One of the areas of our spending that I must constantly monitor is our food expenses. With the continuing food price creep, I found our spending can really spiral out of control if I’m not really watching it closely. I keep a running total of how much I’ve spent to help me stay on budget throughout the month. When I see the grocery budget is running low, I get really creative with the meals. Here are a few ways that I’ve been able to whittle our grocery bill down every month:
Plan a Menu
I’ve found that making a weekly menu (and forcing myself to stick to it) has really helped to lower our grocery bill. Every Sunday I sit down and look through the pantry to see what I already have on hand, then I make a daily list of what we’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I post it on the fridge so everyone in the family knows what to expect for meals the coming week.
Adding a few meatless meals into our week has also helped to decrease our grocery spending. Egg or bean burritos, salad and soup nights, as well as “breakfast for dinner” have all been favorites in our household.
Cooking From Scratch
I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I’m not a great cook, but I do know how to make a few of the basics. My bread machine gets used every day. A fresh loaf of bread or breadsticks combined with a salad and simple soup makes a complete and filling (but inexpensive) meal.
Stock Up on Sales
Every week when the grocery sale ads come out I look them over to see what items are on sale that I regularly use. When I find a good sale on an item I stock up on it so that I won’t be buying it again until it comes back on sale. Since I do a lot of my shopping at Publix, I really like their buy one get one free sales (BOGO). I’ve been most successful using this method with cereal – I don’t think I’ve paid full price for a box of cereal this year.
Inspired by some other bloggers, I’ve taken to preparing meals that I can store in my freezer. This has been tremendously helpful not only timewise, but dollar wise as well.
Of course, any discussion about grocery savings wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how coupon codes can also help you to save money. To really maximize the savings with coupons, I always try to pair them with an existing sale. Some of the best deals I’ve gotten have centered around coupon stacking – a method whereby you combine a store sale, with a manufacturer’s coupon. I can save quit a bit using coupons when I purchase the items during Publix’s BOGO sales. I usually find my coupons in the newspaper inserts.
What are your best tips for keeping your grocery budget in check?