If your family is anything like mine, the grocery bills make you wince every week. Even if you eat almost all your meals from home, feeding a bunch of growing kids takes a major chunk of the family budget. Here are some of the things we do to shave the edges of that chunk.
Five Ways To Lower Your Grocery Bill
1. Make as much as possible from scratch–salad dressing is a good example. A package of ranch mix plus mayonnaise and milk is cheaper than buying a bottle. (Tastes better, too.)
2. Buy meat in bulk and pack a deep freeze full of it. To make this work, you have to find a meat processing plant nearby. Beef and hogs are bought as full animals, so find someone to split one with you if you don’t have room to store a whole animal. If you can do this, the price per pound is always significantly below the grocery store.
You can order the cuts you will use, though of course certain ways to divide the meat cost more than others. I think we figured out that our price per pound on pork was about $1.20, and meat stores safely in a deep freeze for months.
3. The bread machine is one of the best investments we’ve made. The lard comes free with the butchering of a hog, and being generous with the cost of the other ingredients, a loaf of half-white, half-wheat bread comes out to about $1.35. Even if you add wheat gluten and flax meal, as I do, it’s still well under a loaf of what I call “real” (as opposed to Wonder) bread.
4. Repeat after me: Generics. Are. Our. Friends. There are certain brands I will pay for. Hellman’s mayonnaise, for instance. Simplait vanilla yogurt. But in general, the generics are just as good as, and sometimes better than, their brand-name counterparts. I prefer the texture of Kroger’s spinoff of Fruit and Fiber, for instance, to the original. Try the generic by rule, and only go back to brand names if you find you really can tell enough difference to make the extra money worthwhile.
5. Start at Aldi. Aldi is the king of budget shopping. With exceptions so rare they’re not worth bringing up, anything you can get at Aldi is around half to two thirds the price it would be anywhere else–even Wal Mart. And it’s good quality, for the most part. I make my grocery list in two columns: the Aldi and the “somewhere else” list. Aldi doesn’t carry everything, but if you start there it will significantly cut your grocery bill.
6. Drink water and milk, and forget the rest of it. I know, lots of people are attached to coffee, too, but juices? Sodas? All those things are expensive, and pretty much bad news in terms of health. Make them treats instead of everyday parts of life, and it’ll save a lot of money.
So there are my pearls of wisdom. I’d love to hear from others. What do you do about snacks, the most costly prepared foods? How do you reduce the amount of meat your family consumes? We’re all “ears”!
Kathleen writes at her personal blog, So Much To Say, So Little Time, about life at the intersection of faith, family and the written word. She is convinced that every issue touches every other, and that faith must be at the heart of them all.