It's hard to decide which is more infuriating,
$4 gasoline or $4 milk, but whichever you personally find most appalling,
one thing is for certain, someday a time will come where we look back with
nostalgia for the good old days of $4 milk or gas.
That is to say, we can count on prices always
advancing. Even when they do retreat a bit, like gas has done
recently, you know it won't be for long, as it's already starting back up.
That's just part of the rhythm of modern life,
I suppose, but we don't have to like it, and we don't have to let
ourselves be billowed by every inflationary breeze that comes wafting our
way. Like most anything else, there are ways to get by cheaper and
better when you buy groceries.
Here are forty-nine ways to get more
food and spend less cash:
1. First, Track Your Expenses
You canít save money if you donít know how much youíre spending to begin
with. Keep a list of everything you buy. Once youíve got an
idea of what you spend each month or each week, then you can make a budget
and begin to set goals.
2. Grow Your Own Obviously this is the
way to achieve the most savings. Make a garden this year. Next
year make a bigger garden. If you own a freezer and know how to can
and preserve you can do more financial damage to your local grocer than
with any other method. Not only that, but you canít buy healthier
food, and youíll never your meals even more when you produce them
3. Cook Without question, you can cook your
own food more cheaply than you can hire someone to cook it for you.
This is not to say that you shouldnít ever go to another restaurant or
order another pizza, when you want to celebrate or just take a break, but
if youíre out to save money, you need to be the one who prepares your
4. Keep a
Running Grocery List When
you run out of anything, add it to the list. The more well-stocked
your larder is, the better youíll eat, and the less youíll spend.
Always take your list of the things you need when you shop, and only
buy what's on the list. If itís not on the list, then you obviously
donít need it.
5. Use Discount Grocery Stores Preferably the
type that buys surplus lots from bigger chains. We save a small
fortune every year by shopping at a local discount grocery,
Not only do we save a lot of cash, but our diet is much more varied than
it used to be because the discount stores wind up with lots of unusual
items that may not sell so well in middle America. For example, we
always have lots of fancy foreign cheeses, Brie, Camembert, Gouda, you
name it. These apparently donít appeal to the typical Ozarkian, or
maybe the typical American, palate, but we love them, and we get them for
less than the price of Velveeta.
6. Buy in Bulk As with most everything else,
the more you buy, the cheaper it you get it. Olia recently brought
home a 40-pound carton of green bananas from the discount grocery for
which she paid $6.50 total. Thatís 16.25 cents per pound
versus 60 to 90 cents per pound in regular stores. Of course you
donít save much if your fruit rots in the fridge, but I prefer my bananas
slightly green, Olia likes them slightly brown, and when weíd both had
what we liked, she made many loaves of tasty banana bread.
7. Cook for a Week, or Month If youíll cook up
large batches of your favorite foods and put them away in the fridge,
freezer or pantry in single-meal portions, youíll not only save money
because of buying in bulk, but you'll also earn yourself quite a bit of
free time. Try making a stock-pot full of soup or stew and freezing
what you don't eat. You'll have a quick, tasty meal that the biggest clutz
in the family can prepare for himself.
8. Recycle Old Meals A/K/A leftovers.
Don't just keep them, make a meal from them. Mondayís Casserole and
Tuesday's Roast can become Wednesdayís stew with a little stock and some
seasonings. Likewise a large piece of meat can be stretched a lot
further, as well as be more tasty and healthy if you use it in several
different dishes with many bite-sized morsels. We rarely eat large
pieces of meat alone, but often have meat mixed in a bowl of rice or
buckwheat, or on a large salad.
9. Donít Throw Away Food Save your bacon
grease, make stock from your chicken carcass, save hambones to add to bean
soups. If you donít have time to do these things after dinner, put
them in a bag in the freezer. Save everything you can think of a use
for, and donít forget the livestock/pets and the compost pile.
10. Avoid Impulse
These are the bane of all would-be frugal shoppers, so just donít do
it. If you truly need an item, then it should appear on
your list next week.
10. Keep a Running Grocery List When
you run out of anything, add it to the list. The more well-stocked your
larder is, the better youíll eat, and the less youíll spend. Always take
your list of the things you need when you shop, and only buy what's on the
list. If itís not on
the list, then you obviously donít need it.
11. Avoid Impulse Purchases
These are the bane of all would-be frugal shoppers, so just donít do it.
If you truly need an item, then it should appear on your list next week.
12. Make Fewer Shopping Trips
The more often you go
shopping, the more you are likely to spend. About half of all grocery
shoppers go to the store three or four times a week. This is probably
less true of homesteaders who spend less time in town, but the principle
still applies. Try to make your shopping trip no more than once per week. If
that works, try for every two weeks, even every month. This tends to
focus you more on buying larger quantities more carefully.
Ask Questions What's the price difference between the bag of dried
beans that sells for $.89 and the can of beans that sells for $.99? Just a
dime? No. The bag yields 7 cups of cooked beans, $.13 per cup. The can
yields 1-1/2 cups of cooked beans, $.66 per cup. The canned beans - as
inexpensive as they are - are five times more expensive than dried
Take a Calculator
have already calculated the unit prices of the items you buy, but many
donít offer this. Also, if youíre being genuinely thoughtful about your
purchases, youíll probably want a little help in the brain department
while youíre moving through the aisles.
15. Food Only Please Paper
goods, cleaning supplies and cosmetics are probably going to be less
expensive at big-box stores like Target or Wal-Mart. This also helps you
to track your grocery costs separately from other living expenses.
16. Avoid Processed Food
Youíll be wealthier and healthier if you
buy basic commodities that only have one item in their list of
ingredients - things like potatoes, beans, apples. Not only will you
avoid lots of chemicals and preservatives, but youíll save a ton of
money. Just remember, if it has a trademark or a brand name, youíre
paying more and probably undermining your health in the bargain.
17. Cut Up Your Own Food
Consumer Reports found that two
pounds of carrots cost $1.29, compared with $7.16 for the same amount of
precut carrot sticks. Also avoid ďvegetable medleyĒ packages.
18. Donít Buy Water
Everyone knows that bottled water is
expensive, but fewer people know that it may be inferior, or at least no
better than your tap water at home. If you have your own well, the odds
are very good that you have cleaner, better water than the brands from
Coca-Cola and Pepsico. If you have city water, yours may be, probably is,
just as good. You may want to invest in a reusable water-filtering
19. Donít Buy Disguised Water,
When we were kids,
Kool-Aid only came in an envelope. You could add only the amount of
sweetener you wanted, and your own water, and you spent a lot less money.
So why buy it by the bottle? Thatís a good example, but there are lot of
other ways you pay more just for water. Such as, cartons of fruit
juice, canned broth or soup, canned, cooked beans, low-fat coconut milk, Jello
cups, applesauce, popsicles, even chicken and pork injected with water and
20. Don't Buy Designer Salt
Specialty spice mixes are usually 90% salt. You can just buy the basic
herbs and spices, then make your own.
21. DONíT Use
Coupons Ever see a coupon for bananas? Apples? Coupons may offer apparent
savings, but theyíre usually for some sort of processed food that still
winds up costing you more.
22. DO use Coupons
Sometimes you or your family will want to buy things even if they arenít
pure as the driven snow. If youíre going to buy it anyway, having a
coupon makes it cheaper. Itís a no-brainer.