How I stretch our monthly budget. Part 4.

I guess this is best called Cutting the Fat Round 2. I got a tad too long-winded when talking about our utilities so we’ll see if this part is shorter. 🙂 Not likely. Ha.

Cutting the Fat Round 2.

Groceries.

By far, the biggest expense our family of 5 has is groceries. I do a myriad of things to cut our costs and most are pretty simple.

1. Coupons. I don’t do extreme couponing and I do not buy scores of weekly newspapers. I utilize certain websites (Southernsavers, etc) and find the best deals on the groceries that we use. Since I don’t buy weekly papers, I use the free RedPlum insert that arrives in my mailbox and any internet coupons that I find through Southernsavers. Unless I can make money on the item (Southernsavers has tutorials how to do this), I do not buy the item. I have some hoarder type tendencies and we don’t need to feed those tendencies. 🙂

2. I buy in season as much as possible. Fruits and veggies are some of our favorites but that can get out of hand cost-wise quickly if you aren’t mindful of seasons. Buy in season!

3. Plan meals around sales. I’m still learning meat prices here but when I see certain cuts of meat on sale for $1-2/lb less than normal, I buy in larger quantities. I put these meats in our freezer and I plan our meals around that supply. If I don’t have enough in the budget to buy meats in larger quantities, I buy as much as I can at the sales price and we eat that during the week.

4. Freeze (AND USE!) leftovers. When we cook a roast (not so often at our house because of the cost of beef), we eat sparingly. Each person eats their allotted portion (usually 3-4 ounces per adult and less for each kid) and we put the rest away. We will eat one more meal off of the roast and then I freeze the remainder. I clearly label the outside of the bag and date it. This helps us to avoid burning out on the same types of food, it gives me a quick alternative to fast food type busy days, and we don’t waste food. The biggest point to see here is that we actually EAT the leftovers. If you don’t eat the leftovers, you are just wasting freezer bags. Boo!

5. Sign up for free samples. Some of our most cost-effective (READ: FREEE!) meals come from signing up with companies to receive coupons or free samples. An example of this is Kraft’s First Taste club. We’ve received several coupons that equaled a free meal for us through that club. I also am a Facebook fan of almost any food manufacturer that we use. I watch these fan pages and enter any and all giveaways that they have. We’ve received free pizzas, coupons, etc.

6. Re-evaluate our purchases. This was the most important part of our grocery puzzle. I went through and decided what was a “Need” and what was a “Want.” The wants were cut. Period. It’s amazing how quickly tortilla chips and other non-essentials add up.

7. Make a meal list, evaluate the freezer/pantry and make a grocery list. These days, I don’t go to the grocery store without doing those three steps. If I do, I WAY overspend (because of cravings, not knowing what we already have, and having no idea what we are going to eat during the week). If you have no plan, you are planning to fail. I even go so far as to tally up what I think our grocery list will be for that trip. I have learned about how much our usual purchases run and I know within $5 how much we are going to spend. Plan, plan, plan.

Anyway, that’s a general overview of how I stretch our grocery budget. I have one more way that I accomplish this but we’ll talk about free groceries next time. 🙂

I’ve been blogging about how I stretch our monthly budget and you can read more in the following posts:

Budgeting Basics

Budget Criteria

Cutting the Fat

Tough Love. Budgeting Special Topic

BTW. Please note: I’m not a debt counselor or any type of professional who is qualified to give out actual financial advice. I’m simply telling you some of the ways that I am helping stretch our monthly budget. If you want to read actual advice from a qualified debt guru, I recommend Dave Ramsey.

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