1. Get organized in the kitchen. Take an inventory of what you have, what you use most often, and where you keep it. If you haven’t already done so, create a master shopping list with items you most frequently buy. For me, I have two master shopping lists – one for the grocery store, and one for the discount chain. The reason for this, is toilet paper, paper towels, baggies, and wraps are all cheaper at the discount chain – as well as detergents, fabric softeners, cleaners and a load of other products. Don’t waste your hard-earned money picking these up from a grocery store for more cash.
2. Figure out where the things you buy cost the least. For me, it was Wal-mart, however I prefer Target so even though some of their products are a few cents more, I enjoy my Target shopping experience more, so I go there. If you find that your grocery store has an item that is normally cheaper than the discount chain, then add it on that list. This is what I take shopping with me each time I go. I add to the bottom of the list any new ingredients I need for a new recipe or something I don’t use all the time but finally ran out of. Yes, I have had 3 jars of peanut butter in my cupboard at once, but trust me – it does get used eventually and I just remember that the next time I go to the store.
3. Make a meal list. What’s a meal list? A meal list is a list of your most often made meals. Count up how many you have. Then fill in the spots. If you want two weeks worth of recipes, but you only have 10 recipes, you need to find 4 new ones. You can either find 4 new one’s or you can eat out four times in that two weeks. It’s your choice how you do that. It also gives you the chance to try new recipes once a week, and eat out – which some people really enjoy doing. The only thing I will say about eating out, is – it truly adds up. Just add up your eating out and you might wind up having $200 in ONE week! It’s amazing how it all adds up so quick, but cooking at home is definitely more efficient. We still eat out once a week, and occasionally have lunch out, but the majority of dinners are home cooked meals.
4. Once you have your meal list, you need to make a list of what ingredients aren’t on your MASTER grocery list, and what items you might still need. This will be your add on list and will become very important. Keep in mind, that if you decide to rotate your meal schedule every two weeks, you could probably add these items to your master list, as you will need them each time you shop.
5. Collect coupons, scout grocery ads and GO Shopping! Be sure to take advantage of any double coupon deals your grocery store chain offers (strangely one chain offers the double discount at one store, but not the other for us). Strange but true. Start clipping coupons and scouring the Internet for any specials. Be sure and visit your most often used products websites – typically they have coupons there for you to download and print. Just become a coupon collector – it really isn’t hard. Coupons in hand, go shopping. Try to stick to your list. Don’t buy “extras” not on your list unless you’ve thought long and hard how you’re going to use them in the kitchen.
An Extra Note: The last tip is – cooking from scratch is a LOT cheaper than cooking from a box. Although hamburger helper is very fast, just add meat and whatever – the box itself is sometimes more than $2 and only makes that small amount. If you cook from scratch – you can make MORE than what is needed and have leftovers for lunch the next day, OR freeze it to use it later.