There is never a better time than NOW to take control of your spending. Some people just seem to do this naturally, but for most of us, it’s a continual work in progress. Observing prices at your local grocery store may have you thinking that it is simply easier and less expensive to visit a restaurant or a drive-thru. Do not victimize yourself and your bank account with this attitude. It is true if you want it to be. Practice and build habits that are more friendly to you, your family, and your wallet.
Get Over the Leftover
How can anyone be above the simple reheat? Chances are that if you have ever dined in a restaurant, something on your pretty plate was made in the days prior to your visit. Complex sauces and side dishes are often made in large batches and held for 1-4 days depending on the ingredients. Quality meats are often recycled into tomorrow’s savory sandwiches. Fresh croutons and breadcrumbs are made from day-old bread. You are already consuming yesterday’s preparations at a premium price, so why would you ever deny yourself the same permissions at home? Not only is it quite simple to microwave a dish, or warm one up in an oven, but it is also convenient and cost-effective. Definitely don’t throw your leftover food away! (unless it’s just about spoiled) That is tantamount to tossing cash in the trash. Freeze your own future TV dinner if need be, and thank yourself later.
What are the things you eat on a daily or weekly basis? What are your personal dietary requirements? These are going to be your essentials and the basis of your food budget. Yes, your budget is your guideline. You might find that these essentials consume the bulk of your meal expenses, and that is okay. What would you like to have? That is a secondary consideration. Savvy shoppers answer this question by reviewing weekly ads from neighborhood grocers. Any purchases in excess of the bare necessities should either be on sale, or have an applicable coupon. The complex palates need not worry since these products vary from week to week, but you will need to do some brief homework before ever entering into a store. These sale items can be found online and in your mailboxes. Many grocers offer special discounts and rewards to cardholders. Is this where you draw the line? Don’t! It’s too easy and FREE. It is part of the process of saving money and it is more than worth your time and participation. You can save over 50% sometimes on things you have to buy anyway! Why wouldn’t you want to reward yourself for 5 minutes, or less, of your time? Figure out beforehand exactly what you will be purchasing, and at what particular grocery store. Be willing to shop at more than one. Stores will often lure you in with rock-bottom prices on a few select items, but overcharge for certain essential items to compensate profits. Do your advertisement research and you can easily learn to override this system. The frugal expert takes note of which day of the week a sale begins and ends. Valuable comparisons can be made when current ads are running, and future ads are previewed. There may be worthwhile savings in making certain purchases on a Wednesday instead of a Tuesday. Make your list, and check it more than twice.
The deals can be extremely sweet sometimes. Seasonal items, excess product, and prime shelf space are all motivations for mark-downs. Take full advantage and stock up when you can. Sales don’t last forever, but your freezer at home can hold on to a few irresistible deals, especially when purchasing fresh, raw meat at very low prices. There are some things that your household uses everyday, like soap and paper products. It’s better to buy more of these at their lowest possible cost. They will be used and will not expire. You’ll want to keep an eye out for purchase limits on sale items. These are going to be your “hot buys.”
Almost everyone is guilty of throwing hard-earned money directly into the dumpster. Watch your produce and your proteins closely as these are the main culprits. Taking one day a week to evaluate your inventory can help ease this pain in the pocketbook. Choose some effortless emergency preparations for foods that are caught in perishable purgatory. Hopefully you understand the importance of making friends with your freezer by now. Fruits and veggies can also be roasted and turned into delectable ingredients. Most of all, be honest with yourself before and after your shopping trip. Realize what you intended to buy, for good reasons, that just didn’t end up getting eaten. These are often the same items each week, so decide what else you can do with them, or go a time or two without putting them in your cart .
Buy Convenience Foods
Having meals on hand you can make in about 5 minutes just may keep you from rushing out the door and into a drive-thru feeding frenzy. Face it, our days do not always go as planned. We may just find ourselves unexpectedly short on time and too hungry to wait for traditional meal preparation. This is also advised for those who neither have the skills nor the desire to actually cook. Instant, just add water, microwaveable, ready-to-eat groceries are reliable options when necessary. They are not usually the healthiest source of nutrients, but having them on hand will prove helpful on occasion.
Treat Yo Self
Yes! Restaurant dining can be viewed as a reward. Perhaps you’ve been eyeing a beautiful filet mignon in the case of the butcher’s block. Some people crave crab legs, while others just want pizza delivery. Whatever your heart is set on, leave cause to indulge in your favorite tastes. Recognize the value of keeping to a budget by enjoying something extraordinary every once in a while. Acknowledge, embrace, and celebrate the exquisite flavors of life! A moderately frugal grocery budget should be the norm, and a special treat should be rare and intentionally savored.
Share with Others
We have all seen struggles in one form or another. Someone out there in the world will always have more than you. Someone will always have less. Some people have no opportunity at all to shop or choose the things they will eat today, much less tomorrow. Setting aside or donating even $1 per week can go a long way for someone in desperate need. Local food banks are ALWAYS accepting perishables, non-perishables, and cash. Peanut butter makes a great donation as a food source that needs no refrigeration, and no preparation. $1 can go quite far at the food bank. They are the masters of providing the most bang per charitable buck. Having money leftover to help others is a reward in itself. Check your grocery ads and start saving today!