With the economy being the way it is – or rather, the way the media is portraying it every time I turn on the news – I’ve been thinking about ways to scrimp and save here and there. We’re pretty good about not spending money on frivolous things. We usually rent movies rather than go to the theater, we very rarely eat out, Dave and I haven’t bought clothes for ourselves in ages, etc. The main monthly expense that might have some wiggle room is food. I honestly couldn’t tell you how much we spend on groceries a month. It seems like I’m at the supermarket every few days, so I’d have to gather all of my receipts and add them up, because I really have no clue. But I know it’s a lot.
So, I’m trying to figure out ways that we can save money on our monthly grocery bill. There are a few things that I won’t compromise on:
* Milk – I have to drink the lactose-free milk, which is expensive. And for Catie’s milk, I will only buy her the organic stuff with no hormones or antibiotics. Call me crazy, but I’d like to do everything I can to prevent her from hitting puberty at 9 years old, or having an increased risk of breast cancer (or any other type of cancer).
* Cheese. I buy the store-brand generic stuff, and it’s still pricey. But you know, I like cheese, and I’m not switching to Velveeta just because it’s cheaper.
* A few other things that I’m very brand-specific about: Diet Coke, my specific type of whole-wheat bread, Pampers for Catie, etc. There’s not very many things that I feel that strongly about, but for those few things, I’m stubborn and have absolutely no wiggle room.
As for the things I’m already doing to save money:
* That stuff I just mentioned that I’m brand-specific about? I wait for it to go on sale and then I stock up and buy tons of it, so I think that helps.
* Buying the cheaper/store brand versions of everything else.
* Choosing canned/frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh. I’m sure it probably loses a bit of its nutritional value in the process, but it does save quite a bit of money.
* Cheap lunches. Dave works from home, and Catie & I are here too, so I usually have to come up with something for all of us to eat for lunch every day. Lately, soup has been very popular in our house. (I have the weirdest toddler in the world, she loves both split pea and vegetable beef soup. I KNOW!) Two cans of Campbell’s soup for 88 cents? Why yes, thank you. I think we can budget that.
Stuff I still need to work on:
* Coupons. I should clip coupons. I know I should. The problem is, every time I’ve done it, I’ve forgotten that the coupons were in my purse when I was checking out. So I need some sort of system that will prevent me from having a total brain fart when I go to pay for my stuff. If any of you have suggestions, let me have them.
* Making a list. I think this would keep me from wandering the store trying to remember all the things I needed, which usually leads me to picking up a few things that we really don’t need.
* For the fruits and veggies that I do buy fresh, I need to try to restrict myself to buying things that are local and in season. Kind of hard to do when your child is demanding grapes, and you can’t buy canned grapes (can you? I’ve never seen them, other than in fruit cocktail), and she isn’t going to wait until grape season rolls around.
* Choosing cheaper meats. It’s not like I’m buying us filet mignon every day or anything like that; we eat chicken more than anything else, really. But for example, when we want seafood, I could maybe make a tuna casserole instead of grilled salmon, and it would be an awful lot cheaper.
Is there anything I’m forgetting? Are you doing anything special to try to save money these days?
You are already doing so much more than I do that I feel like I am not equipped to give you advice at ALL. But if you ever make your own soup, one random cheap thing I’ve found is this stuff called Better than Bouillon. Dissolving a teaspoon of it in a cup of boiling water makes vegetable broth, and you can use it instead of the stuff in cans or boxes.
It’s way cheaper — I think a small jar that makes gallons and gallons of broth is only $5 — and there are no weird miscellaneous substances in it (at least, not in the vegetable bouillon… I haven’t tried the others).
Spending the $4 for the online subscription to refundcents.com has saved me over $40 at Walgreen’s (a store I had never been in before) just this week alone. It has a complete section on how to best use the stores coupons to get the most free and cheap stuff for your money. I didn’t clip coupons until last week and I think now I’m hooked! This site lists out all the major stores in the country and who is having the best deals…good luck saving some money.
You are doing a lot already and good for you for not compromising on the milk. I would be that person who drinks her organic milk while living out of a cardboard box. Coupons are good but my experience has been that they’re mostly for processed foods that I don’t buy so I’ve stopped clipping. But that’s me and I’m too lazy to go to all the internet coupon sites. Soup is definitely good! Good for you and great for leftovers. I think I make soup at least once a week and we get 5-6 meals out of it.
I like to buy a roasted chicken, eat half and use the rest for soup. A big pot of chicken soup makes a nice lunch, you can control the salt/sodium and add plenty of veggies.
I also like making chili, it freezes nicely and I can control the heat level.
My father is the “coupon” king. He has it down to a science. He is also a big Costco shopper. My parents are never without paper towels or toilet paper.
I don’t know what your freezer situation is like, but we have an extra chest freezer in the basement that we use for buying stuff in bulk. We have a Costco membership so we can truly buy stuff in bulk, but you can do it at your regular grocery store, too. You can usually find bulk meats that are a lot cheaper than the smaller packs -they usually have big packages of chicken breasts, pork chops, ground beef, etc. We bring it home, divide it into smaller packages based on how much we typically use for the two of us per meal, and pop everything extra in the freezer. It cheaper, and we always have something in there that we can make for dinner.
You can also buy grains in bulk, too. Your grocery store should have an aisle of bulk bins where you can get different kinds of rice, dried beans, nuts, other grains like barely, etc, that are good for making homemade soups, etc. I just clean out jars that we had from store-bought sauces, etc, and use them to store bulk stuff in the pantry.
About the veggies – I’ve heard that frozen veggies are actually a pretty good substitute for fresh veggies, because they flash freeze them right after picking, so they retain most of their nutrients. Canned fruits and veggies usually have junk in there that you don’t want, like salt, sugar, preservatives, etc.
I have the same problem with forgetting to use coupons. Now I try to stick them in my wallet where my money/credit card are as soon as I find the item. That way I see the coupons when I pull out the money to pay.
Do you all have Grocery Outlet? I love that place. I don’t buy meat there but I buy canned and boxed food there. The produce can be hit or miss. Most of their stuff is named brand.
I wish we had a huge freezer so I could stock up on meat deals.
Also I buy a lot more frozen veggies. Then I waste less fresh veggies plus they can be cheaper.
It’s tough. I feel ya!
I like the idea of stocking up the freezer with more premade stuff.
I think we do pretty good in our weekly grocery runs, we don’t really buy much junk anymore and as you say there’s things that aren’t really good to scrimp on.
Changing over to monthly subscription services for movies and games and other stuff has saved a ton of money so far.
Sooo, i think we’re on the right tracks… time will tell!
Once daycare starts though we’ll have to start looking again at ways to save! hehe
Plus I feel grateful that we all got a paycut instead of losing our jobs; I’d much rather bring home less money, than no money at all!
Im still having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for everybody who is being affected by this unfortunately…