Christmas is like tomorrow. Well not really but might as well be. I mean seriously its in 20 days. AAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Take a deep breath and read my words. There's still hope. There's still time to save money. Phew! The easiest and fastest way to save money is on your food budget. And no your not going to cut back and starve. Promise. Okay lets do this.
Saving on grocery budget
Free food. Is there such a thing? Yes there is. Just make it known to family, friends and neighbors that you will take any surplus from their gardens. Be sure to do the same for them when your garden is growing well. Wild food can be foraged. This summer I picked wild raspberries and made jelly with them. You can barter as well! Get creative!
Grow a garden. Don't give me the excuse you have a black thumb. Been there done that. Yep even I thought I had a black thumb. Now days you can buy plants already started and even have produce on them. Cheapest route is to buy seeds and start them inside your home. Don't have patience? Fine spend more on larger plants. I find that cheating but that's just me.
Seasonal foods are your best friend. You will always save money when you buy whats in season. For example Fall means pumpkins, cinnamon, turkey and cranberries. These things are cheaper in the Fall and make your money go way further. I buy 3 turkeys each year and put them into my freezer. One for Thanksgiving at my home, one for Christmas day and one for us to cook and stretch for meals. At 99 cents a pound I can afford to buy a lot and save a lot. Summer means cheap fresh corn. Simply cook it half way cut off the corn and freeze in bags. Now you have corn all year long. See where I'm going here? Oh and don't forget that pumpkins can be used as decorations until you use them. They last months in your home! I buy lots so we can have pumpkin sausage soup for months.
Preserve everything. Canning can be cheap if you do it right. Buy 2nd hand mason jars and new lids. Use a large stock pot. After ten plus years of gardening I finally have a pressure cooker. Don't have a dehydrator? Use your oven. You think our ancestors had them? Research old ways and do it. Don't forget you can freeze things too!
Don't waste anything!!! Each day I make my girls lunches. There is always fruit peelings or seeds which I give to my chickens. Then each day my girls come home and in their lunches is always their bread crust. To the chickens they go. Any bones go to the dog. Egg shells get baked till dry and mixed in my chicken feed. Seeds from bread bags go to the chicken feed. All vegetable scraps go in to the freezer till I have enough to make a broth. Simply boil these scraps in water for 30 minutes and you have free broth. Bones area also made into broth. You get the idea. Nothing goes to waste!
Keep track of prices. I can't remember what I did yesterday but I can tell you exactly how much I paid for something 6 months ago. I don't get it but it works for me. Some need to have a book with current prices of all the stores they shop at. Whatever works for you do it. Little bit adds up to big savings!
Bulk bulk bulk baby! Don't just go down the aisle for something you need. Hit up your bulk section to compare prices. Most the time bulk section is cheaper. But always check. Ive had to buy packaged a few times because it was cheaper. Better yet buy a whole bag or case. Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you buy a case. Winco sells bulk foods in 25 & 50 lb bags that are usually cheaper than just buying a few pounds. RESEARCH! If you find a excellent sale buy as much as you possibly can. Example-I buy coconut creamer because we are dairy free. Whole Foods sells them for $4 a carton. I found them at Grocery Outlet for $1.49. WHAT?? I bought every single one of them they had and put them in my garage freezer. Just shake well when thawed out. Looks and taste the same! Its been 6 months since I had to buy any. Woot!
Clearance can sometimes be helpful. At my Grocery Outlet they mark things down to just sell them out. For example-Organic coffee they sold for a few months for $5.99 a bag. That's a good deal considering regular stores sell it for $10+. Well one day I went in and they had them marked $1.97. I snagged every single bag I could find. Now I don't have to buy coffee for at least 6 months. What a deal! If you buy canned food some stores sell dented cans at a discount. Deli meats, cheese etc area also sold cheap before they spoil. Remember you can freeze so many dairy products! Buy lots now and reap the savings later.
Go meatless. Do this a few times a week and wow will you save money. My kids don't even notice the meat is missing. Try cutting your meat in half to start out with. Instead of using a pound of ground beef use just a half pound. Just do this a while then try a meatless meal. Just remember to supplement some protein rich foods in there. Beans are a cheaper alternative to meat.
Stop buying junk. Serious. Don't just say it but do it. Have some self control. No soda, chips, specialty coffee from shops and things like that. If you don't buy it they won't eat it. Instead bake things yourself. You have the power and control to keep preservatives and fat out of your life. That's awesome power! And your bank account will thank you.
Coupons can help or not help. Most coupons are for name brand products. When you do the actual math most the time your paying more than the generic brands or bulk section. Only way I will use a coupon is if its on a product I always buy. For example I buy dairy free butter. Its $4.99 for one pound. Sometimes they have coupons and I will use them. I don't clip them. I don't go looking for them. I don't plan my meals around them. You get the idea. Use them at your discretion.
Cut back or eliminate prepackaged foods. No boxed macaroni and cheese. No Hamburger Helpers. No single serving foods. NOTHING. Obviously tortilla chips etc are okay because you don't' want to buy those in bulk. Stale chips are icky. No easy to make foods. I'm still amazed by myself sometimes when I make something that looked hard to do. These meals are way healthier and cheaper than those easy to do ones. Trust me.
Cheap isn't always unhealthy. You can buy carrots cheaper fresh than frozen cut up ones. Sometimes frozen spinach is cheaper than fresh. Compare prices and buy accordingly. If I score a good sale on shelf stable rice milk I use that to bake with instead of using my fresh flax milk. Why buy just chicken breast when you can pay half price for a whole chicken? A little work yes but a huge amount of savings. One great thing about grocery stores is that their is always options.
Cook from scratch. I mean do I need to even go into detail here? Don't know how to make something? Google it. Need to substitute for something you don't have? Google it. Get creative!
Generic can be your friend. I buy Whole Foods a whole case pasta sauce for $2.29 each. I get 10% off for buying the case. Its their generic brand but its still organic. For me name brands don't mean anything. I'm more into what ingredients are in there, if its BPA free,if its a local company, its GMO free and if its organic. If its fair trade even better. If you guy generic you will save at least 10%. That's a guarantee.
So my friend, whose awesome now?