if the store’s sale price is actually the best price, divide it out by ounce. Compare that number to what you have in your price book. If it is lower, great! Time to buy. If not, move on.
I cannot tell you how many times a store advertises a big sale but after I do the cost per ounce I find it is not a big savings after all.
Now that you are armed with a price book you can get one step ahead of the grocery stores and save big.
4. Coupon carefully.
It is no secret that I am not a fan of couponing. To me, coupons are just a way the manufacturers get us to purchase foods we do not normally buy. When you think about it that way, you are actually wasting money rather than saving it.
Even if you are getting let’s say, a box of granola for just pennies if your family will not eat them then you are actually wasting money not saving it.
With that being said I do use coupons, I just do it a bit differently. Rather than gather up all my coupons and then make a shopping list I instead make a shopping list then go looking for coupons. This is the best way to ensure you get the biggest savings on food your family will actually eat.
5. Make it don’t buy it.
When you are buying convenience foods, you are paying for just that – CONVENIENCE. More often than not you can easily and quickly make the same money for a fraction of the cost.
Mixes are where you can save the most. By making a large batch of a basic mix you will be able to make pancakes, biscuits, rolls, even breads.
Set up a weekly baking day (or half day) and stock your freezer and pantry with our own version of convenience foods. Cookies, bread, muffins and rolls all freeze great and are easy to make. Just think how much money you will save if you take those 4 items off of your weekly shopping list.
6. Take advantage of all that stores have to offer.
More and more stores are jumping on board the electronic age and I am so excited about it. Online coupons you can use on your phone or download directly to your shopper’s card can really save you money. Not only that you can more often than not combine those coupons with paper coupons and save even more.
Tip: Not sure your store offers these coupons? A quick stop at the service desk will answer your questions quickly and accurately. If they do not offer digital coupons, ask them if they have other ways to save.
7. Take advantage of curbside pickup.
I love this new money saving option. Not only does it save my monthly grocery budget but it saves me time as well. Most stores now offer the convenience of curbside pickup. What that means is you can go online to the store’s website and do all of your grocery shopping. Once finished you can pay for your purchases and have the store do the rest. They will do the gathering of your items and bag them up. Some stores will even load them for you without you having to leave the comfort of your car.
I cannot tell you what a game changer this is. If you stay out of the stores you will eliminate the risk of impulse purchases that can quickly derail a food budget.
Tip: Not able to get to the store for a pickup? You can quickly go online and assign anyone to pick up your order. Please know they may have to show a driver license as proof before they are given your order.
8. Leftovers: a money savings game changer.
Rounding out my top list of grocery savers is another old-school gem. It is time to learn to love your leftovers. We need to change the way we think about food. We want to begin cooking with intention. Not just making meals to get them on the table.
Instead, cook a meal with future meals in mind. Whether you eat them that week or package them up in the freezer for a later date. By getting more from your meals you will definitely save at the store.
And no leftovers do not have to be a heated-up version of the same meal. Think bolder and turn that one meal into an awesome and completely different dinner for another night.
Meatloaf can be used as a yummy topping on a pizza. Stir-fry can turn into a delicious soup that you can make barbecue chicken sandwiches to go with from Sundays chicken dinner.
Leftover turkey can be used for spicy fajitas your family will love. Or better yet leftover burgers and veggies can be made into a pizza pie. A family favorite in our home.
The sky is the limit with leftovers and a great chance to get your creative juices flowing.
When it comes to saving money at the stores you need to step back and think outside of the box. The goal is to keep as much of your money as possible so with that as motivation it is easy to put in a little extra effort if you want to save big.
Tracy Lynn has helped many families revamp their grocery budgets. She teaches folks how to save big money with easy and simple tips from the kitchen to the store and everywhere in-between. You can find her hanging out at her blog simplelivingcountrygal.com.