It's hard to decide which is more infuriating, $4 gasoline or $4 milk, but whichever you personally find most appalling, one thing is for certain, someday a time will come where we look back with nostalgia for the good old days of $4 milk or gas.
That is to say, we can count on prices always advancing. Even when they do retreat a bit, like gas has done recently, you know it won't be for long, as it's already starting back up.
I supposethat's just part of the rhythm of modern life, but we don't have to like it, and we don't have to let ourselves be billowed by every inflationary breeze that comes wafting our way. Like most anything else, there are ways to get by cheaper and better when you buy groceries.
Here are forty-nine ways to get more food and spend less cash:
1. First, Track Your Expenses You can’t save money if you don’t know how much you’re spending to begin with. Keep a list of everything you buy. Once you’ve got an idea of what you spend each month or each week, then you can make a budget and begin to set goals.
2. Grow Your Own Obviously this is the way to achieve the most savings. Make a garden this year. Next year make a bigger garden. If you own a freezer and know how to can and preserve you can do more financial damage to your local grocer than with any other method. Not only that, but you can’t buy healthier food, and you’ll enjoy your meals even more when you produce them yourself.
3. Cook Without question, you can cook your own food more cheaply than you can hire someone to cook it for you. This is not to say that you shouldn’t ever go to another restaurant, or order another pizza, when you want to celebrate, or just to take a break, but if you’re out to save money, you need to be the one who prepares your meals.
4. Keep a Running Grocery List When you run out of anything, add it to the list. The more well-stocked your larder, the better you’ll eat, and the less you’ll spend. Always take your list of the things you need when you shop, and only buy what's on the list. If it’s not on the list, then you obviously don’t need it.
5. Use Discount Grocery Stores We’re talking about the types that buy surplus lots in grocery auctions, not just the ones that have “discount” in their names. We save a small fortune every year by shopping at a local discount grocery, Not only do we save a lot of cash, but our diet is much more varied than it used to be because the discount stores wind up with lots of unusual items that may not sell so well in middle America. For example, we frequently have lots of fancy foreign cheeses, Brie, Camembert, Gouda, you name it. These apparently don’t appeal to the typical Ozarkian, or maybe the typical American, palate, but we love them, and we get them for less than the price of Velveeta.
6. Buy in Bulk As with most everything else, the more you buy, the cheaper it you get it. Olia recently brought home a 40-pound carton of green bananas from the discount grocery for which she paid $6.50 total. That’s 16.25 cents per pound versus 60 to 90 cents per pound in regular stores. Of course you don’t save much if your fruit rots in the fridge, but I prefer my bananas slightly green, Olia likes them slightly brown, and when we’d both had what we liked, she made many loaves of tasty banana bread.
7. Cook for a Week, or Month If you’ll cook up large batches of your favorite foods and put them away in the fridge, freezer or pantry in single-meal portions, you’ll not only save money because of buying in bulk, but you'll also earn yourself quite a bit of free time. Try making a stock-pot full of soup or stew and freezing what you don't eat. You'll have a quick, tasty meal that the biggest clutz in the family can prepare for himself.
8. Recycle Old Meals A/K/A leftovers. Don't just keep them, make a meal from them. Monday’s Casserole and Tuesday's Roast can become Wednesday’s stew with a little stock and some seasonings. Likewise a large piece of meat can be stretched a lot further, as well as be more tasty and healthy if you use it in several different dishes with many bite-sized morsels. We rarely eat large pieces of meat alone, but often have meat mixed
in a bowl of rice or buckwheat, or on a large salad.
9. Don’t Throw Away Food Save your bacon grease, make stock from your chicken carcass, save hambones to add to bean soups. If you don’t have time to do these things after dinner, put them in a bag in the freezer. Save everything you can think of a use for, and don’t forget the livestock/pets and the compost pile.
10. Avoid Impulse Purchases These are the bane of all would-be frugal shoppers, so just don’t do it. If you truly need an item, then it should appear on your list next week.
11. Keep a Running Grocery List When you run out of anything, add it to the list. The more well-stocked your larder is, the better you’ll eat, and the less you’ll spend. Always take your list of the things you need when you shop, and only buy what's on the list. If it’s not on the list, then you obviously don’t need it.
12. Make Fewer Shopping Trips The more often you go shopping, the more you are likely to spend. About half of all grocery shoppers go to the store three or four times a week. This is probably less true of homesteaders who spend less time in town, but the principle still applies. Try to make your shopping trip no more than once per week. If that works, try for every two weeks, even every month. This tends to focus you more on buying larger quantities more carefully.
13. Investigate;Ask Questions What's the price difference between the bag of dried beans that sells for $.89 and the can of beans that sells for $.99? Just a dime? No. The bag yields 7 cups of cooked beans, $.13 per cup. The can yields 1-1/2 cups of cooked beans, $.66 per cup. The canned beans - as inexpensive as they are - are five times more expensive than dried beans.
14. Take a Calculator Many stores have already calculated the unit prices of the items you buy, but many don’t offer this. Also, if you’re being genuinely thoughtful about your purchases, you’ll probably want a little help in the brain department while you’re moving through the aisles.
15. Food Only Please Paper goods, cleaning supplies and cosmetics are probably going to be less expensive at big-box stores like Target or Wal-Mart. This also helps you to track your grocery costs separately from other living expenses.
16. Avoid Processed Food You’ll be wealthier and healthier if you buy basic commodities that only have one item in their list of ingredients - things like potatoes, beans, apples. Not only will you avoid lots of chemicals and preservatives, but you’ll save a ton of money. Just remember, if it has a trademark or a brand name, you’re paying more and probably undermining your health in the bargain.
17. Cut Up Your Own Food Consumer Reports found that two pounds of carrots cost $1.29, compared with $7.16 for the same amount of precut carrot sticks. Also avoid “vegetable medley” packages.
18. Don’t Buy Water Everyone knows that bottled water is expensive, but fewer people know that it may be inferior, or at least no better than your tap water at home. If you have your own well, the odds are very good that you have cleaner, better water than the brands from Coca-Cola and Pepsico. If you have city water, yours may be, probably is, just as good. You may want to invest in a reusable water-filtering pitcher.
19. Don’t Buy Disguised Water, Either When we were kids, Kool-Aid only came in an envelope. You could add only the amount of sweetener you wanted, and your own water, and you spent a lot less money. So why buy it by the bottle? That’s a good example, but there are lot of other ways you pay more just for water. Such as, cartons of fruit juice, canned broth or soup, canned, cooked beans, low-fat coconut milk, Jello cups, applesauce, popsicles, even chicken and pork injected with water and salt “flavoring”.
20. Don't Buy Designer Salt Specialty spice mixes are usually 90% salt. You can just buy the basic herbs and spices, then make your own.
21. DON’T Use Coupons Ever see a coupon for bananas? Apples? Coupons may offer apparent savings, but they’re usually for some sort of processed food that still winds up costing you more.
22. DO use Coupons Okay, nobody’s perfect. Sometimes you or your family will want to buy things even if they aren’t pure as the driven snow. If you’re going to buy it anyway, having a coupon makes it cheaper. It’s a no-brainer.
Category: Personal Finance