MAX YOUR MENU: SAVING $ AT THE STORE

Wfmwheader UPDATE: I am adding this post to Rocks in my Dryer’s Works for Me Wednesdays so I can get more grocery stretching tips from you lovely ladies! Read below for some things I have been learning this last week about budgeting at the grocery store!

My original plan with Max Your Menu was to give recipes throughout the week that help us stretch out grocery dollars. And, this is a good thing BUT it ALL starts at the grocery store.

For example, last night, I went to the grocery store for fruit and eggs for today’s church picnic. I put in my basket: cherries, grapes, honeydew, eggs, a 2-pk of toothbrushes on sale, a diet brownie and a pack of sugar-free peanut butter cookies. I picked up another pack of sugar-free chocolate chip cookies to find out if they really were $6.49 and promptly put them back when I found out they were.

The total came to a whooping $43, about half of what I spent for a week’s groceries at the grocery outlet the previous week. I looked at the register and said, “Wait, those toothbrushes aren’t the sale I saw on the shelf.” and “Wait, those cherries are $$11.39. Please take those off.” Did my friends really need the heaviest fruit per pound on the market? I could stop by the produce mart on the way to the picnic and get three times that food for that price. (UPDATE: went to produce mart and for $13 bought same amount of cherries plus more grapes plus big bunch of bananas plus 3 apples plus carton of black berries plus carton of raspberries! Way cool!)

By taking off items that shouldn’t have been in my cart to begin with, the bill came down to $23 which was much more reasonable for a quick stop for a few items on the way home. I still have could saved more not eating the brownie or getting the cookies but a girl just needs a treat sometimes and I HAD just come from the mall where I resisted MUCH temptation to spend on all the great end of the season sales.

So, what are you doing to save money on your groceries? I would love to hear the suggestions.

Some of the lessons I have learned this month are:

1) If you are going to make your own bread to save $, learn how not to kill the yeast. (You kill the yeast when you add it to ingredients that are too hot or too cold. See Lindsey mixing dough. Great arm workout. This was actually from Lindsey’s Spanish bread project in the Spring that got us started on this kick. The great shot of her kneading dough is stuck on my battery dead camera this AM.)
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New Picture: Lindsey kneading the dough!

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2) When you can, buy ingredients not prepackaged food items. You will save on planning ahead and buying larger quantities of meat, spices, etc. that can be used in different ways.

3) If you going to grow a garden, plan for items that are cheaper than the grocery store, otherwise it might not be worth the effort. (Anybody know where I can get a raspberry bush? I am on a quest.)

4) Know which stores are worth the extra time and gas to get there for your shopping.

5) And, of course, combine shopping trips to save on gas.

Bottom line, a little planning goes a long way. Shop with your eyes open at the grocery store and you won’t walk out with 2-3 times the bill you planned to spend.

I have much to learn in this area and would love YOUR suggestions!

UPDATE #2: Robin from Pensieve twittered: Don’t Go Hungry and Don’t Take Your Kids.

Comments

  1. I would like a raspberry bush too. Wouldn’t it be great to have fresh raspberries that you picked yourself? Another blogger has blueberries that she picks herself. That would be awesome too. I’ll have to think about my grocery methods. I found a Whole Foods Market the other day. It is a 45 minute drive for me but I will be going back with my ice chest soon.

  2. I did a little experiment a few weeks ago. I went to the grocery store with my typical list and bought ONLY the items I wrote on my list. I was amazed (like you mentioned in your post) how many things I wanted to pick up impulsively. I never noticed that I did that before. I would always say, “I always make a grocery list, but I’m still over budget.” Well, the truth is, I made the list — I just never stuck to it. So, cutting out the impulse buys has helped us to cut our grocery bill significantly.

  3. I plan a lot of my meals by what’s on sale at the store, rather than just shopping for whatever comes to mind at random. I look at the sales papers. I need to start using more coupons.

    Take advantage of stores going out of business or needing to get rid of some things because they’re almost expired over the store over-bought. Recently, one of our “used to be major” grocery stores closed down and everything in the store went 60% off. Well, needless to say, we took full advantage of this, but instead of me buying stuff I normally can’t afford just to treat myself and the kids, we stocked up on stuff we use on a regular basis, so that when times are leaner, we have food in the freezer and staple items to live on. We only splurged on a couple of treats and even they had to be a good deal.

    You’re right, your local fresh market’s produce is cheaper (usually) than the grocery store. The prices there are really ridiculous. I saw cherries at Wal-Mart and almost died!

    Look on the computer for recipes that will produce large quantities and stretch using staple items like rice and the like (because rice is inexpensive and bulks out a recipe). You can have some for that night’s dinner and then freeze the rest for another dinner (when everybody has forgotten about it).

    I can probably think of a lot more, but I’ve already taken up enough of your time. Hope at least one of these helps. Glad I stopped by your place. Have a good weekend.

  4. Go through your pantry and fridge to see if you can make meals with what you have. I have a lot of different type sauces and such that we don’t use on a regular basis, so I am trying to find ways to use them up before I buy something new. I also like to see what leftovers are in the freezer – chicken, roast beef, pork chops and can make meals with these easily, too. :D

  5. i do lots of cooking from the pantry and meal planning based on sales! :)

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