The news has been bulging with stories addressing the rising costs of food. While I won’t go into much detail here as to why, how much and for how long, I will address the ways we can fight the rising cost of food. I have been a relatively “hard core couponer” for a few years, and for years I have stated that I mainly coupon for toiletries and household necessities and not food because the food coupons produce is unhealthy and items my family won’t eat, I have slowly been coming around to the idea that you can find a deal on almost anything if you work at it. Here are a few tips on how to keep your grocery budget down while keeping your family healthy and fed:

1) Set A Budget. This sounds so basic but you would be surprised how many people don’t have a strict budget that they stick to. It should be realistic but don’t leave yourself too much wiggle room or else you will find yourself always on the upper side of things.

2) Coupon! While it may not seem like coupons in your Sunday paper offer much in the ways of nutrition, you might be surprised. I use coupons for whole wheat pasta, milk, yogurt and meat. You can also contact manufacturers and request coupons. I have found great success in this.

3) Become a Drugstore Shopper. With my weekly Walgreens trips, I have seen my spending on toiletries plummet. I don’t EVER pay for toothpaste, toothbrushes, or deodorant anymore. And I find rock bottom deals on almost every other household and personal necessity by shopping CVS and Walgreens with couponing scenarios and oftentimes I am even paid to shop. With savings from this area of your budget, you do gain a little more wiggle room for food purchases.

4) Build a Stockpile. This is the number one benefit of couponing. When you have a stockpile, you are never forced to pay full price for items because you always have another one on hand. There are no desperation trips to the store to buy a certain item because you have the luxury of searching for the bargain and slowly adding to your stockpile. A well stocked pantry can help you create simple meals without a trip to the store!

5) Make Meal Plans and Cook from Scratch. You know what they say? If you fail to plan you plan to fail. A meal plan will help you stick to your list and stick to your budget. In addition, cook from scratch. You will save money. Bake homemade bread, make your own freezer meals, and cook in bulk from scratch, all this will save you money! Don’t forget, you are PAYING for the convenience of convenience foods.

6) Shop the Manager’s Special. Don’t be afraid of the “sell by” or “best before dates”. Stores drastically mark down things like meat before they are expired for a quick sell. If you buy on the day of the expiration, either cook it that day for freeze it. I have saved a TON of money on meat shopping the Manager’s special.

7) Carry a Calculator and Pay Attention to Price Per Ounce. I always shop with the calculator on my phone. It helps me break things down and be sure I am getting the best deal. Pay attention to price per ounce, sometimes things may look like a better deal but when you compare price per ounce it is not always the case. In addition, pay attention to the price you are charged. I’ve been overcharged a number of times!

8) Shop Around. Generally, I shop at¬†Meijer because it is closest and they have consistently had the lower prices on the items I buy most. But this is not always the case. Every store has a loss leader meaning they drive customers in for the low cost item that may actually lose them money in hopes that the customer will then buy some of their other items that are overpriced to compensate. Be familiar with best prices and when you see a store with a rock bottom deal on something you need, jump on it, but just on that. Don’t buy anything but what you were going for unless you are sure it is fairly priced.

 Simple Mom Solutions