Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stretching Your Grocery Budet

I've learned a thing or two about smart grocery shopping over the last year or so. While I shop on a $50 per week budget, these tips can be applied to a grocery budget of any amount.

Tip For Stretching Your Grocery Budget—at the grocery store and at home
Shop The Sale Ad
This is my #1 money saving habit. According to my mPerks, I've saved $466.27 since January 1st. Over half of that ($264.18) has come from store specials.
Know Your Store's Reward System
I shop exclusively at Meijer, and while I don't think they always off the best coupons (they are often the same as what you can clip from the Sunday paper), their Rewards are pretty cool, and I love that I can pretty quickly earn $10 toward my next shopping trip.  This is one tip that could really help those of you with bigger grocery budgets—the more you spend the faster your rewards build up.
Don't Be Swayed & Know When You're Getting A Good Deal
I used to be easily swayed by a "good deal" or a "good coupon." But I've learned to resist the urge to get a good deal for the sake of a good deal. Along the same lines, you need to be aware of when you're not actually getting a good deal. For example, Meijer often puts Bush Beans on their 10 for $10, it seems like a good deal, except that Meijer brand beans are usually 89 cents and go on sale (sometimes in conjunction with a 10 for $10 sale) for 79 cents.
Look For Reduced Produce and Meat
Meijer marks day old pre-cut produce down 40%, often times I can get watermelon, pineapple or bell peppers cheaper that way. Once in awhile I can find the same thing in the chicken and pork coolers. I've never gotten anything that's rotten. An added bonus is that by specifically looking for the mark downs, you're helping to stop food waste.
Speaking of food waste—STOP DOING IT!
Be aware of what's in your fridge and about to go bad. It'll save you money, and it saves the planet.  I'm talking about those soft potatoes that are starting to sprout (they make great potato soup) or the peppers that are starting to wrinkle. Within the last couple months I've started to become more aware of food waste happening at places like the grocery store. I've started taking action in little ways, like buying single bananas (which don't sell well) instead of bunches.

Eat Leftovers
Tim usually takes our leftovers in his lunch. It helps stop food waste and it makes packing lunches a lot easier.

Know You're Meal Stretchers
Potatoes, rice and beans are awesome ingredients for making cheap meals that will fill you up. I love black beans and find them to be the easiest to add to a variety of dishes. You can even add them to salads.
Smaller Portions
Smaller portions mean more leftovers, which equals lunch, which equal one less meal to "pay for." But I guess, what I'm also talking about here is stuff like instead of baking the whole loaf of store bought garlic bread, cut it in half and save the rest for another night. Those types of tricks save you money and keep you from eating an entire loaf of garlic bread in one sitting. Tim and I aren't the only ones who do that...right?

Food Co-Ops and Other Nontraditional Sources
Thanks to a presentation at our local MOPS, I started getting some of my grocery items from the Woodland Food Co-Op. If you're in our area, you should totally check it out. I was able to get some items in bulk that were eating up my weekly budget. Another thing we do that makes my $50 a week budget doable is in the fall, together with my parents and sisters, we purchase a quarter beef. This means for the entire year, I wouldn't have to purchase meat. Now that we own our home, I'd love to plant a garden and can even more stuff than I did last year.

Break The Rules Once In Awhile
Like any list of rules, it's good to break them now and again. I break budget by a few dollars when Stella is especially good and I let her pick out a "special treat." And the other day, I went totally crazy (like $50 over budget!) because I hadn't planned and was generally annoyed at my self-imposed limit. It felt good to buy a few things that I deny myself almost ever week—frozen pizza, ice cream—and I'm pretty sure Stella got everything she asked for that day—fruit snacks, Teddy Grahms, ice cream.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Jamie for sharing about the co-op. Also making a menu really helps too for weekly buying. I make a menu for lunch and dinner all week.


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