I’ve talked before about how I am personally able to keep my grocery costs right around $120 per month. But I know grocery spending is one area a lot of people struggle with when it comes to living on a budget, so I decided to share a few more of my money saving tips for buying groceries.
Make a List and Stick to It
I know nearly every blog post about saving money on groceries tells you to meal plan, but I don’t generally do this. I like to have somewhat of a meal plan in mind, but then I just kind of wing it based on what food is my fridge and what I have going on in life throughout the week.
Having a strict meal plan that can’t be altered is not something that works for my hectic life right now, so I don’t try to force it. Instead, I make a weekly grocery list and I stick to it no matter what. On the list I include my regular “staples”, like milk, bread, cereal, ice, etc. (Yes, I’m not kidding about the ice, haha.) But I also list the ingredients I need for the meals I hope to make that week. I try to only plan on making 1-2 main dishes each week. The rest of the time I mainly eat leftovers and quick things, like sandwiches. (Remember I’m single so I don’t have to fix meals for a whole family or kids.)
Have a “Fridge Clean Out Day”
Having a fridge clean out day, or meal, is a great way to use up any little bits of food or leftovers you might have lingering on your shelves. Sometimes the meal ends up being a weird combination of foods, but it’s a great way to cut down on waste, thus saving your hard earned money from going down the drain (or in the trashcan).
Similarly, I like to make a batch of some kind of soup, stew, or veggie friendly casserole each week. These kinds of recipes are great ways to use up some of your vegetables or fresh herbs that are about to go bad. Sometimes these dishes are also a good way to use up a little of extra meat from a meal you made earlier in the week. Generally when I make a dish that requires chicken, I thaw (or thaw and cook) a little extra so I can use it for a quicker meal later. Another great thing about having a soup of randomness is that you can let it simmer in your slow cooker while you are at work or focused on other tasks.
Be Careful with Coupons
I like to use coupons, but I always compare prices before I decide to use a coupon. Sometimes using a coupon on a brand name item will save you money vs. buying the generic product, but sometimes it’s still cheaper to buy the generic even if you have a coupon for the brand name item. This happened to me with peanut butter the other day. I went to use my coupon and the brand name jar was still going to cost me about $1.25 more than the generic jar. In this instance, I decided it was not worth it for me to use my coupon. I will check the price again later because if that brand of peanut butter goes on sale, the coupon will probably make it cheaper than the generic.