It’s Top Ten Tuesday!
This week I want to share some ways I save money on our families food bill every week. Some of my tricks may not work for your family, but I am hoping that most will! I am a HUGE couponer. People are always asking me how I save money on food every week and I love sharing what I do. Unfortunately, saving money takes a bit of planning, but once you get used to it and find a system that works then it just becomes second nature. For my family of 5, I spend between $90-100 a week on food, some weeks even less. I’ll save an average of 60-70% a week. We also buy the vast majority of food from the fresh sections and do not eat a lot of processed foods. Here are some ways I save:
1. Use Coupons– I wrote some posts on getting starting couponing a ways back. You can find these posts here:
So at the risk of being redundant, read those posts if you are new to couponing 🙂 Using coupons with some additional tricks is my #1 way to save every week. Lots of stores allow the use of digital coupons as well. Just remember most stores do not allow the use of paper coupons and digital ones on the same item and digital ones can be used for one item only. Also, if your store doubles coupons, most likely the digital ones will be taken as face value so I prefer to use paper ones (since my store matches up to $1) Read your stores coupon policy so you are familiar with it!
2. Use coupon apps– Ibotta and Target’s Cartwheel are my two favorite new apps to use. These apps can be used in conjunction with paper coupons. Ibotta allows you to search for items before you shop and then when you buy that particular item, you scan your receipt and those money from those offers gets added into your account, not actually taken off your bill. For example, this morning I shopped at Target and bought three items from Ibotta. When I got home I scanned the item and receipt and after they were accepted I had $3 added into my account! A few weeks ago, I cashed out my earnings and bought myself a new necklace online 🙂
Target’s new Cartwheel app gives you savings on particular items and does take it off your bill. These offers can be used with target and manufacture coupons. I saved $5.40 on my bill this morning, not a ton, but it added up with my other savings! Click here for a more detailed explanation on how this program works.
3. Plan ahead and go with a list– Rule number one is make a list, rule number 2 is STICK TO IT. There is no point into making a list if you leave the store with 50 things that weren’t on your list! Don’t complain you spend too much if you do that every week! Also, if you plan correctly, you should only be shopping once a week. First thing I do when I am ready to make my list is see what I have on hand and write down what we need, like milk, cheese and yogurt. Then, I use several coupon sites that help me plan for what’s on sale each week. I’ll match my coupons with the items I need and then add those items to my list. Lastly I add items I will need to my meals…which brings me to #4…
4. Meal Plan– I know people that plan every meal out. I don’t go to that extreme, but I do plan for dinners. At the beginning of the month, I print out a cute blank monthly calendar and begin my planning. My husband works most evenings and is only home for supper maybe 2-3, sometimes even less then that, a week so we can plan for our meals accordingly. One of the ways we save the most money is not eating meats with every supper. My kids and I are not big meat eaters, so I only plan for a few meals a week with it. We’ll normally do two bigger “dinners” a week when Daddy is home, a few pasta dishes, breakfast for dinner, a “leftover” meal and a kid-friendly fun meal. I also like to do a crock pot meal too, especially when school is in session and we are busier. I have oodles of Pinterest boards FULL of recipes that I use. I have organized them by type so recipes are easy to find. Once I’ve planned the types of food, I’ll find recipes, normally a mix of tried and true ones and fun new ones. You can find my Pinterest boards here if you need a place to start! I also take into account the sales and what I have on hand when planning my meals. In addition, I’ll try to incorporate leftovers into a second meal. For example, if I make a whole chicken one night, I’ll plan a chicken dish later in the week that will use the leftovers, like a BBQ chicken pizza or chicken-cheese quesadillas. So when I am planning my weekly list, I’ll check what I had planned for dinner and add any specialty items I may need, like a special spice or a particular veggie. Lastly, I ALWAYS plan in pencil, just in case I need to change something. If the hubby wants steak one week, like he always does, but it’s not on sale? Well, sorry, we’re not having steak 😉
5. Buy things on sale– Obviously. I’m big on whole foods and the less processed the better. I’ll never buy the processed peanut butter with 30 ingredients even it’s on sale. I try to buy these specialty items when they are cheap and stock up (more on that in a bit).
6. Even better then a sale?? Match a coupon with a sale. Matching coupons with a sale is the best way to save on your weekly bill. My coupon sites will help me with this, so I don’t have to do much leg work.
7. Buy in bulk when you find a stock-up price. Once you get the hang of couponing, you’ll have your own set up stock up prices. For example, I won’t buy a box of cereal unless it’s less than $1, since I know that I can get it. Last week, a certain cereal my kids like was on sale and with my coupons it made them 75 cents a box, so I bought 5. Now I don’t need to buy cereal for a month, unless I find another great deal 🙂 If you buy when it’s cheap, you won’t be forced to when it’s not! I wrote lots on stockpiling in my above posts, so check those out for more info.
8. Don’t be afraid of store brands. Most store brands now-a-days are pretty dang close to the original. I like now that most stores have their own organic brand line too, which is another great way to save. Check the ingredients before you buy. Buying the store brand can save you lots of money, but remember that many store brands won’t come with a coupon so be sure to check that you don’t have a coupon for a brand name that will make that cheaper.
9. Avoid pre-packed items– A box of mini carrots with ranch will cost you $3.50 for 4 or you can buy a bag of mini carrots and a bottle of ranch for $2.50 and get a dozen servings of it. Just invest in some cute mini Tupperware containers and teach your kids to bring them home from school! I rarely will buy mini bags of snacks either, I’ll just separate the bigger bags into smaller one. This also works well with a boxes of wine, much cheaper than a bottle and lasts longer! 🙂
10. Make things yourself– I make my own chicken stock and jam. Just these two things alone save me money. It costs basically nothing to make 10-12 cups of stock after roasting a chicken. Fresh organic stock will cost you almost $4, or more, for a 3 cup box. We use a lot of stock when we cook, so this is great for us. Also, it tastes much better. I try to avoid making things from a box. I make cakes, frostings, rices, chicken nuggets from scratch instead of buying them in a boxed form. Now, I’m human and do occasionally run out of time or energy and will use a box. In this case, I just pull one from my stockpile 🙂
I hope these tips help you save money! Most of these rules can be applied to non-food items as well and can be used to help you save money on everyday house hold items like cleaners, laundry items and paper goods. Do you have any additional tips?? Share them below and maybe I’ll do a follow-up post soon!