t is important to shop wisely. For years, I have been saving money on

groceries. On average, I save 50 percent at the grocery store. In a

month, I save almost as much money in food, clothing, etc. as I would

make with a part-time job. By careful shopping, I can stay home with

my kids instead of having a job outside of my home. However, shopping

wisely does not mean that you need to buy the cheapest thing and give

up quality and taste. Saving money in the grocery store does not need

to take hours of clipping coupons, etc. Buy what you need and don't

spend unnecessary time buying things you wouldn't normally use just

because they are on sale. The following suggestions can help to

simplify our lives and help us to be happier and stay in our budget at

the same time as we shop wisely.

Grocery Shopping

1. By not spending, you save. Just don't buy the junk food. I

bought two liter bottles of soda for 25 cents a bottle. It was a great

deal. I couldn't stand watching my kids drink the stuff, knowing that

soda is bad for them. I could have just given them water to drink

instead of soda. It would have been healthier and cost less money.

Candy bars sometimes go on sale for ten cents each. Although it is a

good buy and may be hard to pass up, it is healthier for you and your

family if you save your money and don't buy junk food. Fruit snacks

were on sale for a third of the regular cost. This is another good

deal, but as I watched my kids quickly devour them, I wondered if it

was worth the good price to have them eat the sugary, artificially

colored and flavored snacks. I could have bought carrots for less

money and they would have had something healthy to eat. Carrots have

beta carotene, which is great for them.

2. Look for better, healthier alternatives. I buy name brand cereal

for $1.50 per box or less. I may be able to find store brand cereal

for less, but many of them get soggy more quickly so I do not buy

them. Even though buying name brand box cereal at $1.50 per box is a

great deal, a 50-pound bag of oatmeal or wheat cereal would cost a

great deal less and would be healthier for us in the long run. In

addition, hot cereal seems to be more filling than cold cereal.

3. Try using less of a better quality product. I used to buy ground

beef because it was cheaper than other cuts of meat. Now I buy leaner

cuts of meat and cut by half the amount of meat in my recipes. Another

alternative is to eat good cuts of meat occasionally and eat more

beans. Beans can improve your health and protect you, so why don't we

eat them more often? They are less expensive and better for you.

4. Make it yourself. It seems like the bread that is on sale is

usually not the kind that is high in fiber. To buy the good quality

bread costs a lot of money. I make my own 100% whole wheat bread

without any preservatives for a fraction of the cost of the same bread

in the store. Homemade tortillas, muffins and bagels cost

substantially less to make yourself and the taste is so much better.

Making your own stew with fresh vegetables costs less than the

equivalent of canned stew on sale and you don't have the preservatives.

5. Use what you have. Unless you are celebrating a special

occasion, use the food you have before running to the store. If you

don't have exactly what you need, substitute something else in its

place. If you don't have an acceptable substitute, make a different

meal from what you have on hand. You will save yourself time by

avoiding a last minute trip to the grocery store. Limit your trips to

the grocery store to once a week or twice a month.

6. Make a menu and grocery list before shopping. It is easier to

avoid unnecessary purchases when you have an idea of what you want to

buy before you enter the grocery store. This will also help to avoid

last minute trips for forgotten items.

7. Buy things your family will eat. My kids love macaroni and

cheese. If I buy the cheap brand on sale, they will not eat it. They

can taste a difference. It will just sit on the shelf. If your family

doesn't like something, why buy it even if it is on sale?

Grocery shopping doesn't need to be a burden. Set a budget for food

each month and/or week. Make a menu and grocery list and buy what you

need first. Use any leftover money to buy staples and things you

regularly use when they go on sale. Enjoy the food you make and don't

feel obligated to make a meal that doesn't taste good just to save a

dollar. The taste and health benefits are worth the extra dollar in my

opinion. Ten years ago, I tried a recipe from a book about feeding

your family for less. The recipe was for peanut butter stir fry and

even though it has been ten years, my whole family remembers that meal

as the worst meal we have ever had in our lives. You can stay in your

budget without having to give up quality and health. All of the money

you spend on unnecessary sale items like candy bars, fruit snacks and

soda could add up to buy good, healthy food instead. Just because

something is on sale and a good price doesn't mean that it is the best

choice in the long run. Be wise about your spending and realize that

by not spending, you save.

Take the Next Step: How much per month could you save by no longer

buying junk food or at least limiting it to an occasional treat?

Collect receipts and figure it out. Sure, that sugary snack is on

sale, but what are you really paying for? Excess sugar? Artificial

colors and flavors? How about trans fat? And what other benefits

besides monetary would you see by cutting the junk? Think about it.