Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Green Week: Saving Green by PLANNING

Just a few years ago my work out buddy was an accountant. I have known a few accountants in my life, and each one of them are very scheduled and precise when it comes to any money topics. I asked her how she saved money, how she did her budgeting, and I also asked her how much she spent on groceries (her family was the same size as mine). The last question was one of the smartest things I asked her. After a long discussion, I began re evaluate how I ran our family financing. It was great to talk to someone and see where I could be at if I worked on a few things.

One of the biggest areas that I have made changes is my grocery budget. I was spending up to $500 on our family of 3. I was able to cut that down to less than $250 for my now family of 4, not including things like the hand soap and razors you buy while you are grocery shopping. To be honest I don’t think what we eat is much different.

What have I done?
  • The absolute most importance contributing factor to cutting back is PLANNING!
  • Go with a list.
  • Use what you buy. If you are buying a head of lettuce for lettuce wraps find another recipe that calls for lettuce as well.
  • When making a new meal plan, go through the cupboards and see what you have. Plan meals around some of the items you still have, such as sour cream or your tortillas from last week.
  • Use the menu for two weeks. I buy enough for us to make the meal twice. I make a one week menu and duplicate it the next week. This insures that I use everything I purchase, like the BBQ sauce or the full box of noodles.
  • Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
  • Have a budget. Know your prices.
  • Have a running list of things you run out of. Wait until you go to the store to purchase the needed items. Now obviously if you need more formula you are going to need to go get some that day. But… if you need some paper towels and a box of oats, you can wait. The more times you go to the store, the more likely you are going to buy a lot more than just the one item from your list. Also, depending on your car and the distance to the store, you could be spending a few dollars on a simple item that you could do with out.
  • Buy frozen veggies and fruit. I realize this doesn’t work for everyone. For example, in my family we don’t eat the entire box of strawberries, but we do enjoy having them. It goes back to eat what you buy. If you don’t eat it, it is like tossing your money in the garbage.
  • Buy a few fast meals. For me I don’t want to always cook and really don’t want to do much work in the kitchen. If I have something I can toss in the oven, or just boil a pot of water, I will do that instead of going out to eat. I love Chicken Helper or some of the Asian boxes that you just heat and mix.
  • Try the store brand. I have found that I like just about all of the store brand items. I have found that not everything is good, but definitely most are.
I am a very big ‘list and ICAL gal’! When my little 2 year old started pulling out paper and a pen when playing and asking, “What we need at store Mom”, and then pretending to write an organized list, I knew I might be a little obsessed. I have found this PLANNING thing has spilled into much more than menus, but for Birthdays, Holidays and gift buying.

For friend's birthdays, everyone gets the same present for one year. This year, I am making necklaces and/or cupcakes. I also have a stack of birthday cards that I will give out for a full year, starting in December. This saves money because I am not running to the store at the last minute, desperate to find a gift that will work. I already know what I am going to do. All I need to do is schedule a time to put things together.

I enjoy having things planned out. It makes things extremely less stressful in the long term, and I hope these tips will help you as much as they have helped me.

Do you have a favorite website that you go for recipes while are doing your meal planning? Or any other tips that help you save money? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.


Mindi Hoellein said...

Thanks for all the tips. Its nice to see what others do to save time, money and sanity! :)

Elissa said...

This is a great tip, Seems like I'm constantly going back and forth from the store, this should help.

Marianne said...

I like your system and find it similar to mine. I make a monthly meal plan with weekly shopping lists. Half the month is new meals and half the month is leftovers from last month.
My question however is do you spend $250 a month or a week?

Rachel said...

I coupon on and off and have saved a few hundred dollars a month when I was dedicated to it! It was definetly a high! Thanks for the additional tips!
Linking up thru seven-thirty-three's blog party!
~Rachel from http://cookscleansplayswithpaper.blogspot.com/

Cathy M~(checkitoff) said...

What awesome tips! I love that you are giving cupcakes or a necklace for birthdays~if I were a friend I would cherish that! What a great necklace, too. I love your blog header and blog button~so cute! hugs, Cathy