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Cut Your Grocery Bill

 

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If you’ve made a New Years Resolution to spend less in 2013 a good way to start is to reduce your food budget. Everyone has to eat so why not make a few changes to save money on the food you eat. If you eat out more than once a week you can really save big by eating at home and shopping the right way.

Here are a few tips to get you on your way to saving each month on your food.

 Make a plan

If you don’t have a plan for what you will eat chances are you won’t have what you need to prepare the meal. If you haven’t meal planned before I would suggest picking some of your family’s favorite easy to prepare meals and planning them for the first week for dinner. If you need help getting started with menu planning here is my menu planning post.

Choose Easy Meals to Make

You don’t have to make a gourmet meal at home.(unless you have the time and want to) To make sure you eat at home more to save the most money be sure to plan meals that are quick and easy to make. If you have a crock pot get some free crock pot books from Amazon Kindle list. (you can read them on your computer, you don’t even need a Kindle) Choose things like tacos or burritos, baked potato bar, chili with cornbread muffins. If don’t like to cook pick up the canned chili at the store and some muffins even if you don’t make them yourself you will still save over going out to eat.

Automate some of your Meals

What I mean by automate is pick some of your family’s favorite meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and make sure to have those ingredients on hand. Purchase those ingredients so you always have them in your pantry at the best prices. Meaning when you see them on sale stock up. Some of our automated meals are bean and beef burritos, chili and cornbread, pork chops, Quiche, pancakes, oatmeal, eggs and sausage, waffles, muffins, corn dog muffins, spaghetti and meatballs, just to give you some ideas.

 

Stock Up When Items are on Sale

Once you have your automated meals picked out you can make sure you have all the ingredients for those meals. The best way to keep your pantry and freezer stocked with the basics item you need is to stock up when prices are their lowest. If you see a good sale on eggs don’t purchase just enough for that week but maybe enough for three to four weeks. Check the sell by date and use that as your guide to how many to purchase. I purchase as much ground beef as I can when I can get it for $2.49 a pound or less. Beef roast I will purchase at $2.99 per pound, pork tenderloin at $1.99/lb, boneless skinless chicken breast at $1.99 or less, just to give you some ideas on price. Prices in your area may be higher or lower so just watch the sales and buy when you notice the price has dropped. The best way to price track is to set up a price book.

Find a Local Discount Store

In my area we have quite a few discount grocery stores. So I am really spoiled in this area. Be sure to check in your area for discount stores too. I have a Franz Bread store which sells fresh bread at grocery store prices but they also have day old bread (meaning it is close to the pull date) at discount prices. I can get organic whole wheat bread for just $.80 a loaf if I shop their weekly sale on Saturdays.

Grocery Outlet is a good discount grocery store and they are in many different areas across the US. We also have a local store called Everyday Deals here. They deal in closeout groceries. Their prices are really good, such as head lettuce $1/4, apples $.39/lb, broccoli $.39/lb and asparagus for $.39/lb. Much better than the local grocery store but you will have to pick through to get the best ones. They also have frozen items and boxed items too. Chances are you will be able to find a discount grocery store or bread store in your area.

 

Give Freezer Cooking or Pantry Cooking a Try

To get started with freezer cooking,  you can make a double batch of a dish your family likes and add the extra to the freezer for those times you just don’t feel like cooking or the day has just not gone as planned. Freezer cooking doesn’t have to be a one day cooking session. I do much of my freezer meal prep in bulk batches to stock my freezer with the start of a meal, such as cut up meat or marinated meats or extras of baked items such as pancakes, muffins, waffles or rolls.

Some ideas are pancakes, waffles and muffins, make a double batch and store the rest for those morning you are in a rush just heat in the microwave or pop into the toaster and they are done in under a minute and so much less expensive than the store-bought one.

Marinate meat in the freezer by adding the sauce to the raw meat. Then freeze when you are ready to make the meat thaw and it will marinate while it is thawing. Any meat item  you need to marinate should work really well this way. I will make BBQ chicken by placing the raw chicken in a freezer bag and add the BBQ sauce over top, then freeze. I will thaw it and then bake in the over with the sauce on it or put it into the crock pot and cook it that way.

You might be wondering what is pantry cooking? Well that is what I call making my own mixes. I have found that most baking recipes can be made into a mix. Just add all the dry ingredients and mix well. I store mine in zipper bags and write the instructions on what to add and how to bake the item on the bag itself. Here are some of my family’s favorite recipes you can give a try or use your own favorite ones.

Here are a few Freezer and Pantry Recipes

Oatmeal Packages
Muffin Packages
Baking Mix
Pizza Dough for the Freezer
Chicken Pot Pie for the Freezer
Italian Chicken
Beef and Bean Burritos
Corn Dog Muffins
Mini Lasagna

Know how much you can save by eating at home

I did some checking on a few items I can make at home and how much it would cost for me to purchase those meals out. These are meals  I can easily make at home and I was really surprised how much I could save.

I compared eating tacos at home with a fast food restaurant and a sit down restaurant. By making tacos at home I found I could save $1 a person over fast food and $4-6 per person over the sit down restaurant. I also found by making one pizza a week at home instead of picking it up at the local take and bake chain I could save $209 a year.

Once I found we could save quite a bit in a year with just making our own pizza we have not purchased the pizza out since. When you know how much extra it will really cost your family to eat out you will be able to decide if it is really worth the extra cost. If you need help in know how to figure out your price per meal check out this post.

