As a busy mom of 6, I know how easy it is for grocery spending to get out of control.
The grocery budget is the largest flexible expense in my home. I can run around the house turning off lights and unplugging appliances, but won’t save nearly as much on electricity for my efforts as I do when I manage my food spending well!
Currently our food budget for our family of 8 is $620 a month. This is just food—not cleaning supplies or shampoo.
That budget includes $30 worth of ingredients for my husband to make this lunches with (he keeps them at work) and $40 for an emergency eating out trip. When there are 31 days in the month, we average $2.50 per person per day, or $0.63 a serving.
I’ve been helping families reduce food spending for the last 8 years and have found the average family overspends on food so much so that they could buy a cruise ticket every month.
Some could buy 2.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Eating a real food diet with plenty of produce is important to me. I just shop for it differently than most.
A few months ago I went to a freezer-cooking day with friends. We all had the same recipes, same shopping list and went home with the same amount of food. The others spent between $200-$350, I spent $85.
We made multiple meals of Bacon Butternut Squash Casserole, Creamy Spaghetti Squash, Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts, homemade meatballs and marinara sauce.
When I’m shopping, I spend a few seconds on every item looking for the best value without compromising health. For the freezer cooking day, I made a few substitutions that didn’t change the final outcome of the recipes. For example:
- A pound of bacon was $3, yet a bag of real bacon crumbles was $1.50
- Prepared pesto sauce was $1.50, but the ingredients to make my own pesto were more than $10
- One of the recipes called for a block of provolone cheese. Aldi only carried provolone slices, but they were half the price of buying a block of cheese anywhere else. I bought the slices and tore them into pieces instead of grating cheese from a block. My final recipes turned out just as delicious as the others!
Remember – I eat REAL food. Before buying anything prepared, I made sure there weren’t any preservatives or questionable ingredients listed on the labels.
You can save money when grocery shopping too. Here are the basics to our super-low budget:
5 Fail Proof Ways to Reduce Grocery Spending
(1) Pay With Cash
We put our grocery money in an envelope and when the money is gone, I’m done for the month.
But here’s an insider tip – I like to save a bit in a separate envelope for the last week of the month. Just to make sure we can still buy milk and eggs!
(2) Know How Much Things Cost
Is that “sale” actually a good price? (Here’s how I spot a good deal.)
I have a head for numbers and pay attention to food prices. If I didn’t, I’d write them down in a pocket notebook (also known as making a price book). Then when prices drop significantly I recognize the deal.
(3) Stock up when the prices are at their lowest.
When I see that good deal, I buy enough so that I won’t have to buy until the next sale.
(4) Meal plan with the food I already have on hand.
I call it reverse meal planning and instead of shopping from a list of recipes, I shop for the best deals I can find and then meal plan around those foods.
(5) Buy necessities first, rare treats after.
Everyone likes a treat now and then, but it’s easy to spend too much on cookies, chips and soda and not have enough money for healthy foods.
I buy the essential foods first. Then – and only then – a treat or two is okay.
Once we get used to thinking about grocery shopping in a new way, it becomes second nature to spend less without sacrificing nutrition. If you’d like to find out more, I’m hosting a whole month of learning to reduce food costs. I’d love for you to join me!
We all have “secrets” to keeping our budgets low- what are yours?
This post was written by Angela at Grocery Shrink.