In adult life, groceries usually take up a pretty nice chunk of our monthly budgets. Once we grab the snacks the Mr. likes, the new juice boxes the kids like and that expensive lunchmeat from the deli, somehow we rack up almost $300 in groceries that never seem to last as long as we’d hoped. As you guys know, Nathan and I have been aggressively attacking our debt and we’re always revisiting our budget to see if there’s any place that we can cut back a little more. A couple of months ago, we decided that that ‘place’ would be our grocery bill. Now, all of my closest friends know that I love to cook. I cook everything from buttermilk fried chicken and waffles to wings with special sauces and a cornbread soufflé that will make you sing like Patti. So when my husband approached me about cutting back my culinary funding, I looked up at him like a deer in headlights. I denied that there would ever be a way for me to cut corners and that I was already doing the bare minimum (in the most dramatic way possible, of course). But realistically, there were definitely ways for me to cut back— and I did. I took our bill from more than $500 monthly to less than $250 monthly. Here’s how:
1. I plan my meals for two weeks at a time
This is something I’ve done for a quite a while and it saves me so much money and guesswork when I walk into the grocery store. By the end of two weeks, we’ve used all of our meat and we don’t waste a thing. The other benefit is that I’m able to pinpoint the amount that I’m going to spend at the grocery store so that I can adjust my menu accordingly. Bi-weekly, I like to spend no more than $120 on everything that I buy (toiletries included) so I typically spend on average about $6 a meal in order to pay for everything. My personal limit is $8 a meal if I can make it stretch for a couple of days but if it’s any more expensive it’s replaced on the menu.
2. I made simpler meals
When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I took a lot of pride in the fact that I would have the time to cook all of these elaborate, Pinterest-inspired, tasty meals but the fact of the matter is, it gets pricey. Until we get rid of our debt, steak and salmon dinners will have to remain occasional luxuries and spaghetti and casserole nights will have to be the new norm. Some of my other go-to meals include beans and rice, homemade chicken soup, and stir-fry.
3. I make my meals stretch
I know this one is super obvious but at one point in time, I hated leftovers. I now understand that they are the best idea for my budget. Buying food for a new meal each night gets pricey and making sure that I cook enough for the next night gives me a nice break from the stove.
4. I cook more meatless meals
As crazy as it may sound, a meal without meat can actually stand on its own and be quite filling. Since meat is usually the most expensive component on your plate, it makes sense to cut back right? We get by on meals like meatless lasagna rolls, soups, or beans and rice at least once or twice a week. It saves us at least $20 on our grocery bill.
5. I use coupons
This is super important. I’m definitely not one of those extreme couponers that you see on TLC but I’ve learned that if you take the right approach, couponing can save you quite a bit of money. Every Sunday, I buy a paper (or two, at 2.50 a pop. Dollar tree sells them in some cities) and I sit down and clip all of the coupons for products that we typically buy. I know you’re probably thinking, Ain’t nobody got time for that—but I promise it’s totally worth it. Even if I can only save $5, if the coupons help me stay within the budget, my massive clipping efforts did not go to waste.
6. I say no to some things
As difficult as it may be to pass on taking home all those new snacks in the front of the grocery store, sometimes it’s a necessary sacrifice. I’ve given up some of my favorite foods and while I missed them at first, I’m doing just fine without them. Same goes for the kids. When my sweet little 4-year-old looks up at me with googly eyes asking for every food item with Elsa on the box, I politely tell her no without hesitation. It will only help us in the long run.
These are all really simple ways to cut back your grocery bill and save some extra coins. What are some of the creative ways you save money on your grocery bill?