Saturday, January 31, 2015

3 Ways To Save Money On Groceries

Something that inevitably shows up in your social media feed is someone asking for ideas on how to save money. This can be difficult to know where to start. Here are three things that have worked for me.

Set a Goal

Last year I challenged myself to start keeping my grocery budget at $50 per week. I had read all kinds of blogs that were doing $300, $250, and $200 per month, and I thought there was no way I would be able to come close. Our food budget at the time for two people was $400 per month. I decided to reduce our budget by half.

Now I'm sure you are wondering why I would try this goal when I was almost certain that I would fail. I felt that I needed to try. Even if I failed at $50 per week, I would save some money by trying. I chose a specific goal to give me something concrete to aim for rather than the ambiguous goal of: "Save Money."

I got a few negative reactions when I mentioned this goal to people. They were concerned that I was not eating healthy, or enough. I was pregnant at the time, and that was a concern. There was no need, because I ate really well, possibly even better than I had been.

Take Advantage of Sales

Buy mostly staples, meat, and produce. Most grocery stores have weekly sales ads. You can check your newspaper for them, and most stores are now putting their ads on their websites for even easier access. Plan meals around what is on sale.

I shop mostly at Aldi and Sprout's. Aldi has wonderful prices on everything--although I keep a running list of what is cheaper to buy in bulk elsewhere. Sprout's has sales on meat and produce that are wonderful, and the quality is outstanding.

Cook From Scratch

One way to save a lot of money on your food budget  is cooking from scratch. Pinterest is a wonderful resource for recipes to make homemade versions of your favorite convenience foods. There are recipes for Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-Roni, Pasta-Roni, macaroni and cheese, even "cream of" soups all from scratch. It's not much more trouble than from the box, and it's so much healthier for you. And cheaper. Always remember that. It's cheaper.

You can check out my personal board for this below. I've indicated which recipes I've already tried.

Follow Ashley's board DIY Mixes on Pinterest.

Starting out saving money on groceries is daunting, but it is a satisfying endeavor. Set a goal, take advantage of sales, and cook from scratch. Doing this, I hit my goal of $50 per week on groceries. I actually kept it closer to $40 per week on average. Sweetie was pleasantly surprised with my success. Go pinch those pennies just a little tighter, and cook something delicious while you do it.

Previous Post

1 comment:

  1. I think this is really good advice. I also love Aldi; they're so cheap and their quality is often impressive. I also think cooking from scratch is one of the best options--it not only saves money but can be much healthier too, because you're using more whole ingredients and fewer processed foods.

    I've found another great tip that I've found is to shop at ethnic groceries. Some regions of the U.S. have better options than others, and people in big metro areas are usually better off, but multiculturalism is on the rise, and I'm seeing ethnic groceries even in smaller stores. The prices on certain goods can be WAAAAY lower at many ethnic markets, and a good reason for this is volume and economy of scale.

    For example, I've found that rice, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and fresh seafood are all much cheaper at Asian supermarkets. Vietnamese markets are cheaper for fresh herbs, Korean ones for green vegetables. Indian and middle-eastern stores for spices, rice, and dried fruits and nuts. Most ethnic stores are cheaper for loose-leaf tea. Russian stores can be cheaper for kefir, smoked fish, and whole grain breads. Mexican stores can be great for dried peppers, beans, and tortillas.

    I also have discovered new staple foods, many of which are very affordable, in ethnic markets. For example, I love kimchi, and my housemate has figured out how to make it from scratch. I also discovered sprats, a very inexpensive fish that is usually smoked and canned, at the Russian store. At Mexican stores I've discovered many types of peppers that I didn't eat previously, and at Asian stores I've discovered new types of cabbages and green vegetables, and fresh herbs, and also dried mushrooms and dried seaweed. And I've discovered new fruits, like plantain (big in Latin American cooking), blood orange, mini bananas, and also root vegetables, including jicama, taro root, and yuca. Many of these are cheap enough to make them staple foods.

    With more options to choose from, I find that I can just go to the store and buy whatever is fresh and cheap. I rotate stores that I shop at: one week I'll hit up the H-Mart (Korean), next week the Russian market, next week I might go to Aldi or Trader Joe's, and so on. I buy whatever is cheapest at each store. Each store (and each culture) has its own unique strengths. I find that by doing this I end up eating an incredibly diverse diet of very high-quality foods, but spending very little.