How often have you left the grocery store shaking your head in disbelief at the bill from the cash register? Does it always seem like you spent a small fortune and yet still have nothing to eat at home? If so, you are in need of some money-saving tips to help lower your grocery bill. Below are some suggestions to help you do just that.
1. Every week, go online or read your newspaper and see what your grocery store has on sale that week.
2. Plan a menu for the entire week, including the main dish, side dishes and dessert, trying to incorporate items that are on sale, like the meats, vegetables, bread, dessert, etc. If you eat more than just dinner at home, then write a menu for every meal each day.
3. Try to plan one or two meals that will have enough left over for another night, such as a pot roast, lasagna, or barbecued chicken. When trying to stay on a budget, there isn't room to be picky about having the same thing Thursday night that you had on Monday.
4. Try to be sure there are at least one or two simple meals planned, such as pre-packaged frozen meals, if they happen to be on sale or if you have a coupon. By having a few simple meals, when you come home really tired and don't feel like cooking because everything will require too much effort, you won't blow your budget by eating out or ordering takeout. Just pop the frozen pizza in the oven and presto!
5. On Sundays, cut all the coupons for items you use from the newspaper supplements. Keep your coupons in a box, separated into categories such as "food", "non-food" and "pet supplies".
6. After making up the menu, go through your coupons for anything that might happen to also be on sale at the grocery store for your meals.
7. For the non-food household items you need, try to make choices from what's on sale and what you have coupons for. Grocery stores frequently will have buy one/get one free deals. If it's something that you use, try to stock up as much as the week's budget allows.
8. Make a list with everything that you need so that you don't have to go back to the store more than once a week. Every visit typically results in one or two "impulse" items that you don't really need.
9. Stick religiously to your list, unless you see something that you really forgot or an unadvertised store special on something that you can fit in, perhaps as a substitute for one of your meal items.
10. If certain products are less expensive at big box stores such as Wal-Mart, consider shopping there for those items. Otherwise,avoid going to multiple stores to buy products that you could buy all in one place.
11. Be sure to keep a supply of plastic freezer bags and storage bags. If you can get a considerable price-per-pound deal by buying a larger package of meat, freeze enough for each meal in a freezer bag. If you buy rolls from the store's bakery, put any that you won't be using right away in a storage bag and freeze it; same goes for bread if you buy more than you'll be eating in the next few days.
12. If you are making a dish such as lasagna, make a double portion and freeze half of it. That will be a real time-saver meal when you come home too tired to cook.
13. Don't buy more fresh vegetables than you will realistically be eating before they start to go bad. Frozen vegetables actually have more nutrients than fresh because they are flash-frozen at their peak; fresh vegetables lose a lot of nutrients in shipping and sitting under the store lights. Frozen vegetables are usually cheaper and are frequently on sale.
14. To eliminate extra shopping trips, tack a small piece of paper on the fridge with a magnet - when you use the last of something (paper towels, pepper, vinegar, or anything that you use), jot it down and add it to your shopping list.
15. When it seems like only the cheaper cuts of meat are on sale, don't hesitate to buy them. Even the toughest cut will melt in your mouth if you slow cook it. You can throw a roast in the Crockpot before you leave for work - just add one cup of water and salt and pepper, set it on low and let it cook until you get home. When you get home, you can add other ingredients for flavor.
By doing all of the above regularly, you should be able to save 25-35% on your grocery bills. At first it may seem like a lot of work. However, if you save $50 on a grocery bill for two hours of work, that is the same as earning $25 an hour at your job. For those trying to save money on groceries, that is a pretty decent hourly wage.