Besides your mortgage, your grocery bill may be your next largest expense. Of course, you usually can’t alter your mortgage payment, but with some planning and strategizing, you can alter the amount you spend at the grocery store and save on groceries.
A few months ago, I wrote about the techniques we’re using to keep our grocery bill low for our family of 5 (spending approximately $500 to $600 per month even with food intolerances to gluten, dairy, and corn). We’ve learned a few more strategies to lower our grocery bill that I thought I’d share with you, especially since it seems like the price of grocery is on the rise again.
Stop by the grocery store whenever you’re driving by. I know the “experts” say to go in the grocery store as little as possible. Many of them recommend shopping just every two weeks or once a month. However, if you’re a disciplined shopper, I recommend stopping by the store every time you drive by. Why? I only buy eggs on clearance for .99 a dozen. I also buy organic chicken when it is close to its sell by date and marked down by 50% or more. If I stop by the store whenever I drive by (every couple of days, usually), I have a better chance of finding these deals. If nothing is on clearance, I simply leave empty-handed. I don’t buy eggs or meat if they’re not on sale, or ideally, on clearance.
Don’t just take sandwiches for lunch. My husband packs his lunch every day. However, he never packs a sandwich. Instead, whenever I see clearance chicken fajita meat, sausage, or other meats, I buy those. He cooks something up on Sunday, like three sausages I found on clearance, and then he brings some every day along with a grain, veggies, and a fruit or two. His flexibility and willingness to move beyond sandwiches and my bargain shopping skills mean he saves a lot when packing his lunch.
Consider having a separate meat budget. I just learned about this technique, and I plan to start utilizing it. Say you have $500 a month for groceries. The idea is that you set aside a certain amount, maybe $50 or $100 a month, solely for meat. The rest you spend on your other groceries. If you’re able to save up $500 or $600 in the meat fund, you might buy a ¼ side of beef, which you’ll likely get at a much cheaper price than at the grocery store. Then, you eat that meat and start saving again for your next bulk purchase of meat. Eventually, you’ll have a deep freezer full of healthy, lower cost meat direct from the farmer.
Slowly buy in bulk. I have consciously started buying in bulk to lower our grocery costs. I’ve had to do this slowly because we don’t have a lot of wiggle room in the budget. Gluten free oats cost $2 a pound, and that’s when they’re on sale! Instead, I bought a 50 pound bag of gluten free oats for $61. That is $1.22 a pound, which is cheaper than I could ever buy them at the store. Then, I bought a 25 pound bag of pinto beans for $12.50, or .50 a pound, which is again cheaper than the rock bottom price I can get at the store. Just remember when buying in bulk not to buy items you really don’t want to use or won’t be able to finish before they get stale.
What are your favorite techniques to lower your grocery bill?
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York, where she loves the natural beauty of the area.
Wendy Tomlinson says
I buy my meats mostly from the local butchers. Having a meat budget is definitely a good idea. Smaller butchers often have great bulk buy deals which save a good amount of money for good quality meats. Also ask your butcher about cheaper cuts of meet and how to cook them.
I love buying in bulk! I hate going to the store often so it works out well for me. Going to the store often probably won’t work for moms with kids ,it is quite the hassle..but I love the lunch idea. I am a big fan of leftovers for lunches too 🙂 Great ideas.
Deborah M says
Where do you find the big bags of gluten free oats, beans, etc? They don’t carry them at our local warehouse stores here in south Florida.
LeisureFreak Tommy says
We use the Bulk food buying and maintaining a food storage through buying more than immediately needed on good sales priced items we use. We like to have at least a months worth of food storage. Not anything like a dooms-day prepper but just to get through any rough patches if there is a food distribution issue. That did happen one year (2006) when we had a 2 foot+ snows once a week for 3 weeks causing road delivery delays. Its a weird feeling in this day and age in the US to go into a major grocery store and there only being 1 potato left.
Kim Ely says
I’m all about utilizing the food we have. I know, that’s what everyone should be doing, but really, many of us let fresh foods go to waste, and even frozen foods can be a loss if not used in time to avoid serious freezer burn damage. So, my biggest grocery saving strategy is to be very inventive and use everything we have bought – that means adding veggie odds and ends to meatloaf, stir fries or salads, re-purposing leftovers to make them into something brand new, and working conscientiously to use the food we have on hand before buying more. I feel I can really make a difference in our grocery budget this way.