Prices are going up, and and our earning power is not keeping up. Being frugal is not just a virtue, it has become a necessity. So here are some tips on how to lower your bill. Some of these I may have talked about before, but they bear repeating.
This is at the top of my list. Those little tags on shelves explain how much each pound or ounce actually costs. Use it. It works. But watch out! Even here the stores may play games. The unit may be different - pounds vs ounces, ounces vs milliliters, etc. So look closely and remain savvy.
The deals are on the front and back pages of those weekly circulars. This is where stores will push Â‘loss leadersÂ’, those sale items designed to bring you in. Take advantage of these sales. Skip the middle pages. YouÂ’ll save time and not feel guilty.
Be skeptical of 'Buy One, Get One' deals. Usually the supermarket has jacked up the price, and then offer up BOGO sale. If thatÂ’s the case, BOGOÂ’s no deal. Sometimes, there are some deals, but if you have to buy 10 to get one free, be sure itÂ’s worthwhile. Will you use it quickly? Can it be stored? Be honest with yourself.
Buy a small date book that fits in your pocket or pocketbook. Keep lists and coupons there and make a few notes on prices. Then it's easy to compare prices from week to week.
SOME KID STUFF
Here are a few of my shopping pet peeves and it is all about marketing to kids.
Fruit drinks sell for about $5 per gallon - more than gas. And they're 10-15% fruit juice. Just buy a gallon of juice and cut it with water.
Peanut butter and jelly mixed together is not a great idea. Jelly is cheaper than peanut butter. Buy them separately. When mixed the jelly, the price sky rockets
Pre-packaged kids lunches are a scam. They lack nutrition, they're not tasty, and youÂ’re paying way too much for convenience. Get the kids involved with their lunches. They could make their own sandwich or, maybe pack up some tasty leftovers for lunch. Whatever works for your family, but teaching children about nutrition and responsibility in one fell swoop, now thatÂ’s a good idea.
HereÂ’s one that blows my mind. Individual sized cookies and snacks cost, sometimes as much as $6/pound. Try this Frugal tip. Take little baggies, fill them with nuts, raisins, popcorn, whatever on Sunday. Toss them in a bowl, then pop one into the lunch box every day. The kids can even put the baggies together. ItÂ’s a fun chore. Bottom line,Â good wholesome food at a frugal cost.Â
Don't buy air fresheners. Most air fresheners are made of petrochemicals, you know, oil, that stuff thatÂ’s getting mighty expensive. And they have VOCs in them - Volatile Organic Compounds, which are linked to cancer. All one of these air fresheners does is mask a bad smell. Find the cause and eliminate it. I have a bunch Frugal Yankee tips on how to get rid of smells on my web site.
You're thinking, "Like I have time to do that!" Spending an hour or so creating a menu, saves time and money. With a master menu, you will have the ingredients on hand, thus reducing last minute store runs, saving you time and money!
DOUBLE THE PLEASURE
Be ready for nights when you're too bushed to make a home-cooked meal. A lot of meals are easily doubled and freezing is a snap. HereÂ’s what I do, IÂ’ll make two trays of lasagna, serve one and pop the other into the freezer. Then on those nights when I am too pooped to pop, out of the freezer, into the nuker and IÂ’m golden. And think about it, these are the nights when the allure of going out or take out is strong. By not eating out, youÂ’ll save at least $40; you do that once a week, and itÂ’ll save over $2000.00 a year! Good homemade food plus saving a couple of grand? Yeah, that doubles my pleasure.
Now and again, take a look at things in the back of the cupboard and be creative.Â Use what you have on hand.Â I discovered a can of smoked trout that had been a Christmas stocking gift. It made a nifty and fancy sandwich.
SCOOP IT UP
You can save lot by buying day old food, especially meat and bread. Look for a day old bread store in your area. And most stores will mark down meats as they approach their expiration date. So stock up, especially if you have a freezer. One little tip, 100% whole wheat bread is healthier, tastier, and freezes better than white bread.
Different places will have different items for sale. Check the circulars and then decide where. Take advantage of their loss leaders. When there is a particularly good sale - STOCK UP!
Consider joining a food coop. They are a great place to buy in bulk especially grains and staples. And some even have deeper discounts if you do a little labor.
If you have a tip or two on how you save money on your food bill, let me know. I love this stuff. Please commentÂ and share it.
Coming soon a look how supermarkets are using the recession to get more money out of your pocket.
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From traditional tips to savvy perspectives, the Frugal Yankee knows how to enjoy life and spend less. Find out more by going to FrugalYankee.com. Be sure to check out Hollywood Breakdown in Gather's Movie Essential for some smart takes on the film business.