The holiday season always tempts me a little toward excess. It might be the year-end bonus or all the fun food in the stores or simply a desire to celebrate that sways me toward letting go and splurging a little more than we need to.
Over the last couple days I've been reminding myself that going "whole hog" this season is not going to help us meet long-term goals. "Eat, drink, and be merry" doesn't pay for that trip to Scotland. Since I want to eat, drink, and be merry in Scotland, I'm pulling my budget cap a little tighter on my head.
10 Quick Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
In case you want a refresher, too, consider these quick tips for saving money on groceries.
1. Shop the sales.
Don't buy something just because it's on your meal plan. Plan your meals around what's on sale. Be willing to change your meal plan if you find a surprise deal.
2. Don't shop at one store.
Check the stores in your area to find the best prices on the items you use most often. Make that one your go-to for best savings; knowing your neighborhood store can save you big time.
3. Buy low and stock up.
When you see a great price on a regular food staple, buy as much as the budget and your storage will allow. Don't hoard or buy more than a reasonable person would eat, but use the sale price to your advantage.
4. Check the bulk pricing.
My local health food store has great prices on bulk oats, rice, and other grains. It's a much better deal than buying remeasured packages.
5. Eat less meat and cheese.
Generally speaking, meat and cheese are the most expensive ingredients on your dinner plate. Going meatless or serving smaller portions on these items can greatly reduce your grocery bill.
6. Cook simpler meals.
Winter lends itself to simple casseroles and soups. Go with it — you'll eat well without breaking the bank.
7. Use up leftovers.
Eating up leftovers reduces waste and saves you money. Stretch what's left by working leftovers into budget meals like frittatas, pizza, or soup.
8. Make it from scratch.
Making your own salsas and sauces or cooking dry beans can save you a bundle over their commercial counterparts. You'll save money and enjoy it more because homemade tastes so much better.
9. Use what you have.
They say we Americans waste a ton of food, about 25 percent of what we buy. Save money by using up what's in the crisper, or doing a pantry challenge every so often to prevent having to dump stuff past its date.
10. Do without that fancy ingredient.
I've found that I can easily fudge a recipe even if I'm missing an ingredient. Unless it's a star ingredient, I can skip those expensive extras, like olives or green chiles. "Making do" with what I have saves me the cost of the item, a trip to the store, and the extras I might be tempted to buy while there.