I look back on the time before my husband and I had our first child and I am astounded on how much we spent on groceries. Our average was around 550-575 dollars per month plus eating out occasionally. Now with 2 children, a dog, and all diapers and toiletries factored into our budget we spend $350 per month or less. The thing is, I feel like I have a reason to save money and eat better now. My two sweet boys won't be babies forever and we need to save to provide for their wants and needs when they're older. This will be the first of a series in ways to save money as a military spouse. If you aren't military, don't quit reading, lots of this will apply to you too!
1. Quit buying convenience meals! Cook from scratch instead, not only is it cheaper, its also healthier! There are so many things that are easy to make yourself, but that people buy at a huge mark-up to save time. Things like pizza for instance; it costs between 3 and 5 dollars to buy a pizza, but you can make it yourself in very little time and for around 3 dollars for 2 pizzas.
2. Use coupons with judgment. If a coupon is for something you weren't planning to buy and doesn't save you a dramatic amount of money, don't bother! For instance, if I see coupons for frozen dinners, I don't even clip them. I know I can buy and make it for less than the cost of buying it pre-packaged, even with a coupon. I don't buy the paper or anything for coupons, but if I see a tear pad with a coupon I use, I'll grab a few extras for next time. Same with the coupon books at the front of the store. Unless a coupon expires today, it doesn't have to be used today!
3. Don't assume the commissary is always cheapest! In the beginning, I bought absolutely everything at the commissary because they sell at cost. Since talking to other spouses and doing some investigating of my own, I have found lots of things have better prices elsewhere. We have a winco, so I get all of my baking supplies, pasta, and spices there. Cinnamon is $2 a POUND there instead of $2.19 for a small container at the commissary. Walmart has better prices on milk and diapers. So once a month, I make a trip to Winco and Walmart for those things. I get all my produce and meat at the commissary since the prices haven't been beat elsewhere...at least not that I've found. If you aren't military, just check prices at your usual stores versus their competition to be sure you're getting the best deal.
4. Cut out the junk! Soda is my weakness and I'm still working on cutting it out completely. I know I could save a ton of money right there. This goes for chips, candy, cookies, etc. If your grocery budget needs trimming, look here first and see what items you can cut out.
5. Try generics. This is one people find hard to get accustomed to sometimes, but you can gradually cut in the generics with your regular brand to get used to it. I did this with cereal for my kids when we switched from Lucky Charms to the Malt O' Meal brand. I kept the lucky charms box, mixed the two cereals together and filled the box as it emptied until we had totally switched to the off brand. My kids had no idea so there was no fussing.
6. Cut your packages of meat in half. I've found most packs of meat at my store are 1.5 pounds. Most recipes call for a pound of meat, so instead of having my food extra meaty, we have just a little less meat per meal. My family hasn't seemed to mind a bit.
Hope this has been helpful to someone!
Linking up to: Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Adorned From Above