What is it about summertime that sends my grocery budget flying out the window?
I’ve noticed our grocery bill, and food costs in general tend to increase during the summer months. I guess it could be due to all the cookouts and celebrations we Vermonters need to cram into a three month time period just to ensure the chance of decent weather!
This summer, just like every other summer, I’m going to try to and reign in our grocery budget. Below are the strategies I’m going to use to try and make it happen. You’ll notice I don’t mention coupons. I think couponing is great if you have the time and energy. I have found that couponing takes more time that I’m willing to spend, so I’ve tried to find a few different ways to cut costs at the grocery store.
Make a list of all the food you already have in your house. Go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, etc. Use this inventory to make a list of meals and snacks you can create with the food you already have on hand. Have fun and get creative! Make a game out of creating meals and invite your children to come up with meal ideas, too.
Planning out meals saves time and money. It also eliminates the headache of deciding what to make for dinner. I usually make a meal plan that includes five or six meals, and create my shopping list from there. I don’t always assign a meal to a specific day, but I try to always have at least two or three dinner options available at all times. I try to involve my four year old in the meal planning process by letting him choose a meal each week. And, in case you were wondering he always picks hot dogs!
Browse your store’s circular for sales, and stock up on your staple items at their lowest price. Try to plan your meals around sale items if you can. Make sure to make a grocery list to keep you focused and less likely to pick up additional items. Set a budget for your trip and if you’re really up for a challenge only bring that amount in cash to pay.
Switch to a simple meal mindset for the summer. After all, we should be enjoying the season with our family rather than slaving in the kitchen all night. Simple meals are not only quick and convenient, they can be inexpensive, too! A few of my favorite simple meals are breakfast for dinner, sandwiches, and kabobs.
Shop Farmers Markets and Farm Stands
We’re lucky to have an abundance of farmer’s markets and farm stands in our region. While prices and selection vary across locations you can often find local fresh produce cheaper than in grocery stores. I’ve found this is especially true for organic produce and fresh herbs.