Wouldn't you rather be spending your money on things like travel, entertainment and family? Or getting out of debt or becoming mortgage free? Use these tips to save on your grocery expenses:
1. Buy in bulk but be aware sometimes bulk is not always the best deal - calculate the cost per unit. Buying six heads of lettuce does not make sense when you will end up throwing some out due to spoiling. Be aware of bulk buying stores Costco - you may end up spending far more than intended. Buying a small amount of a specific spice to try out a new recipe makes more sense than a large container that will go to waste.
2. Only buy meat on loss leaders. We eat a well balanced diet but only eat certain things when on sale. A freezer comes in handy for this purpose. Most meat can last up to six months in a freezer without any breakdown in quality. Buy in season (turkeys before Christmas and Easter go on sale every year). Buy family packs and break them into portions that will work for your family at home.
3. Only use coupons for items you would be already buying. Try to hold back on using them until the item goes on sale - then you end up with the absolute lowest price. Some areas offer doubling of coupons or stacking. In Canada a great resource for learning how to coupon is smartcanucks.ca.
4. Don't be brand loyal or if you must be brand loyal watch for sales on those brands. I will only drink Earl Grey Tea and I drink it every day. Regular black tea is cheap but does not come close. I buy huge bags of 100 at Superstore for $6.99 as this tea rarely goes on sale. I feel the quality is worth the cost therefore pay more. The same goes for Heinz Ketchup and Kraft Peanut Butter. Luckily peanut butter goes on sale quite often. For everything else we buy the brand that is cheapest with or without a coupon. Some times that means store brand.
5. Buy produce in season. In winter buy produce that is on sale due to loss leaders. When it is minus 30 degrees celcius out grocery stores often put cucumbers on sale or tomatoes to attract bargain shoppers. Buy cheaper produce in summer and freeze for winter use. Buy local - do you really need okra in Alberta? I wouldn't even know where to get it and would certainly pay a high price if I could find it. Avoid recipes with odd ingredients.
6. Eat soup for supper at least once per week. Whether store bought or home-made soup is an easy low calorie low price meal. Add buns and you have dinner - or make biscuits or cornbread. Sometimes I buy Knorr broth(with coupons), add my own pasta(whatever is in the pantry - spaghetti broken up if nothing else),veggies (whatever is in the fridge-celery, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, red or green peppers) one chickenbreast (cubed - will cook in broth) and any leftover salsa. This is one of our favorite winter meals. The salsa just gives it a little kick. If you have no salsa put a small amount of cayenne pepper for the same effect.
7. Try to eat porridge at least once a week for breakfast. Not the kind that comes in little packets - the from scratch kind. Throw in cloves, cinnamon, dried fruit (I like dried cranberries left over from another recipe or raisins) and you have a hearty, filling, healthy breakfast. Very low cost per person. If doing a bacon and egg fry-up consider only using half a package of bacon. A side benefit to this is a lower calorie meal.
8. Shop at more than one grocery store. Buy loss leaders at all of them. This way you get a varied diet. Try to stop on the way home from work so you save on gas. Make lists using the local fryers of deals at each store and only go there if nearby to pick up the loss leaders.
9. Shop less. Everytime you go to the grocery store you chance picking up non-essential items. If going to pick up one or two items don't get a cart.
10. Shop with a list. Nothing comes home unless on the list or unless a shockingly low deal that was unadvertised. Those I come across regularly, especially in the day old department of the bakery or some of the smaller grocery stores in older areas that may not see as much traffic as the new shiny stores.
11. Grow your own produce. Don't spend big bucks-try to get plants or seeds at the lowest price possible. I have gotten 20 tomatoes off of one tomato plant purchased for $3.99 in the Spring. It is now a living room plant as the first frosts have come but it is still producing. Even if you don't have a yard try container gardening on a balcony or sunny room. My tomatoes are chemical and pesicide free as well.
11. Cook from scratch. Once you set up a pantry properly with spices and baking items there are both savings to your grocery budget and you will eat healthier as know what is going into what you are eating.
12. Don't buy convenience items like pre-cut salads and pre-cooked pieces of meat unless your are using a coupon that makes it cheaper than if you bought the individual ingredients to do it yourself.
13. Shop alone and only on a full stomach. My husband is terrible to grocery shop with as he keeps throwing items in the cart without looking at the prices.
14. Buy direct from a producer where possible. Is there a local farm near you? Can you go pick apples at half the cost of the store? Is there a local meat shop where you can buy half an animal and have them cut it up and wrap it for freezer use?
15. If entertaining make dishes like casseroles or a big roast that can feed multiple mouths with several side dishes. The less meat the cheaper the whole meal will be. I can feed 7 (five adults and two teenagers) on $20 at Thanksgiving by making my own stuffing and buying grade b young turkeys.
16. Use less. Cut that fabric dryer sheet in half, use half as much shampoo, use a smaller amount of sugar called for in a recipe.
17. Waste less. Use up yesterdays leftovers in todays casseroles. If it can't be used today then freeze it for a rainy day. Browning bananas are a classic example of an item that can be frozen for use in muffins or banana bread. If going on holidays did you know you can freeze milk?
Be creative, get out your cook book and the next time the budget is getting a little tight for groceries check your own cupboards before running to the grocery store.