This week, let's tackle a question from a reader:
Dear Motley Moms,
My family eats pretty much the same meals every week, and I buy pretty much the same thing at the grocery store every week. I buy what we need whether it is on sale or not, and it seems like we are spending too much money that way. Do you have any suggestions on how to lower our grocery bills? Thank you!
I have good news for you--you have a way of shopping that is prime for saving money with a few tweaks to your weekly routine! By doing what is called "stockpiling" (buying ingredients and foods you use often in larger quantities when they are on sale) and remodeling your grocery list a bit you should be able to lower your bills! Here's what I suggest:
1. Make a list of all of the meals and snacks your family eats and the ingredients necessary to make them. If you have more than enough favorites for a week, that's great! You will be able to take advantage of sales!
2. Divide that list into three categories: 1)Extremely perishable (like milk) 2) Somewhat perishable (foods with longer expiration dates--cheese for example) and 3) Storable (pastas, jarred sauces, canned veggies, etc.)
3. BEFORE you go shopping, find the sale circular for the store where you shop. These days, finding those online is the way to go if you'd rather not go into the store. Also, you may receive an ad with your newspaper subscription.
4. This is where your routine changes--rather than deciding what YOU want to eat that week, your ad decides for you. If there is a great deal on chicken that week, you choose to eat your famous chicken dish. If the beef is not on sale, sorry, but no steaks that week. Make your meal plan based on the sales, then add those items to your grocery list.
5. Next, scour the ad for foods you use frequently. For example, I use a ton of cannellini beans. If they are on sale for a very low price, I buy 10+ cans that week. Then, I don't buy them again until they go on sale again. Period.
Shopping this way allows you to eventually spend less on storables. There will be weeks where you only buy fresh perishable foods because you have everything else you need! A word of caution, though--be careful not to overspend the budget on stockpiling, and never buy more than you can store. Trust me on that one. ;)
If you have any advice for this situation, let's hear it! Send me any other grocery questions you may have, too. Next week we'll talk about eating healthily on a budget. This is something I'm dealing with right now, so I look forward to hearing your comments! Have a great week!