They say that the economy is getting better by the day, and maybe it is, but it’s tough to find that extra money in the checking account, isn’t it? Breathe easy, because if we push the pause button every once in a while, it’s almost easy to see where we really can find some extra cash by taking another look at the monthly expenses.
By far, the easiest place to see this truth is the month grocery bill. Staying away from impulse buys isn’t the only piece of advice here; in fact, there are lots of tips for saving money on groceries.
Farmer in the Dell: You’ll have that song in your head all day long now. That could be a good thing! If you’re avoiding the farmers’ market, you’re probably spending too much on produce and processed foods.
Grab that big, huge L.L. Bean beach bag, a $20 bill, and go have fun. Challenge yourself to fill the bag on $20.00, and you’ll win every time. It’s fresh, fun to talk to the locals, and half the price that you’ll spend in the grocery store!
What’s the Plan, Stan? Remember that old adage: “If you fail to plan, you’re planning on failing”? At the grocery store, you will spend far more than you want to if you don’t go in with meals planned and an efficient list. Stick to that list!
And then once each week, play Insert-Your-Last-Name-Here’s Restaurant in your house. The kids will love it! Take your little pad of paper, and “take orders” – or better yet, have one of the kids do it. Offer the three or four choices of leftovers that you have from a week’s worth of meals, and play with making up “made to order” meals. If that doesn’t work for you, put in the freezer a portion or two of each meal, and you’ve got an easy dinner on a crazy-busy night.
Peachy Keen: Empty space in the freezer is a warning sign that you aren’t freezing what’s in season. Fresh peaches in the middle of winter? What’s better than that? Put on your best Martha face, and have some fun in the kitchen.
If you’re living in temperatures where you have a farmers’ market year round, the rest of us are entirely jealous. If you’re living in a locale where the farmers put out their local yummies for only a few months each year, be sure to stock up on what’s in season (translation: cheap!) and find some easy freezing technique to make those products last.
Slow Down, Carnivore: The grocery bill will be higher if you’re eating meat every single night of the week. Try a meatless Monday, or a Feather-and Fur-Free Friday. Your inner Veggie God or Goddess will love you. And so will your wallet.
Warm up some delicious beans; try a meatless chili, warm stuffed peppers, a mushroom risotto, veggie lasagna, or eggplant parmesan.
Quick! Look UP! The most popular products (and products that yield high sales margins for the stores) are most often at eye level. The best buys are often up high or down low. Exercise your eye muscles, and find a better deal.
Patience is a Virtue: Yes, still. It is. Avoid those impulse buys. Walk away from the “treats.” Or at least wait until they are on sale. And then buy them. And hide them. Because you deserve a little treat every once in a while.
This isn’t Y2K but… Remember that stockpiling page in our history a few years ago? You don’t have to go that route, and you don’t even need to be an Extreme Couponer and have 75 bottles of dish soap in your pantry. (But, hey, if that’s your thing? Go for it!)
The key here is that if you’re not stocking up on some of the basics or your favorite products on a very regular basis, you’re probably spending too much on your grocery bill. When it’s on sale and you can team it up with a coupon, it’s wise to stock up. After just a month or two of doing this, you will see your grocery bill decrease even more.
Shoes: Shoes? In this article? Yes! Save the label-buying for your shoes. No need to spend extra money on the name-brand cheese or snacks.
Open the Same Door – Most of the Time: Pick a store to which you will stay pretty loyal, and make it a weekly habit to really study their flyer. (Take a good look at your other local flyer, too, as your favorite laundry detergent might be on sale at the local drug store.)
In general, however, if you stay loyal to one main grocery store, it will make a lot of these warning signs disappear. You’ll stock up, eat better, lose a couple of pounds, and be the envy of everyone in your neighborhood because…
1. You’ll have the best shoes AND
2. You will have fully perfected the BEST rendition of “Farmer in the Dell.” That song is still in your head isn’t it? Sorry ‘bout that. Hi Ho!
written by: Valerie J. Wilson
Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance writer who writes about the economy and money-saving tips.
Photo Credit: Samira Khan
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