Two or three years ago, I started to dedicate a few shelves in the basement to extra food storage. The purpose of these shelves is to allow me to take advantage of sales at the grocery store to a larger extent. Recently, the added benefit of this practice has caught up to our house. The budget got tight this summer due to several extra and unusual expenses. Okay, time to trim the store trips down quite a bit in order to keep everything in the black without touching the savings account.
I’ve cut the purchases down without cutting our planned menu or changing the family’s eating habits. This is helping our checking account get back on track in a way that the rest of the family doesn’t even notice. Of course, we’ve made some other spending adjustments to help the account, but the focus for this entry is the grocery store.
During super sales such as 10 for $10, I purchase several bags of pretzels, Chex Mix, pasta, and other favorites of the house. At a dollar each, many of these items are half price or better. With the extra storage space I can have enough of our regular items on hand until the next time these items are 10 for $10. My husband loves his Coke – we don’t drink coffee – and I told him I don’t like to pay more than a dollar per two liter (regular price $1.69). That does mean some floor space in the basement, but it must not bother him too greatly because I haven’t heard any grumbling.
I’ve also tried to keep further ahead on things we use frequently. I former days, I’d have at most one extra of each item in the cupboard. Now I keep a few of each item. I keep a small list in the corner of my grocery list for the things which I need to replace when they go on sale. It’s been working quite well. I keep this list in the corner because I don’t want to confuse it with things we need this week (and potentially end up spending more than I have to). I also find that the store usually has things on sale which aren’t advertised, so I can’t rely on the current sales flier as complete information.
I’ve gotten comfortable with having less empty space in the fridge and freezer. Blocks of mozzarella and cheddar freeze well, as does lunch meat (thus allowing me to take advantage of buy X, get $X off). I keep at least 4 dozen eggs on hand as they are good well beyond the date printed on the container, and again I don’t like paying $1.79 versus $1.00. To do this, you need to decide how much storage space you’re willing (and able) to dedicate to extra food.
This is not couponing – although I’d like to try that and cut our costs more. This is shopping smarter for long term savings. Initially, the grocery bills are higher. How much higher depends on how much ahead you’re planning and the cost of the items you’re purchasing. Once you establish your extra stash, you’ll be able to cut the shopping back to sales only for many items and the grocery bills will drop. If you’ve planned well, they should drop to a lower point than when you started and consistently stay there. I routinely save 25-35 percent on my grocery bills, and am not a stranger to 40 percent or better.
I’m sharing this for those who want to save more on groceries and need encouragement to do so. Keep the long term goal in sight and before you know it you’ll be there.