You never know when financial disaster will strike. If you’re a regular reader of MoneyNing, chances are good that you’re prepared for a setback, but many young families are not. Many 18 to 25 year olds are starting families, and they may still have that invincible mindset that doesn’t lend well to preparing for emergencies. I’ve talked with many young mothers who come in looking for help, often in tears, because they don’t have enough groceries to feed their family every month.
While this is a complex problem with multiple causes, part of the solution is teaching young people how to shop smarter and not overspend at the grocery store. “My sister can feed a family of four on $200 a month,” said one nurse. “That’s the type of skill we need to be teaching these young mothers, so they can survive when times get tough.” While shopping skills may seem like common sense, they aren’t. Young shoppers often feel overwhelmed in a store and lose focus.
Even if you’re not a young parent trying to stretch a dollar to feed your babies, you can use these tips to participate in a one month “grocery fast” to make a little room in your budget, get control of your monthly spending, or challenge yourself to spend less.
How to Shop Smarter in the Grocery Store
4 Things NOT to Buy:
1. Prepared food like frozen entrees and boxed dinners. These items are overpriced — not to mention loaded with sugar, preservatives, fat, and extra calories.
2. Soda pop, drink mixes, and bottled water. When you’re cutting back, drink tap water. An occasional glass of milk or brewed tea isn’t too expensive, but tap water doesn’t add anything to your grocery budget.
3. Prepared sauces like gravy, spaghetti sauce, or alfredo sauce.
4. Individual snack servings like little raisin boxes, packaged snack cakes, pudding cups, or gelatin cups.
7 Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips:
1. Purchase canned tomato sauce. This staple can often be bought on sale and altered for many recipes. Add a little brown sugar and hamburger to make sloppy joes, add a tablespoon of white sugar and some spices to make inexpensive spaghetti sauce, or use as a chili base.
2. Instead of buying lunch meat or frozen meat, purchase fresh meats from the clearance section that are near their expiration date. You can freeze them in separate bags at home, or use them in stews and casseroles.
3. Shop at a grocery store that lets you bag your own groceries. Even if you have to load your purchases in the back of the car in a laundry basket, you’ll be saving money.
4. Learn to calculate the unit price of foods. Compare brands by using this price to get the best deals. For example, 12 ounces of peaches for $1 is a better deal than 16 ounces for $1.45.
5. Buy staples like potatoes, pasta, canned vegetables, and bread, and forgo snacks and easy ready-to-eat meals.
6. Shop locally for vegetables and baked goods. You can often get fresh veggies or baked goods inexpensively by visiting your neighborhood bakery or fruit stand. Many times, these sellers will have reduced price foods that they need to sell quickly.
7. Don’t bother with coupons. The cost of buying a Sunday paper coupled with the higher cost of buying a name brand item is often still more expensive than buying the generic equivalent.
What frugal shopping tips do you have for families that are running out of money at the end of the month?
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Several of my friends signed up and they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves them so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier at the same time.