Ringing in the new year brings opportunities for a fresh start and making changes. Have you made those New Year's resolutions yet? You know... the ones you make every year and then forget about by the second week of January? Why not make this the year you follow through with your resolution to makeover your budget and get your finances under control? For many families, after the rent or mortgage, food is their greatest expense. We all have to eat, right? Let's talk about some strategies to help you save money on groceries in 2018.
First, invest in a deep freeze. Having a deep freeze will give you the ability to buy meat, produce, and baking supplies when they're on sale at the best price, and freeze them for later use. You can get amazing deals on frozen turkeys and hams around the holidays! The same with baking supplies, especially right after Christmas. Your baking supplies, like flour, will stay fresher longer if stored in the deep freeze. And, if you learn what types of produce are in season at certain times of the year, you can stock up and freeze it for use throughout the year.
Second, don't rely completely on your local grocery stores when food shopping. Check out farmer's markets and u-pick farms to get great deals on seasonal produce. Buying meat in bulk through a local farmer, or a company like Zaycon Fresh, can save you a ton of money. Also, compare online store prices, like Amazon.com, to your local store prices. You might be surprised at how much money you can save just by shopping around online. Don't forget to check your local drugstores for weekly deals on things like eggs and milk. Sometimes they promote essential products at a really low price to draw people into the store. Think outside the box!
Now, let's talk about sales and coupons. When your local grocery store flyer comes out each week, scan it for good deals on products that your family uses on a regular basis. Take it a step further by combining a store coupon or manufacturer's coupon with the sale price, and BAM! You've just saved a ton of money! You can find coupons in lots of different places. They will be in your Sunday paper, or you can find them online and download them right to your store's loyalty card. There are even services online where you can buy coupons and have them sent to your home. Just remember, buying something just because it's on sale and you have a coupon doesn't make it a good deal if it's not something your family needs or uses. Once you have found the good deals for the week, make a meal plan centered around those good deals. Use your meal plan to make your grocery list, and then stick to that list when you go shopping. Make a plan and stick to it!
Download some rebate apps on your smartphone. You can get cash back from rebate apps, like Ibotta and Checkout 51, just by uploading your receipt. Sometimes you can even make a little profit if the rebate turns out to be more than what you spent on the product. And, sometimes you can get a rebate from more than one app, so make sure you sign up for multiple rebate apps and check them all weekly. Technology is a wonderful thing. Take advantage of it.
Doing things yourself can save you a ton of money, too! Slice your own lunch meat. Chop your own vegetables. Cook and bake from scratch. Consider growing some of your own food. Even an apartment dweller can grow some herbs, sprouts and salad greens on a window sill or small patio. Baking your own bread can save you a ton of money over time, and it's easy to do. Filtering drinking water at home, instead of buying bottled water, is a huge money saver.
Implement these strategies to save money on groceries and get your food budget under control in 2018.