The following post is from Melissa Batai
Have you noticed that each month, your groceries cost more and more? I have. At first I blamed it on my 12 year old who eats everything in sight, but he’s not the only factor. Groceries just cost more now, and many American families are feeling the pinch.
However, there are plenty of ways you can arm yourself and protect your wallet. These are some of our favorite strategies (and almost all don’t require coupons):
Menu plan. Make a menu plan for however many dinners you will eat at home. Don’t feel like you have to fix one on a specific date. Just have a list of the number of dinners you want to make that week and fix the one that you would like each night. Great spots to find recipes include Pinterest, Food.com, and even just generic Google searches.
Utilize foods that are on sale. Each week, I look through our pantry, freezer, and the grocery store ads before I menu plan. I try to choose recipes that use those ingredients. When broccoli is on sale for .98 cents a pound, several of our meals include broccoli.
Join Costco or Sam’s Club. A word of warning—if you don’t stick to your list, these stores can COST you money instead of saving you money. We have a list of specific items that we buy at Costco that are cheaper than we can find anywhere else. Our favorites include organic lettuce, organic mixed greens, a 10 lb. bag of organic carrots, frozen fruit, chips, and olive oil, to name a few. Notice that even though I’m buying some organic items, I generally find these cheaper at Costco than I can find conventionally grown at the grocery store.
Shop at discount grocers. If you have one near you, try shopping at Aldi or Save-a-Lot. These discount grocers offer rock bottom prices and no-frill shopping. Yes, you’ll need to pack up your own groceries when you’re done, but the savings make it more than worthwhile.
Rely on cheap staples. There are many foods that are nutritious and don’t cost a lot. On weeks when there aren’t a lot of good sales, rely on these foods. Some of the best choices are cabbage, beans, bananas, eggs, and oats.
Buy in bulk. If possible, buy in bulk. We order monthly from Azure Standard. Azure is not available in all areas of the country, but they are expanding. We simply meet the truck at a specific location on our delivery day and pick up our food. You can also see if there are any co-ops near you. Participants buy in large quantity and then split the items to pay the lowest cost.
Buy directly from the farmer. We enjoy hamburgers, steaks, roasts, stew meats, and organ meat that is humanely raised and grass fed by buying direct from the farmer. We pay around $6/pound. Yes, that is expensive for ground beef, but that’s also the flat price we pay for premium cuts of steak and roasts. Less than half of our order is ground beef; the rest is premium cuts of meat. We order twice a year.
Coupon. I put couponing as the last way to save largely because we don’t eat a lot of processed foods, and coupons are often available for processed foods. However, if money is tight and you have a few boxed favorites, using coupons can be the way to go.
What are your favorite ways to keep grocery expenses down?