Happy Wednesday! A collection of some of my favorite tips and ideas on saving money on groceries and personal care.
Groceries and Dining
1. Buy produce and meat according to weekly store sales.
2. Plan a weekly menu and start your menu plan by "shopping" your refrigerator and pantry to find ingredients you already have.
3. Learn to enjoy drinking water - it's free, and better for you! If it's too boring, add lemon or lime.
4. Avoid buying individually wrapped portions, buy larger packages and divide the contents up yourself.
5. Commit to eating a few vegetarian meals a week utilizing beans and other great sources of protein. Or, reduce the amount of meat you eat at each meal. The average American eats too large a portion of meet per sitting anyway.
6. Head to the grocery store with a fully belly and a list of what you need - you'll be much less tempted to buy things just because they look tasty.
7. Avoid convenience foods when you can - microwave meals and fast food are expensive options because they're easy.
8. Pack your lunch for work the night before - many a time I've resorted to eating out because I was running late in the morning.
9. Cook in bulk and freeze leftover portions for that busy night when take-out sounds good.
10. Look for other breakfast options besides cold cereal. It's expensive and often loaded with sugar. Oatmeal, smoothies and eggs can be great alternatives.
11. Use The Grocery Game to match coupons to weekly sales ads.
12. Recycle leftovers. A chicken breast can become filling for shredded chicken tacos. Spice things up and utilize leftovers in such a way that it doesn't feel as though you're having the same meal.
13. Keep leftover veggies and make your own vegetable soup with chicken stock.
14. Don't buy bottled water. If you're like me and have a very sensitive pallet for water that tastes funny, make an investment in a small Brita filter so that you're not tempted to buy water.
15. Try store brands on basic items. You might not even notice a difference, or find out that you actually prefer the cheaper store brand.
16. Keep a price log, or keep in the back of your mind the prices of items you buy often. That way, you'll know when the store is offering a great deal and you can stock up.
17. Buy frozen vegetables when you can - they're often just as nutritious as fresh vegetables and much cheaper.
18. Eat simple meals. Simple receipes can be healthy and cheaper, since you aren't purchasing that cream of tartar power that you'll likely forget about after one use. If you love to cook, allow yourself to try a new and fancy receipe once a week.
19. Take your lunch to work. If co-workers are constantly tempting you to dine out, set a weekly or monthly lunch date and stick to it as a reward for bringing food from home.
20. Coffee addict? Make it yourself each morning and invest in resuable and portable cups. Save the $4 Starbucks for special occassions, or let it be your Friday morning treat.
21. Keep easy staples in your pantry - pasta, soup, etc. - for quick meals. When you're tempted to go out to eat because you "don't have anything to make" you can whip something up in minutes.
22. Purchase in-season produce.
23. Give yourself an estimated budget for each shopping trip and stick to it. Round prices up so the mental math is easier as you're putting things in the cart. Or bring only cash to the store so you're forced to stick with it!
24. Split a Costco or Sam's Club membership with friends and divide up bulk packages or items you'd normally purchase.
25. Split portions when dining out, or divide half your place and save it for leftovers. Have a snack before leaving the house, or drink a hefty amount of water before hitting the restaurant, to feel more full and eat less.
Beauty and Personal Care
26. Shampoo your hair every other day. Your scalp will eventually adjust.
27. Color your own hair. Really! All over hair color is easy. If it really makes you nervous, ask your hair colorist for your formula and head on over to Sally Beauty and match the numbers in a permanent shade.
28. Add a few drops of makeup remover to a tube of mascara to get some exta life out of it.
29. Use Vaseline for chapped lips instead of pricey balms.
30. Give yourself manicures instead of hitting the salon - investing in a few good tools is worth it!
31. Choose a low-maintenance hairstyle. Shorter, piecer styles require more frequent trims to maintain. Stay away from extreme hair colors or highlights.
32. Find a Goodwill in the ritziest area of town and shop on 50% off days. I've found pieces from Banana Republic, The Limited, even a designer Dior skirt!
33. Buy clothes in simple cuts and styles and colors that you can mix and match. Dress outfits up with fun accessories.
34. Shoe repair stores still exist. When you run the rubber heel of your favorite pair of pumps, have it repaired instead of buying a new pair.
35. Take vitamins and wash your hands frequently. Being sick is expensive.
36. Use cheap conditioner (like VO5) to shave your legs rather than shave gel, it works just as well.
37. Ask your doctor to switch you to a generic brand of birth control.