31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #11


TIP #11 – USE YOUR LEFTOVERS

You’d be amazed at how many people I hear say they never have a “leftover night” or try to turn them into a different meal. Think of all that wasted food and money!

I’m with you when you say you don’t want to eat the same meal two nights in a row. (unless it’s tacos!) But a lot of times, I skip a night and have it again the day after. And more times than not, I try to turn it into a new meal.

One of the best one-time magazines I found was one that took several meals and showed you how to turn leftovers into a new meal. It actually got me thinking about a new weekly post called, “Rolling Recipes.” I’m planning on starting this up in a few weeks. I’ll share a meal with you and then tell you how you can turn those leftovers into a new meal the next night, or later in the week. I hope some of you have ideas, too! I’ve been looking for one of these online and I haven’t found one yet.

But basically, if you aren’t using what’s leftover and constantly throwing things out ask yourself–does this happen because I didn’t work them into my Weekly Meal Plan or am I not finding creative ways to make them tastier later?

By using what you have left not only saves money, but it can also save you time in having to make another meal later in the week! And saving waste and time = big $avings!

31 Ways To Save On Your Grocery Budget: Tip #10


TIP #10 – ONLY SHOP WITH CASH

I noticed a huge difference in my grocery budget when I simply switched from using a credit card to using the debit card. But let me tell you, the amounts I saved by simply bringing only cash was mind-boggling—especially when I only bring along just what I figure my shopping list to be.

Let me tell you, the chance of sheer embarrassment when your total exceeds what you have with you will make you second guess any additional purchases AND you’ll be closely watching the totals of what’s on your shopping list!

Yes, I know. When I used credit cards I’d argue that I was earning 1-5% back on my groceries by using it. And maybe you have more willpower to say no to additional purchases. But, when I pulled out some old receipts and started adding up additional purchases, let me tell you, those purchases far exceeded my 1-5% earnings! It doesn’t take much. Those spending $400 a month on groceries would only earn $4-$20 a month or around $1-$5 a week. Throwing in even one or two extra items voids those earnings.

Using cash, and by only bringing with you what you need, helps prevent impulse items which can easily and quickly start adding to your monthly grocery budget. But in the end, regardless if you use cash/debit/credit, everything comes down to willpower. The power to say no to things not on your list, especially those you don’t really need and are just hungry for! :)

31 Ways To Save On Your Grocery Budget: Tip #9


TIP #9 – MAKE YOUR OWN SINGLE-SERVING SNACKS

It wasn’t so long ago that the Marketers realized that 100 Calorie Packs would go crazy on the market. Everyone’s looking for that quick snack but not the quickly added weight gain! But, like every convenience food, they put a steep price tag on those items. Every so often you might find a good price-cut on them through a deal but even at a discount, you can usually still get more for your money by making your own.

And let me tell you, it’s sooo easy to make these up yourself. Ziploc/Glad even have special bags called “snack bags” that are the perfect size! Foods all have the nutritional content on the back that includes serving size. By using those portions, you can make your own little “100 Calorie Packs” very cheaply and quickly. What to do with those bags when you are done making them? Most retail stores sell little plastic “shoe box” containers that will fit nicely in most cabinets. Not only will the kids have a quick snack that limits their calories, but you can also use them to quickly throw them into their/your lunches.

And the same goes for snacky items like pudding or Jell-O. Rubbermaid makes these cute little 2 oz. containers that work great for making single servings. You can also use these for splitting yogurt cups if you want two smaller sizes, or for storing any you have left over for a snack later. Consider buying up a large container of the regular/vanilla yogurt and make your own flavors by simply adding fresh fruit or by mixing the yogurt and fruit in a blender. Not only could you possibly get more for your money, but by using washable plastic containers, you save on all that extra waste.

Be creative. Come up with your own healthy single-serving sized snacks! In the end, not only are you saving on those extra convenience food price tags, but you can also make much healthier versions to keep your family in shape! After awhile, they will get used to the portions and you’ll save $$ on your “snack budget.”

31 Ways To Save On Your Grocery Budget: Tip #8

TIP #8 – KEEP A CLEAN FRIDGE AND KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE ON HAND

I had to laugh the day I read Annie’s definition of a “Forgeterator.” That’s exactly what can happen to my Fridge, if I’m not careful. I always swear there’s some kind of “black hole” that food slips into and then re-appears right after it expires.

There are several benefits, aside from health reasons, of why it’s good to keep a clean fridge. The obvious one is so that you don’t let foods expire. But one of the most important reasons is so that you know what leftovers you have and work them into your weekly meals.

Being a stockpiler, my fridge can sometimes look like my pantry…full! I started to not only keep one specific area for leftovers but I also write them down on a paper when I put them in the fridge. I then cross them off when I use them. It works out great on those nights when you are like, hmmm, is there anything easy I can fix…oh yeah, supper from two nights ago!

Another benefit of keeping a clean fridge is reduced stress after shopping trips! :) We’ve all done it. We bought up a bunch of good deals. We come home and then we’re like, OK, where is all of this going to fit? I do my best to always clean out my fridge the night before a planned shopping trip. Then I get home, throw everything on the table for a quick picture and boom, in the fridge they go. Having it cleaned ahead of time can also help you avoid buying too many deals that you don’t have the fridge space for.

And the last benefit of keeping a clean fridge is so that you know when you are getting low on something. You don’t know how many times I thought I had Ketchup, cream cheese, butter or sour cream, only to find out there isn’t any. (Or else, it’s dropped off into that black hole!)

All of these reasons helps you save $$ in the long run and stretches your grocery budget a little further.

