No Spend Challenge: Brainstorm Meal Ideas

A No Spend Challenge: 28 Days of Being Simply Frugal.

Ready, set, go!  The No Spend Challenge is officially underway!  So far, we’re off to a great start! 😉

Truthfully, I’m winging this challenge. 🙂 In the morning of December 29, I had fully intended on doing a month of organizing here on Simply Frugal for January. But come the afternoon of December 29, I realized that that would be silly of me to do personally because I should be packing up to move instead of organizing things! So, the No Spend Challenge just made more sense since we could really do with a lot less spending.

It appears as though many of you agree because so many of you have joined me over at the Simply Frugal Community on Facebook! Yay!

Before we get started with today’s post, I thought it would be important to think about why you are taking the No Spend Challenge and what you hope to achieve. It’s important to always keep your reason(s) in mind as the challenge goes along because this month isn’t just about saving money, it’s about changing your mentality as it relates to shopping, your needs, and what a good life is all about.

Throughout the next 28 days I’ll be touching on some of the most common ways we like to spend money and suggesting some solutions or ideas to help us all start to think differently about how we spend money on those things. There won’t be daily posts, but I will provide the occasional task to complete. Not only to help get your mind off the fact that you’re not spending money, but also to help you get into the habit of using what you have, rather than buying more. Another perk to the No Spend Challenge is to realize and appreciate all that we do have. 🙂

Today, we’re going to spend some time thinking about our menu for the month. (Or start with a week and go from there.) Food can be a huge area of the budget. Especially if we’re used to eating out regularly. Let’s see if we can learn to use what we have and cook more often at home by planning some meals.

First of all, start by making a list of all your favourite recipes and your family’s favourite meals.  Feel free to ask them for input!  Don’t worry about the ingredients, it’s important to just write as many ideas as possible. Here’s a free meal ideas printable to help you out:

No spend meal ideas

Next, take a quick inventory of what you have on hand already by taking a look in your pantry and fridge/freezer. Here are some handy freezer and pantry inventory checklists for you to print:

 Get the Pantry Inventory worksheet here.

Get the Freezer Inventory worksheet here.

Now, take a look at your pantry and freezer inventory lists and think of one meal that corresponds with each ingredient.  For example, if tomato sauce is on your list, you could write spaghetti, sloppy joes or lasagna.

Finally, find more ideas by getting inspired by taking a look though cookbooks, magazines or browsing the web!  Pinterest is a great way to find recipes as well.

Try to have at least 28 meals on your list. One for each day of the challenge. More if you need to plan breakfasts and lunches. (I tend to rotate through the same few meals for these, but I think it’s still important to write down.)

I’ll be back tomorrow with my list of No Spend Month Meals.

I’d love it if you left a comment listing at least one meal idea from the list you just made!  Be sure to join the Simply Frugal Community on Facebook for the discussion we will be having about this.

How to Make a Meal With What’s Left in Your Pantry

We all find ourselves in a pinch from time to time. Things get tough and we don’t have enough money to go around. When this happens you may find yourself looking at the pantry wondering how you will make a meal out of what is left so you can get through to pay day. You will be proud of yourself when you serve that meal knowing you did it with what you had in the pantry.

How to Make a Meal With What's Left in Your Pantry. Grocery saving tips.

Here’s how to make a meal with what’s left in the pantry:

Strive for balance.

When it comes to tossing a meal together out of the blue, you want to look for ingredients to make a balanced and filling meal. This means you want to search for a protein, some fruit/veggies and a carbohydrate to create your meal. Canned meats or beans will give you a protein, while rice, pasta, and potatoes for your carbohydrate, are found in nearly any pantry.

Mix it together to have enough to fill you up.

If you find you do not have enough of something for a meal, you could try mixing two things together to make enough to feed your family. For example, you could mix rice and potatoes together in a casserole or add beans to ground beef to make tacos stretch further.

Give your meal a flavor boost.

When it comes to making a meal from very little, the best trick you can use is your spice cabinet. Adding flavor to your mystery dish can make the plainest foods feel like a gourmet meal. Some cooked pasta with butter, spices, and whatever protein and veggie you have in your fridge or pantry can become a new family favorite. When in doubt use garlic, basil, and oregano for a foolproof flavor combination.

Add a Carbohydrate.

Any bread in the house will do. It adds a filling element to your meal making it go further. If all else fails mix 2 cups flour, a pinch of salt, your favorite herbs (basil and oregano for the win again), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and enough milk or water to create a pancake-like batter. Fry up like a pancake and serve with butter for a filling side to any meal.

