Though I’ve never been a hard-core coupon shopper, I used to cut coupons out of the Sunday newspaper and then make my grocery list based on what coupons I had. Now, I hardly ever use coupons (except the occasional coupon I pull off of the can or box that I am buying). I know a lot of people save a lot of money using coupons, but I found that for me I was buying a lot of things that I didn’t need. I also felt like I focused more on the products themselves instead of the meals that I needed to prepare. And finally, I began to feel a little like I was being manipulated by the big companies that were putting out the coupons. . .”buy 2 from Kellogg’s and save $.75″.
I’ve stopped using coupons and have started preparing the meals that I want to prepare using basic ingredients that I feel good about. Plus, I don’t have a passion for the hunt. Today, with the internet, I think coupon enthusiasts can probably find a better selection of coupons than just from the Sunday paper, but I’m not in a place to spend that kind of time. Instead, I find ways to save on my grocery bill in other ways. Here are few of those ways.
Family Size It. I used to buy the individual pounds of ground beef. Then I started paying attention to the price. That’s when I started buying 5lb containers and preparing them for 3, 4, and even 5 different meals. Not only am I saving money, but I am dictating how much meat is in a recipe. I’ve found that if I use meat more as a flavoring than as the entire basis for the meal, we eat less of it and enjoy it just as much.
Buy in bulk. While similar to family-sizing, I don’t do this step very often (I shop within my budget per pay period. I am not a stocker upper). It can be a cost-effective way for large families or for expensive items that are purchased infrequently.
Shop for off brands. Once again, we are often manipulated by marketing into thinking that Bayer is more effective for us than the store brand. Look at the ingredients of the store and name brands. They are likely identical. If you have an Aldi’s or other store that stocks primarily off brands in your neighborhood, check it out.
Price match. Many stores will match the prices the ads of other stores. Make note of which stores will price match and frequent those stores.
Make a meal plan. Don’t go to a store without writing down a list of meals for the week. Buying random groceries for potential meals will result in buying more things than you need and items collecting dust in your pantry or freezer. Use your family’s calendar to plan a menu for the week based on how much time you have each day, what activities are happening, and the season. Better yet, make a menu plan for your pay period (two weeks? one month?). The less you visit the store, the less money you will ultimately spend. Be efficient when you shop.
Use a list. Create a thorough list of things to buy from your menu. Inventory your pantry and spice cabinets. If you have a grocery budget, estimate next to the item how much you think it will cost. This helps you stay on budget. Be sure to stick to the list! Forgetting to get an item from your list will result in another trip to the store, costing time, gas, and more money. Members to ListPlanIt will find everything they need to plan a menu and create a grocery list in Meal Planning. Create the lists in your account, whether you are at home or sitting in the carpool lane at school. Then your list is always with you on your smartphone or tablet when you visit the store. Start your 30-day trial today!
What methods do you use for cutting your grocery bill?