Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Lean, Mean Grocery Shopping Machine

We are cutting back across the board due to some unexpected expenditures the past couple of months. I thought it might be worth reminding those who read this blog of the relatively easy ways to cut corners--especially short term--in the grocery budget.

"Cutting back" always involves some sort of sacrifice, but it needn't be too grim. A little creativity and non-instant gratification go a long way (this is true, of course, no matter which area of the budget is getting short changed in any given month: clothing, dining out, home improvement, etc.).

Here are ways we can quickly tighten the belt in our grocery budget.

1. Eat Less!

All that snacking, extra desserts, munchies, treats, etc. that we, as a nation really, tend to do for entertainment more than satisfying true hunger--it gets the sack first.

2. Eat What We Have!

Our freezer and pantry have a plentiful supply of food. Sometimes, the meals we create from existing stashes aren't the nutritional powerhouses we'd prefer, or the groupings might be a little odd (rice as a side dish with soup instead of crackers, for instance). But it tastes pretty good, is "free" from the perspective of the current month's budget, and meets our needs. Sometimes, this even leads to more gourmet meals--we might use up that jar of roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes because we have them and it enables us to dress up otherwise plain/incomplete ingredients.

3. Shop Less!

Sounds obvious, but every time I go to the store, I'm likely to see something I "need" that might not have been on my list. Or, there's a sale going on that I *really* should take advantage of. When there's a month or two where we really need to stick to our existing grocery budget, then I try to shop fewer times. Or, I might try to stretch a Sam's run to every 6-8 weeks instead of every 4.

4. Keep It Simple and Seasonal!

We're still serving up food to more than our family--taking food to folks, having people over. But it's simple fare right now: chili and cornbread. No elaborate salad to go with it. You know what? Most folks won't care. They'll enjoy the fellowship. If they ask what they can bring, give them something to bring! Apple season is just around the corner. We make killer apple dumplings every fall; they're inexpensive and we can have people over just for dessert. NO ONE ever leaves here after an apple dumpling complaining :).

5. Make It or Take It Yourself!

Cornbread is pretty darn cheap, so we have that with our chili and other soups much more often than chips or crackers. Instead of going out for ice cream, we'll take advantage of the $1 sale on storebrand ice cream sandwiches and take the kids to the park to eat them.

What are ways YOU cut back on your grocery budget?

1 comment:

alindbergh said...

Great ideas! We love to shop early in the morning (between 8-9am) and cash in on all the "Manager's Specials" - all the departments around the perimeter of the store are going through their stock and marking down things that are expiring soon. We love getting "old" produce, meat and dairy! We eat so much that it doesn't have time to go bad at our house. Apples are a special treat - 4 or 5 lbs for $1 - we love homemade applesauce!