We’re not frugal people just to be frugal. We’re not just looking at price when deciding on our groceries and restaurant options. We want to eat well and still have some money left in our wallets. Here are some ways we save on food without depending on ramen.

Trader Joe’s- Shoping There Without Going Broke

You can’t mention trader Joe’s without mentioning some 3 Buck Chuck. That what we originally went to the store to get. Slowly, we started trying out other items. For us, we love some of the easy to prepare meals they have for those busy nights. We’re trying not to go for the convenient, but unhealthy fast food options.
Friends recommended looking at Trader Joe’s easy prep items. We loved their lasagna and stuffed peppers as dinner options.I found the bagged salads better tasting and cheaper than the ones at Walmart. Having a price book is a good idea when shopping at Trader Joe’s. Making impulse buys can be quite easy in the store.
Whatever grocery store we go to for good, having a plan helps us make smarter choices and save money.

Make a Grocery List:This seems really elementary, but creating a shopping list important step. Grocery stores are designed to make you buy more, whether you need to or not. It might difficult to come up with a proper grocery list at first. An easy way to get started is thinking of the meals you like to eat. Do you like spaghetti, chicken wings, or tacos? Break the meals down until you have a list of items.

Use a Price Book: I have talked about making price books before, but I mention it because it works. Many people think of price book and think it’s overly tedious and don’t think it’s time well spent. It’s actually easy to start a price book and it can simplify your shopping trips and save you some money.

Warehouse Clubs – Always a Good Deal?

I mentioned before how our Costco membership has saved us quite a bit of money. I didn’t however really get into detail about our food and bulk item savings. Warehouse clubs can be advantageous for some people and a not a good deal for others.

You can’t mention warehouse clubs without discuss membership fees. Each club it’s own fee structure. I’m listing the basic membership fees.

  • Costco Gold Star Member ship ($50/year):
  • BJ’s Inner Circle Membership ($45/year):
  • Sam’s Club Advantage Membership ($40/year):
  • Run the Numbers

    You have to consider the following questions before just going on a shopping spree in the warehouse: How many are you planning to feed? How quickly can you finish the food? We’re a small family of two, so some bulk items aren’t good buys for us based on the amount we eat and our limited freezer space.

    We’ve used Costco to buy our juices, rice, food for parties at our house (great deals on those!), pasta, and meats. It’s worked well for us and we’ve saved some money too. There some other tips I’d recommend if you’re buying at a warehouse club.

    Buy meat in bulk and freeze: We try to get a good amount of meat on sale, divide it up for sevral meal, and then freeze it. That tip drops the cost per pound down. When we get home, for example, I have broken down ground beef into several bags for meatloaf, spaghetti, tacos, hamburger helper, etc.

    Take advantage of sales that you’d actually buy without the sale: Sometimes I want to buy something because it’s on sale. It’s not something that we use a lot or even at all. When you do that you’re not really saving money, you’re spending more. It’s not bad if you do this once a shopping trip if you want to expand your menu, but if you’re on a tight budget, try to minimize this.

    Happy Hour = Fun Nights on a Budget

    We’re big fans of eating out with friends and family and making it a special occasion. It’s great to go somewhere, have a really good evening of catching up, and not having to worry about cooking and cleaning. We get out occasionally and want to make the most of it without draining our budget.

    Know the Specials: This is something we started when we were dating in college and were on a tight budget. You canfind some great happy hour and early bird specials if you ask around. We enjoy going to Brio’s happy hour because of the food (and their mojitos).

    Buy an Entertainment Book: We have saved some money with one of those Entertainment books.  We have gotten 50% some of our meals with the Buy One, Get One Free coupons. while trying out new places is great, just make sure the book is encouraging you to spend more; those defeating the purpose.

    Your Thoughts
    How do you save money while eating well? Where do you splurge?