So I've decided to start posting some of my money saving tips each Monday. Call me crazy for committing to blog WEEKLY just before my 2nd baby is due, but I'll let you in on a little secret... I've actually already written five posts :) I'm going to be presenting a "Super Savings Strategies" class for my local chapter of MOMS Club International tomorrow and I have prepared 6 pages of handouts! I figure it should be pretty easy to just copy and paste those handouts into my blog each Monday!!
For my first post I wanted to share some tips that I think EVERYONE can benefit from, whether you want to get in to "couponing" or not. Depending on your current shopping habits, you should be able to save at least 25% of your grocery bill just by following these 10 tips.
10 Simple Strategies for Saving Big!
Image courtesy o5com
1. Figure out your starting point.
How much are you spending on groceries, toiletries, diapers, and everything else for your home right now? Track spending using mint.com, a spending notebook, or cash envelope system.
2. Make a savings goal.
Set small, achievable short-term goals, as well as a long-term BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). Make sure you don’t try to do too much too soon (like save 50% your first month.) You’ll end up discouraged and probably burned out! Reaching small goals will give you the encouragement and motivation to keep working towards that big goal!
3. Know when to stock up!
What do you regularly pay for a pound of cheese? An ounce of toothpaste? A diaper? Figure out the regular cost per unit (ounce, pound, gallon, etc.) of the 20 items you buy most often. Once you know the price you normally pay for something, you’ll be able to recognize a great deal and stock up so you never have to pay full price! (GrocerySmarts.com ranks things according to a 5-star stock-up scale which can be helpful… though I often disagree with some of their ratings.)
(Image & free download by issasarza.com)
· Plan weekly menus based off what’s on sale and what you already have on hand. THIS WILL SAVE YOU SO MUCH TIME, MONEY AND STRESS! You can avoid the evening rush to the closest (and probably most expensive) store to grab something for dinner, and stop throwing away money on spoiled food! (Use the “Search by Ingredient” feature on food.com to find recipes using ingredients you already have in your pantry, fridge, or freezer.)
· Plan what you’re going to buy: Make a shopping list, and stick to it!
· If you plan well you shouldn’t have to go shopping more than once or twice a week, which will save you time and gas!
5. Don’t be loyal to just one store!
But don’t spend all day driving to every store in town either. Use GrocerySmarts.com to see what’s on sale at all your local stores. Sometimes it’s worth it to go to a few different stores (especially if you’re playing the Drugstore Game). Sometimes it’s best just to price match at WalMart or go to Winco!
6. Cook from scratch as much as possible… it’s less expensive and better for your health!
Avoid MSG by making your own taco and fajita seasonings. Double your dinner recipe and freeze half of it so you have a quick meal for those days you don’t have time to prepare a meal from scratch. Avoid excessive sodium in canned beans by cooking large batches of dried beans and freeze in 2 cup portions. Baby food is especially overpriced… it’s so much cheaper and healthier to make your own!
Image courtesy Cascadian Farm
7. Eat less meat!
Use meat as a garnish rather than a main course by preparing stirfrys, shishkabobs, and casseroles. Add beans and rice to your taco meat. Replace half of your ground beef with TVP. Consider preparing a vegetarian meal once a week.
8. Pay attention to portions and practice portion control… this can help shrink your grocery budget as well as your waist line!
9. Eat what’s in season, and learn how to preserve fruits and veggies.
Canning is great if you can afford the supplies or know someone who has them. Otherwise, consider blanching and freezing.
(Image courtesy sleepyneko)
10. Learn to effectively use coupons. (More on this next week!)
So there you have it... my top 10 tips to start saving money on your grocery budget! I tried to keep my explanations brief, because in my opinion there's nothing worse than verbose blog posts. Please email me if you have any questions or need more detailed advice.