* Don't buy prepared food. Whether it's pre-sliced fruit or vegetables or pre-cut meat costs so much more!
* Cook from scratch. Somehow, marketers have successfully convinced Americans they don't have time to cook from scratch. But it's often just as quick to whip up a meal from scratch as it is to heat up some sort of processed meal. From scratch is nearly always healthier - and cheaper. You can even make your own from scratch convenience foods! (Check out my posts on DIY seasonings, baking mixes, spice blends, and more.)
* Avoid eating out. It's massively more expensive to get food from a restaurant than it is to make it at home. And again, homemade is usually healthier, too.
|Biscuits are so cheap, easy, and quick to make from scratch.|
* Do some meal planning. It really isn't that hard - especially with my bare bones technique - and it will save you a lot of stress and money.
* Stock up when things are on excellent sale. I have a local grocery store that puts quality meat on BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) from time to time. It's a fantastic deal. So I try to buy enough BOGO meat to last us until the next BOGO offer.
* Use your freezer. Freezers help you stock up on good deals, like those mentioned above, and they also reduce waste. If there is produce, for example, that tend to rot before you can eat it, try freezing it. (Freezing can also be really convenient. For example, if you chop up a bunch of onions and freeze them, or brown some ground beef and freeze it, it will make cooking dinner that much easier.)
* Consider cheaper alternatives. Many families can't imagine life without boxed cereal, but we rarely buy it. Not only is it generally expensive, but it's typically packed with GMOs. If you need a quick and easy breakfast for the family, consider oatmeal, or make pancakes or waffles ahead of time, and freeze a bunch for heating up later.
* Don't buy fresh, out of season produce. It's expensive! And it rarely tastes very good. Instead, stick to Epicurious' peak season map - and my A Vegetable for Every Season Cookbook.)
|In season produce is cheaper and tastier.|
* Keep a price book. This sounds like a huge deal, but it's not. Basically, it's just a way of never forgetting what you typically pay for grocery items your regularly buy. By keeping a price book, you can easily and accurately see whether it's worth shopping at more than one grocery store - and whether sales are truly a good deal.
* Consider buying in bulk. Some bulk items will usually save your money; good examples include flour, sugar, oats, dry beans, and rice. All these items last long time if stored in air tight containers in a dry pantry. Poor choices for bulk buying include anything with short shelf life or foods you rarely eat. Use your price book to determine whether buying in bulk will truly save you money.
For an excellent all round guide to keeping your grocery budget tamed, I highly recommend The Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping & Cooking Frugally. The Kindle version is just $1.99.