Five Money Saving Tips: At the Store and In the Kitchen

November 30, 2009 at 10:26 pm Leave a comment

The holidays are always an interesting time for budgeting and spending. In addition to shopping for gifts and cards, I often entertain and plan to serve an extra big meal or two on important days like Christmas and New Years Eve. Of course my income doesn’t magically increase to support these new expenses, so I’m always looking for ways to save a little here and there to make up for other seasonal spending. I did a bit of digging recently to see what advice the blog world had to offer on saving money on the meals I feed my family at home. I found three really interesting posts on how to tweak my approach to shopping just a bit to see some savings. I also found a couple of interesting kitchen techniques that result in a bit more money in my pocket. I hope you find these as useful as I did.

Tweak Your Approach to Shopping

Saving money at the grocery store doesn’t require an entire shift in the way I shop, instead a few incremental changes here and there can have a big impact on a final grocery bill. These three are a good place to start.

  • Use smart strategies when buying fresh produce. We all want to feed our families more fruits and veggies, but the prices on these foods can be very high. The Happy Housewife offers some really great advice on saving money on produce, including shopping seasonally, buying organic only when it really matters, and getting to know your produce manager. These tips work year round in just about any market, so try a couple of them next time you’re at the store and see if they help.
  • Shop for non-perishables online and buy in bulk. You can often save quite a bit of money by buying in bulk and online. Online stores don’t have the same overhead as traditional storefronts and they can often pass those savings on to you. A new site, Alice.com, is specifically designed to make it easy to keep your house stocked with non-perishables like toilet paper, razors, and shampoo. There is a minimum 6-item order after your first order, but shipping is free so you could share your shipment with a friend or neighbor. They also have coupons and deals, and they give you credits after you reach certain purchase levels. The Prudent Pantry site has a nice overview of the site and a look inside an actual order to help you decide if a shopping source like this would work for you.
  • Keep two grocery lists. The Small Town, Simple Home blog suggests keeping two grocery lists going at one time. The first is for things you really need this week, and the second keeps track of things you will need in the next couple of weeks like light bulbs and toilet paper. The benefit of the two-list approach is you can look for a sale on the items you don’t quite need and possibly get them at a better price. You can also work them into your budget over the next week or two if necessary. While this does require keeping track of two lists, it may be a technique to try out to see if it really help you save.

Make a Couple of Changes in the Kitchen

Sometimes the way I cook can influence how much I have to spend at the store the next week. Both of these techniques help make the most of ingredients that are already on hand to reduce the next grocery bill.

  • Rethink what’s “good. The blog Money Saving Main-iac includes an entire set of posts on making good use of produce and other foods you’d otherwise consider “bad” and throw out. From making apple sauce to storing left over tomato paste and more, you can find ways to use up what’s already in your fridge or pantry instead of spending more money at the store.
  • Reuse cooking oil. If you regularly use large amounts of cooking oil for family favorites like French fries, you can use that oil more than once before you have to replace it with fresh oil. Vickie of Cooking with Vickie offers some great advice on cleaning and storing used oil so it’s ready for another fry or two.

What are you favorite and unique techniques for keeping grocery bills low any time of year?

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Entry filed under: Food Costs and Budgeting.

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