Making your food dollar stretch
The price of basic living has really risen over the past few years. As the cost of luxuries like gas, heating, food and housing rises, it becomes even harder for people who are underemployed, taken pay cuts or who are looking for a new job to make ends meet. That's why finding ways to save money on groceries is so important.
In a recent survey by CouponDivas.com, 46% of the people polled said that they spend about two or three hours a week or more looking for coupons, making shopping lists by store and reading sales ads. Initially, I was surprised by their results. While a frugal shopper, I don't work that hard for a discount. If I have a coupon, I'll use it but I don't keep file folders filled with them. Then, as I started looking around, I found that the art of finding coupons is a growing interest field and their are several website communities that share discounts and tips.
That got me thinking about other ways to save money on groceries, with or without coupons. Here are 5 ways to stretch your food budget:
Shop less often - Every time I go into the grocery store to get just one or two specific things, I end up grabbing other things that I don't really need. It seems like just a couple bucks - and hey, there is no shame in grabbing a candy bar or a drink. It feels like a small thing, but it can add up. By decreasing the number of times you have to go into the store, you'll avoid temptation.
Plan out meals - This is difficult to get in the habit of, but it really does help. Plan out each meal for the week and use the menu plan to make your grocery list. If you look at a sales paper from your favorite grocery store before you start, you can try to plan meals around the sale items.
Make a list - Making a list just makes sense. If you want to avoid trips to the store, making sure that you have everything you need to make the items on your menu will help. Also, it prevents you from buying things you may not need but want to buy "just in case".
Buy a freezer - Having a separate small freezer is great for stocking up on meats and veggies when they are on sale. You don't have to get a huge one, even having a small freezer can make a big difference.
Be nice to your cashier - Especially if you are planning to use a lot of coupons, be kind to the cashier. Have your coupons and discounts organized and be pleasant.
The key to stretching your food budget is to plan ahead. When you look back at the way that people shopped 50 years ago, you'll see that these days, a good portion of our budget is spent on convenience. Think of the hour or two you'll spend as a job; if you can save $30 by spending an hour of your time, it's worth it.
Do you use coupons? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for Nexxt.. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.
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