4 easy tips to save money on food

I don't believe in couponing. Not that coupons aren't great if they happen to be for what you want - but to buy your items because you have a great coupon - isn't really saving money. And to be honest, I don't have the time or patience to sit and clip. So as any semi-regular reader knows, I plan instead. When you only have to go to the grocery store once a week because you know exactly what you're cooking and when - that's when you save money. And sales on items you need are of course, helpful.

I have a few other secrets I thought I'd share as well.

Don't Waste. If something changes in my menu plan - I make sure I cook with the food that will go bad first. An example would be from last week. Pizza is something that all the ingredients I use keep for a while. So when we decided to add in a night with my parents for dinner - Pizza was the plan that got dropped and the schedule got shifted. Now pizza went on the plan for this week because we still have the ingredients. Get it? Make sure you are using the fresh veggies and other items so that you aren't wasting food (which is a waste of money.)

Be Loyal. This may not work everywhere, but I'll share with you my experience here in Sacramento. We pretty much only shop at Raley's and Bel Air (although we go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's for special items every once in a while.) Raley's has a great program called Something Extra where they give you reward voucher's quarterly based on what you spent in that quarter. I normal get $15 to $20 back which isn't bad at all. The website also gives you offers based on items that you frequently buy. So I get offers for discounts on rotisserie chicken or dutch crunch bread, because those are things I buy. That is the closest I get to coupons. If you want to get more involved they have a Something Extra Try-It program too. Where they send you a "try-it" package with goodies and discounts on a specific item that they want you to try and review. All they ask is that you share your thoughts with them and with your friends via social media.

Subscribe & Save. I've talked about this before and don't want to drone on about the same thing - but Amazon can offer you lower prices on some items and they deliver to your door, ASAP. Just check it out if you missed my original post on this I talk more detail about the things I buy.

Check Your Pantry (and keep it stocked!) There are things I always like to have in my pantry: black beans, artichoke hearts, chicken broth, pasta, salsa, tomato paste - are just a few. If I'm cooking something that calls for black beans and I am going to the store I buy a can even if I had one in the pantry. That way if I'm in a rut I'll probably be able to throw something together if I had to. I just always use the oldest can and keep the new one as my pantry backup. If you can make something from items in your pantry on a night when you didn't plan this means you won't spend more money eating out - which is always more expensive!

Ok, that's my four tips. Any thing you do that you'd like to share?

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