My sister called me today and said, “I have a few questions for you since you are the thriftiest person I know. What do you do to save money on groceries?” She then told me that she checked my blog and there were no tips. Well, Sis…this one’s for you. Here’s how groceries work at our house.
1. Plan a weekly menu. The night before shopping day, I choose 7 dinners for the following week. I go through my cupboards and inventory what I already have and write down what I need to buy to make the meals. I try to have one meatless meal each week to keep costs down, since meat is the most expensive part of the meal. If one meal is more expensive, I try to compensate by planning a cheaper meal for another night. If I know I will need to buy an expensive item (like a bag of flour or stock up on meat), I try to plan all cheap meals so I stay below the weekly budget. I also make sure to think about breakfasts, lunches and snacks when making my shopping list.
2. Cut out cold cereal. Seriously, it’s so expensive and you’re hungry five minutes after you eat it anyway. I am NOT a morning person, so a hot, home-cooked breakfast just ain’t gonna happen at our house. So we eat oatmeal. I buy it in 25 pound bags. It’s so cheap, nutritious, and filling. If oatmeal isn’t for you, try making muffins, quick breads like banana or zucchini bread, or a huge batch of waffles to freeze. They heat up perfectly in the toaster. Homemade Eggos!
3. Make things from scratch. To me, the biggest rip off at the grocery store is Rhodes rolls. Homemade rolls are easy to make (especially with a bread machine or stand mixer), taste better than store-bought and cost next to nothing. You can save so much money by making your own cinnamon rolls, breadsticks, muffins, etc. I’ve even made my own french bread, bagels, and English muffins. Since I’ve got more time than money, I stay far away from convenience foods.
4. Cut back on meat and cheese. If a recipe calls for 1 lb. of hamburger, try using 1/2 or 3/4 lb. instead and add more “filler.” Fillers include potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, etc. Cheese can be really expensive too…so use it sparingly. Add just enough to give the flavor.
5. Eat more beans. They are nutritious, filling and super cheap. Beans will also help reduce the amount of meat needed in a recipe to make it satisfying. Dry beans are the least expensive, but they do require planning ahead. I make my beans in the crock pot, and they take all day. But I always make a HUGE batch and freeze meal-sized portions. I’ll post some of my bean recipes later.
6. Don’t buy junk food. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you! Chips, snacky foods, juice, soda, and candy can add SO much to the monthly grocery budget. I just don’t buy that kind of stuff. Some day when we are done with school, I probably will buy some, but limiting junk food is a very quick way to see smaller grocery bills.
There are plenty of other ideas on how to save money on groceries. I know women who have a years supply of toilet paper, cake mix, and deodorant that they got for free using coupons. Growing a vegetable garden and learning to preserve the food is also a great money saver. If you have any great ideas, please post them here! I’m always up for new ways to save a little mu-lah!