November 4, 2020
Feeding a lot of people during the holidays can add up fast. Sticking to a budget becomes even more important when you’re already stretching it for gifts. With these ten tips, you can make the food your family loves most and still stay within your budget.
Planning for a multi-day holiday event means getting a lot of groceries for everyone. But this doesn’t have to destroy your normal budget (though you may still spend more than normal). When planning your meals, find ways to make your meals stretch. Your leftover Thanksgiving turkey can turn into shredded turkey sandwiches for tomorrow. Write down a list of your family’s favorite meals and pick the ones that have the most ingredients in common. That way you can buy those ingredients in bulk.
Even if there’s not enough of one dish for all, you can still have a must-go buffet where every leftover dish is up for grabs. You could even make this type of meal a fun holiday tradition! Imagine, a little bit of all your favorite meals in one? Who knew leftovers could be so delicious!
Before you head to the store, search through those cabinets to make sure you don’t buy what you already have. It’s easy to miss that can of corn or bag of rice hidden behind everything. Maybe you have a package of cream cheese in the back of your fridge that you forgot about. Taking time to search the pantry can prevent overstocking shelves and wasting food. Think of the money saved as your wage for taking inventory. You just paid yourself to check the cabinets!
Shred that block of cheese and ditch the JIF peanut butter for generic brands. According to Consumer Reports, generic store brands often match the name brand in taste and quality but cost 20-25% less! Don’t think switching can make a difference? Try going generic and not buying prepackaged or prepared foods for one month. You could also try going generic for basic bulk items like dry noodles, rice, vegetables, etc. That way you can splurge on a few brands that do taste different.
One way to save money on groceries is sticking to a strict list. But it’s hard to have self-control when you’re walking through aisles of candy and junk food. Prevent impulse buying by ordering your grocery list online and picking up at your store. That way you still save on delivery costs and you won’t end up with too many extras in your cart.
Being loyal to your local grocery store might come with discount perks. But what if all their products are more expensive, are the discounts worth your loyalty? Check online for differing prices of items or try doing your grocery run at a different store this week. You might discover how much extra you’ve been paying for milk and eggs.
Once you decide on a grocery store for you, check out their reward systems for frequent customers. Most grocery stores offer a free loyalty program that applies discounts at the register. No more coupon cutting; now you can shop for what you need and still get all the benefits.
Shopping with cash and leaving the credit cards at home can help you cut down on spending frivolously. You won’t be able to spend more than the cash on hand. Add a calculator to the mix and you might be even better off! Make it a game to see how much extra money you can walk away with after getting what you need. When placing things in the cart, round up the prices to the next dollar and add everything as you go. That way, when you get to the register, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much money you didn’t spend. Who knew grocery shopping could be fun?
The fewer people that come shopping with you, the less time you’ll need to scour the store for the items on your list. You also won’t have someone begging for the most expensive brand of peanut butter and jelly that money can buy. Leave the kids at home, or shop while they are at school to keep things moving and cheaper. If that’s too hard, try to coordinate shopping with another family with kids. Switch off weeks that you go shopping and offer to watch their kids for one and they watch yours for the other.
Ever walked into the grocery store on an empty stomach and walked out with a heaping cart of food? Walking past your favorite food is more tempting when your stomach is growling at you. Go grocery shopping right after a meal or eat a snack before you walk in the store to satiate your cravings. No more impulse buying on an empty stomach. Both you and your wallet will stay full.
Try these tips and hopefully you will have a little more cash freed up for gifts and other fun events. If you’re still feeling strapped for cash, talk to your local branch about the Christmas Club savings account. It’s made for holiday spending. Let us help you make your holiday a happy one.