Couponing is all the rage, and I’ve saved a pretty penny using them myself. Some items, though, are rarely found with a coupon, and others… in my humble opinion… don’t qualify as food. Fortunately, there are many effective methods of shaving the grocery budget without clipping and sorting and remembering your coupons.
1. Add beans and rice to your meat mixtures. This works fantastic with Mexican dishes. When we make Loaded Tostadas, I add refried beans to the meat and layer black beans and rice in with the toppings. Lots of protein and fiber, very little cost. Beans and rice taste great in Brown Bag Burritos also. Don’t mind going meatless? Let the beans and rice take center stage.
2. Buy produce on manager’s special. My children make a game of “eagle eyeing” the orange and yellow Manager’s Special stickers in our produce department. Often times you can purchase perfectly good fruits and veggies for a fraction of the original price, simply because they need to get it moved. I almost never pay full price for bags of apples and bunches of bananas. While shopping, I always scan for Manager’s Special items. When I find them, I either adjust our menu plan so we can use up the produce right away, or I prepare and freeze it for later.
3. Make substitutions. Sour cream’s not on sale, but plain yogurt is? Perfect. Yogurt in the place of sour cream when baking works beautifully. You’d like to have blueberry pancakes but strawberries were so much cheaper this week? Forgo the more expensive fruit and whip up some strawberry topping to make your pancakes special. There are many resources available for recipe substitutions. Don’t let not having an ingredient stop you from making a delicious, frugal meal.
4. Keep a price book. When shopping, write down the sale price that you’re willing to pay for items that you use often. When you’re in a hurry and don’t know if something is a good deal, you can refer to your price book. Simply don’t buy if it’s not at your target price.
5. Wait for it. Have a hankerin’ for a favorite meal? Don’t run out for a full-priced pork tenderloin just because it sounds good. Meat goes on sale in cycles. Wait until the cut you want is on sale, then enjoy that special meal knowing you’re getting a lot more food for your dollars. A little discipline and delayed satisfaction are good for the wallet.
Next week: Saving without coupons #6-10.
This post is linked to Frugal Friday.