31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #7


Tip #7 – Keep a Price Book

What is a price book? It’s a book that you keep prices in. :) Well, OK, to elaborate, it’s a book of the items that you buy/use the most with their regular price and basically a tracking of sale prices and at which stores. Over time, you’ll be able to see a trend in what the “rock bottom” price is and what the sale cycles are for it. You’ll see it on sale for $2.50 but you’ll know, if I wait a week, it should be at $2.00.

Obviously, this is not an overnight process. But even just knowing the regular prices of the items you buy the most is helpful. You’ll then know when a sale is a great sale and when it’s just their trickery of marking it down $.10 and saying it’s on sale! Which, it easy to see when you are in the store but when you are looking through a sale ad and deciding if you should buy it or not, it’s not so easy. (Though, I do commend Jewel for usually listing the regular price with the sale price in their ads!)

I have to admit, I haven’t done a quite so elaborate price book. (BUT it is on my list of new things to start doing!) I have learned the regular price of items I buy a lot but there are some things I’m still unsure of sometimes. I usually have the hardest time with meats. But I have seen a benefit to keeping track of sale cycles.

For example, you are low on cream cheese. They have it on sale. But Thanksgiving is coming up. Let me tell you, every year they mark these down during most holidays. So what I would do is only buy one if I absolutely needed it and wait to stock-up on any more! Just like Cinco de Mayo. If two weeks ago I needed taco shells, I’d know to wait because right before Cinco de Mayo, they mark them down–and usually the coupons/deals come out to match!

So while having a book of every item and it’s sales cycle would be ideal, my advice to you is start off small and at least keep track of the regular prices of your most used items in a book. And if you happen to come across a great sale, note it.

Knowing the best price for the items you use most not only saves you money, but it also helps you stockpile at the right amount. And an extra bonus: it may help you decide that one store is more right for you because they always have the best prices on what you need most. These three things result in $avings!

Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #8.

31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #6


Tip #6 – Never Shop Hungry–And Leave The Kids At Home

Couldn’t you just buy up the whole store when you shop BEFORE a meal? Everything always looks so good when you are starving! :)

Yes, this long-old advice really is true! But, I am the first to admit, it’s easier said than done! And here’s a big reason why. We tend to make long shopping trips and which store do we always leave for last?…of course, the grocery store! You have to, or your groceries will spoil/melt, etc. But I have found ways to curb that appetite long enough to get through the shopping without hitting a drive-through.

I’d love to tell you to eat a Snickers but, well, not only is it not healthy it’s not very practical to transport on hot days! Instead, I keep Special K, Nutri-Grain or Kashi bars in my purse/diaper bag/center console of my car for this very reason. I catch these things on sale/deal and stock up! So whenever I’m about to shop and feel that hunger pain, I can quickly eat one. Another choice–apples or bananas. I grab these when I head out for my “big trip” and eat them, as needed. Whatever your tastes are, have something small, but filling, and easily storable on hand, or to grab quickly to take with you to prevent over-buying!

Also, whenever possible, don’t shop with the kids! Not only do they tend to add extra items to your cart, they can be a big distration to following your list and keeping totals. But if you do have to take them, (and we all do!) bring along a distraction. Rich and I call it a “bribery bag.” Just a small little snack to hold them over until we’re done. Or a pen/paper to scribble on while shopping. Or, sigh, shopping with that car cart. (Oh how I hate those! They are impossible to steer!)

In the end, the less distractions you have, be it hunger or impatient kids, the better you can stick to your budget and that equals $avings.

Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #7.

31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #5


Tip #5 Shop With An Organized List That’s Listed By Store Aisle

I never realized how much time and money creating my shopping list by aisle saved me until my younger sister rushed “the process” one week when she was here. I was like a lost puppy zigzagging through the store wasting precious time and, sigh, adding unnecessary items into my cart. Because it seems to hold true, the longer you are in the grocery store, the more items you seem to buy!

Creating my shopping list is quite a little process but it totally pays off! I always start with the rough draft of just jotting down the things I need in any order, keeping sale ad items last, though. Those things are from my “Low Inventory” list and from my Weekly Menu Plan that I’ve created. I also throw on some items that are on sale/deal that I might be interested in picking up. Next to each item, I put the sale price or a guesstimate of what I think it costs. Then comes the tally. If I am over budget, the fun begins! I have to decide if I am going to change my meal plan or debate if some of the deals are worth losing.

Once I’ve whittled my list down to my budget, hopefully leaving a cushion for any items that may pop-up during the week, I then create my “Master List.” This list is written up by store aisle. This is when shopping at the same store branch helps! (And if not, ask for a store guide. They usually have hand-outs for these.) Since I am a couponer, I put a little “Q” next to the items that I have coupons for. This way, I won’t forget to make sure I have it if I’ve found the item was available. (I have all of them pulled out ahead of time, but sometimes, things are just out-of-stock.) I also make a note of any store Qs for $$ off or catalinas so I don’t forget to hand those over, too.

Like I said, it takes a little bit of extra time, but shopping is now a breeze. I go up and down only the aisles I need ONCE! :) I am not very good at keeping a running total on a calculator so here’s my version. Since I already have a total by each item, I leave it if the item is that price or adjust it if it’s wrong or not available. Before I check-out, I do one quick total to make sure I’m within my limit.

And here’s a tip for those of you that stray from your list. For each item not on your list, put it in a separate area of your cart. Before you check-out, scan over all those items for two reasons. #1-Ask yourself if you really need it or did it just look good? And #2-How many items did you add? And always remember to stay within your budget!

Keeping an organized list not only saves time at the store but it also saves you $$ by preventing impulse buys. Both add up to $avings! Try it once and see if those extra few minutes of creating an “aisle list” don’t make it sooo much easier at the store! (Don’t forget to bring a pen to cross off the items!)

Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #6.