Tonight the women at my church are having an event entitled "More Bang for your Buck." We've all submitted our favorite money-saving ideas to share with one another. So, I thought I would post mine here as well. I look forward to sharing others' ideas after this event. Some of these ideas have been in previous posts and are just slightly re-stated here, so I apologize for any repetition.
After quitting my full-time job 18 months ago, it was more imperative than ever for us to trim our budget in any way possible. I have saved tons on our grocery bill and I don’t clip that many coupons, nor do I drive all over town shopping the best deals. The following list includes money-saving places where I shop as well as a few on-line resources for saving money.
Aldi: It’s small but they have most of the stuff I need, including produce. They also have their own line of healthy items, Fit & Active, that I really like. Go to http://aldi.us/index_ENU_HTML.htm to see their weekly specials.
Big Lots: Also a great place for food bargains. I find really healthy, expensive bread there for $1 a loaf and just freeze it. You never know exactly what they'll have but I have found fantastic deals there.
Wal-Mart (of course)
A local salvage grocery store: Featuring dented cans & boxed items, close-to-the-date items (and some shelf items past their date so you have to look carefully.) This place is hit-or-miss. I’ve found amazing deals and come back with unbelievable buys. Others who have gone weren’t as impressed. I like to think of it as a treasure hunt and it’s always been worth my trip over there. I typically go once a month.
Plan Ahead, Shop Your Pantry, & Use Supercook:
It's no secret; planning menus in advance saves us money, time, and stress. I am not known for being a good planner but it's really not tough to write a week or two's worth of meals on a dry-erase board. Second, shop your pantry, freezer, and fridge. What do you have? Got a random can of pumpkin? Make pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins. Got a can of tuna and a bag of egg noodles? Presto! You've got tuna noodle casserole for dinner. One of my favorite free web-sites is http://www.supercook.com/. You type in any ingredients you may have in your house and it provides a list of recipes. I have made many a new meal during lean times with random pantry items, a bag of pinto beans, and the internet. Look at it as being resourceful and creative!
Having a goal for anything helps to keep me on track since I am not naturally disciplined in any area of my life. One month this past summer I set an incentive for keeping my grocery bill under a certain amount for the month. If I succeeded, I got a “prize.” It worked and I got the prize. The Man didn't think I could do it and the competitive part of me wanted to show him I could!
http://www.thegrocerygame.com/: Grocery Game is a website that can save you hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill each month. Log in, spend a few minutes with a pair of scissors, and you're off to win The Grocery Game! When you play, you'll get a weekly list (called Teri's List) of the lowest-priced products at your supermarket matched with manufacturers' coupons and weekly specials -- advertised and unadvertised. The Grocery Game does all the hard work and research, and presents it to you in a straightforward format. (–explanation taken from the web-site) The grocery game isn’t free but you do get a free one-month trial when you sign up. After that it’s $10 for 8 weeks for one store.
http://www.mygrocerydeals.com/: This FREE site is really easy to use. Simply register to become a member, enter your zip code, click on the stores where you shop and my grocery deals shows you all the sales that week at the stores you’ve clicked on. Flag items you want to purchase; the web-site allows you to print out a handy shopping list to take with you. This is super easy and fast!
http://www.angelfoodministries.com/: A national ministry to provide a month’s worth of balanced meals for a bargain! Anyone can purchase. You go on-line, see the month’s menu, & pre-order. For $30 you can purchase a box of food. For $16-$20 you can purchase supplemental specials (grill specials, produce specials, & holiday specials.)