I got into a discussion last week with some friends who were complaining about how much money they spend on groceries each week. Even with just Adam and I doing the cooking/eating I am amazed sometimes at how much we spend although recently we have gotten much better about budgeting ourselves. There are a few things I started doing that have made a big difference.
1) Make a list. Look through your kitchen and see what you need and definitely have a dinner menu in mind for at least the next week, that way you can make a list of exactly what you want and need. Making a list ensures you only buy things you will use and that you won't go overboard with things you don't.
2) Read the circular. Use the circular. Love the circular. You can walk through a supermarket and have no idea what's on sale unless you look at the circular of sales that week. I will access it from home on the supermarket's website and plan our weekly menu based on it. So say I see that pork tenderloin and chicken breasts are on sale - then I know we will be having pork and chicken probably twice each in the coming week (in different recipes of course) so I hunt for recipes involving the ingredients on sale on recipe websites. Some ones I use the most frequently are:
These are great because you can just type in "pork tenderloin" and all the recipes involving it will pop up. So you can pick ones that involve ingredients you already have or ones that involve inexpensive items you can pick up on your shopping trip.
3) Coupons, coupons, coupons. I stalk coupon websites once a week for their deals and sometimes get great deals! Check out the coupon section of your newspaper. Go on the website of your favorite products and look for coupons. It's not a lot of extra work if you're already trolling the internet during the day anyway. And it can pay off in spades! Don't forget that many supermarkets double manufacturer's coupons, too!
Fave coupon sites:
4) Even if you don't have a lot of cash you can still eat decent meals. One of my favorite "rent week" items isLondon Broil which is so CHEAP but lovely broiled with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic and sliced thin. Inexpensive cuts of meat become divine when cooked in the slow cooker while you're at work. A bag of mixed frozen veggies sauteed in olive oil and tossed with whole wheat pasta is an inexpensive but delicious meal. And if you are making a soup or stew it is not much more expensive to double the batch and freeze it for a quick dinner the next week.
Really, the possibilities are endless when you put your mind to it. Anyone else have a good budget food shopping tip? Leave it in the comments!