Every month when Jeremy and I review our budget, I am always SHOCKED at how much money we spend on groceries and household products. Admittedly, we buy a lot of fresh produce, but we usually only eat one meat dish per week. How are we spending all this money!
Some of the items are non-negotiable. For example, we drink non-dairy milk which is more expensive, but easier on all of our bellies. I am hard-pressed to not buy a fruit or vegetable that Joshua picks out. But, there just have to be some things I can do to support a lower grocery bill while still getting the good, healthy food we enjoy.
Here are a few ideas I am going to try this month:
Store apps on my phone
I am going to try Cartwheel (Target) and the new Whole Foods app. I don't usually shop at Target for groceries, but, I will try it for groceries while enjoying the savings on other household items. I rarely shop at Whole Foods (except for items I cannot get at Trader Joe's), but if the app makes something cheaper, I will walk the extra ¼ mile for it!
In almost two weeks, I've saved $8.17 at Target and about $3.00 at Whole Foods (it is a little harder to track the savings in the Whole Foods app). The tricky thing with using these apps is to make sure you are just buying what you need. Do not buy things only because they are on sale unless you are sure you will use them!
One trip wonder
I cannot express my love for Trader Joe's enough. And, we are fortunate enough to be able to walk to one. What I've learned about easy access is that it encourages frequent stops which leaves me vulnerable to buying things I do not need. Since living this close to TJ's, I've noticed a lot of money being spent on "I'll just run over for this one thing" trips and, of course, coming back with many (often unnecessary) things. Starting at the beginning of April, I am really focusing on making one trip at the beginning of the week. The only thing that will allow me a second trip is if they were out of something I absolutely, positively need and I have confirmed that the store will be getting the item in stock. Otherwise, I have to find a substitute or do without.
Use a list
I have seen this piece of advice a million times and it is probably one of the truest things I've read! I take 10-15 minutes to jot down 5 to 7 dinners for the week and then make a list of the items I need, throw on the regular breakfast and lunch stuff, and presto, I have a list. This task can be done with great thought, care, and planning or while you are sitting in your car in the parking lot of the grocery store (or in the lobby of your building before you walk over to the store).
A few suggestions on your grocery list and purchasing:
If you find a vegetable, meat, or any ingredient you really like that is on sale, buy it and repurpose it throughout the week.
If you want to have a fresh produce item, but are worried about not finishing it before it goes bad, buy the frozen version or learn how to freeze what you have not used.
Be selective on organic purchases. People have different thresholds on buying organic. And, there is way too much information (for me, at least) to sift through to figure it all out. We go by this rule, if we are eating the peel or skin of the item (e.g., cucumber, apple) or it is grown in the ground (e.g., potato, garlic) we buy organic. Otherwise, we do not buy organic (e.g., bananas, avocado).
Buy less or no meat. It is expensive!
Do not buy alcohol or desserts.
Overall, I am willing (and fortunate enough to be able) to spend a little more to buy ingredients that contribute to healthy, well-balance meals for my family. However, shopping for groceries and household items is one of the few budget items over which I have some influence. I am not happy with how much we are spending, so I feel obligated andchallenged to find some ways to lower our costs. I started these efforts at the beginning of April. I'll update you in a month on how things are going!
What are your tricks for spending less?
On what items do you feel the splurge is worth it?
Do you make a grocery list? What is your shopping strategy?
Do you use Personal Capital to track your spending? If not, may we recommend you do so. It's very handy, and Free! Not to mention, you'd be helping us out by singing on. Check it out!