Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cutting our grocery bill in half, and more

I was raised with a frugal mentality, and I've never really liked to spend money. Granted, it's quite necessary in life to spend money.

However, since getting married I have tried to prioritize where our finances go, and one of the biggest ways I have cut down our spending is on groceries. I just thought I could share a few of my ideas and the way that I cut our grocery bill in half some months and some months much more than that.

1. Meal plan

I'm sure you've heard it before. Go into grocery shopping with a list, and shop only for items on that list. However, to have a good list, you have to know what you're going to cook. When you have to stop and search through the fridge and come up with a meal, you'll probably end up going back to the store to get some other ingredient that you need. And you'll walk out with more than that one ingredient.

Before I grocery shop, which is about once a month, I sit down and write out what meals I'm going to make. I pick about 20 meals, because I know some nights we're going to get home late and want to just eat a bowl of cereal or have macaroni and cheese really quick.

I also pick meals that have various amounts of prep work. Sometimes I want to cook a hearty, complicated meal. Sometimes I want to have dinner in 20 minutes. If I don't have something I can cook quickly, we will be tempted to eat out. If I have dinner options that are easily prepared, we will save money and eat that at home.

Also, make sure to utilize what you have on hand. Have a stockpile of fish in the freezer? Use them up. Don't go buy more protein when you already have some. Use what you have before it goes bad.

2. Shop sales

When you start meal planning, look through the sale ads. Maybe something is a great deal this week; what can you make that utilizes that item?

I also know what staples I must have. I go through a ton of butter and chicken broth. That means when those items go on sale, I buy them in bulk. Know what you always use and buy them when they're on sale, even if you don't need them at that moment. You'll use it and be glad you don't have to go pick them up at full price.

3. Get a Sam's Club membership

I have a Sam's Club membership, so I don't know about other bulk stores like Costco. I do know that Costco doesn't sell Starbucks coffee in bulk, and that's why we have a Sam's membership. To each their own.

We tried out Sam's Club to see if the $40 per year was worth it. It is, even if you just buy a few things. I get shredded cheese in 5-pound packages, which equals to about $2 per pound. Even a good sale on cheese in the grocery store is $2.50 for eight-ounce packages. I keep the cheese in the freezer and use it when I need it. Then it doesn't go bad and I save lots of money on cheese.

Other staples from Sam's Club: Mountain Dew, olive oil, peanut or plain M&M's, apple juice, and others when they are on sale. It's worth the membership fee.

4. Don't go back to the store

When you have your meal plan, stick to it. Don't go back to the store each week to pick up a little something else. You'll probably grab more than you need. Just pick something off your list.

5. Other

There are other things that have helped keep our grocery bill down, and maybe I blog about those more at another time. I grow vegetables in the garden and vacuum seal them to use all year round. I also make my own tomato sauce and pasta sauce and can it.

Nate goes fishing and hunting, and that is fun for him plus takes away our need to buy protein, which saves a lot of money. We vacuum seal those items so they stay fresh for a long time.

Plus, I bake a lot. I make things from scratch, and ingredients are a lot cheaper than the final product. So take a little time and make your own cookies, breads, tortillas, pita bread and so much more.

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