With the instability lately with Justin's work, we have been trying to find some ways to cut our budget. We discovered that food costs were one of our biggest expenses as we buy organic whenever we can and eat very little processed food. I did some research and came across a book called Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half. It is written by "America's Cheapest Family" and wow did it really change the way I now shop and cook. The good thing is that none of the strategies involve clipping coupons for hours or shopping 10 different stores each week- in fact one of the best tips that I am using is grocery shopping once a month. It sounds a little crazy- but here is how it works:
1. Make a list of every meal you know how to make- I separated my list into different types of protein and vegetarian recipes
2. Look at your calendar for the month and plug in meals based on how busy your day is...i.e. if I will be in meetings at work till 7pm I'm doing a pot roast in the crock pot or if I am home at 3 I might make a more intricate meal. (You really only need about 20 meals because you will do leftovers about 2 nights per week)
3. Make a list of every item you need to make each of your meals, then cross items off your list that you already have in your kitchen
4. Check your store circular and decide which store has the majority of your items on sale.
5. If you have time check coupons- don't clip coupons for things you don't have on your list!
After just a couple months of doing this- we have saved a tremendous amount of money (and time) just by shopping once a month- I never realized how much I was spending just to stop by and pick up "a few things".
On my next post I'll talk about my once a month cooking day and a few other tips I picked up from the book.