Outside of bills, the grocery budget usually consumes quite a bit of income for most families. It’s also probably the one area you have the most control over from month to month. You can save money on groceries.
If you’re trying to save money, your first instinct may be to get the processed foods that tend to be cheaper. (Hello ramen)
But good News! It is, in fact, possible to feed your family real foods and to do it cheaper! No need to sacrifice your families health. These are the easiest ways to save money on groceries.
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Create a budget
You need to take a hard look at your finances and make a realistic budget. Then you have to do the hard part, and stick to the budget!
Did you know that there are people who will help teach you to save thousands a year on groceries! Yep. It may seem counter-intuitive to shell out money on a course when you’re trying to save money on food. But I know you’ve heard the motto “You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime.”
This definitely applies to that situation. When you learn to save a couple hundred dollars month after month, its worth the upfront investment. A course that is a total lifesaver is the grocery budget makeover. This has helped so many people save TONS of money each year. They teach you step by step how to literally save hundreds. Enrollment happens only a couple times a year, but if you sign up to get on their waiting list, they’ll offer you a self-taught version of the course.
So you’ll get all the information, at a discounted price. You just won’t get as much support as you get during their full-blown rollout course. Either way, you’ll start saving money as soon as you take the course.
Cook at home
We don’t eat out anymore unless we have a special deal. (Like an email promo. One time GrubHub sent us a $20 off coupon of $25 spent. So eating out was much more affordable.) Our cooking is done at home.
For example, an affordable meal in our house is rice and beans. This is a staple because a bag of dried beans and a bag of rice go a long way. We eat it a few times a week and everyone enjoys it. We change it up by adding cut up veggies to the beans, flavoring the rice differently, adding cheese. We pair it with different types of tortillas and add avocado and lime for a gourmet touch. Plus it’s an easy meal to make. The cost is usually 1-2 dollars a serving. Can’t beat that.
We keep breakfasts simple by eating oatmeal every morning (sometimes I change it up with eggs.) I use maple syrup to sweeten it and vary our toppings. It’s usually a variation of nuts, chia seeds, and dried, frozen or fresh fruit.
Wash your dishes
This may seem silly, but you need to keep your dishes clean on a regular basis. This WILL help you save money on groceries. It’s so easy to let them sit there after a meal and not clean them right away. But, this leads to it growing and becoming an overwhelming task.
This then means that they get avoided, and dirty dishes means you have nothing to cook with. Eating in and cooking your meals with real foods will lead to healthier AND cheaper meals.
In our house, we make it a point that after dinner, everyone part takes in family clean up. Its quick and makes the tasks more enjoyable. We play some winddown music for the kids, which also helps signal it’ll be bedtime soon. (This is our favorite night time CD.) Either my husband or I do the kitchen, while the other plays with the kids and picks up the living room and vacuums. It only takes 30 minutes, it’s fun when its done together, shows the kids how powerful teamwork can be.
And for me, having a clean kitchen every morning means I don’t mind making breakfast in the morning. (I am NOT a morning person by nature. I only get up early because my kids insist on waking up.)
Meal planning will save you money
To see big savings in the grocery department, meal planning is a must. But so many moms I’ve talked to really struggle with this!
I honestly think it’s just not knowing where to start. When I decided to get serious about our budget, I was intimidated by meal planning. For the easiest, most basic meal plan, simply pick out 7 meals to make for dinner for the week. If that’s too overwhelming or just too time-consuming, make 4-5 meals and eat leftovers. Keep breakfast and lunches simple. Buy only the ingredients needed for those meals.
If you want to really save money though, you’re going to need to plan a little better. You can make your plan to combine meals that use the same ingredients as the others for that week. This way you’ll expand your meal potential, for less money, and less wasted food. Trying this technique is usually where it becomes a little overwhelming.
By just using a pen and paper, and Pinterest at the fingertips for meal inspiration is probably to unstructured to work in the long run for most people. This method usually lasts a week or two, and the bad habits start kicking back in. For lasting success, you need a good system and good tools.
Best meal planning tools to save money on groceries
$5 dollar meal plans
Some moms are really good at meal planning. A great example is the mom behind $5 meal plan. She has perfected the art of meal planning and sends her meal plans to other moms for only 5 bucks a month. So worth lessening the stress of meal planning.
You can use the meal plans as is, or if your family is a bit pickier, then you can use their drag and drop planner, pick your meals and create your shopping list in minutes. They even offer a gluten-free option!
If you’re on a specialized diet, then you may want to check out real plans. They are a phenomenal planning service that offers a useful drag and drop meal planning dashboard. You can take any recipe off the web, drop it into their planner and it will create your grocery list and menu all on their dashboard.
When I joined their service I was seriously impressed with how the whole program operated. In my house, we have a lot of food allergies and dietary requirements, so this was perfect for us. You can search their database for ingredient-specific foods, and even add specialized diet menus to your plan.
You find the foods you want, drop them into the menu and it populates your grocery list, and how much of each item you need.
They have Paleo, AIP, vegetarian options, too many to list them all.
A good planner
If you’re looking for something a little fancier you could use planning sheets like these ones on Amazon. Having a well-organized plan means you’ll be more likely to stick to it. Of course, there are fancier more expensive ones out there too. If you’re on a stick budget I wouldn’t recommend spending a bunch of money on one though.
It takes patience
It takes a bit of practice to learn and change habits. Be patient with yourself and don’t give up. You can do this! It takes 30 days for people to change their habits and have it become apart of their routines. I challenge you to give it a try for 30 days and see if you can substantially lower your grocery budget! (P.S. I bet you will)
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