Planning meals (and shopping for only those meals) will help stop unnecessary trips to the grocery store multiple times a week. If you already have everything you need on-hand then you won’t need to go to the grocery store to spend more money (or pick up additional items that you don’t really need).
It will help curb the ‘going-out-to-eat’ habits because you will have food that will need to be cooked anyways (in most cases). My family would rather have a nice home cooked meal than a Big Mac. It sounds better, it tastes WAY better, it makes you feel better after you eat, and it saves you money.
You can plan meals with what you have in your pantry already and make minimal purchases at that grocery store. Take an inventory of what’s in your cabinet and use that food in your meal planning. For example, if you have a can of chili beans, maybe you decide that you want to make chili for one of your meals. Or, maybe you have gravy and potatoes, you can make a pot roast with gravy and potatoes.
I’m not a huge fan of couponing. If I find a good deal on something, then by all means, use the coupons that you have. Or, if the coupon makes financial sense (i.e. it’s an item that you would normally purchase, or the item is cheap enough that it is worth it). You can use coupons that you might have to save even more money.
Here are a few things I do when I am getting ready to grocery shopping to save as much money as possible:
- I look up the store’s ad online to see what is on sale.
- I plan (at least a few) meals based on what is on sale currently.
- If something is an obviously good buy (i.e. hot dogs for 99¢ each, or packages of chicken for 99¢ – or less- per lb), I like to stock up. This way, when the prices go back up I don’t need to purchase those items.
- I don’t usually spend more than 99¢/lb for meat.
- I check my pantry to see what needs to be restocked (i.e. ketchup, mayo, tuna, etc.) since I like to keep additional snacks and meal ideas on-hand.
- I create my shopping list and I very rarely deviate from that list.
- I try to cook from scratch as often as possible.
I plan for one week at a time since I go grocery shopping once a week. I also like to plan meals that are larger than needed so that we have leftovers or so that we can invite company over and still have enough food.
I also like to use whatever food I can to make an extra meal here or there. If there’s some leftover chicken I might cut it up and make chicken salad or make a casserole. There are so many ways to use leftovers to create an opportunity to change up a lunch or snack for the family. And, there’s another savings opportunity for you. I absolutely hate to throw food out. I try to shop for fresh food in the amounts we’ll need. I like to really stock up on non-perishables because they keep well.
Do you have additional money-saving tips that you use?