Money has been pretty tight lately because we have had some new expenses.
My grocery budget just keeps getting tighter and tighter.
Less money to spend, plus Chunk is starting to eat real food and Moo drinks apple juice like crazy!
So I thought I would share what I'm doing now to save money and what I plan to do to save even more!
First off, I've been doing this whole saving money on groceries thing for about 2 years so I've tried a lot of different things.
For me, the best way I've saved is coupons. I know there are a lot of cons to using coupons. They expire, they usually only work on convenience foods, they're time consuming, etc.
I just remind myself to ONLY use a coupon if it is something I would buy anyway.
What really sucks is that in Albany, coupons are like something out of the future or something. None of the papers distribute the coupon inserts, none of the stores distribute coupons (except Winn-Dixie every 3 months) and when you get coupons off the internet or ebay and use them, the cashiers act completely idiotic.
So I've had to cut back and be creative.
There are basically 3 things I do:
1) Don't just buy the bargain brand cause it's cheaper. Make sure it's worth saving the money on each item.
2) Use meals that can be turned into another meal
3) price your meats!
I have been buying the bargain brand dish soap and baking soda for like...ages. I usually either get it at the Dollar Tree or get the store brand. here's the problem...my baked goods wont rise, my fridge doesn't smell any fresher, it takes a half a bottle of dish soap to wash the dishes, and I end up buying these items EVERY week. The cheap baking soda and dish soap are $1 each. The arm and hammer baking soda is about $3 and lasts all month. That's already at least a dollar saved...I know it's not much. But then I buy a $4 bottle of Dawn. I have had my current bottle for 6 weeks and still have half left. So I normally would spend $5 a month on dish soap but with Dawn I've spent about $2 a month. Now mulitply that time the other 15 bargain brand products I've been using and it turns out that buying the expensive stuff is actually saving me money!
This sounds a little goofy I know. For example, you might have tacos one night. Serve with rice and black beans (dried, they're super cheap). Then the next day, throw the beans, left over taco meat, and some chicken stock in the crockpot. you could add a can of corn, tomato sauce and chiles too, but they're not necessary. That's 2 meals with very little work, and a lot of overlapping ingredients. The less you have to buy, the better!
I don't do the whole price match thing where I drive around to 7 different stores on grocery day. I just check the prices within my store. Sometimes ground turkey is like a dollar cheaper per pound than ground beef. And sometimes chicken or pork chops are BOGO. Most meals can be made with a meat substitution, so it's no big deal. For example if I was planning on cooking tacos, I could use the turkey instead of beef. If i was going to make burgers and baked potatoes, I could have pork chops instead. Lots of people say meal planning is the way to go but I just try to buy all my basics that I know how to cook with and then decide each night what I want to make.
I also save money by baking my own bread, making homemade waffle and pancake batter, making Scott's lunch for him, and only making single cups of coffee at a time. Oh, and I have started only making a half gallon of tea at a time because it keeps us from drinking too much...we could easily go through a whole gallon at dinner time.
I would definitely like to be better with our grocery budget though. I shop at SAM's club occassionally. But it's tricky because only certain things are worth buying. Like cheese. Since we eat a ton of cheese, it's worth it to buy a 10lb block of cheese for $13. That's huge saving because 1lb at the grocery store is $4. I also buy diapers there because they ALWAYS have some sort of coupon, and you can buy like 200 diapers at a time so you are pretty much set for a month or more. Sometimes I buy meat there, depending on what the prices are. I NEVER buy toiletries.
I plan on starting to buy my spices form SAM's. It's expensive to buy a huge container of each spice, but they last long enough to save you a lot of money (especially if you cook from scratch a lot). I need to start building up my spice collection.
I'll post pictures of the girlies tomorrow, so check back for a fun post!