Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Welcome CW2 Daybreak Viewers!
Happy New Year!!! We thought we'd kick this year off with a segment that discussed how to save money on your grocery bill. It's a bit of a novel, so let's get started...
I think grocery budgets are an area that most people would like to see cuts in their spending. With a little bit of learning and some planning, you can drastically slash your grocery budget. This first step to starting to save money on groceries is to track what your family eats. Doing this serves a few purposes, you will know what how much of items you eat and also may point out just at a glance a few areas you could instantly save money on. Beverages are an area that many families tend to spend tons of money on without even thinking about it. In our home we offer the kids milk or water as their regular choices. Juice is a special treat for any of us. We always have tea on hand for the adults but I spend very little of our grocery budget on drinks.
I suggest tracking your meals for a couple of weeks to see what you really are eating and drinking. Once you've done this, you now have a way to create a list of food items your family regularly eats. Do you eat chicken 3 times a week? Are canned tomatoes a staple used in a bunch of your meals? Sometimes we don't even realize what we are using so regularly without looking at it. Once you have this list, you can now use the weekly store sales flyers to begin meal planning and stocking up on items that are on sale. Did you know that Wal-Mart and Target have price matching policies. This is a great way to get all the great deals each week without having to run from store to store. Just bring in the sale flyers with you and let the clerk know that you have some price matching to do. I usually put all the items that I am not price matching at the front of my order and separate the ones I need to price match so that it is easy for the cashier and for me. I have each ad ready to go to show the cashier what the price should be. Price matching saves lots of money and time and energy running from store to store.
Meal planning is exactly how it sounds - make a plan of meals. This will give you an opportunity to buy items that are on sale and use them to make meals instead of deciding what you want to eat and paying full price for the items. Using what is on sale to make your meal plan is a HUGE step to saving a bunch on money on your groceries. My family eats lots of boneless, skinless chicken and I never pay more than $1.99/lb. for them because I buy them when they are on sale. I buy them in large quanities and take them home and divide them and freeze them so that I always have some on hand. This saves me from running out and having to pay $4 or more per pound for the same product. Also, be flexible with meal planning until you figure out what works for your family. I initially started out with a plan saying that on Monday we would have X and Tuesday we would have Y. Well it would be Monday and X didn't sound good to me at all and I'd forget my whole plan. Now I plan 6 dinners per week but don't assign them to a day, I just look at my list in the morning and try to decide what would be tasty for dinner that night.
Did you know that store sales run on about a 6-8 week rotation? This is where the tracking of your meals also comes in handy. If you know your family eats chicken 3 times per week and the sales come around about every 6 weeks, you should stock up on enough chicken for about 18 meals or so when you see that price at rock bottom! Stocking up on items at rock bottom prices and starting a "stockpile" of goods is a great way to save money - as long as you are stocking up on items you will actually use! Having a stockpile means that when you meal plan, you probably won't need to purchase everything the recipes require to make your meals.
The next step to saving money on your grocery bill is to use coupons when they are available for items you already use. Don't use coupons to buy items you don't use unless they are free or very inexepensive and you plan to donate them. To save the most money, pair coupons with sales to get items for pennies on the dollar. If you are shopping at a store that offers store coupons, you can "stack" store coupons and manufacturer coupons to save even more money.
Bigger doesn't always mean less expensive. Check unit pricing on the items you are buying, especially if using coupons. You usually get more bang for your buck if your purchase smaller items when using coupons. Also, try not to be too brand loyal. In my house there are only a select few items that I am brand loyal to, like ketchup. Otherwise, if I need pasta sauce and usually buy Prego, but Barilla is cheaper that week - then Barilla it is for us.
Planning and being organized is what will you the most money on your grocery budget. Minimizing trips to the store, as these trips for one item usually ending up with more than just that item in your arms. Follow these steps and stick to your shopping list and you will see drastic decreases in your grocery bill. When I intially started shopping like this and couponing, I cut my grocery bill in the area of 60% compared to what I was spending before.
If you are interested in couponing but are not quite sure what it is all about, I suggest reading this post to get your feet wet.
If you have questions, you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org - Happy New Years, now let's save some money!