Is your grocery bill out of control? Do you need to cut down on some household expenses but don’t have the time to clip coupons? Well, you’ve come to the right place, my friend! I used to be one of those crazy couponers and not only is it a great way to save money but it also gives you a nice stockpile which can come in handy during natural disasters and other emergencies (or even just not running out of diapers after you’ve just had a baby!) The downside is that it can be time-consuming. Not only was I constantly clipping coupons and searching circulars and couponing sites for sales, but in order to get those rock bottom prices, I had to go to multiple stores. It can very quickly become a full-time job. I was okay with this until I had a colicky baby. After my darling daughter was born I could hardly manage to get through the drive to the store; let alone shop at more than one place. And forget about trying to sit down and clip coupons! Unfortunately, I also just started my journey as a stay-at-home-mom and could not afford to start spending a ton of money on groceries.
Don’t Worry there is another way and I’m going to tell you how to do it!
Yes, you’ve heard it before. Plan your meals out so that you know what you’re making and have all the ingredients. This way you don’t have an excuse to run out to eat and spend more money. BUT you can take this a step further by meal planning around sales.
How; you ask? First, I like to find out what meat and produce are on sale. Meat usually ends up being the most expensive item on the menu but if you’re not buying produce when it’s in season your grocery bill can get out of control just as easily as if you’re buying filet mignon! Instead of shopping around your recipes, pick your recipes based on what is on sale and in season. Many times I will even supplement vegetables with sale vegetables. For example, my recipe may call for bell peppers but sweet peppers are usually less expensive (and honestly, I can’t taste the difference). So, sweet peppers it is! It’s also a good idea to use the same vegetables in most of your dinners. This way instead of buying a different vegetable for every night, you buy the same vegetables at the sale price and eat them all week.
You can use this handy Free Printable Meal Planning Worksheet! to help!
SKIP FRESH PRODUCE
Okay, I know I just said to buy produce on sale, but a lot of times frozen produce is actually cheaper. Not only is it usually cheaper, often it’s even better for you! This is because the produce is picked at its peak and then frozen. Giving you all the nutrients without the expense!
Once you find what meat is on sale, it pays to buy it in bulk and freeze what you’re not using during the week. You can find more tips on buying meat in bulk here.
Another way to save on meat is to eat less of it. Instead of making meat the star of the show use it as an add-in. Instead of pot roast, make beef stew heavy on the veggies. Or add beans into your taco meat to make it stretch. Our family even has “Meatless Mondays.”
You may have seen items in your grocery store with a sticker that says, “manager’s special,” or “marked for quick sale.” Pay very close attention to this! These items are usually close to the expiration date or need to be moved for shelf space. Don’t be afraid to purchase these products! This is a great way to save money on groceries. Common places to spot these stickers are the meat department and bakery. Even if it’s about to expire you can store it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Just last week our bakery had quick sale bread for $0.58! Our local grocery store has even done this with wine!
STOP FOOD WASTE
We live in a very privileged time and society. Food is abundant and most of will never know true hunger. While this is something to be grateful for it has also caused us to take food for granted. Every time food is thrown in the trash your money is being thrown out too. There are a few ways to solve this problem.
Serve less food. Something I have found to be effective is actually put less food on my family’s plates. If they want more, they are more than welcome to a second helping; but I found that often they are satisfied with what they have and throw less in the trash. (Okay this works for everyone except my two-year-old. Toddlers.. am I right?)
Freeze your leftovers. Just like you would make ahead and freeze dinners, do the same with your leftovers. Once everyone is finished eating, put enough leftovers for the next day in the refrigerator (because let’s be honest, usually if it hasn’t been eaten within 24 hours it’s getting thrown out). Whatever is left can be frozen in single serving portions for a quick meal for one!
Get creative with leftovers. Another way to eliminate food waste is to re-purpose your leftovers. Our family likes to do a pizza night every Friday. It’s a great opportunity to use leftover produce, meat, and cheese before it goes to waste.
One of my favorite rebate apps is Ibotta! It’s super easy to use. You just download the app pick your stores, scan your purchases, snap a picture of your receipt and your account is credited. The best part is that you can cash out for gift cards or even have the money deposited directly into your PayPal account!
Another great app is the Walmart savings catcher app. I love that it does the work of comparing lower prices for you. Just snap a picture of your receipt and you’re done! Then you can use your refund on your next Walmart shopping trip.
ALDI, ALDI, ALDI!
Yes, Aldi! My favorite place to grocery shop. You just can’t beat Aldi deals on the essentials. Milk, eggs, butter, and pantry staples are always the lowest price at Aldi. (I have never even seen a gallon of milk cost more than $1.90 at our Aldi!) Even their generic products are high quality. And don’t even get me started on their Little Journeys baby line! The small store is becoming a big hit. I could probably do a whole post about everything there is to love about it (and I probably will).
A couple of things to know about shopping at Aldi:
- Aldi does not accept store coupons. So if you plan on purchasing a name brand product. Go someplace else where you can use a coupon.
- You have to bag your own groceries. You also need to bring your own bags or you can purchase bags at Aldi. Don’t worry, once you see your receipt this won’t seem like such a pain.
- Don’t forget a quarter! In order to use a cart at Aldi, you need to insert a quarter. Don’t worry, you’ll get it back once you return your cart!
I LOVE learning new ways to save at the grocery store. If you have your own tips I’d love to read about them in the comments!