Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How cut your grocery bill in half!

*Warning long post! Pin now to save this & read later if you don't have time! : )


So one of the biggest expenses most of us will face (besides a house note) is the grocery bill. Now if your already paying a house note, then there really isn't much you can do save money on it. Your kind of stuck with that house note (we're not even going to go into refinancing a home! LOL!). SO with that being said, one thing we do have control over is how much we spend on groceries and household items. The average family can spend well over $600 a month on groceries. That's a lot of money!


As some of you already know I use to run a coupon blog. I love saving money! While you can use coupons to save a ton of money, there are other ways. I currently read the book America's Cheapest Family. Wow! That is one book (besides Dave Ramsey) that I highly recommend! See my money saving tips here. There is just so much information out there on how to get your finances in order that I couldn't possibly list them all here, so please bear with all my links in this post! They are great for finding out more information. ;)

Okay, so back to the groceries. Visit my coupon blog and learn how to use coupons, register rewards, extra care buck, ect to your advantage. Stocking up on items at rock bottom prices is a great way to save. It's not required though, but for those of you who want to try, you will not regret it!

As I learned in the book America's Cheapest Family, another way to save money on groceries is once a month shopping! Sounds crazy right? Only going to the store once a month!? Is that even possible?? YES! It is. The book doesn't go into much detail on this, so I'll try to outline this for you. I'm sure you have heard of "Once a Month" cooking. The preparing food ahead of time and freezing it trend is really taking off! With good reason to, because it saves TONS of time in the kitchen and it also saves TONS of cash as well! This is the same idea, except with shopping! Shopping only once a month! Let that idea set in for a moment...

Okay, so why once a month shopping? Well, the less trips you make to the store, the less money you will spend. Make sense? How many times have you ran out to the store for a gallon of milk or for bread and left with a grocery bill of over $30 bucks? That's low end mind you. I once went in for milk and walked out buying $60 worth of stuff! Probably things that could have waited for later or just plain impulse buys. What a waste! We have a budget, but by the middle of the month the grocery budget was almost gone. There just had to be a better way!

So how does this once a month shopping work? Easy, you stock up on everything you need for a month. Pick a day for shopping. I like Sundays because that's when I like to do my coupon deals. Alot of times I can toilet paper and paper towels MUCH cheaper at Walgreens or CVS with the right coupons. For me and my small family of 3 we paid $300 on our trip. It would have been much less if we didn't have 6 cats and a dog! We spent almost $60 alone in cat food, dog food, and cat litter. YIKES! So please consider this when you look at my numbers for 3. Each house will be different and have different needs.

So how you do you start planning out your once a month shopping? Take a quiet evening to yourself and sit down with your favorite cookbooks, recipes, and pinterest (YES pinterest!). You are going to want to plan out about 30 dinners, lunches, and breakfasts. I usually do a variety of about 6-8 different dinners and double or triple them for the freezer. I suggest that after you do your meal plans to keep copies of them and also copies of the shopping lists so when you want to use that particular plan again you have it all written out already! Talk about saving time! For lunches you can plan things like chili's, soups, deli meats, pot pies, which all freeze well and also salads (lettus is good uncut and whole for 2 weeks in the fridge), grilled cheese, ect. For breakfast you can make and freeze sausage or bacon wraps, sausage or bacon biscuits, pancakes (if you don't feel like making these you can get 2 BIG bags of premade pancakes at walmart for about $3 each, store brand). For snacks plan for things like chips, crackers, fruit, cereal bars (I like Kashi), string cheese, yogurt, smoothies, ect. You'll need to eat your soft fruits in the first 2 weeks (items like strawberries and banana's) and save things like melons and apples for the end of the month. You can always freeze fruit to and use for smoothies later! YUM! I'll give you tips on how to extend your produce later!

So what about milk and bread? Freeze it! Yep, you can freeze that to. I freeze my milk by putting straight into the freezer as is. It will expand some, but it will not bust. The shape will also come back to the gallon container when defrosted. You can always open them up and pour some off if you wish. It's really up to. To defrost my milk I set it in a sink of cold water until it's mostly defrosted. About 30 minutes. We buy 6 gallons at a time. As for the bread you can put that directly into the freezer as is. No special wrapping or anything. Take it out the night before you need it. Just set it on the counter top frozen and go to bed. You'll wake up to nice fresh bread that is not soggy. It's perfect! We get about 4-5 loafs at a time.

There are other things to consider besides food when you do your once a month shopping. I will also list those below. The first month we did this I forgot a few things and you probably will to. It's okay, it's how we learn! :)  Again, each family will have different needs, but this list should get you on the right track:

*Paper towels (about 12 rolls or switch to cloth)
*Toilet paper (about 12 big rolls)
*Ziplock bags for all that food your about to freeze! Look for coupons or buy store brand! They all work the same. Both quart size and gallon size.