Put ramen noodles to good use.

Any college kid will tell you that ramen noodles can be made into a pretty tasty meal. Add some chopped veggies, a scrambled egg or leftover meat out of the fridge. While high in calories and salt the occasional pack won’t hurt you. Or you could omit the packet all together and add some teriyaki sauce.

Cheese goes with nearly anything.

If you’re truly low on food but, are lucky enough to have some cheese in the fridge you can turn nearly anything into a cheesy filling casserole.

Need a little bit more help getting started with a meal idea? MyFridgeFood is made just for people like you. Select the random things running around your pantry and fridge, hit select and get instant inspiration.

I’d love to know some of your ideas for pulling together a meal with the bare minimum. Let me know in the comments!

Related: Basic Pantry Staples List and a Free Printable Checklist.

7 Items to Keep on Hand for Great Slow Cooker Meals

Do you love using your slow cooker? It’s the perfect appliance for getting a hot meal on the table with little effort and little expense. But do you know which items to keep on hand if you own a slow cooker? There are in fact a few ingredients that can help you get a meal on the table quickly, even if you haven’t planned ahead. Take a look at 7 items to keep on hand for great slow cooker meals, so you can put a meal together even at the last minute.

7-items-to-keep-on-hand-for-great-slow-cooker-meals

1. Canned cream soups.

You can dress up so many cuts of meat with a can or two of creamed soup. Cream of mushroom, celery, and chicken soups all dress up chicken and pork nicely. You can pour a can over your cut along with some water, seasonings, and vegetables if you have them and have a tasty dish in no time.

2. Barbecue sauce.

Make quick slow cooker ribs or slow cooker chicken when you add in the cut of meat along with some barbecue sauce. You can also add chopped onions if you wish to add some extra flavor, but even the sauce alone will dress up the meat nicely.

3. Ranch mix.

Dried ranch mix can spice up your chicken and even a beef roast nicely. Just sprinkle the mix in and add some butter and you will have flavorful chicken or roast that your family will love. If you have fresh veggies you can add them, but the ranch mix does well on its own.

4. Onion soup mix.

No fresh onions on hand? No problem! Dried onion soup mix can really dress up a cut of meat. Just add it along with some water and it will flavor the meat nicely. Of course you can add fresh veggies if you have them, but if not the onion soup mix is quite flavorful alone.

5. Rice and noodles.

You can bulk up any meal with some rice or noodles. Add rice or noodles along with the cream soup of your choice for a fast meal. You can also use them to make quick casseroles, soups, or stews. Rice and noodles are both cheap when bought in bulk, so stock up.

6. Certain cuts of meat.

Try to keep certain cuts of meat in your freezer so when you need to toss a quick meal in you can. Simple ribs, chicken breasts, or even an inexpensive roast all do well in a slow cooker. If you see these items on sale, stock up for future meals. They are so easy to dress up and prepare in a slow cooker.

7. Dried seasonings.

Stock up on dried seasonings. This doesn’t mean just salt and pepper, but seasoning salt, garlic salt, chili seasoning, taco seasoning, beef stew seasoning, and ranch and onion soup mix as mentioned above. All of these seasonings can be added to your slow cooker along with some water for a fantastic meal.

Make sure you are slow cooker ready when you keep these 7 slow cooker must haves on hand. They are sure to come in handy when you are preparing your next slow cooker meal in a pinch!

$20 Until Pay Day: How to Get the Most Groceries for Your Dollar

We’ve all been there: pay day is still a week away and you only have $20 to your name. This might feel like a reason to panic, but the truth is, you have options. There are certain tips and tricks you can implement so you can make that $20 go its very farthest and get the most grocery bang for your buck. Take a look at these tip on how to get the most groceries for your dollar. So you can be sure to stretch your food budget the best you can until pay day arrives.

How to get the most groceries for your dollar, Grocery saving tips

Purchase rice in bulk.

A 2 pound bag of rice will cost you about $2, especially if you buy generic. Rice is perfect for stuffing in tortillas, adding to casseroles, or serving as a side dish. You can even add some milk and sugar to it for rice pudding, and inexpensive dessert idea. ($2)

Purchase beans in bulk.

Consider a 2 pound bag of beans, perfect for using as a side dish, in soups or stews, or add them to wraps. They are full of protein, taste great, and cost pennies per serving. Just soak them to soften them and then cook to your liking. ($2)

Canned vegetables may cost less than fresh.

