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.

10 Tips For How To Save Money On Food

There are some expenses that just aren’t going to go away, and food is one of them. This list of ideas will help make your grocery budget go further.

10 Tips For How To Save Money On Food

Produce your own food. This can be growing a vegetable garden or even raising chickens in your back yard for eggs. Producing your own food sources is a great answer to how to save money on food. This usually takes a small up front investment and some time to make work, but is well worth it in the long run for a better grocery budget.

Shop with coupons and sales. This obvious answer has to be on the list because one of the best tips for how to save money on food is to clip coupons and shop sales at your market or grocery store.

Stockpile seasonal items. When you find a fruit or vegetable you love and know is only available during a specific time period, stocking up and freezing or canning for future use is a great way to save money in your food budget.

Menu plan consistently. Nothing kills your grocery budget like take out or last minute ingredients for a fast meal. Take the time to menu plan consistently utilizing what you already have on hand and sales at the time to build a low-cost menu everyone will enjoy.

Make more vegetarian meals. For most meals, the meat is the highest priced item by far. Make more vegetarian meals and skip the meat in your menu plan at least 2-3 days each week.

Use low-cost staple items as a base. Don’t forget about things like dry beans, brown rice, potatoes and pasta as the base for many hearty and healthy meals that are full of nutrient-dense vegetables, healthy fats,and the occasional lean meat.

Make your own and avoid processed foods. Instead of buying cake mixes, ready-made bread or even cookies make your own. Avoid all of the nutritional bombs in processed foods and save money by making your own.

Barter with friends and neighbors. If you don’t have time for a garden but have a friend or neighbor that does, it’s time to barter. Offer cleaning, babysitting, mending or other services in exchange for fresh produce from their garden.

Plan for leftovers. Make your menu in a way that each meal always has enough leftovers for two meals or at least, a smaller lunch portion the next day for every family member.

Avoid food waste. If you have just a bit of vegetable or roast left that isn’t enough for a meal, toss it into a freezer bag and save for future stews or soups. Use the chicken bones from a roasted chicken to simmer and create your own chicken stock. Toss vegetable peels and bits of vegetables into a stockpot and simmer for a practically free vegetable stock.

These tips for how to save money on food are easy, practical things anyone can do on a regular basis to keep their food budget low.

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

When it comes to menu planning, these budgeting tips are going to transform how you view your grocery budget. There are so many simple tricks to help you create amazing meals for your family on a budget, and this post has some of the best. With a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can provide your family with delicious meals without breaking the bank.

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

Ask your butcher for budget cuts of meat. Not only can you watch for the sales on meat at your market or grocery store, but you can talk directly to the butcher. Sometimes they will have meat that isn’t bad, but can be sold at a fraction of the regular price for some reason. End pieces of whole rib eyes can be found at low prices because they aren’t enough to be a “steak”. Ask for these bits and then cube for stews or braised beef dishes. Sometimes meat isn’t out of date, but close to it and the butcher has to mark it down. Grab those mark downs and cook in advance simply then freeze to add into other menu items later.

Use your slow cooker. Slow cooker recipes are one of the best ways to stick to your menu plan as well as stay in budget. One of the best budgeting tips is to utilize those budget cuts of meat and tenderize them for amazing meals in your slow cooker. A beef roast or whole chicken can feed your family several meals for half the price, but may not be as convenient or easy to cook fast. Put into a slow cooker and let it do the work for you.

Utilize your own garden if possible. If you have time and space to have your on garden, this is a huge savings for your menu plan each week. Learn to can or freezer excess produce for future use, and utilize this year round in your weekly menu plans.

Build around low cost staple items. For most this means picking up things like dry beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes that are low cost but can stretch a meal further. While many would find this unhealthy, if you combine this with nutrient-dense vegetables and limit your high-fat proteins you truly can eat healthy. Focus on whole grains when possible and limit the regular potatoes, corn and white rice.

Buy what is on sale and match with couponed pantry items. For sales at your market or grocery, take the time to check your coupons and shop using coupons on sale items to get twice as much value toward your menu plan.

