Tips to save on grocery bills
The cost of food continues to rise and many families realize that last year's grocery budget just isn't cutting it anymore. To keep costs affordable, many shoppers approach meal planning and food buying in a new way.
OnMilwaukee.com and Lisa Malmarowski, director of brand and store development for Outpost Natural Foods, joined forces to compile a list of suggestions for shaving off a few dollars -- or more -- from grocery bills.
Cook meals. The top way to save money on food is to cook your own food, and stay away from convenience foods like frozen and boxed dinners. Inexperienced chefs can find simple recipes on the Internet or ask friends and family members for their favorite recipes.
"Frozen dinners, prepared salads and cut-up vegetables are all more expensive than making the items yourself," says Malmarowski.
Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk / larger amounts usually costs less than purchasing supplies for one meal. Buying multiple items when they are deeply discounted is a money saver, too. For example, Pick 'N Save featured bags of Starbucks coffee for $3 off, so buying two was almost a buy-one-get-one-free deal.
"Buying in bulk is a great way to save," says Malmarowski. "It's usually less expensive per pound and you can try items you may not want to commit to a whole pound of. Spice in bulk is super inexpensive as well."
Buy in season. Focusing on vegetables and fruits that are in season results in tastier and more affordable meals. Shorewood's Janna Kraus says this made a difference for her family.
"I actually kept track of my produce bill for January and February, and noticed a savings just from buying food that was in season, like oranges, and passing on other items that were (not) in season, like plums," says Kraus.
Take stock of ingredients. Before you go to the grocery store, make a mental note of what you already have in your cupboard and fridge. If you have, say, a can of beans and lettuce, by purchasing tortillas, tomatoes and cheese, suddenly you have an entire meal for an additional $5.
Make larger amounts / avoid going out to eat. Make a large entree, divide it into appropriate-sized servings and store it in a reusable container in the freezer. This way, you have food for lunch and / or dinner available and it's less likely you'll spend money on going out to eat.
"Many folks right now are foregoing a fancy restaurant meal and planning a nice meal at home," says Malmarowski. "While it may not cut you grocery bill to do this, it will cut your overall food bill."
Use a crock pot. Split pea soup, black beans and chili are hearty meals that when made in large batches cost under $1 per bowl. Plus, the crock pot is easy and convenient to use, especially for people who work all day. Just give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to prepare, and you'll appreciate the effort when you return home from work.
Use coupons. Now more than ever, saving a dollar here and a dollar there makes a difference, so clipping coupons is worth the effort. Other food savings promotions help, too, like Pick 'N Save awards a $10 grocery gift card for every 10 pharmacy purchases. Develop a system for saving receipts and coupons so they are easily accessible.
Be flexible when shopping. If you get to the grocery store and notice that chicken is on sale, swap out the evening's hamburger plan for the less-expensive option.
"Be flexible enough to change your plans if the store is running a great special on something different," says Malmarowski.
newguy | March 23, 2009 at 5:47 p.m. (report)
I agree, Woodman's is a good deal. I don't care if you can walk to a Sentry or an Outpost. The few bucks you save on gas won't compare to the money you will save off of your grocery bill. I know of what I speak. As a vegetarian, I used to shop at the Outpost. As a family man, I had to start shopping at Pick N Save and that pretty much cut my grocery bill in half. (Outpost has good food, but it is so expensive) Then, when my wife started going to Woodmans, we started saving $40-$60 a week off of even that. And we now also get our non-food items (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, laundry soap, etc) at Woodman's, too, cheaper than Target or Wal-mart. They also have a way better selection of food and non-food items at Woodmans than at ANY Pick N Save, Sentry, Outpost, Sendiks, Target or Wal-mart. A 15 minute drive (30 minutes round trip) is worth me saving more money than a whole tank of gas (And they have a cheaper gas station there, too!)
Wow - brilliant advice. If I cook my own meals (which 9 times out of 10 are better anyways) I can save money and not get fat. I blame our parents and the 70's and 80's. Roasted chicken isn't that difficult and 1000x better than you can get in any restaurant. Plus its less than $10 for a roaster (even at Sendik's). And not the preroasted chicken. Get your hands dirty. Brine it. Roast it. Eat it. Then move on to fresh veggies and the like. TGIFridays is not a great restaurant - albeit cheap.
You get what you pay for. Cooking for oneself is a one thing, trying to save on quality is another. Be smart and think what you eat and why you eat it.
JambaJuice | March 23, 2009 at 10:02 a.m. (report)
Hate to say it...but Target has cheap groceries...compared it to 3 local stores (not woodmans) and for most items Target was much cheaper. Would love to support local stores and i do for produce and deli, but for most "dry" goods Target is the cheapest.
Because Woodman's has the same quality, is that much cheaper, and there's no wasting time with coupons.
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