Casey Slide is a stay-at-home parent in Atlanta who constantly looks to save money on groceries and other household expenses. You can see Casey’s tips and work on the Money Crashers personal finance blog.
The last year was a tough year for the economy, and many people felt the full effects of the economic downswing at the grocery store. Food prices rose to all-time highs, just as many people tightened their budgets.
Using coupons, shopping for sales, and stocking up on discounted items became more important as everyone looked for additional ways to save money.
As 2011 comes to a close and we look toward 2012, experts predict food prices will continue to rise. Thankfully, you can utilize a number of creative techniques to save on groceries next year.
Ways to Save Money on Food This Year
1. Use Your Mobile Device
Put your iPad, cell phone, or other mobile device to work at the store by using calculations to determine the best buys. Many stores list the price per unit for items on price tags. You can pinpoint the true cost of the items on your list when you use your mobile device to calculate the cost per portion as well.
2. Change Your Recipes
Utilize family meal planning ideas and change your recipes to correspond with sale items at the grocery store. Be creative with your ingredients, substituting rosemary from the garden for tarragon, or by using the white wine you already have on hand instead of buying a new bottle of red wine.
You can also experiment with replacing more expensive meats with less expensive meats or other forms of protein. If a recipe calls for out of season produce, substitute it with fresh in-season fruit and vegetables instead. Be sure to write notes in your cookbooks of the substitutes used and how well they worked in your recipes.
3. Use Web Programs and Apps
Use web programs and smart phone apps to find the best deals on groceries, and to learn how to use sale items and coupons effectively to create delicious meals. Food on the Table can help you to plan your shopping trips and your meals. Instead of sifting through newspaper circulars, you can use grocery shopping web programs and apps to quickly and easily find coupons and dinner ideas.
4. Cut Your Portion Sizes
You can cut down on portions without going hungry. Consider dividing a meal recipe intended to make four portions into five portions instead. Fill up on healthy fruits and vegetables, and eat smaller portions of beef, chicken, and fish.
5. Try Extreme Home Cooking
In addition to extreme couponing, extreme home cooking will continue to become more popular. With extreme home cooking, families challenge themselves to eat more home-cooked meals, with a goal of cooking the most portions for the least amount of money. Families† attempt easy, fast recipes (such as spaghetti, stews, and casseroles) that utilize few ingredients in order to save time and money.
6. Go Green, Literally
Be green by eating more vegetarian meals. Skipping expensive meats saves you money, and helps you lose weight. Stick to in-season produce, but use frozen and canned fruits and vegetables when necessary. Additionally, add rice and beans†to your meals to consume some protein.
7. Make Food From Scratch
Making your meals from scratch is healthy and less expensive than eating processed or frozen foods. Cook meals in batches and freeze them to save time. Take your time transitioning into cooking and baking your meals. Switch from buying one prepackaged item to making its homemade equivalent, then try replacing another store-bought item with a homemade dish.
If you have a baby, make homemade baby food recipes for a healthy alternative to store-bought food. You can also experiment with pureeing and blending fruits and vegetables for applesauce, gazpacho, and smoothies.
8. Shop at Non-Traditional Food Stores
A growing number of non-traditional retailers sell food. Consider shopping online for some food items, as this can be a great way to purchase items such as diet foods or coffee in bulk for a low cost. You can also buy discounted groceries at dollar stores, drugstores, department stores, and mass-merchandise stores.
9. Shop Less Frequently
Many people shop at least once per week, often at multiple stores to save money. Of course, the more you shop, the more you buy. Save money on groceries by shopping less frequently, perhaps once every other week, or even once a month. By staying out of the grocery stores, you avoid the temptation to buy items on impulse. If you shop frequently to buy fresh produce, start your own home vegetable garden to have ample fresh fruits and vegetables in your home and to save money.
10. Utilize Non-Traditional Coupons
It takes time to find, cut, and sort traditional newspaper or magazine coupons. To save time and money, you can access many coupons from your cell phone with free services like Cellfire. You can utilize the time saved clipping coupons to spend more time cooking homemade meals.
Don’t feel discouraged by the slight increase in food prices in the new year – you can still save money on food! Use technology to save money in the grocery store, and make a handful of cooking, shopping, and lifestyle changes to improve your health and your finances. Be creative and diligent, and you’ll be sure to find a system that works for you and your family.
What suggestions can you make to save money on food and grocery expenses?
This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.
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