Create your menu with what you have on hand first. One of the best budgeting tips for menu planning is to start not with what you want to buy, but what you already have on hand. Look at your pantry, freezer and refrigerator for great starts to a meal. Utilize your on-hand items and limit your week to week expenses as much as possible focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Utilize one item multiple ways. One of my favorite ways to save money is to cook dry beans in my slow cooker. Dry beans can be seasoned and eaten by themselves, added to soups or chili, refried to make dips or put into burritos. This simple item can be used multiple ways for very cheap.

Take advantage of our favorite budgeting tips for menu planning that will stretch your budget even further.

5 Cheap Groceries That Everyone Will Eat

Everyone wants to include cheap groceries in their menu plan to help stretch their dollars a bit further. This list of cheap groceries include items everyone will eat that can be purchased inexpensively and used in multiple meals. The idea is to build on low-cost items to create budget friendly meals that are satisfying and simple to prepare.

Don't miss these top 5 Cheap Groceries that Everyone Will Eat! This list includes items everyone in the family will eat that easily fit into your budget.

Dry Beans:

Dry beans are one of my most used pantry items. They are very inexpensive and can be used in so many ways. In fact, dry beans are probably the most versatile, inexpensive and healthy item that can be stored in your pantry. They can easily be cooked in batches in a pressure cooker or slow cooker (or the new Instant Pot!) to create easy to assemble meals and snacks. While you can season and prepare them to have a simple bowl of beans or bean soup, they are much more versatile than that. Beans can be mashed and mixed into ground meat to make enchiladas or tacos go further. They can be added to soups and chili, or mashed and seasoned for dips. Mix black beans with diced tomatoes, onion and jalapeño for a simple and hearty salsa.

Some beans to consider adding to your pantry:

  • Pinto (great by themselves, refried as dip or in burritos, mashed into ground meat for tacos or in chili)

  • Garbanzo beans (great for curry, hummus or roasting and snacking on)

  • Kidney beans (great by themselves, in soups and chili)

  • Black beans (great by themselves, in soups, chili, mashed for dip or in salsas)

  • Lentils (great in soups, salads, or as a base for a vegetarian burger)

  • Split Peas (great in soups)

  • Black eyed peas (great by themselves, in soups or salads)

Ground Meat:

Ground meat is the ultimate inexpensive meat cut that helps stretch your budget further. It can be added to soups and casseroles or in things like meatloaf, hamburgers or meat pies for a high protein meal. Ground turkey or ground chicken is slightly more expensive than ground beef, but still very affordable.

Potatoes:

Quite possibly one of the most versatile foods around, the potato can be a meal in itself, a carrier for other ingredients, the base for a casserole and a much needed filler when times are lean. Potatoes are not the most nutritious food, but when you pair them with other healthy options and leave off the bacon and cheese you will find them satisfying and fitting perfectly into your menu plan.

Frozen Vegetables:

Since affordable fresh produce isn’t always available year round and it’s vital to have a healthy diet with nutrient-dense ingredients, frozen vegetables are particularly handy. There are many ways to invest in frozen vegetables that are low-cost. You can easily freeze fresh produce when it’s in season to use later, or purchase your store brand. Items I find best in the frozen vegetable arena are things like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peas, corn and spinach. Chopped frozen spinach can go into soups and stews, mixed in with eggs or even added to a taco or spaghetti sauce to add some nutrients while not changing the flavor. Frozen vegetables are surprisingly affordable groceries that fit into almost any budget.

Pasta:

Much like the potato or dry bean, pasta is one of the most versatile foods you can keep in your pantry. It’s inexpensive, filling and easy to adapt to many flavors. It’s the base for many meals, and can provide you with a great way to stretch your budget. In fact, pasta with some frozen vegetables and herbs can be a fast, cheap and easy meal your entire family will enjoy.

These cheap groceries are just what you need to build amazing menu plans your entire family will enjoy. Use these items as a great base around your favorite herbs, sauces and cheese to build family friendly meals that fit into your budget with ease.

What are some cheap foods that you like to always have on hand?

Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget

Your grocery budget probably needs a little revamping like mine does, and so I created a few tips for creating what I believe is a functional grocery budget. This method of dividing up your expenses will help you to make sure you aren’t overspending, and of course, help you to make the most of your money.

Don't miss our top Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget! There are great ideas to give you family a great meal at a reasonable price!

Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget

Don’t forget to budget for all meals and snacks, not just dinner. Many menu plans include only 1 meal a day – the evening meal. This doesn’t help you to create a shopping list or functional grocery budget when it doesn’t provide for breakfast, lunch or snacks. You need to focus not just on the menu plans that give you low budgets for one meal a day, but also plan for your snacks, breakfasts and lunches.

Make healthy foods a priority. One thing often seen in a grocery budget is not enough room for healthy foods. If you are sacrificing your health to save a few dollars each month, it isn’t worth it. Feeding your family great nutrient-dense meals and snacks isn’t an option – it is a necessity. I follow a 40/30/30 rule when shopping for groceries. 40% of my grocery budget is fruits and vegetables. 30% of my grocery budget is lean meats and dairy. 30% of my grocery budget are things like dry beans, rice, spices and other items to fill in gaps in the menu plan.

Use coupons only on items you need. While I’m a fan of coupon use, when it comes to your grocery budget it is important to not get carried away. The thrill of the coupon hunt can quickly become a reason to spend more money for the sake of the “deal”. Make sure you are couponing for items that truly are needed and the best deal possible. Just because there is a coupon available doesn’t mean that they should be used.

Plan meals that can be used multiple ways. Not only do you want to plan low-cost meals, but you want to plan for things that will provide you with leftovers for lunches or a second evening meal. You may also want to look for meats and protein sources that are versatile. Things like a roast or hamburger can be used in multiple recipes making them easier to buy in bulk packages and stretch further. A roast cooked on Monday can have leftovers used in a quick beef and vegetable soup, stew or even tacos or chili. A whole chicken can be shredded and added to soups, casseroles, salads and sandwiches. Using every bit of the cheaper cuts of meat throughout your weekly menu plan can easily make your grocery budget manageable.

Follow your local sale cycles to stockpile as needed. Sometimes it’s beneficial to buy extra of select items when they are at their lowest prices. This can be vegetables and fruit in the summer months to freeze for later, or can be canned goods in winter months. Watch your local stores sale cycles and stock up accordingly to provide your family with food at the best prices possible year round.

These tips for creating a functioning grocery budget are just the beginning. To really do well you also need to take into consideration your area, sale cycles and your family needs. A functional grocery budget is one that provides your family with great meals while staying within the expense plan you can afford.

Budget Meal Planning Tips For Busy Moms

Budget meal planning is vital to the health of most household budgets. Nobody looks forward to rice, pasta and beans for every meal, but sometimes a financial strain means you have to really look closely at your food intake as a place to eliminate extra expenses. These tips for busy moms to help budget meal planning become easier, are perfect for keeping you well fed and your finances in order.

Budget Meal Planning Tips For Busy Moms

Stick to what your family loves. One of the biggest budget meal planning blunders around is trying out too many new recipes each month. Unfortunately, what looks great on a blog, television or in a magazine may not meet your families taste preferences. Stick mostly to those tried and true recipes and flavors you know everyone will eat so you aren’t wasting money on food that ends up in the garbage. Try 1-2 new recipes a month and if they are enjoyed, add them to your rotation.

Keep an accurate track of what you have on hand. A pantry and freezer list is a must when you are budget meal planning. Your meal plan should include items you have in stock in your pantry. Knowing what you have on hand keeps you from spending too much on items you don’t need, and will keep you from making last minute stops at the grocery and spending extra because you forgot an ingredient.

Get to know your butcher. Whether you use a traditional butcher shop or you local grocery store meat counter, knowing the butcher is a great way to find the best deals on meats. Not only can you talk to them about the end pieces of meats that are perfect for stews and chili, but you can find out when they are running a sale, or when something is about to be marked down because it is near the end of its shelf life. These little things can save you a ton of money on meat purchases.

Create a core base of ingredients. Many families like specific flavor profiles more than others. When you figure out what your family tends to gravitate toward, you can easily start shopping for those items in bulk. Whether it is a type of meat, produce or base like pasta or rice you can find most groceries in bulk for less than individual servings would cost.

