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Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Easy ways to cut your grocery bill's down
I get many emails from people asking me how I save money on groceries when I rarely use coupons. Well its not just one thing, its several. Hope this helps you all!
1. Shop early in the morning. This way you will find markdowns and get sale items. You wait to long and they will run out and you will have to get a rain check. Dairy and meat will almost always have mark downs. Some stores are better than others. My local Albertson's has the best dairy mark downs and you can use coupon on these. Did you know you can freeze dairy? You can freeze half gallons(easier to defrost), yogurt go gurts(kids love these cause they think its ice cream) and several other things. I only buy organic go gurt's when they are on sale so when I find them, I usually buy them out and freeze them.
2. Buy seasonal-I work my meal planning around these items. Potatoes are super cheap so weve been eating alot of them. Apples are in season so the girls eat alot of those for snacks. This alone will save you alot of money. Chicken seems to be on sale alot too so stock up on it. Just buy as much as possible, take home, pull the skin off, put in freezer bags and in the freezer. Buy now when its cheap and eat later.
3. Produce-I have a rule of $1 a pound or less. I also will only buy whats in season. Currently its apples but last month it was navel oranges. My kids are used of getting what I bring home. I also buy spotted banana's for super cheap. They are much sweeter and I will freeze them as well for muffins at a later date. Just peel them, tear them into 3 pieces and put them on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen just put in a freezer container and label 3=1 banana. They last up to 6 months. These will thaw much softer and mush much easier for baking. Sometimes we will toss some in pancakes. Mmmm!
4. Clean out your fridge before you shop. No reason to buy something you already have or go to use something and find out its expired. Its a good excuse to clean your fridge too. I also take advantage of bringing stuff from our freezer chest into our fridge freezer. This way I know whats in both freezers too. Less buying things I didn't need to begin with.
5. Buy dried or dehydrated things. They will not expire and you use them when you need them. I always have powdered milk for when I bake or cook. That way I can use fresh milk for my girls cereal or our coffee. This is a great option for people who dont like to drink milk but need it for cooking. This way they dont throw out milk from expiring. Saves a bundle. I even use it instead of fresh milk when were broke. Once its cold , you cannot tell the differance between it and the fresh. If you can find a large box for under $10 grab it. Ive seen it as high as $18 for the same size. So if you can afford it, grab it. You can easily get 5 gallons out of it. Thats only $2 per gallon and it will not go bad. Things that are in the bulk section are almost always cheaper than if you bought them in the aisles plus no packaging. Your recycling container will thank you and so will the tree's!
6. Try too cook with what you have. Look at your pantry and think outside the box. Ive came up with some creative dinners this way. Only have a half a pound of meat and some noodles? Make Burger Helper. Just brown meat up in a pan, add noodles, add water till it covers noodles, and cook until noodles are done. Once done, add a couple spoons of sour cream(or half % half, or plain milk) and spices of your choice. Done! Kinda like hamburger helper but healthy. Ask friends and family for idea's. My neighbor and I always tell each other what were cooking so we can get inspired off each other. We even bring over a small container to let them try it.
7. Rethink things. Do I really need this? Am I going to suffer later when I dont have enough money for something when I should of not bought that item earlier in the month? Most the time I dont need the item. Just would be nice to have it. So rethink things. Yes it would be nice to have avocado's on hand but they are expensive and if you forget about them, you have waisted money.
8. Coupons-only use them if they are on a item that you buy regularly or can get it for almost free. This is how the companies get you to buy their stuff. They give out coupons and we go buy them because of the coupon. If I need the item, or can get it for almost free, and its less than the store brand then I will buy it. But only then. I have a organized brain for coupons. Once I clip them out, I know in my head that I have that coupon. So when I go shopping, I look up and down the aisles and clearance and will remember I have that coupon. It gets easier after time. Im not as organized as other blog moms, I have no coupon binder , just a small coupon holder. To be honest, I only use coupons ever so often. I find most coupons are for not so healthy items. Since we do not buy chips, soda or things like that, its rare that I use a coupon.
9. Buy in bulk when you can. Some stores are more expensive this way but discount wholesale stores are cheaper. Winco for example is the best place around here. Your not paying for packaging and you buy as much as you want or as little as you want. Good place to get baking items and dried fruit. Anytime we travel I buy dried fruit. It never goes bad and its just as healthy as fresh produce. Plus whatever we dont eat while traveling,I can use later for baking muffins and what not. You can find just about everything in the bulk section. I recommend looking around at any store you frequent and take notes of how much things are. Here in the NW Winco is the cheapest hands down but Whole Foods has things you cannot find in other places. Dried garbanzo beans is one of them.
10. Ship discount stores. Our local discount store is Grocery Oultet. They are pretty cheap anyways but when they mark down stuff, its super cheap. I get all our snacks from them. Crackers, granola bars, etc. They are usually $1 or less a package. When big time shopping, I will go there first. I dont know how many times ive shopped there after the big store and found things I just bought for 3 times the amount. And im so anal that I will buy them again and return the others. So now I just shop there first and save myself frustration, gas and money. So ask around, usually friends and family know of such a place.
