The amount of food a family of four can consume in one meal is crazy. Now that my kids are 2 and 3, they eat legitimate meals when they’re truly hungry (they still have those eat two bites and “all done!” meals, too, of course). It’s not as noticeable when we eat dinner — pasta or meat or a casserole or soup — but when you do something like make four grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, you realize that’s EIGHT pieces of bread! We just practically demolished a loaf. Obviously, the more mouths you have to feed the more money you spend at the grocery store, but you also get wiser and smarter about your grocery shopping. And today Sarah Caron is sharing her insights on money-saving techniques at the grocery store.
6 Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Budget
With a little effort and planning, you can stretch your food dollars and make your grocery budget work better for you. Here’s how.
1. Tap into digital tools. Your smartphone is a gateway to savings. Apps like Coupons.com and Cellfire are great for tapping into coupon savings. Other apps like ZipList and the AllRecipes Dinner Spinner can help you plan meals your family will love. Make your phone work for you.
2. Planning with paper. When you want to save money on groceries, you’ll often hear that you should shop the sales — as in the flyers that list what’s on sale at your local grocery store each week. But take it a step further. Instead of just buying boneless chicken because it’s a good deal, plan your week’s meals around the sales. That way you purchase the food items you need for good meals without excess waste or buying more than you need.
3. Grate your own. Those bags of pre-shredded cheeses are convenient, but they also can come with a premium. Pay attention to sales. Purchasing blocks of cheese can net you a better value for your cheese, giving you more shredded cheese to make delicious dinners with.
Hint: Handheld graters are great for shredding cheese quickly, but for larger jobs a food processor can make quick work of it.
4. Skip convenience. While deli salads and pre-chopped veggies can save you time, they also will inflate your grocery bill. Instead, skip convenience items that can be easily made yourself. It’s quick, easy and inexpensive to make a big batch of pasta salad that can be served as a side dish or lunch for days. And veggies? The extra time it will take to chop them is well worth the cost savings.
5. Say yes to coupons. Look, you don’t have to be an extreme couponer to take advantage of the savings coupons offer. Clip them from the paper, download them to your store cards (that Cellfire app we mentioned can help!) and print them from the internet. The savings can range from cents to dollars and every little bit helps.
6. Shop with cash. If you’re like most people, you probably whip out your debit card whenever it’s time to pay. But that debit card (or your credit card) could be encouraging you to spend more. Instead, use cash when you are grocery shopping to hold yourself to a budget. When your funds feel more finite, as they do with cash, you’ll likely spend less.
What are your favorite ways to stretch your food dollars? —Sarah