Let’s face it. We’ve all gotta eat, and as a parent, my children seem to think that our pantry is a magical cornucopia of deliciousness. La Grande has a taste for the antipasto self-serve area, La Rubia can single-handedly run the QA department at Cheerios, and Homeskillet thinks that he lives in a B&B.
I’ve adopted some quasi-pretentious but well intended food habits that threaten the budget friendly nature of our grocery bill like reducing our processed food intake, reading the nutritional labels (you just can’t unlearn some things), and buying organic when possible (especially the dirty dozen). I’ve had some pretty harsh failures, my most recent concerned my attempt to limit our family to grass-fed, organically raised meats. Yeah, super expensive and I totally pulled a well-if-i’m-not-dead-yet we’ll be fine.
I remember watching one of my favorite Jerry Seinfeld bits about supermarket and he really hit the nail right on the head:
Hilarious, right? I love that guy!
10 Ways To Keep Your Grocery Bill In Check
Here is my practical and easy approach to keeping your grocery bill from running your monthly budget.
1. Use A Weekly Menu to Plan Your Grocery List
I covered this idea in an earlier post about the dinner dilemma, but menu planning is at the crux of keeping your food expenses under control. When I first started this practice, I only planned dinner, but I found myself eating lunch out because I wasn’t accounting for it in my grocery list. Now, I plan BLD…breakfast, lunch, and dinner and life is much easier and I am not as tempted to grab a bite out to eat for lunch.
2. Shop Your Pantry First
It never fails that I forget that I already tons of a product and then wind up bringing more home. Just recently, I bought three boxes of chicken stock thinking I was out of it, when it turned out I had four boxes sitting in my pantry. Or, I think I have tons of something I always have on hand, like tomato sauce, and then I go to make something that calls for it and I have none.
Shop your pantry so that you don’t end up stocking up like the zombie apocalypse is coming…though if you are planning, please send me your address because we are not and our life expectancy is not looking so good.
3. Leave Starvin’ Marvin At Home
Eat before you shop or take a snack along for the ride. You do not want to go hungry, especially with all of the wonderful deli items available for easy consumption. Between the sushi, antipasto, and rotisserie, I find myself salivating as I walk the store and it tempts me to buy more than I need or planned for.
4. Hit The Grocery Store Weekly…Alone
Oh, a vacation! Ever since I had kids, the idea of going to the grocery store is like a dream vacation. Distractions just add to your likelihood to wander aisles and overspend. I know it is a luxury to shop alone, but I am pretty darn sure it will save you some cash.
5. Stay Seasonal & Local
Shopping for oranges in December? Yeah, they’re probably coming from Argentina. Or South Africa. Which is super far away and has all the freight expenses included in the pricing. Check out this seasonal fruit and veg tool from Real Simple to help you plan your meals.
6. Don’t Shop Aisle By Aisle
No. No. No. Follow your list and hit aisles that correspond to your needs. Then, hit the outskirts to grab your produce, meats, and frozen foods.
7. Don’t Snub The Store Brand
Generic doesn’t mean substandard. You can definitely go generic and save A LOT on staple items. Sigh, this just made me wish we had a Trader Joe’s. Know what I mean?
8. Coupons, Coupons, Coupons
I’m not a huge couponer, but when I find them, I do use them! Plan your menu, make your list, and then hop on your handy dandy social media machine…yes, your computer, and find and print coupons for your list.
Because I’ve given up quite a bit of processed foods, it is difficult to find and save with coupons. I do, however, save on my dairy products with coupons.
9. Wash & Prep Your Produce As Soon As You Get Home
This is more of a time saver. I wash all of my produce when I get home so when I go to cook, I can really churn my meals out faster. It also helps me inventory what I have and get a mental plan ready for the week.
Tip from a reader: You may want to wait to wash your produce to delay spoilage. Here’s a great guide to washing fresh produce from the Colorado Extension.
10. Marinate Your Meats & Freeze
This is another time saver, but I know you’ll love it. I’m notorious for freezing meat and then forgetting to take it out in advance to prep it for a meal and then let it marinate. By marinading before freezing, I can portion out servings, and when I do plan to prepare that meat, it’s marinading as it defrosts!
Got more money saving tips related to grocery shopping? Share them below!
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