Friday, April 15, 2011

How We Save On Groceries, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of How We Save Money On Groceries. Part 1 is here, in case you missed it!

11) Saving on non-food purchases. My grocery budget includes household items such as toilet paper, dish and laundry soap, personal care items and cleaning supplies in addition to food. I try to save as much as I can on these items in order to put as much of our money towards buying good food! Using coupons as much as I can on these items and playing the CVS drugstore game really helps in this department. By carefully rolling ECB's at CVS, I get the bulk of our shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, toilet paper  and laundry soap for pennies on the dollar. And for those who think this takes too much time, I will just tell you that I only go to CVS once or twice a month usually and I still get enough free or nearly free products to keep us going! So it doesn't have to take a lot of time. Another way I have saved big is by cutting back on the amount of products that we use.

12) Freezing and canning garden produce. If you garden, know someone who gardens or have a farmer's market nearby, chances are you have produce available to you for free or a good price. I find that sometimes the farmer's markets are the same price or higher than what can be bought in the store, so it may not always be cheap. But I also like knowing where and how my food was raised so there is a trade-off there! Anyways, if you have an abundance of produce on hand, learn to freeze or can it for later use. Most home-canned items taste better than what you can buy and it's good to know exactly what's in them! I've successfully canned tomatoes, applesauce, peaches, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, apple butter and peach jamGreen beans, shredded zucchini and sliced bell peppers are easy to freeze and so much cheaper or free during harvest! Each year, my goal is to learn to preserve one more item. And we benefit from this, in taste and cost!

13) Portion control. I do not advocate starving your husbands and children, by any means, but since watching our portion sizes in just the last 5 weeks, we've noticed how our food is lasting longer. This will no doubt be helpful for the budget since a four serving meal will actually feed us for two meals instead of one like it had been previously! And we are satisfied and feel great. Sometimes, simply eating less is a way of saving money on groceries.

14) Paying with cash. When paying with cash, you won't spend more than what you have in hand! I always go a little over budget when using the debit card.

15) Eliminating the unnecessary. Obviously, this will look different for each family. I don't expect anyone to do just as we do. But if you're willing, this is a good way to shave extra costs off your bill.  We use very few paper products, opting instead for using rags, kitchen towels and cloth napkins. I use mostly vinegar for cleaning now and am currently still working through my Seventh Generation gift pack which I love! We drink mostly water. We've never purchased a lot of snack foods.

16) Eating leftovers or cooking less. I love eating leftovers and am blessed to be married to a guy who doesn't mind it either. Eating leftovers saves a lot and reduces waste. If your family isn't big on leftovers, then cook things like a chicken or roast where you make a different dish with the leftover meat each night instead of serving the same heated up item. Or start cooking less so you don't throw food away.

17) Packing lunches for the road. Our eating out budget is separate from the grocery budget but I included this tip here anyways. We almost always pack lunches for traveling or when we're away for the day. Based on the average fast food combo meal and festival food prices, we save $10-$15 each time we eat our packed lunches. We set up at events and festivals often on the weekends and taking our own food is much more economical! Plus we eat a lot healthier this way! We fill our insulated water jug (thrifted for $2 years ago) with water and ice and we don't even have to buy drinks.

18) Drinking water. The savings are obvious! And better for you.

19) Freezing prepared meals and meal components. Freezing meals or cooked beef and chicken will help you out and save you money on busy or sick days. There have been times where the budget was especially tight but when I looked in the freezer, I found enough frozen meals or components to feed us for at least a week! Even freezing the last portion of soup or casserole that nobody wants before it goes bad is a way of using your resources wisely. It may be helpful to keep a freezer inventory so you can remember to use what you've frozen.

20) Simple meals. I try to keep most of our meals pretty simple. Feeding your family well doesn't have to mean 4-course meals or lots of variety and choices everyday.  Most of our meals consist of 2-3 items; usually a meat or main dish with a veggie and a grain, if needed. Salads don't have to include 15 veggies! We don't often have dessert. I cook pretty simply without using a lot of canned soups and bottled sauces. We like our simple, home-cooked meals and always get enough to eat!

21) Shopping at cheaper stores such as Aldi or Walmart. While some areas aren't blessed with an Aldi, almost all Americans are within easy driving distance of a Walmart. And whether you like shopping at these kinds of stores  or not, their prices are generally lower than other grocery stores. Depending on your season of life, watching sales and using coupons just may not be for you right now when you just need to get groceries! And that's where shopping at these stores can be really helpful. You know what you're going to get and the prices are reasonable. Personally, I avoid Walmart as much as I can due to the crazy crowds but I love shopping at Aldi. The store is small, there's typically only one of each product so no figuring out which one to buy, my store has a great produce section and the prices are low. I stock up on basics there and on those weeks when I just need to get groceries quick, Aldi is my store.

Hope this series has been helpful to you. I'd love to hear how your tips as well!

**This post is part of Frugal Friday!


Karen@Candid Diversions said...

Great tips! I've never gotten into the CVS "game" because we've never had one close to us. Now that we do, I might have to try it.

Lyn said...

I really enjoyed these posts. Your freezer is so nicely stacked! I find I do best frugally when I'm organized, and on hectic weeks it's hard to be as frugal. Spending some time getting things together really helps. Thanks again.

Wendi said...

Great tip on freezing that last portion of an item. I can't tell you how many times I have pulled that last piece of lasagna or last bowl of soup out of the freezer for lunch.

Rhonda said...

really good tips, Mary Ann.