31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #4

Tip #4 – Inventory Often To Avoid Expired Food

Nothing is more aggravating to me than to work hard to find a great deal on something and only have to throw it away because it “slipped through the cracks” and expired. Not only is it money out the window but if you don’t notice it expired, it can really throw a meal plan for that day out the window!

I try to check my inventory often. Prior to my second child, I had a day circled on the calendar each month as “Inventory Day” and I’d check stock and pull out the soon-to-be expired. I don’t get to it quite that often now. But, I have found a temporary solution. In my pantry, I have a separate area for the “soon-to-bes.” And those are the first things that I work into the next weekly menu plan. So far, it seems to be working. But I’ll go back to my monthly inventory day here real soon.

To me, each time I sadly have to throw away an expired item, it feels like I’m holding a burning dollar bill in my hand, watching it turn into ashes. Don’t let yourself waste money unnecessarily. Inventory often! And do like they do at the grocery stores, those that expire first, go in the front!

Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #5.

31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #3

Tip #3: Have a “Low Inventory” list in your pantry and on your fridge.

You know the scenario. You’re making out your grocery list and you say, “I know there’s something else I needed. What was it?!” And of course, you never seem to remember until you are unpacking the groceries! So this means one of two things–make another trip or re-arrange your Meal Plan. Both equal aggravation and usually lost $$.

By keeping a “Low Inventory” list, it not only helps you expedite your shopping list creation, but it also helps prevent you from that missing needed item. And another bonus, by knowing what you are getting low on, you can keep your eyes peeled for a great sale on it to either buy one or stockpile!

I also recommend that you not only jot down the item but also a notation of “Low, Out-Of or Need-to-Stockpile.” This way, you’ll know the exact quantity of what to buy.

The worst thing you can do is wait until the point that not only are you out of something but you need it NOW…and of course, it’s not on sale!! This is how you can unnecessarily add to your grocery costs.

Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #4.

31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #2

Tip #2 – Create a Weekly Menu Plan

This simple little tip is probably one of the bigger money savers. And for me, one of the hardest! I have a huge stockpile so I don’t usually buy food by what I need but mostly just what’s cheap to replentish my stock. I also think this one is hard for everyone because we tend to cook by what we are hungry for that night.

But even having some kind of plan to start off with helps! I always feel like anytime I say, “What should I fix for supper?” I’m not only wasting time but I usually end up grabbing something quick and not as healthy.

There are a few ways to make a good meal plan. Some will create their plan completely around what’s on sale. Others will create it solely based on what they have on hand. I tend to do a little of both. I’ll check the ads to see what the best deals are out there and get some menu ideas. And then I check to see what I have and then make a list of the little things I may need to complete those meals. I usually try to go with meals that have the fewest missing ingredients that are on sale!

In order to have a good meal plan, you need to figure in your weekly events. Have an early soccer practice and need a quick meal? Don’t plan a 45 min. prep-time meal that night! And don’t forget to figure in that night for leftovers. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing that on Thursdays since our garbage day is Friday. This way, anything that I know won’t be eaten goes into the trash and doesn’t sit around all week! (Though, my overall goal is always, no waste!)

The nice thing about meal plans is it also gives your family a “heads-up” on what to expect for dinner. I know some of you have families that never seem to like the same thing. Try allowing everyone one day, whether each week or month, where they get to choose the meal that night.

While I do miss a week or two doing this, I do have to admit, all the weeks that I get this done…they tend to be so much less stressful on me. I do my planning and I don’t have to think about what to cook for another week. I just pull out anything needing to be defrosted the night before and off I go the next day at suppertime or morning if I am crockpotting.

For those of you needing more info on how to plan a menu, click here. Need a little inspiration, check out the weekly Meme here called “Meal Plan Mondays.” She also has a FREE Menu Planning template here.

Having a menu plan helps you use what you have on hand and keeps you from ordering take-out because you didn’t plan out what to have for dinner that night. Both of these things equal $avings! And it really doesn’t take that much time!

Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #3.

31 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Budget: Tip #1

TIP #1: Create A GOOD Grocery Budget And Stick To It!

Don’t groan, folks. Let’s be realistic. You can’t save on a grocery budget, if you don’t have one. :) And you’d be amazed at not only how many people don’t have a grocery budget but how many have no idea how much they spend or what they spend it on.

And here’s the kicker–if you are easily meeting your budget each month, maybe it’s too high and you should consider dialing it down. I’ve learned to dial mine down to $50 a week but it takes work–and I am hoping to get it back to $40 here soon!

So how do you create a good budget? My best advice is to dig out all those receipts! Ideally, you should go back a month. But even a week or two’s worth gives room to work with. For those of you that chuckle at the idea of knowing where receipts are, pull out your credit/debit card statements and tally them up as best you can. But then going forward, keep your receipts.

What should you look for on receipts? Two things. What are you spending money on and are you over-spending? Two quick ways to tell if you are over spending–check out the “Today you saved” area. If it’s very small, you are probably over-spending, unless you buy mostly perishables like milk, bread & produce with small markdowns. The other way to tell…most stores put a “Saved X amount” to the right of or underneath each item. Your ultimate goal is to see that by everything. :) But start off small and get as many listed that way as possible. BUT you can have that by everything and still not be saving if those items don’t make meals for the week!

Here’s another thing to look for and consider. Are you spending a lot in junk/convenience foods? Just because you run out of those things doesn’t mean you need to run off and buy more. What do I mean? Say your family LOVES Doritos and Pepsi. It runs out, you buy more. Try this. Put a set amount on those items each month. When they run out and the money’s gone, too bad! They’ll learn to ration it better next month! (and not to mention slowly cutting back will help their health!)

Setting a grocery budget takes time and work. And it should always be re-analyzed. Keep pushing yourself to cut back more and find other ways to make the most of what you buy. But at the same time, you need to take “Life Changes/Events” into consideration for budgeting. Having a baby, visitors or an upcoming party, etc. may force you to alter that budget. Just make sure you get back on track quickly!

The perfect budget? Getting the most groceries for the least amount to create the most meals your family will eat! :)

Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #2.