Though we all know that eating at home instead of going out saves us money, sometimes it doesn’t feel that way when you finally get to look at the grocery bill! But there are a few things that you can do that will save you a ton of money over time.
1. Plan your meals for the week/ or two. This can take a little while to get the hang of, but if you plan your meals, you never buy stuff that you don’t need at the grocery store. All it takes is a notebook, and looking at recipes on the internet. Think about what you already have on hand. I recommend reading this page on Budget Bytes about different products you should keep stocked up. Won’t be quite the same for everyone, but reading this gave me a good head start on meal planning. Next I recommend going to Supercook. There you can look up recipes based on what you have–or are planning to buy.
2. Compare prices at different locations. This one is time consuming, and may require the help of a roommate or spouse, depending on varying routines. But it can save you big money if you think about what you can get for the cheapest at different locations. This doesn’t mean checking every store in your area for the cheapest peanut butter (that would take up gas money after all), it means keeping an eye out. For example: my boyfriend and I have a small shop near us that has the best (BEST) deals on local produce. But we don’t buy olive oil there, because while it is available, it is a small bottle for four or five bucks, and you can get a bottle twice that size at Kroger for the same price. Keep your eyes open and you will save.
3. Coupons. I have not yet mastered the art of extreme couponing. But, any coupons can save you money. Or if you have a rewards card with the store. Be careful of deals that want you to buy more to get less. The value of that only works if it’s something you are going to actually use. Only clip the coupons that you might actually need.
4. Look for the best deal in the store. While something might be on sale (with big red letters saying “BUY THIS!”), you might find that there is a cheaper version in the store, of the exact same thing, sitting on the shelf looking innocuous. Keep an eye out for the amount of ounces, or liters or what have you that an item contains. Sometimes something looks like the better deal (it’s cheaper, or it looks like it’s bigger), but when you weigh it against something else in the store, it doesn’t stack up.
5. Make stuff last at home. Though you’ve saved money at the store, the best way to ensure long term savings is to keep an eye on what is going on in your own pantry and fridge. Invest in air-tight containers, and look up storage tips for food online. You can even regrow some herbs from their clippings, and save all your bread heels to make bread crumbs. There is so much to know about making the food last, and reusing certain items. Also, if you’re planning your menu for the week, don’t let your veggies go to waste. Pick two or three to eat all week long in different recipes. Or use leftovers as the basis for the next night’s meal. Some call this technique “chaining.”
Here’s to you and your future savings.