How You Can Fix Your Grocery Budget in 2015

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It’s no secret that couponing has lost most of its magic.  Food prices are up, coupon values are down, and store policies have gotten very strict. A large portion of the coupon classes I’ve taught over the past decade focused on how to shop at grocery stores and avoid the overpriced big box stores. Many chose to switch their shopping to the Kroger family stores, which have recently closed in most of the local market.  It’s a rough loss, especially since shopping options are limited enough in my local market, but that doesn’t mean that you have to throw in the towel and pay full price!

Over the past couple of years, things have changed so much in my life that couponing became one of the first things to go.  Limits were imposed that made it difficult to justify the drive into town.  We began growing and producing more of our own produce and meats.  We also welcomed baby #3 into the family, which was a big adjustment considering our older children were pre-teens and teenagers.  We battled a long illness and are still battling chronic carsickness with him, which has greatly limited the time I have to shop.

Instead of blowing my budget, which seemed almost inevitable, I’ve settled on a combination of alternate savings techniques that have not only kept my budget in tact, I’m actually spending less money AND saving a ton of time.  Here’s how I’m doing it:

Shopping the Sales I’m not a supporter of price matching, but I am a big supporter of many of our local grocers.  We have a fantastic selection of mom and pop stores who run much better sales than any of the larger chains.  They have fantastic produce and meats, along with offering a pleasant shopping experience.  If you don’t have time to shop at multiple stores, pick the store that has the best prices and sales on the items that your family normally buys.  Don’t be quick to regard a grocer as ‘expensive’, because some of the more high end stores offer more competitive pricing- not only in their sales, but as everyday prices.  You won’t know until you go!

Knowing Your Prices This is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to save money on anything.  If you’re not aware of the retail price, you won’t be able to judge how much you’re saving.

Purchasing in Bulk In recent years, we shied away from warehouse stores because the prices were no longer competitive enough to justify the membership fees.  While many items are still not a bargain, some are highly discounted.  If you family’s tastes revolve around some of the deepest discounts, you can save quite a bit.  It’s always important to know your prices and break down the warehouse price to identical sized packages to have an accurate comparison.  Some of my favorite warehouse buys are butter, cheese, frozen biscuits, peanut butter crackers, packaged deli meats, and greek yogurt.

Meal Planning By planning your meals around the store sales, you can easily cut your grocery bill in half.  If chicken is on sale, base your menu on your favorite chicken dishes.  Not only will this save you money in the store, you will save time by having a dinner plan in place each night, and you won’t be making additional trips to the store or grabbing dinner out.

Freezer Cooking This is an extension of meal planning that allows you to prepare multiple meals in a short amount of time and freeze them for future use.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be providing detailed meal plans for both fresh and freezer meals.

Prime Pantry Amazon has a relatively new service for members of Amazon Prime.  This service allows you to order many grocery and household items at prices lower than discount stores, and they ship straight to your door.  Many of the items have coupons available, and some are as low as FREE after the discount.  I order items such as canned veggies, wipes, flour, sugar, and spices from Prime Pantry. We’ve created a Facebook group dedicated solely to Prime Pantry deals,.  If you’d like to join, click here: Prime Pantry Deals Facebook Page 

Subscribe and Save This is another free service that allows you to purchase discounted items from Amazon.  These deals are often hidden, so we have a group dedicated to finding them just for you!  We find some fantastic ones- such as  Kahlua Coffee for $2, Udderly Smooth for $1, 5 lb bags of gourmet coffee for $8, a 6 pack of 24 oz bags of organic brown sugar for $2.44, and so many more!  You can join this group here:  Subscribe and Save Deals II

Gardening  This will be our fourth summer in this home, and we have been working on an orchard and expanding the gardens every year.  This year, I’ll be spending more time documenting my garden and harvests, along with sharing recipes and preservation techniques for seasonal recipes.

Farming We raise chickens for eggs and the occasional meat, and we also raise pigs.  Doing so doesn’t necessarily offset the cost of purchasing in-store, in fact, it’s often the opposite, but it does make me more comfortable in what I feed my family.  We also utilize Zaycon for boneless chicken breasts and other bulk meat purchases.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be bringing you more in-depth articles covering these topics so that you, too, can take full control of your time and budget.  In the meantime, don’t forget to request to join the Prime Pantry and Subscribe and Save Facebook groups!  We only approve new members once a month in each group and there are limited spots available.  Get your name on the list now, so we can approve you when there’s space.

I will also be booking a limited number of workshops throughout the year, including The Ultimate Grocery Savings Workshop (which focuses on how to cut your personal budget with and without using coupons), and our popular work at home series, Sensible Earnings.

If you’d like even more details on the above, make sure to join The Sensible Family facebook group- it’s filled with great ideas from like minded readers!

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