Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Save Money on your Grocery Bill

I usually arrive at the grocery story with a full cart.
My dear children at the Store with me
It makes me happy that I can leave with lots of great deals! Last weekend I attended MomCon and learned many other ways to save on grocery shopping thanks to Money Saving Mom Crystal Paine. Isn't she darling?
Crystal Paine is the super woman behind Money Saving Mom
Here are her suggestions and my learning take aways: 
1. Frequent the Dollar Store - but be aware that not EVERYHING is a deal. Crystal buys bread for 1 dollar the dollar store as well as other things that are a good deal. It's important to know your prices!
2. Don't be brand depended - I agree and I practice that. It is okay to rely on some brands but there are many savings in buying generic. I recently gave up buying Britta filter refills and saved $4 when I switched to generic.
3. Buy in bulk - Crystal said that you can save betwee 20-30% if you check the price for ounce, so bigger is usually cheaper. She suggests the website www.Localharvest.org for savings in meat and other foods in your area.
4. Use your slow cooker - The concept is that if your food is ready when you get home you are less likely to eat out. For recipes she suggests crockpot365.blogspot.com
5. Have a meatless night - one or two nights a week can add up to a lot of savings. 
6. Bake your own bread with the bread machine - she suggested to buy a used one so you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars for it.
7. Shop at the bread outlet - I am actually going to try this. I have heard they have great deals and Crystal endorses them!
8. Look for marked down groceries - This is such a great habit to develop!
9. Use less - Who said you need to follow the suggested amount on your laundry soap? If you use less of it you will save more. If you make foam soap (she demonstrated how she makes it) you can also save on hand soap. Brilliant!
10. Serve meat as condiment - Simple principle but very rewarding. I'm guessing if you use meat as condiment you need to up the veggie and legume count for your family.
11. Stick with simple meals - Some recipes require expensive ingredients. Sticking with simple meals will save you a lot. Crystal has a recipe cost calculator available on her blog.
12. Eat from the pantry - I have seen a lot of talk about this in different blogs. What a great idea! Use the things you already have. She offered the following websites as a resource: myfridgefood.com and allrecipes.com I use the later a lot. Great and easy recipes with tons of reviews.
13. Use bone-in chicken breast - Significant savings come from simply cutting the bone out of chicken breast. I personally try to use dark meat in other recipes as well just to save more money.
14. Price-match at Walmart - what discourages me from doing this is shopping with 3 cute kids. I've seen other people doing it and I totally admire them.
15. Order groceries online - I don't know if I'd benefit from it but if you buy a lot of gluten-free and organic, Crystal says that Amazon.com is a great place and camelcamelcamel.com is another great resource.
16. Use your freezer! Crystal said when she's cooking she takes either 15 minutes or 1 hour to freeze foods. This is something I plan on doing. Freezing beans and even baked goods can come handy when you're tired or want to save time in the kitchen.
17. Don't throw out leftovers - she suggested the website Leftoverchef.com as a resource.
18. Make your home cleaners - I tried this before. You can find recipes everywhere but she suggested momsbudget.com as a reliable resource. According to some Pinterest boards a few ingredients from your pantry can clean about anything and I believe it!
19. Eliminate paper products - If you can afford to do this I believe you can save a lot. Just don't eliminate toilet paper you hear me?
20. Ditch cereal for breakfast - Crystal suggests that you make instant oatmeal packages, make smoothie kits, etc. My kids eat oatmeal for breakfast most mornings and besides saving a lot you can actually reap great health out of this habit.
21. Make your own mixes - this is a  great way to control ingredients when you are making your own dessert or spice mixes.
22. Water down your milk for baking - I didn't know you could do this so I thought this was was revolutionary. She suggests that you start small.
23. Buy roast on sale and have it ground - Significant savings here as well.
24. Buy produce in season and for sale - This a great to teach your children about produce and the different seasons they're available. I'm always looking for produce on sale. It's amazing how everything goes on sale at some point. Wise is the woman who knows when that happens!
25. Plant a garden - Zeke and I tried that once. Our first garden gave us a lot of zucchini and we did save on produce that summer. If you willing to put in the work this is actually a great idea.

Crystal wisely encouraged us to try one or two things from this list for a couple of months and then move on to others. I'm focusing on 7 and 16. Which tips will you try? Do you have any extra suggestions?  

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