There is a lot of information online for how to save money on groceries, no doubt if you’ve ever Googled this you’ve found pages of answers. For the most part, I’m sure many of the answers can save you money, if you actually used them. But we are creatures of habit, and many of us don’t feel we have the time to do a lot of “extra” steps – like going to a new grocery store or cutting coupons. So I’m going to do my best in the next paragraph or two to share how you can save money without too much disruption to your “normal” routine.
Much of what I have to say will probably not be new to you, the key is picking which one or two things you want to implement and follow through on these. We get in trouble when we try to change everything at once, it’s too much to try to remember. The very first thing I would do, if you’re not already doing it, is plan your meals a week ahead. Get a calendar and write the meals on there – but be realistic. If you’ve never eaten at home all 7 days of the week don’t think you’re going to start now.
Once you have the meals mapped out, write your grocery list. We overspend when we let the stores tell us what we should buy, getting what’s on sale or buying more than we need because it looks like a great deal. At the store purchase only what is on your list, and whenever possible buy store brand. When shopping for meat look to see if any are at their sell by date, often the meats will be marked down by as much as 50% and is perfectly fine to eat.
Alternatively, if you live where you can buy meat from a butcher, consider partnering with another family or two and buy your meat wholesale. I haven’t met too many families that would need an entire cow, but if there are 2 or 3 families sharing the cost this could be a HUGE savings. I have a friend who is a hunter, and I buy a deer from him every year. He shoots it and I pay the butchering fee – it’s been enough meat (for me and my son) to last us until the next hunting season. Teaming up with other families will work equally well if you shop at a wholesale club, especially if you don’t have a large family.
Try not to buy things like toothpaste and other toiletries from grocery stores, whenever possible shop for these at Dollar stores, or as I mentioned above, team up with someone else and purchase some of these at a wholesale club. Coupons may save you money, as long as you don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. Instead look for coupons based on what’s on your shopping list. Many stores will allow you to load the coupons onto your rewards card (online), saving a lot of time at checkout – just scan your rewards card and go.
Preparing your meals on the weekend can also save you money, because if you’re like me there are going to be days when you just don’t want to cook after work. If the meal is already prepared it’s much less of an imposition to heat it up and eat, rather than spending more money eating out. Think about how much money you could save if you ate out (1) day less each week! Meal prep could also become an opportunity to teach children how to cook and spend time as a family.
Food is getting more expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you have dietary restrictions or food is something you take a lot of pleasure in then, yes, you will almost certainly spend more than the “average” person; and that’s okay. However I would encourage you to see what other areas of your life aren’t as important – for example maybe you don’t watch as much TV and can do away with cable. The most important take-away is if you are going to change something, only change ONE thing. Do it for several months, until you’re not thinking about it anymore, before trying to change anything else.