When I first started consciously
cutting back on my household expenses, reducing my grocery bill was
one of my highest priorities. After I got married and started
juggling my career, my marriage, and the responsibilities of being a
parent, however, I had to rethink some of my ways of doing things.
You may think that if you make
everything from scratch that you will save a lot of money at the
grocery store every month. In a lot of cases, this may be true. When
you prepare your own meals you will often see an immediate cost
savings per portion, and perhaps an overall increase in nutritional
value as an added bonus. So what if you don't have the time to cook?
That's a good question, and one that
cannot easily be answered. If you only buy prepackaged foods to save
you time in the kitchen you're definitely going to end up spending
more money than necessary. I would suggest that you might be able to
find a happy medium.
Every week I think to myself that it
would sure be nice to make some homemade cookies for my daughter to
have for snacks during the next week. About once every 2 months or
so I might actually make them, but most of the time I choose not to
because it would take up a Sunday afternoon that I'd like to use to
do other things. Would it save me money to make the cookies myself?
Sure, if the alternative would be to buy a $4 package of Oreos.
However, when Oreos go on sale for $1.99 or less a package, I'll
stock up on a few and know that my money was wisely spent, while
also freeing up my time for other things. Better yet, once a month
or so we might go to Wal-Mart and stock up on Little Debbie snacks
that average about $1 a box. You could hardly make a batch of
cookies for $1. Now don't get me wrong, I love to bake and enjoy a
homemade cookie as much as anyone else. It's just not always the
best use of my time and/or money.
Recently my mother-in-law and I were
discussing the price of chili. We had found some on sale for $0.99 a
can and thought that was a pretty good deal. For that price I
probably wouldn't take the time to make it. The regular price was
$1.30 - $1.50 a can, and I just couldn't justify paying that much
for it. I'd just do without or make a pot of chili myself and freeze
some for later. My husband's aunt overheard our conversation and
commented that she had bought a case of chili on sale for $0.59 a can!
I sure wouldn't have passed that deal up.
You just have to watch prices on your
favorite items and purchase them when they go on sale. You have to
be somewhat flexible, however, and be willing to purchase alternate
items or do more cooking when prices are high.
It's all a matter of priorities. If
you have the time and enjoy spending time in the kitchen, then by
all means cook from scratch whenever you can. I sure do. On the
other hand, if you have days like me where you come home from a long
day at work wondering what to fix quick for dinner, you might
consider balancing the amount you're spending on groceries with the
time you will save yourself in the kitchen by stocking up on a few
convenience items, like Tuna Helper or prepared spaghetti sauce.
I've found that I'm saving even more money than ever before by
buying these convenience foods when on they're on sale, while also
making things from scratch when I have the time. Just keep your
options open and you will find what works best for you.