Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grocery 101

People ask me all the time how I save money on food. I don't have a easy answer for that. I do a lot of things...

I know what my family eats and likes. My husband doesn't eat canned vegetables so I don't buy them. (truthfully, i have some in my pantry because they were free and I sneak them in some recipes) He likes everything fresh. So I don't buy canned veggies. Don't buy stuff just because it is on sale.

I buy my produce at produce junction. You can get 5lbs of bananas for $2.00. That's 40 cents a pound. If we don't eat all the bananas before they get brown, then I make banana bread or muffins that week. You can get 2 heads of Romaine lettuce for $2.00. We eat lots of salad here at the Jordan house so it works for us. Yes, you do have to buy in bulk, but you save so much compared to the normal stores. We start to get creative with dinner when you have a fridge full of veggies.

I make a list and I try to stick to it! I am not perfect, so occasionally things creep into my basket, but I try really hard to stay on task.

I buy multiple items when on sale. I have a couple of shelves in the garage that I have taken over for my pantry. When things are at a really good price, I stock up and store it there. Canned goods and pasta last a long time. So when you can get it free or nearly free with a coupon, I always stock up.

I know what items cost. Just because something is in the store's ad, doesn't mean it is their best price. I try to know what price I'm willing to pay for something when I'm looking at the ad. For example... I never buy chicken breasts, sausages, or ground beef when it is over $1.99/lb. I try to stock up when it is at it's lowest ($1.69ish), and then freeze it in a freezer bag in usable sizes. 
The Ziplock vacuum pumps became a family favorite when MJ and family caught over 200 lbs of tuna and mahi mahi.
but that's another story for another day!

For a long time, ACME ran specials every once in a while where they would practically pay you to buy cereal. (no kidding, you can ask MJ). I would come home with a trunk full. Anything I didn't think I could use before the expiration date went to the food shelter. They haven't had a great sale like that in a while so we are slowly running out of cereal. I cringe when I have to pay $2 for a box. You can do this for just about everything on your grocery list. Cleaning supplies, paper products, snacks, soda (never pay over $2 for a 12pk), apple juice (stock up when it is $0.99)... everything. Just know what prices are best, and stock up then.

Use your coupons. There are tons of websites out there that do all the matching up for you. Where I live, matches up to all my stores. Just google your stores name and coupon match up. I bet you will find one for your area. Most stores double the coupons and they really do save me a ton.

Make your own food. This can be hard when you have kids and a bazillion things to do after school, but it really does help to make food from scratch. Besides, it has added benefits like being way better for you nutritionally, and a home cooked dinner also gives you time to sit and talk about your day as a family. Even if the conversation is the same. (How was work??? Fine. How was school??? Fine) Eventually, if you keep asking, sometimes they throw you a bone and answer!

Know what you have. This is still something I struggle with. Fresh products do go bad and sometimes you don't need anymore. If you already have 10 toilet bowl cleaners, don't buy it unless it is free! There will most likely be another sale in a month or two if you start to run low. Don't buy something you know you won't use, even if it is free! It's not worth the clutter in your home. Let me remind you now, this is still something I'm struggling with. I'm not perfect.

Well I hoped that summed it all up for you. If you have anymore questions, just ask!

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