There are dozens of websites and books and blogs devoted to saving money on grocery shopping. Money Saving Mom has a 31 Days to a Better Budget series, which is far and away the most comprehensive I’ve seen. 5 Dollar Dinners is another outstanding resource for frugal cooking and smart shopping. For a good view of one family’s healthy and comprehensive menu on a very tight budget, check out Another Housewife. And I cannot even begin to assemble a list of couponing websites!
Those are all resources I use for myself. If I had to classify my style it’s this: I’m a sometimes couponer, a frequenter of Aldi, and a lover of store brands and menu planning. I shop on a budget that’s sometimes a little looser than it should be, but we get by. I guess my point in mentioning all of that is that I am no expert when it comes to grocery shopping. However, one tip that I use that I don’t see mentioned in most frugal grocery information is this: portion sizes.
Portion sizes are, for obvious reasons, a popular point of information for diets. But they work for frugal groceries as well. Let’s use this scenario: you have $50 for groceries for the week. With that $50 you must buy food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. For lunches, it’s just you and your husband because your child gets lunch at school. You buy peanut butter, jelly, bread, carrots (the whole ones, not the pre-cut baby carrots), and grapes for lunch. You’re left wanting something salty and crunchy and you only have $2 left; however, nothing that you and your husband can agree on is on sale and you’ve left all of your snack coupons at home. You find a bag of store brand snack size rice cakes in a flavor that you both love. You see that the bag has 8 servings–enough for each of you to have a nice, crunchy chip-like snack for 4 of 5 work days for only $1.50! You compromise and on the 5th day you each bring leftovers, plus you walk out with $.50.
It can work the same way for cereal. A box of Cheerios may cost $5 but if you get 15 servings out of it, and you measure those servings, you’ve only spent $.33 per serving and you’ve fed your family of 3 breakfast for an entire week (excluding weekends). If you were to just haphazardly pour cereal into a bowl, the box may only last 3 days which means your weekend breakfasts now become your weekday breakfasts or you have to run back to the store to buy another box; either way, you’re spending more money. Which is not a good thing, especially when you’re working with a fixed budget.
I will concede that many serving sizes are not intended to make you feel stuffed. But adhering to the portion sizes on packages will leave you satiated and satisfied, in your stomach and your wallet.
What unusual dollar stretcher tips do you use at the supermarket?