Plan meals for leftovers. One of the best ways to save money while meal planning is to actually plan your menu for leftovers. Not only can larger batches of some meals save money on a second evening meal, they can save money on your lunch expenses. Soups, casseroles and many one pot meals are perfect for leftovers. If your family doesn’t like eating the same thing multiple times in a row, you can easily create the double batch and store it in the freezer until later in the month. Then all you have to do is thaw and reheat in the oven or slow cooker.

These budget meal planning tips are perfect for moms who are busy juggling kids and work. Not only will they help you stay in budget each month, they will provide you with great meals your entire family will enjoy.

Dollar Stretcher Tips For Grocery Budgets

I’m always looking for great dollar stretcher tips for our grocery budget and thought I’d share some of my favorites with you. These are great ways to make simple grocery items go further, therefore saving you money on your grocery budget. I love being able to feed my family great meals they love, but still stay on budget and meet our financial goals. 🙂

Dollar Stretcher Tips For Grocery Budgets

Dollar Stretcher Tips for Grocery Budgets. Grocery saving tips. Grocery budget tips.

Add powdered milk to your milk.

Split your 4L jug of milk into two cartons. Mix a gallon of powdered milk and divide between the two now half gallons of milk. Mix together and use as normal. Powdered milk is much less expensive and mixing like this will still taste the same while saving you money on one of the most often purchased and used items for a family budget.

Add beans to more than just soups and chili.

Dry beans are always super cheap and easy to cook in a slow cooker. I love making large batches of pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans then putting them in 2-cup portion bags to use in everything from soups and chili, to mashing into my ground meat for spaghetti, tacos or casseroles. They take on most flavors they are seasoned with, and their texture is great to go into all kinds of dishes. This can make one pound of ground meat go twice as far in a casserole or soup.

Don’t fear using carbohydrates.

Starches and carbohydrates tend to have a bad reputation, but as long as you are including a lot of great nutrient-dense vegetables into your diet as well it’s not a bad thing to include things like rice and potatoes as a base for casseroles. Rice and potatoes are a great dollar stretcher for almost any meal. In fact, roasted potatoes, green beans, and roasted chicken is one of the easiest and cheapest meals you can make for your family. It’s healthy, satisfying and easy to manage. The potatoes add bulk to the meal without being high fat or unhealthy, and they are so cheap it makes your meal very affordable.

Batch cook your meals.

You may wonder how or why this can be considered a dollar stretcher for your grocery budget, but it really is a great way to save. When you buy larger quantities of meats and produce, you often save a significant amount of money. Next time you find chicken, pork or beef on sale in large “family sized” packages don’t hesitate to grab them, then cook in simple ways and portion to freeze. Chicken can be roasted and cubed for everything from salads and soups to casseroles of fajitas. Pork shoulders can be roasted and pulled for use in BBQ, casseroles or tacos. Batch cooking meats, produce and even whole meals and freezing for future use saves you time, money and tons of frustration each evening when you need to throw a simple meal together fast.

These are great dollar stretcher ideas for your grocery budget. Just a few simple changes can save you hundreds of dollars in grocery expenses over the course of a year.

How do you make ordinary grocery items stretch further? Let me know in the comments!

I’m Wondering: What is your #1 Grocery Saving Tip?

I thought I’d rekindle something here at Simply Frugal. 🙂  I love hearing from you guys and enjoy the conversation that can be had with the “I’m wondering” questions I’ve asked in the past. So, I thought I’d get those “I’m Wondering” questions going again!

Let’s get started shall we?

I’m Wondering:  What is your #1 Grocery Saving Tip?

Have you got something you’ve been wondering about that I could feature in a future I’m Wondering post?  Submit your question to us here!

7 Ways to Make the Most of Leftovers

7 Ways to Make the Most of Leftovers

Take a look at these 7 ways to make the most of leftovers so you can stretch your grocery budget each week, even if your family isn't crazy about the idea of leftovers!

Do you find yourself with leftovers after each meal? It’s wasteful just to toss those scraps into the trash, but are you stuck on ideas on what else can you do with them? Even if your family isn’t crazy about leftovers, there are fun ways to make the most of them. Take a look at these 7 ways to make the most of leftovers so you can stretch your grocery budget each week.

1. Invest in proper storage supplies.

Before you begin making the most of your leftovers, invest in some proper storage supplies. Having sturdy plastic or glass ware, plastic bags, and tin foil on hand will help you better store and save leftovers. If you don’t have these items it’s way more tempting to toss leftovers in the trash. Instead, be prepared!

