Increasing food prices are causing people to make changes in the foods they buy and where they eat. With fewer dollars to spend and prices going up on so many things, we all need to think, plan and spend smarter if we hope to keep our families fed well on ever tightening budgets.
One of the best ways to control spending and avoid impulse spending is to make a list of the things you plan to buy and stick to your list.
The key point here is to have a PLAN. Your list will look different from mine, because our family sizes differ and we have different food preferences. However, many of the tips I use can work for anyone.
The first essential when making a shopping list is to plan your meals.
Think about how many meals you will be eating at home and who you will be feeding.
Then check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to see what you have on hand, especially for items that need to be used soon.
When food dollars are tight, the last thing we want to do is waste money by letting food we've paid good money for go bad.
Keep an ongoing list of staples and foods you use often and jot down items as your supply gets low. Then follow your list when you go to the store.
The idea isn't to buy everything on your list PLUS anything else you see that looks good. The idea is to stick to your list and avoid picking up unnecessary items.
Look over the recipes you plan to use. Be sure you have the necessary ingredients.
If your storage permits, stock up on sale items used regularly. I always try to stock up on paper goods, cleaning supplies and other items that keep a long time when they are on sale, so that I hardly ever have to pay full price for those items.
Check sale ads and be prepared to substitute for a similar item on your plan if there is an especially good buy that week. Buy fresh produce when affordable, but don't buy more than you know you'll be able to use.
Also remember to use the items that don't keep as well first.
For instance, if you bought spinach and broccoli, you might plan to use the spinach first since broccoli is a heartier vegetable that will keep longer.
When planning meals, fix extra for dinner and use the leftovers for lunches or another night's dinner. You'll not only save dollars, you'll also save time, which can be equally important.
Use coupons wisely. Coupons pay off when an item is on sale and the store doubles the coupon.
Coupons can save money if it is for something you were going to buy anyway and that your family likes, but don't use a coupon for items you don't need or that even with the coupon savings still cost more than a store brand.
Knowing how to shop wisely and having a plan are the best ways to shop smart and feed your family well.
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