Hi OGT readers! This is Jill’s daughter-in-law/assistant, Kaitlyn. I get the distinct pleasure of introducing today’s guest post. When Jill told me that she was looking for some guest posts while she was out of town, I had two bloggers come to mind – Jordan from Fun, Cheap or Free and Shandra from Deals to Meals. I personally use both their sites to help me save money every single week. We introduced you to Jordan a couple of weeks ago in the post: How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck At Costco.
Today we are introducing you to Shandra…who is going to teach us how 4 simple steps can cut our food budget in half! Take it away Shandra….
Most families spend more on groceries than they do any other household expense, except for their mortgage. Most of us plan for retirement, for vacations and for nearly everything in life. However, most people don’t have a plan when it comes to sticking to a food budget. Many families walk blindly into a grocery store, pick out food that looks good, make a meal or two from those items, and then return to the grocery store to start the whole process over again (national average is 1.7 times per week—that’s almost 8 times a month). The average family when they run to the store for a gallon of milk ends up spending over $50. Do that too many times and your entire month’s budget could be eaten up by impulse shopping trips. Sound familiar?
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I am excited today to share with you how you can cut your grocery bill in half! That sounds pretty bold I know, but if you follow these four simple steps, it can be done! I will share with you ways you can eat healthy, fresh, homemade meals without spending a lot of money. Living on a tight food budget doesn’t mean you have to eat Top Ramen every night. There is a smart and simple approach to grocery shopping and meal planning that will save you $100’s throughout the year. Let me show you how easy and fun this can be!
Using Deals to Meals Kaitlyn and I went shopping for our week’s groceries and saved over $100 between the two of us. Here is what we got by price-matching all of the best deals in our area (remember, prices will vary depending where you live and where you choose to shop).
Let’s jump into the steps and show you how easy it is to save TIME and MONEY!
STEP 1: PLAN YOUR MEALS AROUND SALE ITEMS
Most people shop first and plan later. Before you go shopping, decide how many times you will cook a homemade meal. Some weeks this could be 3 times and others it could be 7 depending on your schedule. Planning your meals first and then shopping will save you $100’s on your groceries. Take the time to look through the ads to find out what the best deals are. Then, plan your meals around what is on sale. For example, if chicken, tortillas, cheese, sour cream and cilantro are on sale, make Chicken Enchiladas for dinner. If beef roast is on sale, make French Dip Sandwiches one night. This is berry season, so use those berries on sale for a side dish or dessert. Simple enough, right?
The great part about Deals to Meals is we give you a weekly meal plan that goes with the sale items in your area. For example, this week – pork chops, potatoes and squash are on sale. On our meal plan we have a recipe for Lemon Grilled Pork and sides that will feed a family of 6 for under $10. Without these items on sale, this meal would be more than double that.
One tip to keep dinner time exciting is to try new recipes. Keeping new and fun recipes rotated into your weekly meal plan will keep you (and your family) from getting in a dinnertime rut! We have over 1,000 recipes on our site that your family is sure to love.
STEP 2: SHOP THE DEALS
Taking the time to look at the grocery sales in your area is another crucial part to saving money. Be an educated shopper. There are basically only 3 places to buy your groceries (besides having your own garden): Costco/Sam’s Club, Walmart, or regular chain grocery stores. MOST food items at wholesale stores (like Costco) are NOT good deals. Walmart has overall good prices, but these prices can be cut dramatically if you price-match items that are on sale from other stores.
If you are opposed to shopping at Walmart and price matching, that is okay! Just go to the individual stores and stock up on their sales. It will work out to be the same, but it might just take a little more time.
The sale items you want to focus on are the ‘loss leaders’ from every store. These are the deals that will be LESS than Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart. When an item goes on sale for these great deals, this is the time to purchase them and use them in your weekly meal plan. Each week every grocery store will have anywhere from 5-15 of these great deals (which will be advertised in their store’s weekly ad). Purchasing these ‘loss leaders’ will save you up to 75% on your groceries. The more you can be disciplined and ONLY purchase these deals, the more money you will save.
This will take some self control.
I know it is hard to leave a store without your favorite snack or cans of soda. However, if it’s not on sale, PUT IT BACK! Be patient. Over time nearly every item in a grocery store will go on sale at these great sale prices, and that’s the time to stock up.
Deals to Meals makes this part of grocery shopping SUPER simple. For those living in the United States we tell you where the best deals are in your area. Our service is available in all 50 states. For those living outside of the U.S., these concepts can still help you save money. All you have to do is login to our website, choose the stores you want to shop at, create your grocery list and off to the store you go! It literally only takes a few minutes to put your shopping list together and have your meals planned for the week around those best deals.
Kaitlyn uses a great post-it note trick that saves a lot of time and frustration when price matching. As you place the items in your cart, just jot down the sale price on the sticky note and place it on the food item. This way the cashier knows what the price is and will change the price for you without a lot of hassle. Genius!!
Price matching, or buying those great deals each week can save you SO much money! Here are just a few of the items and their sale prices that Kaitlyn and I took advantage of.
Produce and meat are the two most expensive portions of a family’s food budget. If you can save on these items you can save $100’s a month! Most of our recipes are made with fresh produce, meat, fish and whole grains. Using these items normally would be very expensive, but when bought at sale prices, you can eat healthy meals by shopping the deals.
The meat we price-matched was almost half the price of Walmart’s already low prices.
Produce prices continue to rise, so take advantage when prices are low. For example, red bell peppers are on sale at Sprout’s Market this week for only $0.33 each (regularly $1.64 each at Walmart). That saved us $1.31 on just one pepper. Kaitlyn and I bought 12 peppers, which saved us $15.72 on just peppers.
STEP 3: STOCK UP WHEN PRICES ARE AT THEIR LOWEST
This is one of the most fun parts of grocery shopping for me! There is nothing worse than running out of items right when you need them. Building up your own ‘grocery store’ in your pantry and freezer will save you all year long on your grocery budget.
When items go on sale for those rock bottom prices, that’s the time to stock up! Each week (or at least monthly) choose an item or two that you will stock up on. Our website will give you an idea of how much you would need of each item to have a 3 month supply of food on hand for your family. Here is a link to the best food storage inventory sheet on the web.
Not only will this food come in handy during an emergency or job loss, but it will also save you from having to buy items at full price in the future. Here are a couple of the items on sale this week for great prices that can be added to your ‘stock pile’ (peanut butter, pasta, and cereal—the eggs, of course, won’t store but stock up and keep them in your fridge for several weeks).
STEP 4: LEARN TO COOK FROM SCRATCH
We live in a day of conveniences. Many processed and boxed foods, although easy to prepare, are overpriced and filled with preservatives. You can save a lot of money by taking the time to learn to make more of your favorite recipes from scratch. Not only will it save you money, but it will be a healthier option for your family.
Our blog has hundreds of recipes that will help you know how to use the whole grains, beans, powdered milk, and other items you are storing. We have tried and true recipes for homemade Wholegrain Pancakes, delicious Whole Wheat Bread, Chilis, Soups, Homemade Salad Dressings, and MUCH more!
Best Whole Wheat Bread
Healthy Summer Chicken Chili
Now that you all know the four simple ways to cut your grocery budget in half, we are going to make life even easier!
We are offering ALL of One Good Thing By Jillee readers a FREE two week trial to Deals to Meals to see how much time and money you can save!
When signing up for your free trial, please choose “One Good Thing” from the “How did you hear about us?” drop down box on our site.