11. Dont always stick to a list. Like I said before, I cook around seasons. Summertime its lots of salads, fall its lots of apples, winter its squash. You get the idea. Cook around the seasons instead of buying that crab that you had to have and spend a pretty penny for. Eat crab when its in season. Or buy a ton of it and freeze it for when you will crave it later. You will save yourself a ton of money this way. I am still using up my shredded zucchini I grew in my garden. I use it in muffins and cakes. Also have lots of pumpkin puree for baking too. Get it cheap and find a way to freeze or dry it. I do not plan our meals so this one is really easy for me. I never make a list unless we run out of toilet paper or need vitamins. I just stock up on whats in season and come up with dinner on the spot.
12. Can or freeze. When it comes to produce, I will buy a ton of it when its super cheap and bring it home to freeze. Red bell peppers were 4/$1. I bought a bunch and brought them home. I rinsed them, cut them into strips, put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Once frozen I pull them out and put them in a freezer bag. Done. You have ready to cook bell peppers for up to 3 months. I do this will all our berries, beans, meat, produce, and baked goods. My freezer is always full. Saves me money down the line. This month again is tight but im using up the chicken that I got on sale for 99 cents per pound and will be good until the end of the month. You open my freezer and there is no boxed meals or easy to do food. Its all beans I cooked, vegetables I have chopped or shredded, butter, frozen juice, or freezer jam. Saves you so much money when you do it yourself.
13. Bake-instead of buying baked items like muffins, cake and etc. Make it. You can control how much sugar goes into it and make it healthier. I invested in a bread machine so now I make all our bread. I can make pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, or plain rolls. I am now paying less than 50 cents a loaf of bread instead of $1.50 each. Plus no plastic bags to recycle! I also make my own lasagna or casserole. Its much cheaper!
14. Fresh or frozen is best. Dont buy premade or packaged meals. You will waste your money and usually its not healthy at all. I dont trust companies anymore, they will put in lots of preservatives, anti cake who know whats, and are usually stuffed with fat. I feel much better about making all our food. Sometimes it takes longer but its worth it. Have you looked at how much sodium in what your eating? It's just crazy. Fresh is best but frozen is a close 2nd.
15.Crock pot-I could go on forever about the pro's of cooking with a crock pot. Just know that if you dont have one, invest in one or find one at a thrift store or get from someone getting rid of theirs. I cook all soups this way, and our beans. Use's less energy, and you can throw food in and forget about it until dinner time. Worth every penny to buy one. I soak dried beans, and cook them in a crock pot for up to 6 hours. Once done I seperate into freezer bags (2 cups per bag) and we use beans alot with our meals. I use only 1/2 lb of meat per meal with 2 cups of beans to make our meat bill smaller. Meat is expensive when your cooking for 6. And beans have lots of protein so we sub with them. We eat alot of mexican dish's so it works for us. And I usually have enough beans to add ham to. My girls love bean soup so I make enough extra for their school lunch's. Same with black bean soup. Endless idea's. So buy one!
16. Stop buying soda or single serving juice. This alone will save you a ton of money. I admit we do buy soda every great once in a while but its rare. We drink water, milk, or frozen juice. We simply put our drink of choice into our reusable bpa free containers and get on our way. My girls just want water in their school lunches which saves us a ton of money. During the summer we throw in a sprig of lemon verbena or lemon balm. They just love it. Plus 0 sugar involved. Win win!
17. Stop buying fancy coffee. I admit about once a month I will get coffee from a big name place but its only decaf since I stopped drinking anything with caffeine. Only if I have the extra money (which isnt often). There are ways of getting a fancy coffee for free. You know those punch cards they have? Buy 6 drinks get 1 free? Tulleys has this card and I found a way of saving me a bundle. Whenever we shop at Fred meyers (Tulleys is in it) I get a childs cocoa for the girls if they are good. They are only$1 and the workers will split it into 2 cups for my twins. It will take me a month or two to fill the card because we only go every once in a while. I will fill my card this way. Once I get 6 punches, I will then save the card for when im broke. When I dont have any money at all for things like that and were in the store, I will pull my card out and I get $5 credit towards any drink I want. FREE! Its worth it to me. My girls dont always get cocoa so it varies how long it takes for me to fill my card. You can also ask for gift cards on holidays or Birthdays. Just request coffee places and instead of getting 2 drinks for $10, get their ground coffee beans and make your coffee at home. This is a huge money saver! You control how much sugar or milk goes into your coffee.
18. Last but not least grow your own garden!! Invest in a few seeds and plant them in your yard. Use containers if you do not own any land. Even apartments can grow things like tomato's or herbs. I do this every year and it saves me so much. I will be posting more gardening frugal idea's soon. Just remember to grow things you know you will use. Only thing I will not grow is okra because I cannot stand it. Everything else is game!
So I hope this helps you save some money. its small little things but if you try them all, you will start to see the savings. Have any tips? Share with the whole class!