Friday, February 20, 2009

How to Reduce Your Monthly Grocery Bill

Most people spend an outrageous amount of money on groceries each month. You can enjoy significant savings by putting in a little time and planning and following the five simple steps below.

The first step is to develop a budget. You will need to track your grocery receipts for a month, and then review them to see how much you spend and what you are purchasing. This will allow you to determine what your budget should be going forward and decide if there are certain items you can eliminate from your shopping list completely.

The second step to reducing your grocery spending is to get organized. Take an afternoon to arrange your pantry by placing like items together; for example, place all baking items on one shelf and all rice and pastas on another. This allows you to see at a glance what you have stocked and prevents repeat purchase of items on your subsequent shopping trips. Next, clean out your refrigerator and freezer. Get rid of any spoiled food and, again, place like items together. Having a clean and organized refrigerator will make certain that you use up fresh ingredients and leftovers before they go bad. Also, keep a dated list of what’s in your freezer. When something is eaten, simply cross it off the list and never again worry about tossing forgotten-about, freezer-burned foods.

Preparing menu plans is the third step. This can be done weekly or monthly. A menu plan allows you to arrange for use of ingredients on hand, eliminates the scramble of last minute dinner prep, and prevents extra shopping trips for missing ingredients. It will also decrease the number of times you run through the drive thru instead of preparing your own dinner.

The fourth step to take when trying to reduce your grocery bill is to cook from scratch. Purchasing convenience foods, like packaged cookies, dinner kits, and deli counter fare will escalate you grocery bill quickly. Prepare your own dry mixes and store in labeled zipper seal bags with cooking instructions. By preparing your own dry mixes for items like cookies, cakes, breads, rice & dips you will make your dollar stretch further than if you purchase the convenience counterparts. Also, don’t forget to utilize your freezer. Taking one day a month to pre-cook freezable meals allows you to buy in bulk, which can save a lot of money, especially in the meat department.

The last step to reducing your monthly grocery bill is to spruce up your shopping habits. Never shop without a grocery list. Walking into a store without a plan sets you up to purchase a majority of convenience foods, increases the chance of forgetting important ingredients and multiplies the opportunity for impulse buys. Always be conscious of your impulse buying habits as when you are aware of your habits you can nip them in the bud before you cave in to your desires. Lastly, always look for sales and use coupons if you have them.

By taking the time to plan and implement the steps above you will see a significant savings in your grocery bill. Besides the financial reward, you will reward your body with a healthier diet and you will save time in the kitchen. You can’t lose when you try to save!

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