When I was living with my parents, my mom and I were in charge of groceries. Going from Costco to Wal-Mart, FoodMaxx to Asian supermarkets, the grocery bills easily came out to be more than $200 (sometimes each store) for a 6-person household in around every 2 weeks. A lot of those food go to waste, and I have seen it in Ivan's house as well. Once I moved out from my parents' house, I was able to be in charge of what to buy and I vowed to myself to never waste food. Here are 7 tips I find helpful in keeping a budget on grocery bills:
Maybe I'm one of the last people on this planet who still use a pen and paper to write down shopping lists, but it is really helpful and I actually remember which items I need. Go through the fridge and dry food storage to see which items need to restocked; plan which meals will be cooked and buy ingredients accordingly. I write down the stores we will be going to, and specific items I would need to grab from that store. This makes our grocery trips a lot more efficient.
Buy House Brands
Every store has their own house brands, and they usually costs a few cents, if not a few dollars, cheaper than the mainstream brands. Go ahead and grab those instead because they are really the same things.
I have been a vegetarian for more than 5 years. I have only recently started to eat meat again, which I decided at the end of 2017. I guess you can call it my 2018 New Year Resolution. Before that, I always made sure to include meat in our dinner for Ivan because he loves chicken breast and I got to make sure he has more protein in his diet. Overall, meat can come out to be costly but that's if you buy a lot of beef and seafood. So I got lucky with this one. Since we don't have a freezer, we also need to finish the meat a lot quicker.
I was able to score a 20-pound rice for the price $5.99 from Food 4 Less. That has lasted us for more than 2 months and we are only half way through the rice. Always have these items in stock (for that awkward time period between needing to go grocery shopping but not yet): rice, beans, pasta & pasta sauce, eggs. On days when I don't have the energy to cook time-consuming dinner, I would whip up something quick and delicious like pasta or fried rice.
Buy Foods with Longer Shelf Life
I have found vegetables with leaves tend to go bad a lot faster than root vegetables like carrots and squash. So when I buy a cart full of greens, I make sure to finish the leafy greens within the next few days. Stock up on pasta and rice because they don't go bad for quite some time.
Drink at Home
We have a knack for anything fruity so we quite enjoy hard ciders and sweet wines; however, a cocktail can easily be priced at $15. How many do you need to drink until it hits that sweet spot of being tipsy but not obnoxious drunk? Before you know it, the bartender is waving the check at you for $60 plus. Another good thing about drinking at home is that it's a safe environment where you can actually converse instead of yelling at each other over ear thumping music. We live within earshot to a bar, unfortunately, we know how annoying bar-goers can get at 2 o'clock in the morning.
Reward Card/Gift Card
Any local supermarkets should have their own loyalty or reward program where the prices are marketed to their loyal customers. Definitely sign up for those because those deals are just sitting there and waiting for you. I have their apps downloaded to check out the weekly ads and coupons here and there. I have also been using this app called ShopKick where I can earn points by going into stores and/or scanning items. I have accumulated enough and was able to use those gift cards on grocery for a couple times. Literal free money. WalMart's app has a feature called Savings Catcher where you simply upload your receipt and it will search competitors' market prices. If they find that other stores' are selling items for lower prices, they will refund you that difference. (These are not ads, btw, just what I have found useful.) Also check for manufacturer coupons: when I buy the Beyond Meat, I always use the coupon from their own website, and the stores will always take it.