It can be hard to find fresh produce at a great price. If you can grab cucumbers or peppers for under $1 each grab them. If not, you may be better off buying canned. Head to a store such as Walmart or FreshCo where you can grab canned tomatoes, green beans, corn and peas for less than .80 cents a can. ($3)

Apples and bananas are your cheapest fruit option.

If you thought fresh vegetables were expensive, fresh fruit can be even worse! When you’re on a budget, fresh bananas and apples are your best options. Simple red lunch box apples run about .25 cents each, while bananas are around .70 cents per pound. This is a great way to get the fruit your body needs while staying on budget. ($3)

Powdered drink mixes are pennies per serving.

Beverages can be pricey, so instead, opt for water dressed up with a drink packet if you’re wanting something other than plain water. You can find powered drink mixes for pennies per serving. For calcium, milk may be pricey so opt for a few yogurt cups at .50 cents or so each. ($2)

Chicken will be your most budget friendly choice of meat.

You can often find chicken wings, drumsticks or thighs for a low price so this is your most budget friendly option. Dress them up with salad dressing or simple olive oil and salt and pepper. Some other cheap “meat” 😉 options include deli meat and of course, hot dogs. ($5)

Opt for day old bread choices.

Visit the day old bread store or raid the clearance bin at your local grocer for bread items under $1. Bread is perfect for sandwiches, making garlic bread, making croutons, etc. Plus if you find a great deal on it, you can freeze it. ($3)

Don’t let pay day being days away keep you from eating well. Keep these tips in mind for how to make the most of your grocery budget between pay days and see how much they can help!

How do you make your grocery budget stretch in between pay days?

How to Save Money on Whole Foods

I’ve had quite a few people mention that they struggle with knowing how too afford healthful, whole foods. I’m here to give you some useful tips today that should have you knowing how to save money on whole foods in no time!

How to Save Money on Whole Foods

grocery saving tips, how to save money on whole foods, money saving tips

When you’re looking to feed your family a healthy diet, the cost of fresh, whole foods can be a bit scary and perhaps a big turn off. Despite what some people tell you, real food is NOT cheaper than junk food. That puts a huge strain on families trying to survive on a budget.

Here are some tips you can put to use right away to help you save money on whole foods:

Visit the Farmer’s Market.

Take a visit to your local farmer’s market for amazing produce deals. Visiting closer to closing time will get you extra discounts as vendors work to clear out stock so they don’t have to pack it up. The local Farmers Market will be packed with locally grown, in season produce.

Start a garden.

Even if you live in the city you can grow some vegetables in pots! If you’re lucky you can grow an entire garden to cut the costs of feeding your family whole foods.

Here are some ideas to get you started gardening in small spaces.

Eat In Season.

Eat foods that are in season to save money all the while eating whole foods on a budget. Foods that are in season tend to be a great deal cheaper. Preserve foods as they are in season so you can enjoy them all year round.

Here’s a handy printable PDF to help you buy in-season produce.

Look for a CSA

Look for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or co-op in your local area for great deals on produce, eggs, and even pasture fed meats. A quick google search or asking around with friends should reveal a few options. Most require you to sign up in the winter for the following season.

U-Pick

Do a google search for u-pick farms near you. By picking produce yourself you get a workout, quality family time, and a steep discount on amazing produce to feed your family. Bring the whole family and pick enough to store away for the rest of the year.

Shop in bulk.

Shop the bulk bins at the grocery store for things like grains, nuts, and seeds at a discount compared to buying prepackaged goods. These bins often have sales as well so you can stock up a bit more if the budget allows. In this case, air-tight containers are your friend for storage.

Manager Specials.

Keep an eye out for manager specials on produce, meats, and dairy. These usually need to be frozen or used right away but with the price, but it’s worth the work. When putting your groceries away place all of your clearance finds in one spot and deal with them that night so you won’t forget about them.

Learn the art of food preservation.

You can take advantage of deals on whole foods by learning how to store them long term. You have several options and doing a combination of them will yield the best results. Great options include freezing, canning, and dehydrating fresh foods for later use.

By implementing these tips, you should start seeing significant savings when you’re eating whole foods. I’d love to know your tips for saving money on healthful real foods in the comments below!

Want to learn how to take advantage of whole foods in your diet? The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is packed with great resources to help you keep your family healthy, save money, and live better. This year’s bundle includes 5 free physical products that ship to Canada! Grab your copy now before it’s gone.

