….those grocery dollars. It never fails…expenses keep coming in, paychecks seem to get smaller and yet your family insists on eating…and more than once per day! It seems it’s a never ending food cycle.
I feel your pain and understand completely. While I only have three mouths to feed, my daughter is pretending she is at least two people and we haven’t even hit the teen years yet! There is hope. There are ways you can stretch your food dollars bills. Odds are, you have heard of some of these, but hopefully, at least one suggestion will be new.
The first option is coupons. Yes, I said, and you might dread it; but they work. I used to be an extreme couponer and in CA, that’s not easy. However, there are deals to be found you just need to know how to access them.
- Read the coupon policies for the store(s) you shop.
- Learn how to stack coupons: a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon used on the same item. If the item is on sale….WOO HOO…maximum savings!
- Read the coupons. Some will only let you buy four of the same item in the same trip or same day.
- Match coupons to sale items.
Next…shop multiple stores. I know some will say, “I don’t have time to make several trips.” I respond with your wallet can’t afford you not to (true for many people). Don’t drive all over creation. Plan your trips and hit several stores in the same area.
Use saving apps on your cell phone. Have you heard of ibotta? It’s almost like coupons on your phone. Granted, there is a pre-selected group of coupons to choose from. You simply click on the items you use. Sometimes you watch a 10 second video, other times you answer a question or sometimes the item unlocks immediately. You can save anywhere from $0.25 to a dollar or more. You simply purchase the item, scan the UPC code, take a picture of the receipt and “send”. Once you reach $20.00, you can cash out your earnings.
Another app is the savings catcher on the Walmart app. You simply scan your receipt into the savings catcher and it will scan other stores in the area. If the item you bought was cheaper somewhere else, you get the difference. When you cash out, you can do so right to your phone and the cashier can scan the bar code right from the phone!
There are many more apps, including apps from your grocery store, but I’ll stop there. Ask your friends and family which ones they use. I know my friends who hate to clip coupons will use the apps instead.
Shop local. Learn where your local produce stands are. They are typically local to your community and tend to have some great deals. The one close to my job, I can get 10 pounds of potatoes for $2.00 almost all year long. I can get Granny-Smith apples usually under $.50 a pound. Go where the savings are. You’re helping a local business owner meet his financial obligations too!
Buy fruits and vegetables in season. To this day, I still meet people who have no idea what that means. “In season” is when the fruit or vegetables are grown and harvested. For example, cranberries are common and cheaper in the fall. Blueberries are in season, right now, as I type this. You can pay $1.98 for 18 oz. of blueberries in season, compared to $4.00 for the same package when they are out of season. Know your seasons and plan your meals around them.
Buy meats that cook low and slow. That sounds a bit odd to people. However, the tougher cuts of meat such as pot roast, corned beef, stew beef, etc. tend to be cheaper than the nicer cuts of meat; tri-tip, london broil, etc.. They require longer cooking times and normally at a lower temperature. If you don’t have a crock pot…GET ONE! They come in very handy for these cuts of meat, will cook all day without you standing over them and will be fall off the bone tender when you’re done.
What’s in a name…brand that is…There are just some brand named items that are equally as good in the store brand version. Stop paying for advertising of the brand and start thinking about the item. Are the primary ingredients the same? Odds are they will work or taste the same too. Read labels and see what I’m talking about. I’m not saying to give up your favorite shampoo or favorite snack, just know, the store varieties have something to offer.
Lastly, for the purpose of this post anyway, make a list and stick to it. If your like me, you make the list of needed items and then forget it when you’re ready to go shopping. Once you’re primarily done with the list, put it in your purse, pocket, with the car keys…somewhere you will remember it. If that hasn’t worked, many cell phones are able to record lists or notes. There are even cell phone apps that are strictly for shopping lists.
So there is a handful of saving suggestions; just the tip of the savings iceberg really. It’s enough to get you started, at any rate. If you have suggestions on making those grocery dollars stretch, please feel free to leave a comment. There are so many more options available than this humble list.