More Bang for Your Buck Part 1: Getting Started

The holidays are finally over and you now have a chance to take a look at the devastation they left in your finances.  Not a pretty picture? Or maybe, that last quarter of the year signaled cutbacks at your job that are carrying over into the new year.  Or maybe, you just want to get a better handle on some things.

When things get tight, where do people generally cut back first? Groceries! And I’m not just talking food here.  I’m talking about anything you buy at the grocery store – food, toiletries, paper products, cleaning products. This is the easiest category to cut because it’s got instant gratification built in.  Need to cut back $50 this month?  Spend $50 less at the grocery store.  It’s difficult to know if you’ve spent $50 less in electricity until the bill comes in and by then it’s too late to change anything if you didn’t hit your target.

In this series, I want to discuss a variety of ways to cut back, re do and re-think your grocery spending. Some things you may already be doing.  Some things may not work for your family or your situation. Hopefully, you’ll find a few things that you haven’t thought of before that will work for you and your family.  We all know that every little bit helps.  I will caution you, however, if you’ve never tried any of these ideas before don’t try to do everything at once.  No matter how bad your current situation may be, if you try to do too much too fast you will get overwhelmed and give up and then you will lose out on any of the benefits you might have gained.  One step at a time is fast enough.

So, let’s figure out what some of our goals are.  Do you just need to cut back financially?  Are you looking to incorporate more “real” foods into your diet” Are you trying to be more “green”? Knowing what your ultimate goals are will help you decide what new recipes or techniques to try first.  Although, most of the things I will be going over will fall into all three of the above categories.

This series will take a little bit of work on your part sometimes.  In order to make the best use of my ideas, you’ll need to know your situation.  That might mean taking an inventory or making some other kinds of lists.  Don’t worry, it won’t be too taxing. In fact, your first little bit of homework is to make a list of all the main dishes your family enjoys.  Just make a running list include everything you can think of including seasonal meals like chili or taco salad.  Try to come up with at least 7, but more is of course better. If you can, try to get 30 main dishes that your family likes to eat.  Don’t worry right now about whether they are “frugal” meals or not. Just write them down.

This first step alone could save you some money by just reminding you of things you can fix for your family that maybe you haven’t thought about for awhile.  It might even save you money by having more dinner ideas at your fingertips to prevent the I-don’t-know-what-to-cook-let’s-order-pizza syndrome.

Join me next week for Part 2.

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