One of the best ways to save money when it comes to groceries is by making a plan. Sit down and think about what it is you’d like to eat, talk to your family and see what they might be craving and set a menu. Maybe one day is BBQ, then tacos, the next is chicken and let’s not leave out a nice pasta dish. Whatever it might be that you are craving, plan it out. Plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks.
With planning comes list making. Making a list for grocery shopping allows you to stay focused and not veer off track at the grocery store. Often times grocery stores will change up the layout of the store and the placement of foods. This allows you to spend more time browsing the shelves and ultimately buying things you don’t need. However, if you have a list on your phone or written down on a sheet of paper, you are less likely to get distracted.
Plus, when you plan your meals ahead you have more opportunities to save money with coupons. You can put a little bit of time into coupon clipping and find which store has the best price for the items you need.
Freeze and reuse!
Saving on groceries is about being resourceful and mindful with your produce, meats and really all groceries. If you have fresh fruit that might be spoiling before you can eat it, freeze it and use it later for a smoothie or to add to your ice cream. The same goes for fresh veggies that might be on the borderline of bad, freeze those and use them later in smoothies or you can take those frozen veggies and throw them in a crockpot for a nice home cooked meal.
Also it might be a good idea to invest in something like a food saver that helps keep frost bite away. Not only can you freeze meats but you can pre-prep your frozen foods too. Instead of just throwing chicken in a freezer bag and throwing it in the freezer, marinate that chicken, add spices and herbs and freeze it so it soaks in the flavor.
Also look to see what you can reuse. Maybe you have BBQ one night for dinner and you’ve overcooked the amount, well the next night if you’re doing taco Tuesday, make those tacos BBQ flavored. Or if you have extra chicken, add it to a pasta dish. There are tons of ways you can reuse left overs.
Check out the date!
Often times we see a bad date and we toss an item. But did you know that the “use by date” is the date for the store to have it off the shelves. It doesn’t necessarily means the item is expired. Always be sure to check the item and smell it too. Sometimes you might find the item is as good as the day you bought it and you’ll be throwing away money if you toss it.
Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the fridge with the doors open looking for something to eat, only to find nothing satisfies you? Well that entire time you stood there with the doors open, your milk was quickly reaching that “use by date.” Try to keep your doors closed and not opened for long periods of times this will also help keep items fresher, longer.
The way you store your foods can highly impact the freshness, as well as your grocery bill. If you have cereal stuffed way back in your panty, you might assume you don’t have any and next thing you know, you have more cereal then you can handle. I know my family does that with fruit. I might buy blueberries and then two days later we have more, simply because of the placement in the refrigerator.
Another great tip a co-worker shared with me is separation of new vs old fruits and veggies. Most refrigerators have two drawers and most of us use those drawers for fruits and veggies. But how about combining those draws or at least reorganizing them. Use one drawer for the older fruits and veggies and the other drawer for the newer fruits and veggies. This way you eat the old before the new.
We love fruit in my house hold especially apples but we find that when new apples are purchased, they are dumped into the drawer leaving the older apples on the bottom which usually means they go bad before we get to them. But, with the drawer method, you can enjoy more and toss less.
I LOVE coupons, discounts, sales… really just anytime I can save money. Coupons are a great way to save money while grocery shopping. Often times stores will even accept their competitor’s coupons so it’s important to ask when you are at the check outline, what’s the worst they can say… “No.”
With cell phone apps and website like Coupons.com, smartsource.com and Ibotta you can save while you are scanning the shelves. They have coupons for everything and anything so be sure to price check your items. Sometimes the brand names are cheaper than the generic and other times you might find the generic to be the best bet. And let’s not forget about apps like Checkout51 that pay you to grocery shop. Yup, you can make money when grocery shopping. Simply scan your grocery receipt and see where you’ll be earning money back.
Next time you tell yourself it’s time to go grocery shopping, make it work for you and make the most out of your shopping experience.