It seems like every time there is an increase in the price of fuel, the price of food goes up. With all of the food that is transported from far away this makes sense, except that the price of food never seems to go back down when gas prices return to lower levels. We’ve found several ways to help us save on groceries that can be applied for most people no matter where you live. Most of them integrate with the Busy Cook’s Pyramid, which can save you time as well as money.
- Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach – We all know that everything looks better when you are hungry, so stave off that monster by eating before you shop.
- Shop Sales – When your local stores have specials on the most expensive items that you normally purchase, buy them on sale. For meats that you use in casseroles and other main dishes, the best way to save time and money is to buy it in bulk when it is on sale and cook it before freezing. Buying chicken at its lowest price and grilling it is our favorite way to stock the freezer with chicken to use in casseroles, soups, and stove top meals. The same is true for ground beef. Buying it on sale saves money, cooking it all at once saves time, and freezing it in its cooked form saves freezer space.
- Use Coupons – We are big fans of coupons but only for items that you usually buy or were wanting to try. Coupons that induce you to buy expensive items that you wouldn’t normally purchase are more of a hindrance than a help. Sites like The Coupon Mom and The Grocery Game can help you combine coupons in your local paper with sale items at nearby stores.
- Shop Discount Stores – Not everyone has a discount grocer nearby, but if you do, they can save you a lot of money. Discount grocers often carry foods at a deep discount that are out of expiration date or have damaged packaging. Keep in mind that expiration dates on boxed, canned, or frozen foods don’t mean that the food goes bad on that date, just that freshness may be compromised. Nutrition obviously peaks during the dates prior to expiration dates but these foods are edible (and often flavorful and nutritious) far beyond the expiration date.
- Shop Amish and Mennonite Stores – If you live in an area that has an Amish or Mennonite store, you can buy spices, pasta, grains, and many other items at bulk prices without having to buy enormous quantities. These stores buy large quantities of dry goods in bulk and repackage them in smaller quantities at prices far below what you will find in most grocery stores.
- Shop Local Farmer’s Markets – From fish and meat to vegetables, you will find good deals on fresh nutritious foods at your local farmer’s market. In addition to the high nutrient value due to the shortest distance from farm to table, you will also be keeping your dollars in your local community.
- Make a List – Heading to the store without a list is an invitation to blow your budget. Plan your meals and make a list for the ingredients for those meals along with anything you need to restock.
- Stick to Your List – Adding items to your cart that aren’t on your list can easily increase your cost by 30% to even 100%. Making a list of what you actually need and sticking to it will save you significant amounts of money over the course of a month.
- Use a Menu Plan – When you know what you are going to have for dinner, you will be most likely to stick to your list (and avoid future trips to the store) because you know that you will have what you need to make dinner for the week. Without a menu plan and a shopping list, you can spend hundreds of dollars on groceries and still not have what you need to put dinner on the table. The Busy Mom Menu and the Frugal Mom Menu can keep you on budget and make putting dinner on the table as simple as print, shop, and cook.