Need help stretching your grocery budget? During my first year in the career world, my husband and I only stayed within our grocery budget 5 out of the 12 months. That comes out to 41%…a failing grade. Spending $5 over the grocery budget isn’t a big deal, but it adds up to $60 a year. Throw in any other categories that went slightly over and it can amount to hundreds of dollars each year. We became debt free in March 2012 and would like to keep it that way. With that said, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned that may help your grocery dollar finish the month without breaking a sweat (or your budget).
Stock up on staples
I always keep brown rice, whole wheat pasta, dried beans, and oatmeal on hand in my cupboards. That giant canister of oatmeal costs $2 and it makes 30 one cup servings. Add your own ingredients like cinnamon, fruit, or nuts which you can also buy in bulk. The other ingredients I listed make great additions to soups, stews, salads, pastas and casseroles and are a great source of fiber.
Fresh, Canned, or Frozen?
Depending on what’s in season, one choice may be cheaper than the other. Fresh produce tastes better and costs less when it’s in season. Frozen produce is picked at its ripest condition and immediately frozen, so you still get the highest quality of nutrients. Buying frozen can also prevent losing money by purchasing too much fresh produce that goes bad by the end of the week. If you choose canned, look for labels that say “no salt added” for vegetables and “packed in juice” for fruit instead of “packed in syrup.”
My mom had 5 mouths to feed but cooked for 10 because she would freeze leftovers to use another day. This not only saves money but precious time as well. That extra dinner can also save some dough by preventing you from the temptation to eat out when you don’t feel like cooking.
Make a list and stick to it
Aw man, you’re making tacos for dinner but forgot to get cheese! You run to the store for this one item but end up coming home with chips and salsa as well because hey, who doesn’t like chips and salsa with tacos? Making a list before you leave for the grocery store ensures you to get everything needed in one trip. Most grocery stores have their weekly ads posted online. They can guide your weekly meal planning as long as you don’t add an item to your list just because it’s on sale.
What are some methods you use to stretch your grocery dollar?