When looking at your spending plan(budget is a word I try to avoid) you may notice that grocery spending probably is second only to your mortgage in the amount you spend. Most families of 4 find they spend $800-$1000 per month on groceries. For sake of this example, groceries are everything you buy at the grocery store. Food and toiletries as well as cleaners, etc. As a rule, people think this is not an area that could be trimmed. I want to tell you you can! You can shave this drastically and free up money for other areas, as well as eat better! Prepackaged, premade meals contain preservatives that would be missing if you can make it at home.
My idea of grocery shopping is a little different than the norm. I go to purchase the things on sale. Yes, I have to get milk weekly, but all other things can be negotiable. The veggies and fruits we buy are the ones on sale, or in season. For example, this Thursday, Friday, Sat, IGA marketplace has bananas for .39/lb!!! That is an olden days price! We will get lots and make banana bread, muffins and smoothies. The ones we won't use in time can be peeled(thanks Sylvia!)and popped into a Ziploc and frozen, to later be used in smoothies! Right now at Cooper's they have a coupon for buy one get one free cod. One family size serving is $10, so with the coupon, $5. It's frozen, there's a limit of 4 free, or 8 total, so we will stock up and make fish and chips(see America's test kitchen DVD season 7 available at www.orl.bc.ca ). Lean ground beef is also on sale at Cooper's. So, I bought 3 chubs and will break some down and freeze it raw. I will make homemade hamburgers and freeze them, as well as meatballs. Finally, I will precook some and freeze it so it's all ready to go. It doesn't take that long, but it saves me time in the long run! My price book(see an early post)helps me know when prices have reached their lowest and lets me know how much I need to stock up before it goes on sale again! Our family of 4 spends $450/month. Want to start saving right away? Start by menu planning one week from what you have on hand. Make it a game...what do you have already? What if you couldn't get out to the store? What could you make? Use the Internet, get ideas from cookbooks and magazines(hopefully your library is fully stocked!) One friend told me she saves best by keeping her grocery trips to a minimum..what if you only went once a week? What about a grocery envelope where you keep cash for the month? Every time you go to the store you take your money out of the envelope and put the receipt inside. On the front of the envelope you can keep a running tally, or just peak in the envelope to see where you are at! Don't want to use cash? Do the same thing with the receipts after you pay with your debit card! Start with something. Don't try and reinvent the wheel in 2 seconds, just change one thing..then next month another..watch your progress..and celebrate! Even keeping track of what you spend is an amazing step in the right direction!