Though this strategy works for me, it isn't the only strategy you can use to reduce your grocery bill. And it's always good to read about other strategies and learn from them.
That's why I'm glad I read Save Your Money, Save Your Family, Guide To Savvy Shopping Skills:: How to Reduce Your Weekly Grocery Bill to $85 Per Week-Or Less! by Toni House. House, who runs the site Save Your Money Save Your Family, has traveled all over the country hosting nationally syndicated radio shows, appearing on national TV networks such as NBC, CBS, and ABC, and speaking to large groups. She teaches families how to cope and to manage their money one meal at a time.
House's grocery shopping strategy aims to reduce your weekly grocery bill to $85 per week or less for a family of four. That doesn't include meals at restaurants, cleaning supplies, personal care items, or paper goods - just groceries. Still, that is significantly less than most American families spend per week, and House gives a framework so that any family can reach that goal.
First, though, House gives a list of the eight traits of a savvy shopper. By following these traits, a shopper will get more for her money, regardless of her budget.
House's strategy starts with meal planning - by deciding what meals you want to make before going shopping. So many people just go to the store and pick out whatever looks good or what they feel like having, regardless of price. For those people, having a meal plan first will save them lots. She gives 7 rules for meal planning, including making leftovers on purpose and keeping ingredients to those that are necessary - preferably 8 or less.
She then gives 15 strategies for grocery shopping. Some of them are pretty typical strategies - make a list, eat before shopping - but others are very insightful. For instance, she suggests using the "Substitution Rule." Instead of buying an expensive ingredient, replace it with a less expensive alternative. For instance, if tomatoes are expensive, consider making a mango salsa instead of a tomato salsa to top your fajitas.
She also suggests rounding prices up as you shop to be sure that you have some breathing room in your budget. In general this is good advice, but if you are using a coupon like $5 off a purchase of $50 or more, you'll need an exact total of the items you've purchased. If you only have purchased $49 in products, you might have rounded it to $50, but you can't use the $5 off coupon.
The author then takes the readers through a typical menu plan for the week. Her meals sound yummy and are filled with meats, vegetables, and fruits - they seem very healthy and not based on the kinds of fake foods that are cheap to buy with coupons.
Despite that, I had a lot of problems with this central section of the book. For instance, the author assumes that certain items are already on hand, like oil, baking supplies, some vegetables, and spices, are on hand, and their replacement costs are not included in the week's cost. She also does not include any snacks or drinks (other than orange juice for a single breakfast) in the week's cost.
She also lists cranberry breakfast bars as the breakfast meal for four of the days, but does not give the recipe for them. It's hard to tell whether the amount budgeted for the bars would really cover breakfast for four hungry family members for four days. And she assumes that one meal is eaten out - but if you need to be cutting back as much as possible, you wouldn't be eating out, and adding one more meal to her plan would take the plan over $85 per week.
Belatedly, House mentions coupons and store sales, but these are not central to her strategy. And lastly, she covers how to make leftovers work to your advantage. And there are some recipes to use leftovers listed as well. The Caramel Apple Tortillas recipe sounds delicious!
I also had problems with the overall layout of the book - it needed a good going-over by a professional editor, as I found many problems with punctuation and grammar throughout. But perhaps that is just my inner word nerd coming out.
Despite the problems I found with this book, I'm glad that I did read it, to get a different view of a different strategy to save money on groceries.
Would you like to read Save Your Money, Save Your Family, Guide To Savvy Shopping Skills:: How to Reduce Your Weekly Grocery Bill to $85 Per Week-Or Less!? It's available at Amazon.com, or check your local bookstore or library.
Or would you like to get it for free?
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