Are you curious to know what the best strategy is for reducing your food budget? Read on to find out how to save money on groceries with the method that works best for you!
By Beth, Contributing Writer
I stand at the grocery store check-out, watching the register as it prints my mile-long receipt. I stopped watching my total when it went over my intended budget. Disappointed, I look at the bags in my cart and just don’t see as much food as my total suggests. My heart sinks and I vow to do better next week. Something has to change. I must do better.
I think if we all have one thing in common it might be that we want to decrease the amount of money we spend on food. It’s so frustrating to see prices jumping higher and higher on what seems like a daily basis.
Maybe you’re like me, and when you realized your grocery bill is growing faster than your children, you jumped online to find answers to this ever-growing problem. We go hunting for articles and e-books that will teach us the best strategies for saving money. And oh, what we find.
Too much help! Too many ideas!
So many bloggers telling us we can feed our families for less than it takes to feed a cat. (Not really but it can feel that way.)
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- 16 Things You Should NEVER Buy at the Grocery store (and where you should buy them instead)
- 13 Grocery Store Sales You should IGNORE (and which ones you should ALWAYS take advantage of)
- 13 strategies to be a Savvy Shopper (so you can OUTSMART the grocery store, every week!)
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If you try to implement all of these tactics at once I can guarantee the outcome. You’ll drive yourself crazy and end up a stressed out ball of nerves and the only way out will be to purchase and eat an entire (and expensive) cheesecake.
We don’t want you to do that! Not that there’s anything wrong with cheesecake, but if you want to save money you really need to make your own! (Here’s a recipe.)
What if I told you there is one best strategy for reducing your food budget?
Would that relieve some of the stress you’re feeling? Would you be grateful that someone gave you permission to stop trying to do it all?
I have good news. There is one best way to save money on your food budget.
Maybe you love the thrill of the chase that’s inherent with coupon shopping. You love coming home with free food, and foods you would never have tried had it not been for a doubled coupon and a sale. If that’s you, then by all means, put those coupons to work and stock those cabinets.
Here’s my e-book if you need some help with couponing.
But if you’re going to focus on your mad couponing skills, you may want to reconsider your grand plan to also make everything from scratch and grow all of your own produce. There’s only so much time in a week, and many things grabbing for your attention. Choose the method of money saving that works best for you, your personality, and your circumstances at the moment. And until you become a pro at it, let the other ones go.
If growing and preserving your own food fits your lifestyle, then do that, and don’t feel guilty that you’re not also keeping a detailed price book for every food item you purchase, including prices from ten different stores.
You get it. By trying to do too many things, you’ll burn yourself out and probably not save nearly as much money as you would have if you had focused on one strategy.
Perhaps you are being called to put a large amount of energy into some other area of life right now, and you can only give minimal effort to reducing your food budget. All the more reason to choose one strategy and make the best of it. You can still live into your other priorities, and by being focused on one strategy, you’ll be much more successful.
So where should you start?
It’s okay to do a little bit of research, just don’t let it overwhelm you. Read just enough about each strategy you discover to determine if it fits your personality and lifestyle. Here are just a few of the most popular answers I found when I began my quest to reduce my food budget. To help you get started, I’ve linked some of them to resources that can help you learn more about the particular topic.
- Keeping a price book
- Using coupons strategically
- Buying in bulk: Post coming soon to this series “The Great Grocery Budget Battle; Choose Your Weapon” (Sign up for my mailing list to get updates.)
- Growing and preserving your own produce
- Making everything from scratch
- Meal planning (my personal favorite)
- Freezer cooking (sidekick to my personal favorite)
- Using an envelope/cash system
- Making your own convenience foods
- Once a month grocery shopping: I love how Hilary points out that not everything she has tried has worked for her, and that she eventually found what did.
- Cooking when I feel like it
Once you find the one that fits you, dig a little deeper to find more specific help, and jump in. Do that one thing well and I’m sure you’ll get results.
What is your favorite way to keep your food costs down?
Fore more posts on frugal spending on real food, click here!