I'm so thankful my mom taught me how to grocery shop on a budget. I didn't realize then how important those lessons would be. Without those lessons, my task of feeding a family of 5 on 40% of a paycheck, would be next to impossible. It has taken some trial and error, but I have grocery shopping practically down to a science. Here are some tips I've learned along the way.
1. The first, and probably most important, is to make a menu and grocery list beforehand. The extra 30-45 minutes of preperation will probably cut your grocery bill almost in half. I make a menu for 7 days, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Then, from the menu, I make a grocery list.
2. After you have made a list, stick to it! Resist the urge to impulse buy. Impulse purchases can increase your bill by 20% or more.
3. Don't shop when you are hungry. I know thats a classic but it is so true. When I'm hungry, everything looks good, especially the overpriced, hot, ready-to-eat, deli foods.
4. Avoid pre-packaged, pre-sliced, or pre-washed foods. You are basically paying someone to do something that would take you just a few minutes to do at home. This is especially true of sliced or shredded cheese. A pound block of cheese costs about as much as a 1/2 pound of shredded.
5. And speaking of pre-packaged stuff, avoid spice mixes. If you already have a full spice cabinet you can make your own spice mixes much cheaper. The pre-made ones are usually mostly salt anyway.
6. Don't be afraid of store/generic brands. Granted some of the generic brands are just not as good as the name brands, but for the most part they taste the same. You pay a hefty price for that name brand!
7. When my family is just dying for some steak, I buy the marked down meat and cook it the same day. You can save so much on meat that way!
8. Buy produce that is in season. Pretty simple.
9. Avoid buying cosmetics and hygiene supplies at the grocery store. You are paying for the convenience and these products are usually marked up 30% higher.
10. Brown bag it. By bringing a lunch instead of buying it or eating out you can save $30 or more a week. Use up leftovers by taking to work or school. We also have leftover night once a week at our house.