*Pet food and pet supplies
*Drink mixes (We use MIO's)
*Personal hygiene items (shampoo, soaps, deodorants, ect)
*Diapers & baby items

Also check your pantry for things that might not be on your recipes cards or things you might run out of soon such as:
*Sugar, flour, coffee creamer (non-dairy powder), coffee, pancake syrup, ect.

So let's talk produce and fruit. This was my first concern about this method. What do you to make it last?

For your veggies such as onions, peppers, ect. I like to chop them all up and freeze them in small ziplock bags for later. I suggest doing something like 1/2 cup per bag. Just note that most of your veggies are going to last you a long time in the fridge anyways. What you should put in the first two weeks of the month are things like salads. You lettuce last you about 2 weeks in the fridge. The longest lasting veggies being potato, celery, carrots, and cucumbers.

Fruits! For your fruits it's all about eating them before they go bad. Eat your soft fruits first. Berries, bananas, grapes, and peaches the first 2 weeks and the last 2 weeks eat things like pineapple, oranges, grapefruit, and apples. This is also a great way to ensure your eating a variety of fruits. If you notice you can't eat something before it goes bad, just chop it up and freeze it. Frozen fruits are great for smoothies (just add milk! add yogurt to if ya got it!) and also great for cooking. I like them dethawed and added to the tops of my pancakes! YUM!

*BANANAS! My son's favorite! To make these last longer wrap the stem in plastic wrap. Easy peasy! :)

So as you can see this is totally do-able. The first few months might take a bit longer to plan out. You will notice that once you have about 3 months plans written up it will just fly right on by! It will all boil down to making copies of your grocery list and getting the shopping done. To find free recipes on what will freeze well just go to pinterest and search "frozen meals" or my favie "crock pot meals". Most crock pot meals freeze well and you don't have any cooking to do! Just toss it in the crock pot and walk away (after it dethawed in fridge over night).

This is a lot of info to take in. It's different, I know. It works to though! We cut our spending by over $300! Notice how I said spending, because really you save on all those impluse buys to! What would you do with an extra $300 a month?
**For those on a super tight budget that cannot do a $300 trip all at once here are some tips to get you started. Go thru my coupon blog for tips on how to save money right now. You can easily stock up on personal hygiene products for free! Then start buying up non-perishable items that you are likely to use. Just stock up as you can. Once your basic stock is there you will only need to shop for perishable items that will need to be frozen right away. Good things to start buying: cream soups used for cooking, cereal bars, cereal (did you know cereal can last up to 2 years!), cake mixes, paper towels, toilet paper, canned chicken stock, canned veggies, mash potato mix, pasta noodles, rice, ect. The list goes on. You know what you use so stock up on those things now. It will make your first once a month shopping trip a little less costly. Then put your grocery savings away and then the next month you can go at it head on with money in hand that you saved! After that it's all downhill and the savings will add up fast!!!

See what other bloggers think!

Blissful & Domestic
She has some really great photo's and tips on preserving produce! :)


Sarah Beth said...

Found your blog via the hop! Thanks for the tips =) I'm now following and can't wait to see what else you have! Check out my blog if you get a chance.

Sarah @ Our Family of Three

Jessica @ Barefoot by the Sea said...

Found you via the blog hop! Thanks for the great ideas - always looking to save some cash! Would love for you to come over to my blog and visit! I'm your newest follower!

Jessica@Barefootbythe Sea

The Nickles four said...

We have been trying to do the once a month shopping for a while now but it never fails around the end of the month we always need to go for a "few" items and I end up spending 50-100! When I only spend 200 for the other 3 weeks it gets annoying! Plus I always have to go once a week for milk. I buy two gallons a week, one for my son and one for me and the hubby! He is super skinny so he has to drink whole milk twice a day at least.
Maybe with some of these tips I will be able to go less!
Following you from Follow me Wednesday.

Jenny said...

It takes practice. I forgot things the first two months and made those expensive "extra" trips. Freezing the milk really helped out alot. My 2 year old drinks 2 6 ounces a day and I LOVE my milk to. I have to get 6 gallons. We found a great deal on a deep freezer at Home Depot and it's helped out so much. Hang in there it gets easier, espcially when you have that $300 cash in hand extra each month! LOVE IT!

Melissa Lawrence said...

Great tips Jenny. I have been tempted to do this, and I just might give it a go now I have your tips.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I've ever thought about grocery shopping in that way. It's almost like declaring war on the food bill, it takes determination and discipline. The way prices keep rising, everyone's going to end up having to try it. Following you back.

Jenny said...

I like that! "War on the food bill!" it's so true. If you have the actual cash in hand at the end of the month (not just numbers on paper or computer screen) that you saved, you'll be doing back flips I promise! LOL! I do the envelope system (Dave Ramsey) so seeing the actaul pile of money each month gets me excited!

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