Tips on how to get more food for less money
- Always go with a list. If you go without a list, you may as well just throw your money away.
- Plan out a weekly menu. This is the best way to ensure that your list is complete, and that you have enough to serve your family dinner for the week.
- Eat leftovers. Be sure to plan a leftovers night.
- Don’t go to the store when you’re hungry. When you’re hungry, you want to buy all kinds of junk. You’ll end up spending a lot more. Eat a good meal first, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your list.
- Have a budget. If you don’t know how much you can spend, you’ll certainly spend too much.
- Keep a list on your fridge, and write things down immediately. When you run out of something, don’t leave it to your memory. Jot it down immediately, and you’ll never have to run back to the store because you forgot something.
- Keep things stocked for quick-n-easy meals. Easy meals might include spaghetti or mac-n-cheese or a quick stir-fry.
- Buy in bulk when it makes sense. If you can save money, over the course of a month or two, by buying in bulk, plan to do so. But be sure that you’re going to use all of it before it gets bad — it isn’t cheaper to buy in bulk if you don’t use it.
- Keep your receipts, then enter into a spreadsheet. This will be your price list. Use it so you know when bulk or sale items are a good deal. It’s also a great way to comparison shop between stores — buy your baking goods in Store A but your fresh fruits in Store B. The spreadsheet can also serve as a checklist to use when you’re compiling your shopping list.
- Buy frozen veggies. While fresh veggies are a little better, frozen veggies are almost as good, and much better than nothing. And since you can keep them in the freezer, they rarely go bad.
- When you’re running low, add it to your list. Don’t wait until you run out. when you see there’s only three toilet paper rolls left, put it on your list.
- Cut back on meat. Meat is expensive. Instead of having meat everyday, have meat 6 times a week and make a vegetarian dish once a week.
- Pack your own lunch snacks. Buying pre-made snacks is convenient, but a big waste of money. Buy little baggies and buy the snacks in bulk, then it will take just a few minutes to pack some snacks for lunch each day.
- Make leftovers for lunch. Plan to cook a bit extra for each dinner, so that you’ll have leftovers for your lunch and for the kids’ lunches. Pack it right away, after dinner, so you don’t have to worry about it in the morning.
- Always have batteries, toilet tissue and light bulbs. And other necessities that you always seem to run out of — buy as much as you can afford when they’re on sale, or buy in bulk.
- Try crock pot dinners. They are easy and cheap and tasty. Cut up the ingredients, throw them in the pot in the morning, and have dinner ready for you when you get home.
- Clip coupons. I know, sometimes they seem like too much trouble. But it’s not really that hard to clip a few coupons and toss them in a coupon envelop to take on your grocery shopping trip. And you can save at least 20% of your bottom line with coupons.
- Only use coupons for items you were already planning to buy. Don’t let them trick you into buying something that’s not on your list, just to “save” money.
- Look for specials. Every store has specials. Be sure to look for them in the newspaper, or when you get to the store. Don’t buy them unless they’re things you always use.
- Try the store brands. Brand names are often no better than generic, and you’re paying for all the advertising they do to have a brand name. Give the store brand a try, and often you won’t notice a difference. Especially if is something like ibuprophen or an ingredient in a dish where you can’t taste the quality of that individual ingredient.
- Cut back on your “one-item” trips. They waste gas, and almost inevitably, you buy more than that one item.
- Sugar cereals are a bad buy. Lots of money for no nutrition. Look for whole grain cereals with low sugar. Add fruit for better flavor.
- Be watchful at the register. Keep an eye on the scanner — you’ll keep the cashier on his toes, and catch any mis-priced items. Make sure they scan all of your coupons.
- When there’s a sale, stock up. Sale items can be a great deal. If it’s an item you normally use, buy as much as you can afford.
- Comparison shop. Look at the different brands for a certain type of product, including store brands. Stores like Target and Walmart offer great food for lower prices.
- Go during slow times. One of my favorite times to shop is late at night. But during working hours or other non-peak times is good too. Avoid right after 5 p.m., on paydays and near major holidays.
- Know when the store stocks its fresh fruits and veggies. In my area, that makes a big difference. Fruits and veggies can go bad quickly, because they have to be shipped. So I know that the store re-stocks on Thursdays, and so I usually go on Thursdays or Fridays, otherwise I’ll be getting old items.
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