1. Before going to the supermarket, make a shopping list. And then stick to it. Market research shows that 1 in 2 products in our shopping carts are an impulse buy. Many times these are not items we really need. Supermarkets are designed to lure us to into buying more more more in the 24 minutes we spend on average roaming the aisles. The enticements during our seven minute wait at the checkout counter are also unnecessary most times, yet expensive at all times.
2. Stop buying soft drinks! Hard to imagine, but you really are paying a lot of money for carbonated water mixed with food coloring and heaps of high fructose corn syrup. On average every man woman and child consumes over 50 GALLONS of soft drinks annually. A family of 4 switching to tap water can save over $500 a year! Go ahead, drink a glass of water and watch your piggy bank swell with pride. I this is too drastic, at least switch to 100% fruit juice.
3. Drastically cut down on sugary, salty, and fatty snacks. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 items per grocery trip. If your children protest, practice a revenue share model with them – for every dollar in grocery bills saved, they keep 50 cents.
4. Switch from brand name products to store brands. Whether frozen foods, dairy, staples, or canned goods, a store brand is usually just as tasty and nutritious, but costs 10-25% less.
5. Use coupons. Wisely. Don’t buy a year’s worth of canned prunes to save a dollar when the last time you had prunes was at your grandma’s birthday in 1993.
6. Shop less. Plan your shopping trips for once a week at most. Those short trips to the grocer for one item usually end up with many more items in your shopping bag.
7. Eat more homemade food, even out of the home. Prepare sandwiches for lunch; or bring leftovers in a Tupperware dish to heat in the office microwave.
8. Don’t throw away food. Bananas gotten too mushy? Toss into the blender, add milk honey, and ice cubes to get a wonderful smoothie. Stale bread? Check out some bread pudding recipes.
9. Go meatless a day or two a week. To some this may sound like an abomination, but statistically, vegetarians are healthier and live longer. For protein on your off days, try different types of beans, tofu, lentils, quinoa, and grains, with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Add nuts and seeds to salads, sauces and desserts.
10. Learn to cook. Cooking is NOT heating a canned soup or nuking a TV Dinner in the microwave. Really cook. you’ll be surprised how easy it is to prepare healthier and cheaper a tomato based pasta sauce when you do it yourself. Have the kids join and help you. There’s no shortage of recipe websites today, some include video tutorials.