Lyn wants to save on how much she spends on food. She loves to cook healthy dishes using fresh ingredients and admits that when shopping for food her main focus is on quality and not price. But she also admits that her grocery bill has become ridiculously high and that she rarely finds coupons for fresh food.
She wanted to know what tips I had for her to help her cut down on how much she was spending on weekly groceries.
I took a quick tour of her kitchen and could tell that Lyn uses a lot of fresh vegetables, pastas, cheeses and fresh meats, all seasoned with fresh herbs and spices.
For snacks she had a nice supply of fresh fruit.
She and her husband also enjoy yogurt, ice cream and homemade (from scratch!) cookies and cakes, so there were a lot of baking supplies on hand.
The freezer contained mostly a small amount of uncooked meat and small containers of different kinds of ice cream.
Okay, well no, I didn't stick my head in her garbage can, but we did discuss how much gets thrown out in an average month. She admitted that they both are germ phobic and if they even suspect something has been around too long, it gets thrown out. Fruit, milk and some main-dish leftovers top the list.
Not being big breakfast eaters, she and her husband Tom usually fix something quick like a bowl of cereal, oatmeal or a fresh homemade pastry.
They both eat lunch at restaurants.
For dinner they usually talk on the phone about what they want right before they get off from work. Their passions include exotic cheeses and her delectable and diabolical homemade desserts.
Lyn or Tom generally go to the grocery store two to three times a week after work. They rarely buy more than than their next couple of meals. They are not "stock up" buyers.
My goal is not to change how Lyn and Tom eat, but rather to trim some fat off what they spend on food each month.
Lyn thinks about cooking a lot. She just doesn't plan in advance which means she does not take advantage of buying items in bulk that she uses on a regular basis.
By planning menus on a monthly basis she could determine what she will use and how much she will need of the main ingredients and buy in bigger quantities which cost less per unit than by buying the individual packages.
Planning will also allow her to buy in bulk and freeze items based on what she will need.
Based on the type of food Tom and Lyn enjoy and because she is such a great baker, shopping at the warehouse stores would help save money.
The trick is to not buy more than will be used before it spoils and have the space to keep it all. Meats, pastas, baking supplies and spices are perfect foods to purchase at warehouse stores.
Plus they can plan when they shop since going to the grocery store when tired and hungry usually results in buying expensive impulse items.
For fresh veggies, browsing the local vegetable stands and farmer's markets could cut costs, plus there is usually a larger assortment to browse. Supporting the community is also a plus.
Being germ phobic I can understand, but food can be frozen before it goes bad. For example:
Once Lyn gets into the habit of freezing food and using the food she has frozen, she will see it is convenient and money smart.
Lyn and Tom have space in their backyard which would be perfect for small container gardening. They could grow an assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs. For example basil, bay leaf, dill, cilantro and chives can be grown in pots or containers and can be used fresh or dried for later use.
- Semi-bad fruits can be frozen and used when making smoothies.
- The juice from lemons and oranges can be frozen in ice-trays or baggies and used in recipes at a later date.
- Uneaten pastries, breads, cakes and pies can be frozen and taste wonderful when defrosted.
- All meats can be frozen.
Expensive Specialty Foods
Lyn makes most of her own sauces, but does not generally make her own exotic cheeses, vinaigrettes and herbed oils. In fact, it is Tom who usually buys this type of food on impulse, although Lyn admits to doing her fair share of impulse buying.
It would help their food budget if she researched recipes and added them into her cooking repertoire.
Coupons for Non-Food Items
Because Lyn cannot find very many coupons for the types of foods she buys, she admits she rarely even looks at coupons. We talked about all the non-food items which regularly have coupons available. By clipping and redeeming the non-food coupons alone, she could trim a lot off what she is spending at the grocery store.
Lyn should see an immediate savings by making a few adjustments in planning, shopping and storing the food she buys.