Guest blogger Melinda Fulmer: Yes, you can. And no, you don't have to churn your own butter or eat Spam to do it. It just requires a little more planning and a bit more time in the kitchen. Here are momlogic's seven tips for keeping your family of four's food bill under a Benjamin.
1. Write it all down
Plan every meal, snack and beverage you will consume over the course of week and put only those items in your cart. I know! But the more you go, the more you blow.
2. Shop the sales
Use the grocery store's sales circular as a starting point for planning your menu. You can find these bargains, along with the big chains' unadvertised specials on Coupon Mom.
3. Buy in bulk
Stock up on inexpensive snacks in large containers such as raisins, carrots, pretzels, peanut butter, in-season fruit, yogurt, and big bags of popcorn for air-popping. For dinners, buy big containers of rice and pasta, the cheap cook's best friends. Don't buy items packaged for convenience. That's what Ziploc bags are for, right?
4. Stock up when prices hit bottom
If you see a great deal on meat or produce, buy enough for half a dozen meals. Divide it into portions and freeze it. You'll thank yourself later.
5. Less meat, more beans
Meat is one of the more expensive items in the supermarket. Beans are one of the cheapest. You do the math. Add more veggie-filled soups, stews, burritos and chili to your menu.
6. Stick to store brands
Unless there's a good sale and a good coupon, don't spring for the Kraft or Nabisco.
7. When prices go up, go canned or frozen
Frozen veggies are cheaper and they're already washed and chopped. Bonus! Canned chicken and salmon are also cheaper than fresh and great in patties, casseroles and pasta. Canned clams are excellent in linguine.
A final word: Be sure to save a couple of bucks in your budget each week for the occasional trip to the ice cream parlor or other small splurge. That way your thriftiness doesn't feel like a punishment. And Mom was right: Don't go shopping when you're hungry.