2. Plan menus ahead of time.

When you know you are having steak for dinner, you can easily plan to eat steak salads (using your leftover meat) for the following day. If you know you are having hamburgers, you can plan a beef and vegetable stew for the day after. By using leftovers from your dinner in your subsequent lunch, you can make the most of those leftovers. Meal planning can help you stretch each meal.

3. Get creative with stews and soups.

Leftover chicken, vegetables, beef, and noodles can all be added to a broth and warmed up into a soup or stew. See what combinations you prefer and get creative with your soup recipes.

4. Try chicken salad recipes.

Leftover chicken can be peeled from the bone, added to a bowl, and turned into chicken salad quite easily. Just add a little mayo, a hard boiled egg, and some celery and you have the perfect lunch! Try adding other leftovers into the mix to see if there is a combo you enjoy.

5. Bake those buns!

Turn leftover buns and bread into croutons. Just cube, sprinkle with olive oil and seasonings of your choice, and bake in the oven until nice and crispy. These  are great for soups and salads.

6.“Wrap” leftovers up.

Always have some tortilla wraps on hand to make wraps using your leftovers. You can add steak and vegetables, chicken salad, veggies and cheese, or any other combinations that might appeal to you.

7. Use leftovers as toppings.

Leftover cheese, veggies, and even meat can always be chopped or crumbled and used as baked potato topping, pizza toppings, or soup toppings. Don’t think of these leftovers as a whole meal (if you don’t have a lot) but more as a topping or condiment.

Never look at leftovers the same way again when you give these creative ways to use leftovers a try.

I’d love to hear how you use leftovers in your household!  Share in the comments!

7 Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner

7 Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner

7 Ways to save money on Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s time to start planning those Thanksgiving menus, and you might be wondering how you can save a little money in the process. The great news is, you can still enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving meal while saving some money. Take a look at these 7 ways to save money on Thanksgiving dinner, so you can plan a feast that is easy on the budget as well as pleasing to the stomach.

1. Start stockpiling now.

Don’t wait to start grabbing the ingredients you need. If you see sale prices on items such as soups, broth, rice, noodles, and other items that won’t go bad before Thanksgiving gets here, grab them! These staples can be put to use in many ways so finding a good deal on them is a great reason to grab them.

2. Get creative with starches.

Potatoes, noodles, and rice can all be used in your Thanksgiving menu and are relatively inexpensive to buy. Look at different ways to prepare these foods so you can create your feast for less. Some ideas could be cold salads, oven bakes, loaded potatoes, baked potatoes, and even stuffed peppers to use the rice.

3. Don’t forget the bread.

Bread products are filling and can be purchased for just pennies per serving. Grab some boxed bread mixes while they are on sale, or grab a few fresh loaves closer to the holiday. If you find a great deal on bread now, don’t forget you can always save it or use it as croutons. You can also visit day old bread stores to get some real deals.

4. Use in season produce.

Use in season produce items to make your salads and side dishes. Some examples would be squash dishes, potatoes, apples, and grapes. In many areas these items are in season and so they will be at their lowest prices of the year. Just find creative ways to use them and make them part of your delicious meal.

5. Search out coupons.

Start scouring your flyers now for coupons that are good on meat products, side dishes, dessert items and more. Clip them out as you see them and ask family to do the same. Match your coupons with store sales so you can double up on your savings and maximize your dollar.

6. Ask guests to bring a favorite dessert.

One of the easiest ways to save some money and stress is to ask guests to bring a dessert. You will find that most are happy to do so. Some inexpensive dessert ideas can be jello parfaits, pudding parfaits, or fresh in-season fruit.

7. Don’t overlook the dollar store.

Dollar Stores are perfect for buying your roasting trays, tin foil, wax paper, and other cooking supplies. You can also find seasonings, side dish items, pasta, canned vegetables, and more. Head to your local dollar store and see what you might be able to use.

If you are in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year, don’t see dollar signs just yet. Give these tips a try and see how frugal your feast can be.

What are your best savings tips for a frugal Thanksgiving dinner?  Share them in the comments!