Friday, December 12, 2008

Frugal Living Friday: Stretching Your Food Budget

Welcome to Frugal Living Friday! Each week I will feature a tip that can help us stretch our budget and live more frugally! If you have a tip that you want shared on Frugal Living Friday, let me know and you could become a guest blogger for a day.

With the way the economy is right now it seems almost everyone is trying to stretch their grocery bill as far as they can. But with food prices rising almost every time we go to the store, it is difficult. How can you do it?

I read a great article in my Jan 2009 Parenting magazine yesterday (one of the many free subscriptions I get) about this very topic. It is not available online yet so I can't link to it. But here was the gist of the article. (I am paraphrasing. As soon as the article becomes available, I will link to it).
  1. Make a menu list for the week. Notice the weekly sales at your store and plan your meals accordingly. Notice if certain things like chicken or eggs are on a great sale, plan a few meals around those items. If you have leftover corn, beef, or other veggies from the previous week, make soup for one meal. You get the idea.
  2. Cut coupons. It has been proven that spending the time to cut coupons and combining coupons with sales DOES save you money. According to Parents magazine, up to $6-$7 per shopping trip. I can attest to this. In over 5 years of couponing, I have literally saved hundreds of dollars per year. I have paid for my newspaper subscription many times over with the deals and freebies I have gotten.
  3. Choose shortcuts wisely. Purchasing yogurts in small containers is much more expensive than in larger tubs. Many convenience foods are just that...for convenience. And we pay for it. Consider purchasing the bags of full size carrots instead of the more expensive bags of baby carrots. Things like that add up.

A few more tips that they mention in the article are:

  • track your costs
  • scour the bargain racks
  • watch for package shrinkage
  • hunt high and low
  • beware of the register!
  • be brand brands are just as good as name brand
  • use less meat

One thing I try to do is plan my meals according to what I have on hand. I like to keep rotating my food storage so I try to have at least one meal per week where I incorporate my food storage somehow. My kids enjoy having breakfast for dinner so we do that a few times a month. When I use ground beef in a recipes, I never use the whole pound in one meal. I always split it up in half, and adding rice or wheat is also a good trick to help stretch your meat usage.

About a year ago I made a big effort during one month to not spend any unnecessary money. With careful shopping and meal planning, I only spent about $260 in one month for groceries for our family of 5. It can be done!

When there are really good sales, I really stock up! Then I know I don't have to pay regular price for awhile. With prices changing so frequently, it pays to make sure you know the prices at different stores. I have notices in my area lately that Walmart is not always the cheapest place to get groceries anymore. Not that you have to run all over town to different stores, just plan your trips accordingly. Sometimes it is worth it to get everything in one stop, even if you pay a little more.

What do you do to help your grocery budget?



Jackie Rama said...

I too do the monthly menu and it saves me money, sanity, and time!

Jackie Rama said...

Hey Marne,

Could you give us details on how to stretch that meat with wheat, etc.?

Marne said...

I have never made Wheat Meat myself, just eaten it. It's not too bad, but it is an aquired taste. We don't eat much meat anyway in our family. I can have 4 pounds of hamburger last us a month or more. We eat more chicken than any other meat.

That's why I included the Wheat Meat link in my post if you wanted to learn how to make it. Here is another helpful link:

If you don't want to make it, I do know you can buy it too. Check your local health food store to see if they carry it.

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