Have you ever stood in line at the grocery store watching the total go up, up, up? You pay for your groceries and get home and realize you didn’t really buy that much. There is no way your groceries should cost this much?!
It’s true that the cost of food has risen sharply in the past few years. But you can still cut costs at the supermarket and not just eat boxed macaroni.
Today I wanted to offer a few tips to keep down your grocery costs.
1. Meal plan and keep things simple.
I know, I know. You are a SICK of bloggers talking about meal planning. But trust me, this will save you money. Come up with a list of meals your family likes that are easy to make. You can even put it on auto-pilot. Decide to have a Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday etc. Just come up with a rotation of 21 dinners and rotate them throughout the month.
Before I go shopping I will do a quick inventory of what’s in my pantry and freezer. I plan a few meals around leftovers and head to the store.
2. Calculate your costs per unit
A case of paper towels or granola bars might seem like a good deal but it’s probably not. Pull out your calculator or the calculator app on your smartphone and calculate the cost per ounce. Often times the grocery store will put the price per unit on the label on the shelf. It is usually in the upper left-hand corner.
In fact, I used this just this recently when buying a box of baking soda. The big box comes out to be just $.03 an ounce while the regular sized box was $1.06 an ounce. The bigger box is definitely a better deal but...
3. Cut convenience foods
A bag of presliced apples will cost way more than a 5-pound bag of apples that you would just slice yourself. There is an average 66% price difference between precut produce and regular produce.
Or a box of minute rice will cost you $.99 per serving while brown rice will cost just $.16 per serving.
Premade lunches like Lunchables are also a money pit. They are so convenient, but you can make a healthier option that also include turkey, cheese, fruit and a snack for less than the cost and far less waste of a Lunchable.
4. Stock up smart
I love stocking up on staple items when they are at rock bottom prices. I do this by tracking the sales cycles. For example, this week my local supermarket had milk on sale for just $2.50 per gallon. This is the lowest price available. Milk this cheap is rare where I live so I stocked up at this price, buying milk for this week and next week. We go through milk pretty quickly with two growing boys so I knew it would not go to waste.
I know that my store also puts frozen vegetables for sale at the beginning of the month and pasta sauce and salsa are on sale in the middle of the month. By tracking the sales cycle, I know when to stock up on items my family uses.
5. Track how much you’re spending before you spend it
This is a tip I have shared before but, I like to write down how much each item is and tally it up before checking out. This serves two purposes, I won’t go over my budget and I can also compare prices week to week.
6. Don't assume frozen produce is cheaper.
A 12-ounce bag of precut frozen bell peppers is $1.99 at my supermarket. But I can get a bag with six fresh bell peppers for $2.79.
Two bell peppers chopped usually equals the same as one of those precut frozen bags but will only cost me $.93
7. Look for cheaper cuts of meat
If you’re meat eaters at your house look for cheaper cuts of meats that are just as delicious. For example, chicken thighs can be purchased as low as $.79 per pound and are the perfect cut for your slow cooker.
Ground turkey is far cheaper than ground beef and often leaner and healthier. We subbed ground turkey for ground beef in many dishes, chili, burgers, even meat loaf and we love it.
8. Go meatless once a week
Our family is CRAZY about rice and bean casserole. It is so delicious and costs just a few dollars to make. Honestly, we don’t miss the meat. I will also stretch meat by using lintels with meat in things like tacos and casseroles.
What about you? How do you keep grocery costs under control?