 Take your time reducing your food budget

All of these tips above will help you to save on your grocery bill, but if you try to implement each of these suggestions right away you could end up overwhelmed,  discouraged and give up. If you currently don’t meal plan start with that first. Once you are feeling confident with menu planning, then try to stock up on the items you need for your automated meals. Then when you are comfortable with both of those add another. Soon you will be saving quite a bit and the change will be gradual you won’t be overwhelmed with so many changes at one time.

 

What have you found that really helps you save on groceries?

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29 thoughts on “Cut Your Grocery Bill”

  1. I wish I could save alot of money on my grocery bill, but a very special diet is expensive and not really ways to save. I do love making my own homemade yogurt that is WAY less then the standard yogurt at the grocery store.

    1. We eat dairy free well at least 3 out of the 4 of us do. I can understand how expensive a special diet can be. I have gotten pretty good at making most of our own dairy free items instead of the more expensive options at the store. We do love to make our own yogurt too. I made a half gallon just this week. It is so good.

  2. I LOVE budgeting and learning new tips on how to better work my budget. I am not a parent, however, and I’m not married, so it is often a little more difficult (or it feels like it, anyway) to implement some strategies like buying in bulk or even menu planning (with my crazy schedule).

    I love the idea of calculating how much you’re saving by eating at home – for me, the convenience of eating out can sometimes be the biggest trap, so I really dig the actual calculating to show, concretely, what the savings are. Awesome idea!

  3. I kind of menu plan. I make a list of everything I need in order that I find it, then I shop. Then I cook form memory and as I start to forget I look back at my list and I’m like “oh that’s why I bought green onions…” 🙂 I should start freezer meals soon as I’m due in March and I won’t have as much time to daddle in the kitchen. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Congratulations on your new little one coming soon. I did some freezer cooking before my second child was born and it was so nice to have some easy meals during those first few weeks of adjusting to life with a new little one in the house. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Admittedly, couponing is still the best bet for me. I check a lot of freebie and coupon blogs for very good deals so next time I go to the stores, I know what products I am getting .

    1. Coupons do work really well to save money. We use them regularly on certain items we purchase. You can really save if your store with double all of your coupons used in one shopping trip. Unfortunately in our area all of our stores will only double 3-4 coupons a shopping trip but I am still thankful for the extra saving when I can get it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  5. I find produce at my local grocery store marked “Reduced for Quick Sale” and only get them if I need them for the menu for the week. Love menu planning, I post every week on my blog if you ever wanna check it out. I’ve been cooking at home a lot more and it’s fun, especially when I see I’m paying pennies per serving!

    1. At my local discount store I love all the produce I can get at great prices but I really have to be careful not to overbuy. Yes cooking at home really does cost so much less.

  6. These are great! Thanks for the tips. Found you via Blogelina. I do reverse shopping, often: seeing what is on clearance (my store has great clearance sales) and then plan meals around what I find, keeping the standard things on hand. It’s kind of spontaneous and would drive planners nuts, but works for me! 🙂

    1. I love to shop that way too at my local closeout store. We will have whatever vegetables or fruit I can get there and that is what we will have for the week. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Kelley @ Never a Dull Day in Poland

    How I save money is with coupons!!! We are military overseas and so we can use coupons 6 months past their expiration dates. So I have family and friends mail me their coupons and at our base grocery stores I can use them.

  8. Great list! I would like to make more freezer meals – bean and cheese burritos is such a great idea. I’d also like to make strawberries and cream oatmeal packets for my daughter. She loves the rubbish kind in the store, and I know I could make it much healthier. Thanks for some inspiration!

    1. LaVonne, My kids really like making their own packets for oatmeal. I do think they are so much better than store bought ones. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  9. We used to eat out 2 or 3 times a week costing us $40-$80 per meal depending on where we went and how many of our children were with us. Since last year we cut that back to maybe once a month and haven’t increased our grocery bill by much because I started planning our meals. We used to wonder where all the money was at the end of the month…now we know. Thanks for sharing the recipes you use I will definitely have to try some of them.

    1. It is great to hear you are meal planning and it has helped to save your family money. If you try a recipe I have shared please let me know how you like it. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. We always take out a shopping list when we go shopping – it helps keep costs down, and dining out is just for special treats. I know restaurants seem expensive but they have overheads I don’t have at home and many are going out of business as they trade on very narrow margins. I have not given up dining out entirely 🙂

    Planning ahead is a good budgetting measure. I make enough for 2/3 meals and freeze the rest it is big help for busy days!

  11. Wow, great tips, Shelly! I’m thankful my mom taught my siblings and I to be frugal (by being frugal herself).
    You covered so much here, I think I’m gonna have to pin this post for future reference. 🙂

    ahumblebumble.blogspot.com

  12. Those are definitely some great tips- I’m a big fan of “Master Mix” myself, have you ever tried it. I recently posted the recipe on my blog, it’s super versatile. I look forward to checking out some of your recipes as well!

    ~Terri
    Eco-Crazy Mom

  13. I have found in our area, having a great garden and stocking up during case lot sales have saved us a lot. We are a family of 6 on one income and I cook from scratch as much as possible.

    Thank you for the great ideas

    Dawn
    Dawns Delights Art

  14. Amen to eating at home! There’s always something to eat in the fridge or the pantry so eating out just adds to our expenses! Thanks for the other tips here! I know I really need to more planning in terms of our meals and our grocery shopping.

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