Are your cooking habits, or lack thereof, making you broke? Dining out regularly can rack up the calorie bill, not to mention deplete your wallet at lightning speed. We chatted with Teri Gault, savings expert and creator of The Grocery Game, about some of the simple ways to save your wallet and waistline.
What are some easy changes that we can make to save big bucks? Cook more at home! Just start using simple cooking techniques that keep you in the long haul, so you don’t have to always “cook” when eating at home, like employing a slow cooker for meals two days a week. And don’t be afraid to brown bag it for lunch. One person buying lunch every day can potentially blow $3,000 a year! Finally, keep an eye out for “secret” grocery deals once you’re in the store. Only select items are advertised, but you can still score a great deal— some of my best money-savers have come from unadvertised sales—and you may be able to nab something for free! If you don’t want to stress in the store, take a peek at grocerygame.com to see what’s available in your area.
What’s your biggest savings secret in the kitchen? “Slow and easy” has been one of my secret weapons against the high cost of dinner for years. Use a slow cooker to save time and money. When you know you’re facing a busy day, take a few minutes in the morning to throw something in the slow cooker—it’ll save you time, stress and dollars because many items that typically go into those meals are inexpensive. It’s a total win!
Can you give us your Haggling 101? The best times to haggle are at places with high competition, like electronics stores, if you’re buying in quantity or if you’re buying a big-ticket item. You can haggle at places from Best Buy (I have always haggled, and almost always successfully) to Macy’s and even at appliance stores! All you have to do is ask. How to do it: work your way up the food chain (always ask for the manager if the sales clerk tells you no), offer to pay cash, shop local, point out flaws, don’t give ultimatums and relax! Stop thinking it’s rude to ask for discounts. Haggling doesn’t make you a cheapskate, it makes you a wise shopper.
On the flip side, how can we save without the haggle hassle? Skip the department store and check out your drugstore for cosmetic deals. Drugstore brands know they’ve been taking some market share due to this economy, and they are stepping it up even more to get you the best deals at their stores. When you need something that is not in your pantry, fridge or freezer, you can buy generic or store-brand. Just because that cereal or soup doesn’t have its own jingle doesn’t mean it’s not good to buy. In fact, a surprisingly large amount of these store brands are just as good as the national brands.
Now tell us: What are some of your favorite money-saving tricks for easy, inexpensive meals?