After all the fuss about TLC’s show Extreme Couponing. I decided to start a series on lowering your grocery bill without cutting a single coupon.
Spending 6 hours cutting coupons is NOT realistic. For some, spending an hour is NOT realistic. However, that does not mean you can not save.
Follow me over the next few weeks, as I share my top 8 tips for cutting that grocery bill without touching a single coupon!
Step 1 To Lowering Your Grocery Bill: Meal Planning & Shopping at Home
If you have read this blog for a while, or sat through one of my coupon workshops, you know that I am BIG on Meal Planning. Confession: Before I started couponing, I would just head to Walmart, walk up & down each aisle, putting what I thought I needed, & what looked good in the buggy. Before I knew it, I was at the checkout with $250 worth of junk groceries. I did this routinely week after week, and I would still have plenty in my pantry. I never made or stuck to a Meal Plan.
Why Should You Meal Plan?
The answer is simple. It will save you time, money, your health, and sanity.
Meal Planning reduces trips back & forth to the grocery store. Ever had to run to the store to pick up something to eat just for that night? Never again!
Meal Planning also reduces impluse shopping. That $250 worth I had, most all was impulse shopping. Impulse shopping will quickly blow your budget! Be aware of end caps, special displays, & sampling booths. These are all marketing ploys to get you to buy! If you REALLY want that sample, because it smells so good, or because you are really hungry, I advise SHOP FIRST, THEN SAMPLE. This way, you can taste, & checkout.
Meal Planning provides better nutrition for your family. Eating out is unhealthy & costly. Running out of time, not having a menu for the night = eating quick & easy ( also very unhealthy) convenience foods. When you have everything laid out, you will likely see you have more time to cook wholesome sides.
Many get intimidated by the words “Meal Plan” thinking it has to be elaborate. WRONG. For example, tonight I fed my family Grilled Cheese on wheat, celery sticks, & cantaloupe. The produce I got on sale very cheap, I had plenty of cheese in stock, and the only other item I had to buy was my favorite Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat bread!
BUT WAIT, NO MEAT?
Nope, while many feel they need meat at every meal, I promise you do not. My husband found that hard to swallow at first, but he is fine. This is not how we eat every night, but my point is that you do not need a BIG meal with meat, bread, & potatoes at every sitting. It also saves on the belt & wallet too *wink wink*
Where do I start? How do I Meal Plan?
First, I suggest starting off with 2 weeks worth of your favorite recipes & stick with them. There is nothing wrong with eating the same dishes. Trust me when I say this will make it easier.
1. Shop at Home. You heard me, go to that pantry and see what you already have in it to cook. I once cleaned out my grandmother’s HUGE pantry to find that she had 4 bottles of Ragu pasta sauce, when she did not realize she had a single one. Pasta anyone???
2. Scour ads to find what Main entree items are on special. Eat from what’s on sale. If whole chickens are on sale for $.89 lb, then it looks like we will be having crockpot chicken, rather than pork chops. All I will need is a few veggies to throw in with the chicken & voila!
3. Once you got your Main dishes down, add filler side items.
4. Make a complete list of EVERYTHING you will need to these meals.
5. Once again – shop at home. See if ANY of the ingredients on your list are already in your house.
6. Check your weekly Calendar. If you got a 7:00 TBall game, then that lasagna might need to be for another night.
7. Post your Weekly Meal Plan on your refrigerator. This will help when everyone asks, ” Mom/Honey, what’s for dinner?” It will also help you to remember each morning what to lay out.
Now, you all must take a vow to never go grocery shopping again without a meal plan. Raise your right hand and repeat after me, ” I….(state your name) hereby promise never to go to the grocery store without my meal plan in hand.”
So now, tell me, how many of you make a list before heading to the store? AND, how many of you actually STICK to the list?