Monday, May 7, 2012

Shopping tips to save money!

I know so many people who have had to cut down on spending lately. Whether it is due to less work, no work or things just getting too expensive. My family consists of 6 of us. My husband is disabled so our money is tight right now. But I have come to realize with a little pinching here and there we can get along pretty good every month, with only a few days of stretching.
I know you are probably thinking coupons, but I'm not very good at it and frankly can not waste my time searching for them and cutting etc. Also couponing isn't a huge money saver in Canada as in the States. We don't seem to have those awesome coupons here, ours mostly are good for 1 item not unlimited as they are there.

But don't worry, I have some tips on how to stretch and pinch that little bit extra out of the month. I hope you can use some of them to get  more bang for your buck, like we do...

Our grocery store puts their close to end of selling date meat on for 30% to 50% off each morning. If you are there before 8:30 a.m. you can catch great deals! Now some people might be turned off by this but believe me, my husband is a butcher by trade and the meat is NOT even close to going bad. When buying beef, the darker the better and most people don't know this. They like the bright red look when the deeper red, the older cut is actually more tastier! Thankfully my kids go into school earlier then the other two schools in town so I'm in the store by 8:15 usually! I buy as much up as I can and throw it in the freezer as soon as I get home. The funniest thing about it is that I meet the same people there every morning I go! lol We all know each other by name and a couple have even held a few packs of the sausages I like for me until I got there.

The other grocery store in town has a half price dairy and sweets shelf a couple times a week. If your store does, learn the days they put the items on half price. Some may do it daily, but like ours they could put it out only a few times a week. I picked up a birthday cake a couple months ago for $4 which was regularly $24! The date was up in two days but I brought it home and froze it immediately. Believe me, the cake tastes no different once thawed out.  We also buy the left over holiday cookies at a deep discount. Valentines, Easter, Halloween, Christmas...this makes for a lot of discounted cookies and treats! These can be frozen as well. My kids think nothing of having a heart shaped cookie a few weeks after Valentines day :) Just watch for freezer burn and make sure the containers are thick enough for the freezer, or better yet, throw everything into freezer baggies like I do!
We also buy the large packs of yogurt cups for 50% off in the dairy section. They have 3 or 4 days to their date or so and I have four kids...they usually eat at least 1 yogurt cup a day, so we are done the pack the next day. Same as the larger yogurt containers. We can go through them like crazy!

If you can buy in bulk with friends, then do so! If you have a Costco or other price club membership and a couple of friends who like to shop there you can always split on bulk purchases and even the membership cost! The $40 cost of a Costco membership is cheap between a coupe of people in the long run. We buy the 3 boxes of freezer bags and split between us. Same as the three salad dressings and sauces. It is much cheaper to shop in bulk and if you can purchase the items with friends, you are not putting out a huge price.

We also buy our larger meat items there as well. A whole pork tenderloin is about $17 dollars and we can get over 20 chops and a roast out of one. This is a huge savings! We also buy larger beef roasts and cut into smaller sizes, chicken legs and thighs in bulk and repackage into serving sizes. We buy the breakfast sausage links at about $12 and we can get 4 breakfasts out of them feeding 6 people! And we are BIG sausage eaters!

Farmers Markets are an awesome way of getting cheaper veggies and fruits! But beware, a lot of them are tourist traps and the prices are inflated and the items imported. If you have a market that is open all year long and grows their own produce then that is where you should shop! We have an awesome place just a few towns over and it is usually worth the 15 minute drive because of the savings! This market actually grows most of the produce it has on it's shelves. Very little is bought in. I find the prices are so much better and so is the actual item as they are not sprayed or trucked too far. I can get a 40% to 60% discount on what I pay in the grocery stores in my area by shopping at the market. Last week the great find was 2 long English Cucumbers for .99cents at the market. They were going for 2 for $3 in the grocery store.  Thankfully this place is open all year long and not too far away that it is a waste of gas to get there!

Grow a garden! If you don't have any yard to grow it in, grow it in pots on your window sil or on your balcony! This will save you money and you will do will be amazed at what you grew!

My last little tidbit is something I had never thought of but its so darn easy to do! I hate to throw out anything and I am also a soup lover, so you'd think this would have came to me years ago! Leave a plastic freezer bag in your fridge and everytime you have left over veggies, throw them in the bag. By left over veggies I mean the half of the onion the recipe doesn't call for. The two potatoes in the bottom of the bag. The 3 baby carrots left that just can't fit into the pot. You know what I mean. Do not waste or throw out anything that can be used in the soup pot! Once a week (or more if you are like me!) make a veggie soup out of the contents of the baggie! Throw in some rice or pasta and make it a meal. There are so many combo's when making home made soup! Most times you don't even need to follow a recipe, just throw together what ever veggie you like and some broth and you have soup! Easy Peasy! (Remember, most veggie soups can be frozen, so make a big pot and freeze some for later.)

There are tons of other ways to cut corners and save money with your shopping and I hope some of my tips will help you out. Please share if you have anymore ideas, I would love to hear them!!