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15+ Money-Savings Tips on Buying Groceries and Making Them Last

L.M. Hosler has had a self-education in money management. Many times, she has had to work extra side jobs in order to pay her bills.

Knowing just a few strategies for saving money at the grocery store can go a long way when your budget is tight.

Knowing just a few strategies for saving money at the grocery store can go a long way when your budget is tight.

Knowing How to Save on Groceries During Rough Times Is a Critical Skill

Life goes through cycles where most times are rosy and times are good. Sometimes, money is not a problem, but then come the dark days and rough times of depression and recession. Many of us experience those rough times throughout our lifetimes, and we need to learn new ways, or perhaps adopt old ways, to survive the bad times. Hopefully, the following tips will help.

Groceries Are Expensive

Today, young families with children are still struggling with the high cost of feeding their children just as much as the generations before them. Raising and feeding several hungry children on a daily basis is a struggle and can be quite stressful.

This is nothing new. Parents have struggled through rough times before, wondering just how they could make it some days. And our parents had the same worries. Looking back to when my parents raised eight children, I have often wondered how they did it.

Budgeting Is an Important Skill

But we were lucky enough that we grew up on a farm where we raised our own chickens, cows, and pigs. We also grew much of our own food with our gardens, and our mothers worked long and hard canning fruits and vegetables each year.

Times have changed, though, and now many of our young people do not have the means to grow their own food or the skills to cook and preserve food. Now they must look at what other options they have to save some money while also learning some of the old ways.

Tip #1: Visit Farmer's Markets

One thing to consider doing is to see if there are any local farms in your area that will sell you fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs. In my area, Amish farms will often have roadside stands selling fresh vegetables and fruits in the summer. Look for farmer's markets, where you can buy in bulk and learn to can and freeze vegetables.

Check to see if there is a butcher shop where you might be able to buy fresh meats cheaper than the grocery store. I personally now buy a quarter of a beef and freeze it. I paid $3.85 a pound for that beef as compared to the high price of over $5 a pound for hamburger meat at the grocery store.

Shopping at farmer's markets can be fun— and it can also save money on fruits and vegetables.

Shopping at farmer's markets can be fun— and it can also save money on fruits and vegetables.

Tip #2: Use Coupons to Save Money

Coupons have been around for years. I was one of those parents who used coupons and bought on sale. In fact, one of my sons one day said, "Mom will never buy us cereal unless it is on sale and she has a coupon for it." He was right. I didn't because I couldn't afford to.

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The use of coupons can save a lot of money at the checkout as long as you don't buy things you don't need just because you have a coupon. Also, if the coupon does not bring the price lower than a generic brand, you probably should not use the coupon.

Look for coupons in your local and Sunday paper. Today, many coupons can be obtained online or using a store application where you can choose what coupons you can use.

So, get your friends together; everyone brings their coupons they don't use, some snacks and drinks, and have a fun evening of coupon swapping and socializing.

Tip #3 Stretch Your Food Dollars by Making the Most of Your Meat

Most people have probably learned that one of the best ways to save money is to buy large pieces of meat that will make several meals. Roasting a large chicken for a nice meal of mashed potatoes, filling, gravy, and a vegetable will also leave leftovers to be used in various ways, such as chicken salad or chicken and waffles.

We all know how after that Thanksgiving turkey, we wonder just how we will use all that turkey up and not let it go to waste. A nice piece of roast beef and ham can also provide several more dishes, and leftovers can also be frozen.

6 Tips for Saving More at the Grocery Store

  1. Get your local store flyer and check their ads for sales.
  2. Plan a week of meals around the sales.
  3. Check your coupons to see which ones you might use on items on sale and items on your weekly menu.
  4. Some days our local store will put some of their meat items on sale with a $2 or $3 off label because they want to get rid of it to bring new out. They don't want that meat sitting out there and spoiling. They would rather sell it at a lower price. Check your store to see if they have a certain day they do this. It may be the day they are starting new sales for the week.
  5. Another popular sales pitch at my stores in the meat department is the "buy one get one free" items. I have managed to buy one pork roast and get two free pork roasts. Another time it was "buy one pack of pork chops, get two free packs." That is when I fill up the freezer. There are other items also that are "buy one get one or two free." Thomas English muffins often come on sale where you "buy one and get two free packs". Like meats, they will store in the freezer quite well.
  6. Most major grocery stores with a bakery department will also offer day-old baked goods 50% off. Most of those items are still very fresh. I make it a habit to look for their big-size muffins when they are half price. I found two packs recently, six blueberry and six banana nut muffins. I took them home, separated them into small freezer bags, froze them, and I thaw them as needed.

9 Additional Money-Saving Grocery Tips

  1. Pasta like spaghetti is a good, cheap dish to make. Add a salad and some garlic bread, and you have a good supper. A cheap way to make garlic bread is to use regular bread buttered on both sides, sprinkled with garlic salt or powder to taste, and grill.
  2. A pound of cheese and a loaf of bread make lots of grilled cheese sandwiches; just add some tomato soup to go with it.
  3. Soups can go a long way in helping to stretch that food dollar. That leftover beef, some mixed vegetables, and your favorite vegetables are thrown together in the crockpot to make a nice warm soup for cold winter days.
  4. Quit feeding your kids all that expensive cereal and make them some cheaper pancakes, French toast, or even frozen waffles in the morning. I know most parents work these days, and it's a rush off to work and school. But French toast and pancakes can be made ahead, frozen, and heated in the microwave in just a few minutes.
  5. There are many uses for stale bread that is still good; freeze it until needed, then use it for grilled cheese, french toast, or make your own stuffing.
  6. Buy some items in bulk, such as non-perishable items or meats that can be separated and frozen.
  7. If you are lucky enough to live where you have room for a garden, grow your own vegetables, and even learn how to can and freeze those vegetables and fruits.
  8. Invest in some good cookbooks.
  9. Buy a crockpot. Parents are so busy that a crockpot is essential. Those chickens, roasts, and ham can cook while Mom is working.

How Much Can You Save?

These ideas can help cut the cost of feeding your family, but there are lots of other ideas and ways to survive when hard economic times hit our wallets. How much you save depends on how much time and effort you want to put into saving money and how much of your budget you can spend on feeding your family.

Perhaps your time to do other things is more important, or perhaps you are well off enough that this is something you are lucky enough not to worry about. For the rest of us, we must remember: Each generation has faced the same struggle, and hopefully, we will be able to pass on some of the wisdom of how to survive hard economic times.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 L.M. Hosler

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