First Person: Smart Planning Is Saving Us $100 a Month on Groceries

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Cutting back on groceries is one of the hardest things to do when you have a large family. With the economic situation not improving and things getting a little more stressful in our house, I have decided to try a month-long test. In an article published on MSN , there were some tips for how to cut your grocery bill in half. The month of March was my test period and while there is still a week left, I have seen a reduction in my budget already. These are the tips I used and adjusted to fit my own needs, and how much each step saved me.

Plan a menu

We have been doing this for months, but the problem was we weren't writing down the entire meal. I would simply write down "meatloaf" and forget to add everything that went in to making it, plus the sides. By writing down each and every little thing, I was able to shave off $10 a week for three weeks, bringing my savings to $30. This worked because often I would overbuy items that were in separate dinners. If I needed tomato soup for two meals, I would buy enough for both but I would buy them in individual cans. Instead I started buying the bigger cans and packages, which saves us money.

Make things yourself

This is a big money saver if you have the ability and the time. Buying ready-made items just adds money to the grocery bill. Making cookies, cakes, pancakes, and sometimes even bread from scratch has saved us at least $20 this month alone. We also buy a lot of yogurt. Instead of paying more for the flavored and fruit on the bottom, we purchase a family-size tub of plain yogurt and buy fruit to cut up with it. That has saved us $10 this month, which bring our total savings to $30 on avoid ready-made items.

Keeping the snack available

Nothing is worse on your grocery budget than buying groceries and mixing it with fast food visits. My family really has a hard time with things like this. A few months ago, we did a fast food "free" challenge and saved $75 the month we did not eat out. It was an eye-opening experience. Instead of limiting ourselves, I bought items we would normally order when eating out. I found some microwavable macaroni and cheese for my boys that were a dollar a piece. When we order that out, it is at least $3 a serving. There were also things like taquitos, soda, chips, and ice cream bought. Even though we bought some junk food, we were still able to save $40 by not visiting the places we normally would for the snack items.

All together for the month of March this far, we have saved $100. While that is not half of our monthly grocery budget, any savings is good. If we work this in to our summer strategy plan, we will be able to manage the grocery shopping more efficiently.

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