There are lots of sites with coupons and lots of sites with money-savings tips available on line. I was moved to check a few out. Being the daughter of depression-era parents, most of the tips were second nature to me.
- Don't shop while hungry--you'll spend more.
- Shop the periphery of the supermarket. That's where the real food tends to be stocked.
- Avoid processed, pre-cooked, pre-washed, pre-chopped, and overly packaged items.
- Watch the specials, plan meals, and make lists.
- Buy only the amount of perishable that you can use before it goes bad or you just waste food and the money you spent on it.
- Use coupons only for something you would buy anyway.
- Watch the scanner. Mistakes happen.
- Don't shop while hungry. Okay, but I passed the grocery store on my way home from work--ten miles before I got home. I'm going to stop and pick up a few things even though I'm tired and HUNGRY--two conditions that leave me completely at the mercy of impulses.
- Buy real food and do the prep and cooking myself. It's five o'clock, dark, and I am TIRED and hungry. Do prepared, frozen stuffed chicken breasts and a bag of salad look good? Darn good!
- Plan meals, have a list. Of course the plan and the list are sitting on the kitchen counter. Sometimes the thought of having to come up with what to fix was more daunting than the actual cooking. We went out to eat way more often when we were working.
- Buying limited amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables was a stumbling block for me because in my theoretical "plan" I always figured in more than we would use--what with the impulse buying and the going out, I have thrown out more than my share of slimey produce.
- Coupons are a marketing ploy. Manufacturers and processors want you to spend more on their convenience products and they are clever at reeling in shoppers. "I can afford to pay for this convenience because I have a coupon."
- Watch the scanner? After trudging through the store aisles and unloading the cart, there's a quick nap time while the checkout is happening.
One thing I hadn't really thought about was a tip to buy only groceries at the grocery store. Personal care products, paper products, and cleaning supplies are cheaper at a discount store. I just once bought groceries at a Walmart store and did not find it to be cheaper for what food I usually buy. I'll give it another try for non-grocery items--well, some kind of discount store, anyway.
Doing way more cooking, I do find the need to have herbs and spices on hand. I grow my own thyme (use a boatload of that), oregano, chives, parsley, sage, rosemary, basil, and mint. I dry it or freeze it and make my own blends. For other herbs and the spices I have to have on hand, I go to the health food store. I buy small quantities so even though the unit price may be higher, I spend less money and use them while they are fresh.
So now that I am retired I have less money, but way more time. I'm back to following (mostly) the rules. I do sometimes buy cold cereal for the grand kids and I still like to have a box of pancake/waffle mix on hand because I am not a morning person and breakfasts need to be easy. Mike likes the deli selections, but not too often. We go out to eat, but maybe twice a month instead of twice a week. Actually, a lot more of our lives revolve around food lately, but we enjoy it more that way.