Reader Question: Frugal Meals for One?

im wondering

Here’s a question that a reader of Simply Frugal would love some help with:

I am a single person, trying to live frugally.  I have it down in every other area of my life, but when it comes to meal planning and buying food, I seem to waste a lot.  How do you eat healthy and frugally when you are single?

Can you help her out with some awesome suggestions?

Buy This, Not That at the Grocery Store

Buy this, not that! Here are 8 grocery items you can buy to replace their costly, less healthful counterparts.

So, you’re looking to save some more money at the grocery store without compromising your health. Sometimes it can be as simple as replacing one item with another similar item! Today, I’d love to tell you about 8 items you can buy to replace their costly, less healthful counterparts.

Oatmeal instead of cereal

Do away with the expensive boxes of cereal full of sugar and buy oatmeal! You could purchase those convenient packs of pre-made oatmeal, but I’d encourage you to buy a bag of oats instead. I find it so easy to create my own instant oatmeal packs, plus I can control the sugar content by adding various delicious toppings. Oatmeal will also help keep you feeling full so you may need less snacks 😉

Frozen fruit instead of fresh

Purchasing fresh fruit in season is an inexpensive way to get them, but frozen vegetables are a good option too. Especially because  they’re picked at the peak of their flavour and aren’t any less healthful than fresh. So if you find yourself in the dead of winter wanting fruit, try grabbing a bag of frozen fruit to save yourself some cash and disappointment with the lack of flavour.

Yogurt tub instead of cups

Sure, yogurt cups are really convenient for packing in lunches, but you could spend a little extra time once a week filling up reusable containers with yogurt from a tub instead. Buying yogurt in larger quantities (tubs or those pour bags) will save you big time.

Make dressing instead of bottled

Making salad dressings from scratch has got to be one of the most simple kitchen tasks you could do. Believe me because I don’t do complicated in the kitchen. If you’re used to buying those expensive bottles of organic/natural salad dressings, you’ll be saving yourself a bundle at the grocery store by making your own with simple inexpensive ingredients you may already have on hand! Here are some of my recipes:

Head of lettuce instead of bagged salad

Not only is a head of lettuce much cheaper than the bags or containers of salad, they last longer too! I understand the convenience of buying a bag or container, but really it doesn’t take much effort to tear up some lettuce leaves for a salad. Especially when you have to sort through the slimy pieces in the bags or containers anyways.

Rotisserie chicken instead of deli meats

Go for the whole rotisserie chicken instead of the deli meats for sandwiches. Your boring ol’ sandwiches will taste so much better! Plus, you’ll be feeding yourself something a bit healthier. But don’t stop at sandwiches, hang onto the bones and extra meat to make a delicious chicken noodle soup for another meal or two.

Dried beans instead of canned beans

I’ll be honest and say that we don’t eat a lot of beans in our house so I do tend to purchase the cans of beans. But, if you use beans a lot in your cooking, purchasing dried beans is the way to go if you want to save yourself a bundle! Cooking up a batch of dried beans is simple if you put your slow cooker to use or the new Instant Pot.

Brown Rice instead of white rice

There may not be much of a price difference between white rice and brown rice, but if you look at the nutritional value, you’ll win with buying the brown rice. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are some of the benefits, but one of the biggest pluses may be that the high amount of fiber in brown rice helps fill you up longer than white rice would. In turn, cutting down on the amount of snacks you may need between meals. Or even the amount you pile on your plate in the first place.

A you can see, there may be no need to stop buying some items completely to save money, but a simple replacement should help you out. How many of these replacements do you buy already? What are some other things that you buy to save money? 

How to Make Groceries Last Longer

Does it ever feel like your groceries just don’t last? There are probably even times when you look in the pantry only to find it bare, even though you just went shopping. Groceries just don’t seem to last long enough, but there are ways to make them last much longer!

How to Make Groceries Last Longer

Groceries just don't seem to last long enough, but there are ways to make them last much longer! Read this for some great tips.

 

Only Buy What You Need

Buying only what you need will ensure you are not wasting food. Knowing what you need and what your family will use will help to ensure you only have fresh groceries in the house that everyone will enjoy. Buying food items that your family doesn’t use will only waste money and leave you with wasted food.

Freeze What You Don’t Use

We don’t always need all the food we buy and that can mean wasting food. Make sure to freeze any food you are not going to use before the expiration date. Freezing food that you are not going to use by the expiration date will keep the food from going bad and will help you keep a stocked freezer.

