Not everyone has time or desire to clip and organize coupons and then do the research to use them strategically. However, there are ways to save money on your groceries without becoming a TLC-type extreme couponer.
Use What You Have
Before making a grocery list, take stock of what’s in your pantry and refrigerator. Use what you have. Recently, I had planned on going to the grocery story to pick up a few items for a couple of meals. I decided to stop and check the pantry to see what we had. I had forgotten about some dried kidney beans and decided to make red beans and rice. But once I got started, I realized that I didn’t have rice. BUT, I did have potatoes. So, we had red beans and mashed potatoes. My husband loved it and and it was a fun change for me.
Planning meals in advance, and making a grocery list in keeping with those meals, will help prevent spontaneous and unnecessary purchases.
Generic / Private Labels
Generic brands don’t require the cost for packaging and advertising as do the name brands. And, in some cases, our family actually prefers the generic brand to its name brand counterpart. For example, we like 12 Grain toast. We like the brand name toast. However, after we tried our local grocery store’s generic brand, we realized we like it even better than the name brand. And, while its price is good, when it’s on sale, we take the opportunity to stock up and freeze it.
Change What You Eat
When our budget has been tight, we opt to make some cost effective changes to what we eat. For our fresh produce, I consider the greens that are on sale or less expensive than our preferred spinach and kale. Opting for frozen veggies is another option to keep the costs down. Other ways to consider cutting back include eating oatmeal or pancakes instead of boxed cereal. Think about ways to stretching those dollars by slightly varying your food choices.
Don’t Buy Prepared Foods
Whether it’s frozen meals or fast food, prepared foods are exponentially more expensive than making the very same thing at home. A burger at one of the popular fast food venues in our area can cost $3-$5. We figured out that we can make FOUR burgers (with organic beef at that) and fries for that same amount. The same can be said for sandwiches, pizza and a host of other “inexpensive” prepared foods.
This also includes pre-cut items, like carrots and celery, in the produce section. Cut it yourself and save the money.
Know Your Price Points and Stock Up
Be familiar enough with the prices of your favorite items that you can take advantage of a price cut. Stock up when you can. Use your freezer. And, don’t forget it in there.
Americans are notorious for the amount of food we waste. Some estimates say that we waste approximately 160 billion pounds of food every year. Take a good look inside your refrigerator once a week and make use of (or freeze) your leftovers. My husband appreciates leftovers and I love eating leftovers. Some people have a leftover night once a week. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be the exact same meal. I will often use leftover chicken to make either chicken fried rice or a chicken enchilada casserole the next day. It’s a fun way to use leftovers.
What do you do to save money? Are there other things that can save money without having to use coupons?
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