Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to save money on groceries

Now you know that Miss MoneyPenny has ideas and opinions on just about everything and doesn't hold back.  I've learned a few things about running a household since I was 18 (the first time I married) and I like to share them because feeding a family and running a home is hugely expensive.

One of the areas where you can really make a big difference is groceries.  It is really hard to get out of the grocery store for under a hundred dollars a trip these days.  Everything is just so darned expensive and with a box of Tide, a roast, bread, eggs, milk, diapers, salad stuff, lunch meat, cereal, and bananas - you have easily spent that Benjamin.  And you've only got food for a couple of days, right??  And we are so busy raising kids and working a job that we can't see straight half the time.  Sound familiar??  It sure does to me.

But we gotta eat and we gotta have clean clothes, so we might as well head out to the store with a plan and keep some of that grocery budget in our pocket for something more fun than toilet paper.

My first line of attack is to eat with the seasons as much as possible.  I love salmon but it is only wild and fresh during the summer, so that is when I buy, usually on sale, not during the winter.  Same with asparagus - spring and early summer.  When it comes around again I'm so glad to see it and eat it like crazy when it is in season and on sale.  You can save a lot of money just doing this one thing.

From there I shop the sales.  When I get the ad on Tuesday I sit down and plan loosely what is on the menu for the week and make a list based on what is on sale.  If whole chickens are on sale I buy as many as I have space in the freezer.  If canned tomatoes are a good price I stock up, even if I don't use them right away...and so on.  I try to think ahead and I keep a running list on the fridge. 

After keeping house for even just a short time you know the basic things that you always need on hand.  Running out to the store because you ran out of brown sugar for the cookies can really add up, especially if you pick up some chips and salsa and beer while you are there. 

My next line of attack is Costco.  I've told you before that I used to avoid Costco because I never got out of there for under $200 but my daughter-in-law, Miss PeggyRae, gave me a free membership so I learned how to shop there.  I wrote a post on how I shop Costco and what I buy there and you can read it here.  I use as many of the Costco coupons as I can to save even more money.  Never go to Costco without a list and be sure to stick to it or the bill can get seriously out of hand quick.

Then there is the garden!!  If you want to save some serious money on food - this is it!!  You can grow just about anything in your garden except tropical type fruits but if you have a greenhouse - who knows??  If you want to grow apricots, there is a type that has been bred for this area.  There are eggplant varieties that also do well here, and on and on.  Check your seed catalogs for what will work in your area and talk to other gardeners to see what works well for them. 

And you can share.  It is really gratifying to share some beautiful tomatoes for juicy melons that you don't grow.  The garlic pictured above came courtesy of Cher from my knitting group.  A friend of hers brought this garlic back from her trip to Italy last year and I'm going to plant some of if real soon. 

This will be my first foray into garlic growing.  I'm told that you plant it in the fall for summer harvest the next year.  Then you do selective breeding by choosing the biggest cloves and replanting them to get bigger cloves the following year, and so on.  Reminds me of Mr. Gregg's high school biology class.

The MoneyPenny grocery shopping method really works.  My grocery budget used to be really out of whack.  Then I decided that I was only going to spend $50 a week but that was hard to do.  After putting this method into place I budget $40 a week and usually have money left over.  With this summer's garden I averaged between $20 and $25 a week at the store and that makes me happy.

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