The following is a guest post from Melissa Cameron.
Of all the monthly bills in our household, food is the one that has the ability to really break the budget. It’s a constant, it’s a necessity and it can be very expensive. As a mother of two that often also has my parents who live next door over for meals, saving on food is important.
I’ve learned to be very frugal over the years, while still keeping a full pantry and fridge. It isn’t always easy, but there are some tips I’ve gathered over time to ease the pain of the checkout counter.
If you have seen the hot, rather new show on couponing, you know that there are people out there that really go wild with coupons. They seem to save a lot, but the methods are extreme (as the title suggests) and the actual results aren’t realistic. Many of those coupon collectors are borderline hoarders. However, while this show may have focused on overboard tactics and much more time than most of us busy moms really have to devote, there are very handy ways to use coupons to help cut your grocery costs.
Check the papers, and online sources for coupons, but only clip the ones you really would realistically buy. You aren’t saving anything if you buy products you have no use for.
Get Those Cards
Most grocery stores have buyer rewards cards. They all call them something different, but whether it is “preferred card, buyer’s loyalty card” or any other name, they all spell the same thing: extra discounts on special sales. Some stores offer far better loyalty programs and sales than others, but anything that you would normally buy is better if it has a price cut.
The store cards are free, and easy to get. Just ask the checkout clerk on your next visit, or stop by the courtesy desk to get the application. Fill out the short form, and hand it over for greater savings on your next trip, or in some cases, even what you buy that day.
Look for monthly gift clubs online, too. They can really help you save money on other items and gifts for family so you have more money to spend at the grocery store.
Look for Bargain Prices
If you are lucky enough to live in a large metropolitan area like I do, check out the prices at all of the available stores. Don’t get hooked on one store just because it is a few blocks closer, or you see its ads everywhere. Sometimes it is worth driving an extra block or two to get to a store with lower prices overall.
There are still, even after all these years, some reservation about buying generic foods. Almost everybody chooses generic prescription drugs when they are at the pharmacy. Of course, those prices are so staggering that usually there’s no choice. I wonder at times if we would generally choose the name brand if the price differences didn’t amount to hundreds and thousands of dollars in many cases.
Names are just names. As Shakespeare once wrote, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. When you pay a higher price for a name brand product, you’re paying for all that “branding” advertising, not necessarily a better product. Choose the more cost conscious version, and if your hubby or kids are food elitists, hide the labels and let them think they’re eating the “real thing.” After awhile, they’ll come around to your way of thinking.
Some other ways to save money on things besides groceries are:
- Spend less on holiday gift giving by sending friends and long-distance family members a flower of the month club membership.
- Choose generic on dry goods such as laundry soap, bath soap and cleaning supplies too. Names don’t clean, the soap does and generics are every bit as goods the name brands.
- Cook more meals from scratch. Those pre-packaged foods are less healthy, and cost a lot more too.
- Start a garden. You can really enrich your family’s food supply with healthy, home-grown vegetables.
Melissa Cameron learned to be frugal as a mother of two who also has her extended family living right next door. When providing many large meals for everyone became cost prohibitive, she found better ways to save instead of cutting back on sharing the joys of family meals. As a freelance writer, Melissa takes pride in helping others find ways to live frugally and enjoy life to the fullest.