There’s been a coupon craze going on and I use to feel bad for not stocking up on items that were on sale. The main reason I didn’t jump on the coupon band wagon was because we have limited space and finding places to put things had become a credible issue. Typically, I only run out and get what I need for the current week’s meal plan. With soaring food prices for household kitchen staples, like milk, flour, and eggs, I’ve begun to reconsider my shopping plan, to not only include couponing, but to think smarter about my purchasing choices.
After speaking with other friends who have succeeded in lowering their food costs and saving a ton of money, I developed a 5 step plan. Try these tips with me, and lets see how much money we can put back into our pockets at the end of each month!
1. Clean out the pantry.
Not only does this give you a chance to purge the items that are not used, but if you have expired products that need to be thrown out, chances are you don’t need buy it again. If the recipes on Pinterest got you buying things you can’t use for more than the one recipe you purchased it for, time to let it go and never look back. It is always a good idea to do this before every single grocery store trip. This way you will avoid buying duplicate items because you will have just seen the contents and won’t forget you already have it at home. Have a terrible memory? Put that smart phone to work and take a shot of your pantry before you head to the store!
2. Plan ahead.
Food prices are on the rise, especially fresh vegetable, so to help keep costs down and to avoid wasting perishables, plan ahead! Now that the pantry is clean, take time and create a menu list for your family for the upcoming week. Then, write a grocery list that includes all ingredients needed as well as snacks and breakfast/lunch foods. If you see a great sale on ingredients that you frequently use in recipes, make sure to stock up on those items. But remember, any item thrown away, becomes your most expensive food purchase!
3. Look at the package before you buy.
So now you’re in the store, feeling good about your clean pantry, and your awesome grocery list. Then you pick up a box of cake mix and realize that it’s two ounces less than what you used to buy. Slimming down is not just for dieters anymore. Cereal boxes, yogurt containers, and a lot of other products, are losing weight too. Don’t just compare the price of items anymore, look at how much product you are getting for the price, and then make an informed decision from there.
4. Buy the produce that is in season
With the summer months approaching, you start thinking of apples, melons, and cherries, oh my! In-season produce tends to be cheaper because it does not have to be shipped when it is in plentiful supply in your area. Find a new, in-season fruit or vegetable that you have never tried and let the family do research on what new recipes you might want to try. You might just find your new favorite dish! Field to Plate’s website offers a great in season produce calendar, which you can look at by state, to see which produce is in season.
5. Coupons and weekly deals
Who doesn’t love a sale or a deal? Checking out what’s on sale in the paper or online is common sense, but setting aside the time to do it, can be a challenge. But spending a few minutes comparing prices and clipping coupons (either online or from the Sunday paper) for items that are on your list can really pay off! You don’t have to go crazy with coupons and spend a ton of time to make it work for you.
Grocery prices, along with everything else, will always fluctuate. The key is to make a plan, get creative and keep your eye out for savings. What tips can you share about keeping food costs low?