How do you budget your grocery to get good prices without eating ramen every day?
My niece is newly married. I told her I would be happy to share anything she wanted, with her. Hey! After 44 years of mistakes, foibles, and mis-steps… someone should benefit! LOL
So I started typing… I got to number 8 and realized that I would share it, here.
Seem odd on a business blog? Not!
Why? ‘Cause if you can master your grocery bill… you can actually master everything!
My monologue began like this;
- The front page of a grocery add is what is called the ‘loss leader’. Usually these are really good prices to lure you into the store and fill up your basket with other more expensive stuff. Watch the Loss Leader ads and compare.
- Generally people eat the same thing all the time. It just happens. Oh well! You can make up menus of stuff you like and then rotate through them. Then you know what sales to watch for. Because you already buy those!
- You can electronically load coupons for your local grocery store. Check out what groceries are in your area. Ask other wives where they shop and the best options for prices.
- The food industry wants you to believe the cooking from scratch, and fresh food is more expensive. It isn’t. They want you to buy prepared food because it makes them money and gets you hooked on their chemicals like Monosodium glutamate. That is not a conspiracy. It is actually fact. Alas.
Learn to cook from scratch. Start with small things and follow the recipe exactly as it is written. Once you successfully make a new recipe, then alter it. Make notes in your cookbook when you tried, what you like and then later what you did differently and if you like it.
I keep a three ring binder with plastic sheets. I print off a recipe and do the above thing. I find recipe books nearly useless compared to online. However! I love books and they have value in the long term.
The exception to frozen pre-packaged food is your fruit and veggies. Some times of the year, fresh or frozen will be cheaper. Don’t blindly grab food off the shelf.
- When possible buy in bulk. Pre make meals and put them in your freezer. You are less likely to pay expensive ‘eating out’ food if you have something you can throw in the microwave or oven.
Go back over the last few months and look at your credit cards and bank accounts. Look at what you have spent in eating out. Then compare that with eating in. If you work for $10 an hour and your pizza and drinks cost you $20… Was it worth 2 hours of work for that meal? Um… Sometimes. But not always.
Lasagna or other pasta separated into containers and put in the freezer. Already portioned out.
Crock pot meals portioned out.
Sandwiches. I would take two loaves of bread. Lay one out, lunch meat, Cheese, then the second loaf for the tops. Then put them in the freezer in ziplock bags. Don’t use condiments on them. That makes your bread soggy! Then I would grab two on my way out the door for school in the morning. It was thawed by lunch and still cool. If you have to have a condiment on it… next time you go ‘out’ to eat… bring extras home with you.”
Washing dishes and reusing (Even ziplock bags) is cheaper than buying more ziplock bags. Thin down your soaps with water. You don’t need what the companies provide in one pump, squirt or drop.
- Eat what you have. Not what you crave. One night I was talking to Kevin, before he was married, on the phone. He heard me in the kitchen. He asked what I was doing. I told him pulling stuff out of the freezer for dinner the next day. He said ‘How do you know what you will be hungry for?’
See… he lived at home, single, ate out of mom’s fridge. Plan ahead. Eat what you have.
- NEVER NEVER NEVER go grocery shopping when you are hungry. And buy what is on your list. ONLY diverge from your list if you see something on sale that you normally eat. A SALE is only a good BUY if you were already going to buy it. Sneaky advertising tactics.
Check unit prices! Example: Over the years the dairy containers have shrank in an effort to keep the price tag down. You paid $3 a pound, then $3 for 14 ounces, then $3 for 12…. etc…
- At one of my lower points in life I was dirt poor and living on a bare hardwood floor. This was not the fault of my parent’s. It was my lack of humility to ask for help. I learned (at that time) I could buy 2 pounds of generic spaghetti and 4 cans of tomato paste for $2.
I worked at a place that brought in doughnuts and pastries for breakfast. Breakfast was at work. Whatever half eaten crumbs were left, by the other employees, I ate for lunch. For dinner I had spaghetti with tomato paste. After I had done that for awhile my Dad became aware of how I was living and sent me a giant hard salami chub (I really don’t like those). Every night until that chub was gone. I ate that menu.
Over time as a few months passed and my circumstances improved… I updated my diet. Not the wisest diet. But certainly a learning experience! 🙂
- Credit Cards. Check your existing credit cards to see if they give cash back for groceries. If they don’t, see if there is an option to do so with the existing cards. If not, then consider getting a cash back card that does give you cash back on your groceries.
- Credit Cards. Do not put your food on a credit card. “But Kimberly you just said….”
Yes. I did. Here is how you do this. Many American’s have gotten out of the habit of keeping a check register. A check register comes with your bank checking account. You write down the balance and then note every addition and withdrawal. At the end of the month you look over your register and compare it with the balance to make sure you actually made all those purchases. Assess where your money is going and if that is where you WANT it to go. Adjust accordingly.
Back to the Credit Card Scenario at the Grocery Store:
You open up your check register and note the amount of money spent on groceries.
Then you use your credit card.
Your credit card is set to “Pay In FULL” each month. A setting you can do online in your credit card account. This money then comes out of your checking account. However, you have already noted it. The money is already there. And you are not paying interest on your food you long since pooped out!
Yearly, you get cash back for the groceries you spent. This money is not ‘extra’. It goes toward any debt you have incurred elsewhere.
- Reuse able water bottles and pour in drink mixes as long as they have Zero Artificial Sugar. Never pay for something to drink. My parent’s used to own a pizza parlor. Soft drinks are a CASH COW. There is actually more money in the straw, cup and lid, than in the drink. This is why restaurants offer free refills!
American’s have a messed up idea of entitlement. Each younger generation thinks it should have what their parent’s have. And they want it RIGHT NOW! Completely disregarding what it takes to ‘get there’ without being in debt.
As an example we seem to all want that Perfect looking Fruit. Perfect fruit that looks like it belongs on an advertisement… may not be as healthy as the spotty fruit. Spotty fruit is often marked down for quick sale to get it out of the store. It is ripe and ready to eat. You can freeze what you don’t need and use in soups or smoothies.
Day Old Bread rack is nothing more than the time that loaf of bread would be sitting on your own counter. Either for FDA rules or stock rotation rules… it has been moved to the ‘day old’ area.
Processed sugars will feed the brain’s addiction to sugar and make you crave more and more. This becomes a cycle of eating more and paying more. Paying more for food. Paying more for bigger clothes. Paying more for healthcare and fad diets. READ ALL Labels.
Last week I stopped at Wal-mart to grab some apple sauce. I knelt on the floor and looked at the unit prices and ingredients. There was only ONE brand ‘Tree Top’ that had no extra junk or sugar in it. ONE. AND it was the least expensive. Bingo! We have a winner!
How do you budget your grocery to get good prices without eating ramen every day?
- Don’t Eat Ramen. It is unhealthy
- Plan, Think, Act don’t Re-Act
- Check your entitlement. Eating less expensive but equally healthy, is wise.
- Save eating out for Special Occasions. Date Night where you dine and hold hands and talk. Not a quickie Fast Food stop.
- Don’t pay for free drinks
Rich people live like they are poor. Poor people pretend to live like they are rich.