Community Talks: Budget-Friendly Shopping
Community users share how they stretch their dollar while shrinking their pant size.
Our Community users are a shrewd bunch, and while they’re stingy at the supermarket, they’re generous with their advice. These people have shared their secrets on great ways to eat well and save big.
Go for bulk on everyday items
MRSFIELDS129 noticed that "I wasted a lot of money on prepackaged foods. Buy the regular size packages and portion it yourself using plastic baggies or small plastic containers."
If you’re preparing school lunchboxes, PUPCAKE74 says "get [a large] can of applesauce, peaches, etc and put it in one cup containers. I have 10 of them so I just fill them all up and use them in the kid’s lunches."
But buying in bulk can sometimes encourage eating in bulk. Community user OllieFan reminds us that you can save a lot of money by sticking to the actual serving sizes. "I've also found that I'm saving a lot by not snacking all day like I used to. At night when I start to get the munchies, I make a cup of tea instead."
Become a sharp shopper
EASYSTREETSTER noticed that "while a purchase may be a ‘great deal’ in terms of dollar amount, it's only a deal if the food actually gets eaten. This is especially true for perishables like milk, eggs, and produce."
Don’t let the grocer tell you what you should be buying. "The most expensive items are usually placed at eye level: 5 feet 4 inches from the floor, to be exact," says EASYSTREETSTER. "If you're looking for less-expensive options, you're going to have to work for it, reaching high and bending down low to the less accessible shelves."
"When you are at the grocery store, ask the butcher what time of day they mark down meat," recommends,*#SUE#* "my grocery store marks down everything that has to be sold within the next few days. I go about twice a month and stock up on meat."
Make long-term investments
Making a small investment can sometimes go a long way. JILLFIREDUP shares that "Over the weekend, we bought a chest freezer with baskets and negotiated the price down to $95. I am now able to buy bulk food and load up on great values when I see them." She put a magnetic clipboard on the outside of the freezer and is keeping inventory of what goes in and out.
"I think the key is meal planning," says BANDIT~BABE. "If you can plan the meals and stick to them, you can use higher end ingredients and not spend a small fortune."
Gardening is a great hobby. NIMRODTRACTOR freezes and cans all the vegetables plucked from the garden in summer. "This winter I’ve been using the yellow squash, zucchini and onions I froze [in preparing] my breakfast egg stir-fry."
*#SUE#* suggests that using cheap ingredients, you can "make a couple of batches of stews, chili, and soups on the weekend and then freeze them in individual containers, then you're set for the week."
LITTLERHB’s found that using coupons can be a big help. "Search online for coupons to print, also visit sites for the [specific foods you] eat, even the organics. I have gotten so many coupons with just a little searching online."
"Every night, I set a budget food plan for the next day so I know exactly what I plan to eat and how much it will cost both calorie and money wise," shares CYNPOPE. "If you keep track of what you spend, your budget will thank you, and calories are the same way. Lay out a clear path and it will help!"
For those times when sacrifice is just not on the menu, Sandrabag proposes that "instead of giving up steak, fish etc.; [as an alternative to] eating a whole steak per person, slice the steak and serve it over rice, pasta or salad."
Agrees LOSING2LIVELONG, don’t cut meat out altogether: "Use less meat in a dish and beef it up with veggies."
"Spend a month tracking all of your expenses," advises MIMI'SMOM. "[Everything] from bills to coffee to lunches out, then at the end of the month [take a look] and see where you spent [your money and see where you can cut [down or out]."
MORGAN_LE_FAY thinks that a strict budget belongs in the same category as a strict diet. "It’s a bad idea because you'll never stick to it. I think the first few months should be a trial period. The budget will need to be reassessed and adjusted a lot."
| MOM767’s Tips
- Eating out is expensive...even fast food. Cooking at home usually results in a savings, even if you buy some leaner, higher priced meats.
- Eating more reasonable sized portions of meats and higher calorie foods makes a little go a long way.
- Check farmers markets for fresh veggies. Or choose frozen veggies at the grocery store.
- Plan ahead so that you can freeze leftovers to have for meals later, rather than throwing away food.