Freeze Herbs

Herbs typically come in large bunches and we don’t always need all the herbs at once. People tend to throw away herbs because they only use a few and the rest of the bunch goes bad. Next time you bring herbs home from the store chop them up, put them in ice-cube trays, pour in some olive oil and then freeze. Your herbs will stay fresh and you will end up with infused olive oil next time you go to cook.

Store Produce Properly

Produce is one of the number one wasted food items. Produce can last longer than you might think but you need to store it properly. Do not cut up produce until you are ready to use it! Keep in mind that each fruit and vegetable has a different way it needs to be stored. Knowing how to store your produce properly will keep it from going bad to quick. There is a complete guide on storage techniques here.

Stock Up

When you come across a good deal make sure to stock up! Having a fully stocked pantry at rock bottom prices is always a great way to ensure you have plenty of food. Watch the store flyers closely to look for sale prices on your family’s favorite items. Remember to store all food properly!

Create Snack Baskets

Sometime it doesn’t matter how well you store your food, it still goes quickly! This isn’t due to waste or improper storage but more so to hungry little kids. Children love looking through the pantry to find all of the yummy snacks! Before you know it that box of cookies you just bought yesterday is already gone.

Start creating snack baskets for each child in your family. Everyday put items in the snack basket that the child can have. If he or she eats all the snacks at one sitting that is it for the day, they will have to wait till breakfast, lunch or dinner to eat again. Creating snack baskets allows you to set out what the kids can and can’t eat that day and help your groceries last a little bit longer.

How do you make your groceries last longer? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Ways to Ruin Your Grocery Budget

If staying on budget or lowering your grocery budget is your goal, you'll want to read on to learn how to fix your bad habits. Are you committing any of these grocery shopping faux pas?

Learning how to reduce your grocery bill is one of the fastest ways to start fixing the entire family budget. Since groceries are not a fixed expense like your mortgage or rent, it’s possible to tweak your shopping habits in order to reduce the amount you’re spending on groceries each week/month.

If staying on budget or lowering your grocery budget is your goal, you’ll want to read on to learn how to fix your bad habits. Are you committing any of these grocery shopping faux pas?

Here are 10 Ways to Ruin Your Grocery Budget:

1. Go to the store several times each week.

I’m guilty of this one more times than I’d like to admit! Going to the grocery store more than once a week can be a real grocery budget killer. After all, going to the store for “just a few things” almost always means you’ll be picking up more than “just a few things” because admittedly, grocery stores have enticing sales and products. So by sticking to shopping once a week you can avoid many impulse purchases, especially if you’re prepared with a list and meal plan.

2. Go to the store around meal times or when you’re hungry.

One of the golden rules of grocery shopping on a budget is to never shop when you’re hungry. Trying to stick to a grocery list when you’re hungry is nearly impossible. Soon you’ll find bags of chips or expensive granola bars hopping into your cart because they’re easy to eat as soon as you get to the car. The best course of action is to shop right after you’ve eaten a good size meal.

3. Don’t plan a menu

I’m a firm believer that planning a menu each week is a big key to sticking to your budget. When you have a plan laid out, you will know exactly what you need to buy at the grocery store in order to execute the meals you have chosen. That way, if something jumps into your cart that isn’t needed, it’s easier to put it back in order to stay within budget because you know that your eating needs are met with your meal plan.

Need an easy way to menu plan? See how I put our menu planning on autopilot.

4. Never use a list

Going hand in hand with planning a menu, creating a grocery list is crucial to staying within your budget. I keep a running grocery list on our fridge so I can write down pantry items that I need to replace as soon as the item runs out. As I’m planning our menu for the week, I grab the list from the fridge and jot down everything I need to buy to complete each meal. Sometimes my list is small because I have many items already on hand in the cupboards thanks to some sales in previous weeks on staples.

You can see my Basic Pantry Staples list here.

5. Don’t bother looking at the store flyers for sales.

Reviewing the grocery store flyers and noting what is on sale will save you tons of money. Especially when you buy the sale items and then plan your menu around them. Over time as you regularly buy items that are on sale and stock up on them as much as you can, you’ll always be eating “cheap” food, and your grocery budget will be very happy.

6. Take the kids with you.

Kids can be pretty good negotiators (at least mine can!), especially if you want to be as fast as you possibly can in the grocery store. Sometimes it’s really tempting to buy them something (anything!) just so they’ll be quiet. Even if it’s something little, it all adds up and may not be a good healthful choice.

7. Don’t take inventory of what you already have on hand.

Buying unneeded items can be wasteful. Especially if they’re fresh items that can spoil. Take a few minutes to review what you already have in your pantry and fridge and you can save hundreds of dollars each year.

