Of all the things that I hear about on my blog that cost people the most money I’d have to say that the cost of groceries is right up there at the very top of the list. If you live in a home where the food seems to disappear faster than you can buy it, if you find that you are eating out a lot even after you buy your groceries, or if you are finding that you are throwing away the bulk of what you buy because it’s going bad before you can eat it, then you know what a huge financial strain food can take on your budget.
Grocery prices seem to constantly be on the rise so if you’re having to restock your pantry several times a month, then you’ll want to utilize some methods for making groceries last longer, and you’ll also need to buck up and recognize that some of your shopping habits may need some tweaking.
I’ve been guilty of all the grocery shopping “sins” myself so I am right there with you trying to get the max out of our grocery budget!
Here are my favorite tips for stretching that ol’ grocery budget as far as possible …
Bulk Up on Popular Buys
If your family tends to eat the same things over and over, you may be able to save money each month by shopping in bulk only for those items. Pay attention to the items that are used up fastest so you’ll know what to purchase in bulk. Buying all groceries at the warehouse stores however will be a waste of money and food. Plus, if you do tons of stuff in bulk you’ll have to have a place to store all of the items. You’ll likely spend (and eat) far more than you need to. We tend to buy peanut butter, whole wheat bread (we freeze it until we need it), old-fashioned oats, and toilet paper in bulk because we know that those four items will definitely get used.
Create Recipe Batches
If you tend to make enough servings to accommodate one meal for your family, explore recipes that will let you stretch out your meals. Invest in good quality freezer containers and bags. Whatever leftovers remain from a meal can be frozen into individual portions for later on when hunger strikes. Soups and casseroles are often a great choice for freezing and reheating.
Buy More Fresh Veggies and Fruits
You might be surprised to find fresh fruits and vegetables on this list because if they aren’t eaten fast enough they will go bad — and therefore need to be tossed out — but the trick is to take the effort to prepare the fruits and veggies for quick eating. Clean the fruit and veggies, cut them into transportable “snack-sizes,” and then repackage for convenience in grab bags that you keep in the fridge. If you find that you haven’t eaten the fruit and you fear it might go bad soon, then toss the baggies into the freezer and save them for ice-cold summer smoothies!
Buy Ingredients Rather than Ready-Made
Save a ton of your hard-earned money by skipping the pre-packaged, processed, prepared groceries and instead invest in ingredients. There are so many recipes available for free online, on television, and in your family cookbook that can be made for pennies on the dollar with staple ingredients like flour, milk, and eggs. You might be surprised with how much you can make by using common pantry staples.
Generic brands are just as good or even better than the higher priced brand-named items at the grocery store. The generic brands are typically located on the lowest shelves so you may have to do some looking around. Compare ingredients to ensure you are getting what you need, but you likely will find quality items at much cheaper prices when stocking up your pantry.
(Wanna hear a secret? Sometimes, I’ll buy one name-brand item and then re-fill it with generic. No one knows the difference and then I get to chuckle an evil genius laugh to myself in my head.)
Provide Junk-Food Alternatives
Many times family members will raid the refrigerator or pantry for mindless snacking. Forget the costly, unhealthy cookies and junk food! Instead provide better, healthier alternatives like fruit (this is where those handy refrigerator snack packs come in!), yogurt, popcorn, and granola that are easy to grab as their junk food counterparts.
Set Dining Routines
If your family eats throughout the day without a set schedule, it may be time to rethink your day. Make time to create healthy, filling meals so your family gets used to sitting down to the dinner table at the same time each day. Make sure your menu is filled with healthy, fibrous foods that will fill them up to prevent constant snacking which drains the grocery supply.
Do you have any secrets that you use to maximize your grocery budget? If so, I’d love to hear about them!
Image source: LyzaMore On