The question I get most often is “how do you save on meat, milk, fresh fruit and vegetables?” I was asked again this morning so I thought it was a perfect time to put together a post with some of my favorite strategies for saving on the grocery budget.
You can easily save 30-40% on your grocery budget right off the bat simply by paying attention to the weekly grocery store ad, shopping the sales and stocking up on the things you use most often when they’re at they’re lowest price. Taking the time to match coupons with the store sales can get you another 30-40% off your grocery bill, so you can knock 60-80% off with a few simple techniques.
Of course the items that are most expensive or that we use most often – meat, eggs, milk, and fresh produce – are the hardest to get for a discount, however there are strategies you can use to get the best deals!
I keep a (mental) list of stockup prices for meat and then watch for specials and markdowns that meet my criteria. A couple weeks ago I stocked up on chicken leg quarters for $0.69/lb (Publix) and whole chickens for $0.88/lb (Sam’s Club) and my stock up price for lean hamburger is less than $3/lb, but an easy rule of thumb is to look for deals on meat at about 75% of their regular price and then stock up. We typically buy the majority of our meat (with the exception of lunchmeat) at one time during the month when we’re planning a freezer cooking day, so the menu is usually based on Winn Dixie’s BOGO meat sales for the week or the best deals on family size packages at Sam’s Club.
I recently did a post that listed five tips for saving on milk that you can check out for more strategies, but my favorite thing to do is simply keep an eye out for the best deal, buy extra and freeze it. For example, a couple weeks ago CVS had a special on milk for $3.19/gallon with a limit of 2 so I bought 2, hubby bought 2 and we put half in the freezer. Gas is too expensive to make any special trips (or extra trips) so I just check around at the 3 or 4 places I usually shop. If there aren’t any sales to be found I can pop into Sam’s club for cheap milk if I’m in the area.
Although they are rare, you can find coupons for fresh fruit and vegetables. This morning I found a $1 off fresh fruit coupon on a box of cereal and the cereal was on my list anyway so I was thrilled to also get the cheap bananas. Some large distributors like Driscoll’s have email newsletters and will send out coupons, but for the most part the produce coupons are sponsored by other companies like with the cereal deal. Last week I used Publix coupons to get free tangerines and cheap green beans when I bought Oscar Mayer meats.
We’ve tried having a large garden and growing lots of the things we like to eat, but it has been too time consuming and expensive for what it turned out to be worth for us so this year we plan to continue purchasing most of our fresh fruit and vegetables at local farmer’s markets and when they’re in season and on sale in the grocery store. We also plan to do some container gardening of tomatoes and strawberries this year and enlist the kids’ help in watering and caring for them.
In addition to the 60-80% we’ve knocked off our grocery budget through shopping the sales, matching coupons and stockpiling the basics we have also managed to take another 10-15% off through the use of menu planning and freezer cooking. By “shopping” our own stockpile and basing the weekly menu on what we have on hand and what is on sale we have greatly reduced our waste because we know what we have and we use it. Freezer cooking has also helped in those areas, and has the added benefit of taking a lot of the stress out of the daily dinner grind so we no longer dread the “what’s for dinner” question!