With a family of five, we often hear, “your grocery bill must be tremendous!” We could play it up and try to guilt-trip people into donating to the “Save the Hatchers” fund, but honestly, we have found dozens of angles to trim costs, and then we can route the extra grocery money to other parts of the budget.
[MAKE A LIST] I know we’re strapped for time, I know we enjoy the convenience of stopping at the Quick-Mart and buying a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk while we pump our gas, even if we have to pay twice as much. But if you take the extra 15 minutes, plan out your meals, and get only what you need to make them, and a few goodies, it’ll knock the cost of the impulse spending way down. If you know what you are looking for when you walk in the door, you will spend less than if you decide what you want to eat based on the packaging and in-store advertising. If you need help figuring out how to make a meal plan or a list, check out BettyCrocker.com, you can choose your meals, print out the menus and your grocery list in just a few clicks.
[SHOP FOR A MONTH] We have saved countless trips to the store and pinched a bunch of pennies by making our meal plan for a month, and getting our shopping done all at once. Each time you go to the store, you see something else that you didn’t know that you wanted before you walked in. The more trips you make, the more stuff you buy, the more money you spend.
Bread freezes, and so does most other things if you take the time to figure out how. If you have a large freezer, or a big cupboard for canned and boxed goods, it works great. If you share a cramped apartment with seven cats, you may have to find another idea.
[STORE BRANDS] Everyone has gone to a friend’s house when they were kids and seen the box of “Lucky Shapes” and “Toasted Oat Krunchies” instead of Lucky Charms and Cheerios. But to tell you the truth, most store brand items are manufactured by the same company, in the same factory, even on the same machine. Store brands are often 20 to 30 percent less than the big names. So don’t let them poke fun at your fake Dr. Pepper or your generic Hamburger Helper.
[BUY BULK OF YOUR FAVORITES] If you are a lover of green beans or a peanut butter freak, check with the store manager to see if they can cut you a deal on a case of peanut butter. You may be able to knock off half the price of each item in the case! Although, if you eat microwave-able macaroni once a month, don’t buy six cases. The things you use the least, you should buy only what you know you will use.
[BARGAIN STORES] Aldi’s, Save-a-lot, and Super Wal-Marts are invading the country, and there is probably a store near you. Even the brand name items are 10-20 percent cheaper. Because they buy gig-a-tons of food at a time to fill stores nationwide, they save money, and pass some of that savings on to you. Local branches of national bakeries like Stroehman’s and WonderBread often have a “Bread Thrift Store” where bread is one day past the “Sell by” date at reduced prices. 12-grain bread which is normally over two bucks, often sells three loaves for a buck. You can’t beat it.
[TAKE A CALCULATOR] Add up the things you toss in your cart. If you see how much you’re spending, you won’t go over your budget. If you are shopping with a spouse, or older kids, or even a roommate, make it a game. Split the list in half and see who can get the best deals, or get everything on their list in the fastest time without going over budget.
[EAT LEFTOVERS] Instead of tossing your tuna-noodle casserole down the garbage disposal, or leaving it in the fridge to grow a penicillin culture, eat it again for lunch the next day. If it’s pizza, eat it for breakfast. The longer you can make your food last, the longer it will be before you have to grocery shop again.
READ MORE LIFE | POST COMMENTS BELOW