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For many families living on shoestring budgets and/or trying to save money, cutting back on expenses is a way of life. You can take shorter showers, turn off the lights when you leave a room, and adjust your insurance policies to reduce the monthly payments. But the one thing that’s difficult to cut back on is your grocery bill. Hard-working adults and growing children need a sufficient balance of calories and nutrients to be healthy and it can seem nearly impossible to cut down your grocery expenses.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to find grocery discounts and to buy less food without skimping on health, nutrition, or portions for your family. While most people know how to shop for coupons, join a grocery store membership program, and pick up day-old bread from bakery outlets, other techniques are often forgotten or overlooked.
Today, we’re here to share two helpful ways to reduce your weekly grocery expenses, from efficient recipes to community involvement.
1) Simple Inexpensive Recipes
Of course, one of the most effective ways to save on groceries is simply to know how to cook on the cheap. Eating out is almost always more expensive, as is buying prepared meals or focusing on recipes that require costly ingredients. Instead, think about things that can make big delicious meals with low-cost ingredients. It also helps if you can build a satisfying variety of recipes from the same store of bulk ingredients.
Planning affordable meals (and grocery trips to make them) is all about knowing what you like. If you and your family like pasta dishes, for instance, stock up on a variety of cheap pastas and store them in canisters. Then get ingredients or sealed jars of your favorite sauces and dinner can happen not only cheaply, but very quickly as well. If you like dishes of a particular origin like Mexican, Italian, or Indian, stock up on the spices and regular ingredients that are common for these recipes.
2) Snacking Strategy
Finally, let’s talk snacks. It’s one thing to plan your meals but many families lose control of their grocery budget when it comes to between-meal snacking. Snacks are actually an important part of your diet because your body may very well need some food between mealtimes, and children certainly do. But what you buy for snacks can make a big difference for both your health and your budget. Buying individually packaged chips, pre-baked muffins, trays of cookies, and the like are not your best option. But they are awfully tempting in the grocery store.
Instead of impulse-buys, strategize. If you like baked goods, remember that it’s a lot more affordable to make your snacks at home. Pick up a three-dollar box mix instead of a six-twelve dollar pan of bakery treats. Two eggs, ten minutes of prep, and twenty minutes of bake time later: You have twice as many treats for less than half the price.
Self-Packaging Bulk Snacks
For things you can’t cook at home, consider home-cooked alternatives (start experimenting!) or buying in bulk instead. A cheap pack of sandwich bags or Tupperware can break up a family-sized bag of chips into the same convenient at-work snack individual chip bags offered at a huge discount.
For fresh snacks, don’t get stuck in a rut and overpay for out of season goods. Pick fruits and vegetables that are in season, or that are always in season like carrots and always-affordable bottled dip. You can even make your own dip with easy home recipes using simple
Saving on grocery expenses is easier than you think. Instead of wracking your brain for what things you should cut from your list, start building a new strategy. Not only can you start buying in bulk and getting creative with your ingredients at home, you can also catch local deals and find community resources.
Here at Marine Federal Credit Union, we want to help you and your family build savings and meet your financial goals. For more financial guidance, check out blog posts like Quick Financial Tips Every Military Spouse Should Know, 33 Money Saving Strategies to Help You Succeed, and so much more.
To receive financial guidance that meets your specific needs, schedule a free Financial Checkup with one of our experts.
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