Previously in this series on how to reduce your grocery budget, I have shared tips that will help you save BEFORE you leave for the store and through WHERE and HOW you shop. Today, I am going to get a little personal. I’m climbing into your shopping cart.
If you want to shave a lot of money off your grocery bill, you need to take a really hard look at what you are buying.
What to buy ~
Keep a firm focus on the basic items you need to prepare meals. I’ve shared a list before for those with especially small grocery budgets but I cannot emphasize enough the need to purchase products in their simplest form. Think more about ingredients and less about meals.
Small cans of tomatoes are easy to use and do not need to be measured, but you can save more by purchasing the larger cans and then separating them into traditional sizes and freezing them. (Note: Always check the price per unit because sometimes, the smaller can will be cheaper, especially if you are using coupons.)
Baking products can be significantly cheaper when bought in bulk. I purchase my rice, spices, flour, coffee and such in bulk quantities at Sam’s Club and then store them in large plastic storage containers.
Meat marked for quick sale is not bad meat, although I do skip it when it is already turning colors. Now, I used to recommend purchasing meat in chubs, but with the recent attention to “pink slime,” I now urge you to purchase your beef as a roast (look for marked down or buy one, get one free deals) and ask the butcher to grind it for you. You could even purchase a grinder and do it yourself.
Zaycon Foods is another option for getting quality meat for low prices.
Beans & Rice
Inserting one or two meatless meals into your menu each week can shave $10 to $25 from your grocery budget each month. If you have a meat and potatoes man, you could always try to fake him out by using beef or chicken stock for flavor.
You can also stretch the meat you use by fluffing the dish with beans and/or rice.
What not to buy ~
You really should avoid prepackaged foods for more than one reason: 1) You have no idea what is really in there. 2) Food is cheaper when made from scratch in your own kitchen.
I know… I just shared ways to save on meat and now I am telling you not to buy it. For the most extreme budgets, meat needs to be limited because it will still be one of the most expensive things on your list. So, avoid specialty cuts. Keep steaks limited to special occasions.
Dairy is important for a balanced diet but when you have cheese on every casserole or present in some other form at every meal, your budget needs calcium rehab. Cheese is very expensive so when you do purchase it, make sure that you shop by the price per unit or wait for sales that you can match with coupons.
There are certain meals in our home that beckon for an icy cold glass of Coke Zero. It’s a terrible thing but I am just being honest. Instead of soda being a constant in your grocery cart, reserve it for special occasions. Water and tea are the most economical options.
This could easily fall under the convenience foods category. Packages of snacks will eat your budget faster than the Cookie Monster can gobble down a plate full of cookies. So, try to make your snacks from scratch. We are particularly fond of Rice Krispie Treats and chocolate chip cookies.
If you cannot live without chips beside your sandwich, wait for a Buy One, Get One Free sale and then stock up.
What are some money-saving tips you have for WHAT you buy?
Don’t miss the rest of this series ~
Linked with love at Life As Mom.
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