Get a Handle on Your Grocery Bill

by Leanne Ely

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One of the most effective ways a family can get a grip on their spending is through food. As a cookbook writer, I'm delighted! As a working mom, it means I have to be on top of my game. My time is very limited.

Here are some quick tips I've utilized to keep my time down in the grocery store, and at the same time, keep the budget in line.

  1. Make a List. If you go to the store without a grocery list, you'll be in trouble! Something will be forgotten or you'll buy something you shouldn't have. The list is essential grocery shopping equipment. I buy cheap, magnetic notepads from the dollar store and keep it on the fridge. This might be very basic (and it is), but if grocery shopping is a slippery slope on your budget, don't forget to make a list and check it twice!
  2. Use Your Pantries. You have two: the big cupboard for dried goods and your freezer. You can take advantage of sales when you recognize the viability of your two pantries. There are easy meals in there if you keep them adequately stocked with food you'll actually eat. You can freeze most anything (within reason, of course). Recognize that and keep your eyes open for a good markdown at the store.
  3. Blessed are the Flexible. (for they will not be broken or broke, as the case may be!) If you're in the market shopping for a certain recipe and you see a sale on a similar item, make the change! I have done this myself. I have a delicious recipe for Citrus Salmon (Yes, salmon can be inexpensive when bought on sale!), but I won't buy salmon unless it's on sale. Sometimes my Citrus Salmon is Citrus Whitefish or Cod or whatever other fish I find on sale.
  4. Beware of Bulk. I know some people get really hooked into the warehouse stores, but my experience says buyer beware. The temptation to overspend is enormous, the prices can be very, very good on one thing and overpriced on another. If you don't know your prices going in, do not pass go, do not hand them your $200!
  5. Think Healthy. I get email from people telling me that buying fresh produce is too expensive and they can only "afford" cheap macaroni and cheese in a box and hot dogs. What's really unaffordable is a rotten diet. Garbage in, garbage out. You reap what you sow. You must consider your health as an asset that deserves taking care of. Healthy food is affordable when you dispense of the junk food in your life and add the healthy food in. This is how you're taking care of yourself, your family and everyone's health in the long run. You'd never put low-grade gas in your car. So, how can you justify low-grade fuel for your family?

There you go. Some food for thought to get you going in the right direction. And remember that list. Don't leave home without it!

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular,, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

Take the Next Step

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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