Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lowering your Grocery Bill

Everyone is tightening their budgets these days, even those of us who have been pretty tight in the first place. One way that I’ve tightened our budget is in the food department. For our family of six the food budget includes not only food ate at home but also fast food, sit down restaurants, school lunch, cleaning supplies, beauty, hygiene, paper products and anything else that I can’t toss into another category.
I try to use coupons when I have them. Although I find that most of the coupons in the Sunday paper are for items that we don’t use in the first place. Food City is the only grocery store in town and that makes shopping a little tricky also. I’m stuck with purchasing there or going 20 minutes to Wal-Mart where I spend way too much money on things I really don’t need. I try to bypass Wal-Mart unless I have no other choice. If you use coupons you should ask the store if they will let you use their store coupons as well as manufacturers. If your regular grocery store provides an item by aisle list use it to make your shopping list. It will keep you from wandering the aisles and picking up items you don’t really need. Check with the grocery store and find out when they mark down meats and produce. You can usually get a really good deal if you just know when to shop. And by all means shop on double and triple coupon days.
I’ve come across several other ways to cut the food budget. Many of you may use these already. The ideals I’ve wrote about today aren’t new, just ones that I’ve come across lately. They may spark another ideal in you. I’ve noticed that Target has printable coupons in their emails. Although I only get to Target once a month at most I check those coupons out to see if there are any I will need. Kroger will let you load your coupons on to your Kroger card through their website. Check it out if you shop there a lot.
You could share meals with other families. Join with a friend who has the same number in their family as yours. You each could cook enough food for three days. Double those three days recipes and swap the extra. If you do this on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, swap on Monday, then you have your three meals you’ve cooked plus your friends three she gave you. Voila, a weeks worth of food and you don’t have to cook the rest of the week. Not only will you save money but time also. Don’t forget you may need to freeze some of those meals for the end of the week.
If you’re up to cooking all in one day, plan and cook the next weeks or several weeks meals before you need them. Or cook once a month and make several favorite recipes and freeze them for a quick meal. If you can go home and just warm and serve you won’t be as likely to pull through the drive-thru.
Speaking of planning, make your meal plan out for the next week when you get the grocery ad for your favorite grocery store. You’ll know what you’re eating when and can plan around the items that are on sale. Or if you really want to save time and money and you can join a new online service I am now taking advantage of. It does cost $15 for three months but I’ve found it has saved me a lot of money and time.
It’s called e-mealz and is run by two moms. When you subscribe you choose a meal plan based on the grocery store or diet you use. After you purchase your plan you will log on each week and download your meal plan for the week along with your detailed shopping list. We’ve been using these meal plans for the last six weeks. We’ve not had any meals that weren’t good. Some we’ve liked better than others but none have been bad. By using the detailed shopping list I’ve saved money and more importantly for me right now I’ve saved time. The first week I spent $51 on the menu plan plus another $60 on breakfast, lunch, toiletries and laundry detergent. I also had not been to the grocery store in three weeks either. On average we are now spending $12-$15 per day to feed our family three meals and snacks each day. Some days it’s even cheaper. I know what we’re eating before supper time rolls around and most of the recipes are quick and easy.
I’m sure some of you have money saving techniques too. Please comment and share with the rest of us.
The link for e-mealz is Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. If you have a budget or money question let me know and I will do my best to answer it for you.
If you are just now starting to track your spending and use a budget go back and read some of my past blogs for ideals.s

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