Money management is not exactly a talent of mine. I was raised with the attitude of "We don't buy something until it's on sale, but if it's on sale, then we buy three!" That works if you're buying canned tomatoes, but not so much if you're buying Girbaud jeans (do you remember those? How cool were you if you wore those pants?)
Anyway, I have found a few little tricks to save money, especially with grocery shopping. No, not coupons. I tried that for a while but it was too overwhelming. Hats off to all you couponers.
Here's what I do:
1. Make a monthly menu. I got this idea over at Camille's Casa, and she's going to do a guest post on it later this month so I won't go in to too much detail. Basically the idea is to make a menu of all your family will eat for a month, then do one massive grocery trip. You can buy in bulk and save money. You'll probably still have to go back to the store for milk, eggs, and other perishables, but at least you won't be going as often.
What I like about this:
Hello, no stress over what to make for dinner! You already know what you're having (woot!) and you know you have all the ingredients (double woot!).
It makes it easier to be sure you're doing the things you know are good for you, ie. eating fish, whole grains, etc.
And, I specifically plan my kids' favorite meals to be about 3 days apart so that when my oldest complains "You never make anything I like for dinner," I can smile sweetly at her and point at that we did, in fact, eat Hawaiian Haystacks 2 nights ago. So calm down and eat your casserole. :)
Best of all, it really does save money. I just did my month of shopping today (yeah, I know it's the 8th. Give me a break) and I only spent $130. I'll probably go back for diapers, milk, etc. during the month, but I doubt our total grocery bill this month will be more than $300.
What I don't like about this: It takes a lot of time to plan it out. Probably no more than you would spend if you added up all the time you spend worrying about what you're doing for dinner each day though.
2. Bountiful Baskets. This is the best thing ever! It's a co-op (not a business out to make money) for buying produce. Some sweet ladies take the time to make the order to some produce farmers and we get the benefits! You get a laundry basket full of food-- half fruits, half veggies-- all for $15. ($25 if you want organic, but I'm not that committed). It's available in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington. You can order your basket on Monday, starting at noon, until Tuesday at 10pm (Yes, that's now. It's okay if you click over there and place your order, but come back!) Then you pick it up Saturday morning. Easy peasy.
What I like about this:
Your produce is so much cheaper. I usually order a basket every other week and it has saved lots of money on our fruits/veggies.
I feel like we eat more produce because we have it in the house. We also eat a greater variety of things I might not have purchased myself, but because they were in the basket.
They sometimes have extras to add on to your basket (this week it's 24 pounds of Honeycrisp apples for $18. I paid $2.29 a pound for those at Macey's this morning!). The extras are always a great deal. They do 9 grain bread, 5 loaves for $10, and it's SO yummy! Or cookies, rolls, green chili peppers..... just whatever is in season. Usually you can order a boatload of something and then preserve it in some way (canning, freezer jam, dehydrate).
What I don't like about this:
Their website is confusing. Do your best and you'll figure out how to place your order, but it may take a minute.
You don't get any say over what's in your basket. We've ended up with some strange stuff in there like okra, swiss chard, brussells sprouts. But again, it forces you to try new things and it turns out I like brussels sprouts! Most of the time the produce is fairly benign; there's always bananas, salad ingredients, apples.
What do you to save money on groceries?