One of my biggest pet peeves is to let my pantry get out of order. Why you ask? Well, the reason is because I wind up spending more on groceries than I need to because I don't know what I have or in what quantity I have it. When I make my grocery list based on what I need for the pantry then I tend to spend less money. But if my pantry isn't organized it is hard to tell exactly what I need and what I don't need. In that instance, I basically go shopping blind and I purchase stuff that I think I might need but don't. However, things that truly did need to be replaced because I was low or out don't get replaced and I find myself without them. Then I might have to pay full price for something! This can be tough on a really tight grocery budget and ours is really tight right now. So, here are the few little things that I do to really save money on our grocery bill and keep our pantry well stocked for emergencies.
1. Organize the pantry, putting like items with like items. Things that might be all together, like condiments, I keep a sheet on the wall so that I don't have to go through each bottle. When I pull the last one I write it on the sheet so that I know which condiments to look out for. Now, 1 bottle of something will last quite some time so this gives me time to find it on sale. If you go through it quickly then you might want to put it on the list when you pull the next to last bottle. This also helps with those things that you don't buy but once a year. I buy a year's supply of mustard at a time. By the end of the year I need to start keeping track of how low I am getting.
2. I go to the grocery store no more than twice a month. Most of the time the second trip is simply for some fresh stuff that we aren't growing right now or to hunt for discounted meats to put in the freezer. The first trip is the main trip for the whole month. Before I go I head to the pantry to see what is low. Now, I rarely ever let my pantry shelf get below two items if I can help it. So, if I only have 2 cans of black beans then black beans go on the list. If by some chance something is lower or completely out then I put a star by it. This tells me that this item is not an option. I also put down how many of the item I need. With beans, not only do I keep dry beans in plenty, but I like to have several cans on hand for a quick fix. For those that cook dry beans it is not a quick process. It takes forever, to soak and cook etc. There have been times that I needed to come up with something quick and canned beans have been my rescue.
3. Now I take my pantry list, combine it with my standard list on the refrigerator (cold stuff)and sit down at the computer to go over the sale ads for the local grocery stores. I write down what is on my list and what grocery store has a sale on it. I also write down what the sale price is, the regular price and the size item on sale. Sometimes the larger size is on sale, but two of the smaller size might still be cheaper anyway. This also allows me to go to my discount grocer first where I might get it cheaper than the sale price from the regular grocer.
4. Armed with my lists from the grocery store and my list of "must haves no matter what" (hopefully, not many of these) I am off for a morning of grocery shopping. I head out early in the morning because you can get the best meat deals at that time by getting the discounted meat that has to sell that day. I head to the discount grocer first to purchase anything on my list that is cheaper than the retail grocer and any other bargains that I find. Last month I purchased Jimmy Dean sausage for 1.00 a pound. Better than the sale price at the retail grocer the following week.
5. When I find a really good deal then I stock up. Like the sausage I bought 10 lbs. which will last us a couple of months. I always have some room in my budget for stocking up on good deals. Even if you only build into your grocery budget 10 to 15 dollars a month that can add up to a good little stockpile. I have about 50 dollars built into my grocery budget. This amount allows me to stay well stocked while spending the least amount of money.
All of this sounds like it takes a lot of time to do, but really I invest about an hour before grocery day getting prepared. I know for the most part exactly what I am getting and approximately how much I am spending. It keeps us on a tight budget and I rarely run out of things. When I do, it is usually because I didn't do my due diligence in keeping things organized as they should be. So get those pantries organized and start saving money at the grocery store. Blessings, Kat