Over the last year, I've been working on reducing my grocery bill from $150-$200 per week, down to $80 per week (though I occasionally go over). I've done this partly by smarter shopping - collecting and using coupons, finding great sales, finding deals online, and buying more items at drug stores which give rewards for buying certain items.
But, more importantly, I've done more scratch cooking, depended less on pre-made ingredients, and just cut certain foods out of our diet.
That's one reason I was excited to read an article on 8 Foods You Should Never Buy Again. I don't buy any of those items for the most part. I have bought rice and pasta mixes, but only when they were free, or almost free, after coupons and sales. And I do buy bottled water before the hurricane season to have in case of an emergency.
But it got me thinking... what grocery items do I still buy, but I shouldn't? What else can I work on to bring my grocery bill down?
Here's the list I came up with:
1. Juice boxes. Yes, I spend money for a little juice and a box that gets thrown in the trash. And they are so expensive! Each box contains about 6 ounces of juice, and they come in sets of 8, so I'm paying $2.38 (if I don't have coupons and they're not on sale, that's the cheapest regular price I can find here) for 48 ounces of juice. Not a good deal. My excuse was, one time I bought plastic reusable juice boxes, and my two younger kids ended up throwing them away, since they were so used to doing that.
Well, this is one I decided to work on since coming up with the idea for this post. I bought two more plastic juice boxes ($1.44 at Walmart), and I'm going to label them very clearly, on all sides, "Do Not Throw Away." Then I'll sit down with the kids and review with them tonight, as well as tomorrow morning that they need to put the box back in their lunch boxes after they eat. We'll see if this works or not.
2. Applesauce cups. Same problem here. I've spooned jarred, purchased on sale applesauce into purchased on sale Gladware containers, but too often the container didn't come home. Another labeling and reminding issue that I'll tackle once we get used to keeping the juice boxes.
3. Instant oatmeal. A lot of expense for a little oatmeal and a lot of sugar, salt, and artificial flavorings. I have made oatmeal in the crockpot before - it's much healthier and much cheaper, and doesn't take up much time at all to start the night before. But... the kids like the instant stuff better. *sigh*
4. Fresh herbs. It wouldn't be all that difficult or expensive to grow a few pots of basil, cilantro, parsley, and other herbs I like. I've tried starting a garden several times, but never really had much success. One of these days I need to put my mind to it and grow at least some herbs.
5. Tortillas. My kids looooove tortillas, so we go through a pack or two a week. I've found them pretty cheap at 92¢ for a package of 20 at Walmart. Still, this expense adds up for something that's just a little flour, shortening, baking powder, and salt. I need to find some time to learn how to make them myself.
6. Sandwich bread. I have a bread maker, and I make my own challah, French bread, and pizza dough, so what's stopping me from making sandwich bread? I don't know. Another project I just need to start.
What do you buy at the grocery store, but could make yourself if you put your mind to it? Leave a comment below!
Check these sites for more great tips and frugal ideas:
- Frugal Friday @ Life as MOM
- Making Dollars out of Change @ Madame Deals
- Tuesday's Tips @ Couponomic Stimulus Package
- Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home
- Works For Me Wednesday @ We Are That Family
- Thrifty Tip Tuesday @ I Am a Money Magnet
- Tightwad Tuesday @ Raising 4 Godly Men
- Thrifty Thursday @ Melissa's Bargain Blog
- Thrifty Thursday @ Coupon Teacher