Posts Tagged ‘grocery shop’

5 Tips for Reducing Your Grocery Bill

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

I don’t know about you, but lately my grocery bill is crazy high! I think it’s a combination of increased cost of groceries and a growing number of people to feed (now that Iz eats more solids) in my family. Additionally I have boys that can EAT! I mean they seriously pack it away! For example my three year old had THREE helping of oatmeal yesterday. A bunch of bananas lasts us a day…a bag of 4 avocados is gone in one meal…and forget if I buy a bag of chips or something because they are practically gone before we even get home from the store. So in effort to reduce our grocery bill I started being more strategic about how I grocery shop. I know there are some hard-core couponers out there that provide tips on how to get $178 worth of groceries for like $20, however I find that approach to grocery shopping typically results in large quantities of unhealthy processed foods. There typically are not coupons available for whole, fresh foods (have you ever seen a coupon for apples?) and unfortunately natural grocery stores tend not to have double coupon days. Here are the strategies I use to reduce our grocery bill while still feeding my family as many organic, healthy, whole foods as possible.

MEAL PLAN – Okay so this alone makes a huge dent in our grocery bill. After the birth of my third son, I admittedly got super lazy about meal planning. I would go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of random stuff, but then each day when I thought about what to make for dinner I realized I didn’t have anything to make an actual meal with. For example I would have most everything to make veggie fajitas except for tortillas. Often this resulted in a quick trip to the store (as quick as it gets with 3 little ones in tow) to pick up the one missing item. Only I would arrive home with $40 worth of stuff and not enough time to actually make dinner. So we’d eat cereal for dinner despite having spent time and money on attempting to make an actual meal. After a few $40 cereal dinners I decided it was important to start meal planning again. Meal planning drives your grocery list; and as long as you stick to your list and avoid random, impulsive buys it typically curbs your grocery expenditures. Another bonus to meal planning is that you buy foods you actually intend to use versus stuff that spoils in your fridge because you had no real plan of what to use it for. Now when I meal plan and make a shopping list I also do a quick pantry/fridge check to assess for staples. They get added to the list as needed. Nothing worse than chopping all the veggies to make a stiry-fry, only to discover there is no oil in the house to stir fry with. At which point you improvise and get creative, sometimes resulting in success but sometimes resulting in a huge waste of food. 🙂

BUY IN BULK – If rule #1 is “stick to the shopping list” than rule #2 is “except for when there is an exceptional sale” in which case you buy large quantities of the sale item. However this only makes sense if the bulk purchase is a staple that you use on a regular basis and would be purchasing frequently anyway. For example organic coconut milk was recently $1 a can (half of the regular price) so I bought two cases of it knowing that we use it frequently enough that this would amount to a substantial savings over time. So while that particular grocery bill was higher than average, in the end we were saving money.

ONCE A WEEK SHOPPING – Staying out of stores seems to be the easiest way to save money! If I am diligent in meal planning and letting that drive my grocery list, than weekly shopping works beautifully! I try to plan meals with the more fragile veggies first and the heartier veggies later in the week to avoid spoilage and wasting food.

OCCASSIONAL PANTRY CHALLENGE – A pantry challenge is when you let your pantry dictate your meal planning with the goal of cleaning out your pantry. You know that lone bag of 10 mixed dried beans you bought because it sounded interesting, but you didn’t actually know what to do with it? Well a pantry challenge is when you pull that out (dust it off as needed) and use it! You might need to purchase a few groceries to supplement the meals you make, but overall the goal is to be creative/resourceful with what you have while cleaning out your pantry. I try to do a pantry challenge every other month and it really does make a difference in overall spending. A pantry challenge typically reduces that week’s grocery bill by half or more.

PREP FRESH PERISHABLE FOODS IMMEDIATELY– Greens, fresh herbs, and some veggies require a little extra care to extend their fridge life. Often I was so eager to get all the groceries put away that I would throw them in the fridge with the intention of prepping them later. However several days later I would find myself trying to salvage the 3 bunches of organic kale I spent $10 on. Now I am more diligent about prepping foods immediately to avoid waste. If you are not sure the best way to store certain foods, do some research and experimentation to see what methods work best.

What are you frugal grocery tips? Would love to learn more ideas from readers!