So, today is Wednesday, and for me that means grocery shopping day. I have been asked by several people lately how much we spend on food and how can you make your food budget go further. So I thought that I might do a quick blog about my favorite ways to stretch what God has blessed us with.
1. Think of grocery shopping as a challenge, not a chore. I like to look at grocery shopping as a kind of scavenger hunt for the best deals. This has stood me in good stead as I made the trek from store to store for the steals & deals. "I am the Indiana Jones of grocery shopping..." has been the refrain in the back of my mind on occasion!
2. Avoid the Wal-Mart trap. This is one mistake I made in the early days. You get trapped into thinking that Wal-Mart has the best prices on everything, so you start shopping there for everything. Unfortunately, this mentality caused our grocery bill to sky-rocket over a few months, until Jared finally said something. Of course, I immediately replied "But I'm buying everything at Wal-Mart!" However, when we sent back and looked, we realized that our grocery bill had nearly doubled during that time. One of the biggest issues we had was with the meat and produce prices.
3. Check the circulars. When we discovered this problem, I had to change my grocery shopping habits quickly. The way that worked best for us then was for me to check all the local store circulars and buy the things that were on sale. I just went from store to store and took advantage of marked down things, BOGO items, and "sticker meat." (For those who don't know what this is...if you get to the grocery store early enough in the morning, you have a really good chance of finding meat that has been marked down because it is getting too close to its non-sale date. This has been a great help to me often!)
4. Don't be afraid of 'generic'. Personally, this has not really ever been as issue with me, because I grew up on generic food. Plus, I am the least picky person I know, so slight taste differences in the food aren't that noticeable to me. In most instances, you can barely tell the difference between the store-brand and name-brand items. If you're willing to give store-brands a try, you can save a lot of money that way.
5. Discount grocery stores. This is my biggest weapon in the arsenal of stretching our food budget. I have to admit, when I saw they were building an Aldi in our area, I was definitely excited. We had shopped there when I was a kid, so I knew that it was great for saving money. Yes, they are more work, but since I started doing the bulk of my shopping there, our food expenses have gone down by at least a third. I would encourage you to find a discount store in your area and start shopping there for a while. You will really notice the difference! If you don't have a whole discount grocery store, you may want to try a type of store like Fred's or Dollar General. I used to buy a lot of my dry goods and canned foods at DG because they were less than the grocery store.
6. Buying in bulk. I have to admit, I was not a fan of bulk-buying for a long time. The receipts always seemed so HUGE when I got done! But now that I have three growing boys and a growing husband :), I am becoming reconciled to the benefits of this method. I have made the discovery that, for us, the things that I DON'T buy generic (Huggies, Tide, Swiffers, and a few other things) are better prices at Costco. Also, most bulk store have their own brand too, and I have found that to be just as good as the name brand in most cases. Costco also sends out monthly coupons, so that is an added savings on the things I already buy. I try to time my purchases so that they coincide with the coupons.
Well, this post is getting pretty long, so I guess I'll wrap up for now. I hope these few ideas will help you be a better steward of what God has given you. If you have any other questions about something I didn't mention, just drop me a note in the 'comments' section. Don't forget, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in that which is much:" Luke 16:10 Happy shopping and saving! :)