Can you believe we're to Part IV of the how to save money on your grocery bill series? I can't!
See Can you really Part I here , Part II , and Part III here!
Dilute your juice: Plenty of folks I know water down their juice (or even their milk). Most say the kids can't tell the difference and it stretches it out even farther. With this one, I suggest doing it a little at a time until you find a happy medium. It might only stretch out an extra cup for some or it might double the amount others get out of the jug, but every little bit helps! As far as diluting your milk, I've been told that buying a gallon of whole milk, splitting it in half and filling both containers up with water 2/3 of the way full makes your own skim milk. Tim refuses to try this. I kind of don't blame him.
Make Your Own: This goes for a ton of things. Rather than buying a $10 cake at Walmart, buy a box of cake mix and icing and just make your own. It's much cheaper and frankly, it's going to taste way better. You can also make your own yogurt, bread, etc. It all depends on how much time you have and how much effort you want to put in to it. Some people just do not have time to go out and make their own cheese. Some people (like me) don't want to make our own cheese.
Needs before Wants: There is a fun southern saying- "Put your wants in one hand and poop in the other- see which one fills up faster." Gross, but it makes sense. Wants aren't Needs and the sooner everyone figures that out, the more you save money. Just because I want to buy a $8 package of beef jerky does not mean that goes on the grocery list every single trip. What do you actually need to buy? How much money can you save by practicing just a little self control? It's probably more than you think.
Learn about Expiration Dates and Use by Dates: Don't forget- there is a difference in "Best By" dates and "Expiration" dates. Properly stored, food can last beyond the expiration date even. I love the website www.stilltasty.com. It helps me judge how long things can be safely used. I have some salad dressing in my stockpile that's best by date was in November 2011. However, it's been unopened and stored in a dark, cool, dry place. It can be safely used pretty much until November 2012. Once I open it, I plan on using it very quickly (as a marinade for chicken I'll toss in the freezer, etc). If there is any doubt, throw it out! You don't want a hospital bill trying to save a $2.00 bottle of dressing. However, if an open bottle of dressing is three days past the expiration date, you're pretty safe as long as you've kept it in the fridge, closed.
Frugal Menus: We'd all love to eat expensive, fancy meals every night. I know I would! However, being frugal with your menus can allow you to stretch your budget farther than you'd think. Hot Dogs are a cheap meal. Grilled cheese sandwiches and a bowl of soup can really hit the spot, even if it isn't fancy. Homemade waffles with eggs and bacon- it's an IHOP worthy meal for a fraction of the price. Check out the thousands of cheap meal websites out there to get great ideas on eating inexpensively. Even if you replace one meal a week with a good old fasioned "el cheapo" meal, you're saving money.
Invest in Gadgets: Do you love popcorn? I do. For Christmas Tim bought me an air-popper. It was inexpensive, $20 or so, but it allows me to purchase bags of popcorn kernels. I am able to eat healthier popcorn much more cheaply. You can invest in a quality dehydrator to make your own jerky, fruit chips, veggie chips, etc. Just make sure you will get enough use out of the product to justify the start up cost! I've already made my money back on my air popper and then some!
Bulk Stores: If you can, borrow a friend's card or go shopping with friends or family. Don't buy a membership unless you don't know anyone that has one. Before you join, look around and check out the prices. Will you be able to save enough that you save over the membership fee? If not, pass! We bought a membership to BJs for several reasons. 1.) You can use coupons. 2.) Their gas is the cheapest around. 3.) It was for 14 months, not 12 as a special promotion. 4.) 100% satisfaction guaranteed. If on the very last day before my membership expires, I go in and tell them I didn't get enough use out of the membership, I get 100% of my membership fee back. I will only do this if I truly feel like it wasn't worth it. I offer my card to all friends and family who want to shop there without a membership. It may have to be when I am able to go, not necessarily when they get to go, but it's a little inconvenience for them to get greater savings.
So there you have it! So what do you think- can you save a few bucks every week on your grocery bill?