Feeding several hungry mouths can take a big bite out of your budget, but there are plenty of ways to keep your food shopping expenses down. For starters, creativity, coupons and commissaries are all great ways to save. But don't stop there — try these tips to keep your family fed and your budget intact.
- Use a shopping list based on menus. Check your cupboards and refrigerator before shopping to make sure you don't buy what you already have.
- On your list, include items that are in season and check store circulars for specials.
- Try generic or store brands. The quality may pleasantly surprise you.
- Don't shop on empty stomach — you'll end up buying too much of what you don't need.
- When in doubt, compare unit prices to make sure you're getting the best deal.
- Limit your use of convenience foods (for example, frozen dinners, prepackaged kids "lunches," etc.). Cooking from scratch is cheaper.
- Make food shopping a weekly affair and try to avoid "fill-in" trips during the week.
- Look online to find creative uses for leftovers. Try not to waste anything.
- Make sure your supermarket cashier is accurate. If in doubt about an item, check the tape.
- Buy larger cuts and sizes, then divide them into smaller portions and freeze them when you get home.
- Be creative with ingredients. Try turkey or vegetarian chili.
- Grow your own herbs — all you need is a windowsill.
- Clip coupons and remember to use them in the commissary.
- Even with coupons, other brands may still be cheaper. Always compare. And avoid buying an item you don't normally use simply because you have a coupon.
- Use a blender or food processor to make your own baby food.
- Shop quickly and alone. The more time you take, the more you will spend. Bringing the kids or spouse along will add impulse items to the cart.
Visit Military OneSource for more tips on smart spending.