For those of you who don't know me and haven't guessed by now, I am a penny pincher. I pride myself in knowing that I purchase at the lowest price. At the turn of the new year I had a few friends ask me for tips on how to save money with groceries, since we eat fairly well on quite a low budget. I thought I'd share some tips that have proven to be helpful with our bottom line.
- Make the effort to shop at more than one store. This one is hard for us stay at home moms who have to lug our children to the stores (and is probably equally as hard or harder for those who are in the workforce and are restricted to shopping at night or on the weekends). I'll admit, this one has become harder to do since having Brayden. But by shopping at Aldi's, Walmart, Sam's and the Discount Bakery, I save our household money. ALOT of money. I estimate probably about $15-20 a month, and that's a conservative estimate.
- Don't be a name brand snob. I'll admit, there are a few things that you can't get off brand (velveta being one of them). For the most part though, we eat off brand food and can't tell a difference.
- Get the Sunday paper. The Sunday circular has all of the coupons, plus sales ads for the week. Did you know that Walmart will price match any local competitor's ad? I save all the ads I need, and then bring them to Walmart and just show the cashier during check out. I use our coupons mainly for cosmetics and toiletry items, as I find that Great Value is typically cheaper than the name brand, even with a coupon. Sometimes with a coupon AND a sales ad, the price will dip below the off brand.Also, don't get swept into the coupon frenzy and then buy stuff you normally don't buy. For example: we always get coupons for orange juice. Sure, we could save $1.00, but we NEVER buy orange juice to begin with, so it would actually INCREASE our monthly spending, even though we saved $1.00.
- If you are able to, purchase your meat from a farmer. We purchase a cow and split it with a family every year. This reduces our grocery budget significantly, and gives us ALL of our meat for the year. It averages out to about $2.33 a pound once you pay for processing and the meat. It's also a great way to ensure that your food doesn't have nasty growth hormones or chemicals in it. The ground beef we get is comparable to the 90/10 or 95/5 beef you get at the store... I barely have to drain it when I cook.
- We also are on call list for our local meat processor for left over deer that has not been picked up by hunters. There are always a ton of deer left past the allowed time at the processor, and when that happens they turn around and sell us a deer for the processing costs (about $50). I am not a HUGE fan of wild game, but casseroles cover up the gamey taste pretty well, and for $50 I am willing to try and mask the taste :)
- Make a plan. I try (I emphasize try because sometimes I do better than others) to prepare a meal plan for a week or two in advance. This helps me know what I have on hand to cook with, and also gives me a great head start on a grocery list. I find I spend a lot less if I go to the store with a list, and also helps me find out if I am buying something I may have a coupon for.
- Be patient. Grocery items go on sale seasonally, so purchase seasonal items. Be flexible and willing to work with what you can buy and what the sales offer. This allows you to maximize your dollar.