1. Use meat as a part, not the main attraction, in your meals.
Simply cooking chicken riggies instead of a meal like baked chicken will save you money. Make your meat go further.
2. Dabble in veggie meals.
Rice and beans, vegetarian chili, burrito casserole, gnocchi with sauce, pierogis with fried onions and sour cream - these are a few of my family's favorite veggie dishes that satisfy my family's hunger. Meatless meals do not have to mean hungry stomachs. All the experts say that eating more than a few meals with meat each week is not healthy.
3. Find out what foods cost less. Pretty much anything that is already prepared for you is going to cost more.
Boxed cookies, cold cereal, instant oatmeal, freezer meals, veggies with sauces, canned soups, baking mixes - all these will add dollars to your meal.
4. Give your favorite companies feedback.
Do you just love Seventh Heaven's toilet paper ;) but can't finagle the extra cost? Write or e-mail the company to tell them how wonderful their product is and kindly ask for some coupons. It works.5. Bargain shop and stock up when a good deal is found.
One of my pet-peeves is well-meaning bloggers encouraging women to stock up on food full of chemicals and preservatives in the name of good stewardship. Simple, healthful eating actually gives you more value for your money. The organic oatmeal I buy in bulk costs less per pound than the boxed cereals and has so much more nutritional value.
Begin to make a stocked pantry. It can be one shelf or an entire cabinet that you use to house the basic cooking/baking items that your household uses on a regular basis.
One of my favorite places for finding good deals on organic pantry items is Big Lots. I once bought an entire shelf of organic canned tomatoes because they were a dollar each, and these were the big cans! I've seen organic baby food, cereal, tea, snacks, canned fruit, mac and cheese and more at Big Lots. If you have one nearby, check it out!
6. Avoid the big market bulk stores.
It will get you a lot of shopping done at once to shop B.J's or Sams Club and while they have a few good deals, it will end up costing you the same or more as shopping at a regular grocery store.
7. Shop the smaller bulk stores.
We have a local store run by Mennonites and another that is a co-op. These are great places for stocking up on flour, sugar, dried fruit, etc. We buy our flour and sugar in 50lb bags this way.
8. Learn to love water.
For yourselves and for your kids, this is the best drink. Our kids usually have milk at dinner and get enough other calcium and dairy through cheeses and yogurt. Not having to buy sodas and a lot of juices saves on the grocery tab.
9. Make a weekly or bi-weekly menu.
Every Sunday night or Monday morning I look quickly through the fridge and pantry, jotting down on a piece of scrap paper any ingredients we have that need to be used that week.
My list of leftovers may be:
(If the budget is tight that week, scan your pantry for existing canned or boxed items that you can use up to lower your grocery bill.)
8. The menu:
Monday am- pancakes and orange juice
lunch - yogurt, raisins, apples
Dinner - chicken and biscuits (using leftover baked chicken)
Tuesday am - cream of wheat with brown sugar, water
Lunch -pb&j, applesauce
Dinner - homemade quiche (using those eggs and cheddar cheese I need to use up), fresh canned veggies
Wednesday am - cold cereal with bananas, tea
Lunch - leftover quiche
Dinner - Date Night (kids have boxed mac and cheese and a veggie)
Thursday am - smoothies (frozen strawberries from summer picking and clearance bananas), banana bread (clearance bananas)
Lunch - Crackers with nutella, orange slices, raisins
Dinner - White garlic pizza with sliced tomatoes (using ripe tomatoes)
Friday am - pancakes
Lunch -leftover pizza
Dinner - Homemade macaroni and cheese (using leftover cheese I needed to use up), venison steaks
For this weekly menu I needed to buy from the grocery store:
bananas (found on clearance)
frozen corn for chicken and biscuits
Everything else, the pasta, cold cereal, peanut butter and jelly, etc. was already stocked up in the pantry.
9. To coupon or not...
In my experience, couponing may encourage you to buy products you may not need to stock the pantry or that you would not normally use. That is why I like searching the internet for a specific brand coupon or contacting the company and requesting some coupons.