8. Don’t pay attention as the cashier is processing your purchase.

Put down the trashy magazine and pay attention to what is being rung through. I was recently charged for two watermelons when I had only bought one. Thankfully, I noticed and it was fixed right away. But imagine if each week there was an error on your bill, that could add up to hundreds of dollars that were literally spent on nothing. So do yourself a favour and pay attention as the cashier is processing your purchase. Also, if you bought items on sale, watch closely, you may get several items for free if they scanned wrong since many stores have a scanning code of practice.

9. Throw the food into the fridge without any rhyme or reason.

By taking the time to carefully put your perishables away and dividing items you bought in bulk into smaller portions will save you money in the long run. Washing and storing produce properly will make it last longer in your refrigerator. Make sure you have designated spots for each item so you can easily find your purchases, or your grocery budget will be wasted on moldy, forgotten items.

10. Throw away leftovers.

Not a fan of eating leftovers? Well, that will have to stop if you want to lower your budget! If you’re throwing away leftovers, you’re almost literally throwing your money in the garbage too. There are plenty of recipes online that can help you reinvent leftovers into something tasty. Maybe it’s not that you don’t like leftovers, maybe you simply forgot they were there. One solution is to put leftovers in clear containers with a dated label so you can visually see what’s there.

Check out these 7 Ways to Make the Most of Leftovers.

Are you guilty of any of these grocery budget wreckers? I know that I am. It’s constantly a work in progress for me! But knowing where you’re making mistakes is half the battle to getting your budget on track. Knowing the ways in which we’re ruining our grocery budget allows  us to focus on one area to fix at a time. Baby steps 🙂

If staying on budget or lowering your grocery budget is your goal, you'll want to read on to learn how to fix your bad habits. Are you committing any of these grocery shopping faux pas?

7 Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Budget

Grocery shopping on a budget doesn’t have to mean you only eat rice and beans each day. You can have a wonderful well rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, meats and great sides when you plan accordingly. While I always recommend you menu plan to help stay on top of your pantry and freezer supplies as well as your shopping list, these tips are really where the savings come into play.

7 Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Budget

Make a list before you shop. Going into a grocery store without a list is setting yourself up for failure in the biggest way. A list is vital to making sure you are grocery shopping within your budget. Divide your list by aisles and categories. If you know approximate or sale prices on items, list those to the side so you can easily track your expenses while you shop and verify prices are as stated in sale advertisements.

Keep a calculator on hand while you shop. As mentioned before, sale prices are important when grocery shopping on a budget. Make note of what is suppose to be on sale and watch not only for that price to be reflected on store shelves, but also at the checkout counter. For all other items on your list, use the calculator you have on hand to make sure you aren’t going over budget. Make notes as you add things to your cart and add up your purchases as you go so you know when you may need to choose a different size or brand because you are nearing your budget limits.

Utilize coupons as much as possible. Using coupons is a pretty obvious suggestion coming from Simply Frugal. But while using coupons is a great way to save money, it can also cause you to spend more when you are buying things you don’t need or won’t use. Use coupons only on items you would normally buy, and always verify pricing on generic equivalents to make sure you are getting the ultimate best deal possible.

Shop sales and loss leaders when applicable. Sales are a great way to save money on big purchases like meats and of course produce. There are things called loss leaders often in sales. These items are usually far below regular price and are designed to entice you to make a purchase in a store. They believe if they entice you with a low price on one item you are more likely to purchase additional items. These can often be great prices to stock up your pantry for things like pasta, sauces, soups and other pantry staples. Also consider stocking up on seasonal sale prices of meat and produce to freeze or can for off seasons.

Stick to the outside rim of the store. It is commonly known that the outer rim of the grocery store is usually the healthiest and cheapest. These areas will include fresh produce, fruits, dairy, meats and similar items. Interior aisles will have pantry staples, but also unnecessary expenses like candies, cookies and chips.

Sign up for rewards clubs and programs. Many grocery stores offer reward programs and club promotions. These can give you high value coupons specifically for their store, great VIP day discounts and insight on upcoming sales. They are a great way to be in the know and get rewarded for shopping at a favorite store.

Buy in bulk when possible. Bulk purchases are often a great way to manage grocery shopping on a budget. Just make sure to check the unit prices to make sure they really are cheaper to buy in large quantities versus individual packages.

These tips for grocery shopping on a budget are great reminders for how to make the most of your money in the grocery store.