Save on Groceries and Control Your Restaurant Expenses

This article serves as part 3 of our series on growing net worth without having to increase your income.

 

Groceries

Saving on groceries doesn’t mean that you should clip and coupons, download browser plugins to print coupons, and combine them strategically to earn free dental floss and get store credit. It also doesn’t mean that you’re condemned to a life of eating beans in a crockpot or salty budget brand pasta sauce either. Obviously if you find that you have the time and interest to clip coupons, no one is stopping you. If you like beans, they are also nutritious and high in fiber.

That being said, grocery bills can easily get out of hand, especially if you do not pay attention to prices or shop only in gourmet organic stores. I’ve discovered over the years that deals can be had if you’re flexible and smart about seasonal    deals on fruits and vegetables.

Learning when grocery sales occur does require some homework initially but essentially becomes routine with time.

Step 1: Find the stores that are convenient to your normal routine. If you shop at stores along your commute to work, you can save time–even if eggs cost $0.35 more, it may be worth your sanity to get your grocery shopping out of the way instead of making a separate trip. Learn where your bulk grocers like Sam’s Club and Costco are located too.

Step 2: Learn where discount stores are located. I shop at a factory bread outlet where bread items are discounted over 50%. If there is a staple that you eat weekly, find out where you can buy it most conveniently and inexpensively.  There is a local grocer that sells grains in bulk where I buy steel cut oats on discount at $0.69/lb once a month.

Step 3: Keep track of specials and which stores discount their groceries. There are several grocers in my area that deeply discount certain items that are nearing expiration. Ironically, some of the most expensive organic stores tend to slash their prices the most. Half gallon of organic milk for $1? So what if it expires in 8 days? I usually go through a half gallon in 1 week anyway.

Step 4: Gift cards are important. While finding when grocery sales are discounted will likely save you the most money, gift card sales can help give you an extra boost. One of my grocery stores offers a 10% discount on store gift cards once a year. I buy several of them to use for the rest of the year. Sometimes credit card companies also offer certain discounts on grocery gift cards. Pay attention to them, but do not become obsessed. The most savings will come from Step 3, knowing when items are discounted, and where to buy them.

Restaurants

Contrary to grocery spending, savings on restaurant spending is almost always dictated by how frequently you eat at restaurants. Chain restaurants do offer specials and but obviously are only valid if you choose to dine with them. Other savings options include buying gift cards at the grocery stores or accruing credit card rewards through restaurant spending.

There are various other “restaurant hacks” that I have seen that include ordering items that have generous enough portions to take away the leftovers for a second meal or splitting entrees with your dinnermate.

Again, these strategies will all contribute towards restaurant savings, but ultimately the major savings comes from controlled the frequency you dine out.

Keep in mind that restaurant meals are traditionally less healthy than meals you cook at home. The ability for you to control you restaurant spending will not only protect your wallet but also help control your waistline as well!

Do you have smart money tips on groceries or restaurant eating? Comment below

Do you want to get the latest Smart Money MD posts in you inbox?
Get the FREE Smart Money MD Financial Cheatsheet for signing up!
Tags: