Most everyone I know wants to cut their food budget and feed their family for less. We are no exception and try to feed our family of 6 on $175 per week (which includes money for dining out a couple of times – you can check out some tips for dining out cheaper here). Most of that money for groceries goes to healthier foods and we are working to eat better all the time. Here are some of the ways we have cut our grocery spending.
1. Plan in advance.
Every meal, snack and beverage. If you plan ahead, you don’t end up running to the store to pick something up – which usually means you end up buying several things you didn’t plan on. Plus it can cost you gas money if you have to make a special trip to get what you need. By planning ahead you know that you have what you need on hand.
2. Change where you shop
You can save money by switching to places like Aldi or Wal Mart. Around here I really love Publix, but they are way more expensive on many of the things we regularly buy so I only go for the buy one, get one free deals.
3. Buy in bulk on items you use a lot
Some items don’t really make sense to buy in bulk, especially if they will go bad before you can eat it all or it isn’t really a good deal, but other items are a super buy when buying in bulk. For us, we buy wheat berries to grind our own wheat, oats and items for the kids’ lunches in bulk and save quite a bit of money this way.
4. Shop the sales
Like I mentioned before, Publix has some great buy one get one free deals. Every week I check what they have on their list before I decide what we are eating for the week. Check sales fliers for good deals and plan your meals around those items that are a really good deal. We also like to check out the Aldi meat deal they have on Wednesday. My husband works really close to one so it’s not out of his way to go there after work.
5. Steer clear of convenience
Just say NO to small boxes of raisins, juice, yogurt. They are super convenient when it comes to grabbing a snack or throwing in the kids’ lunchboxes, but they cost much more.
Use snack bags (even better if they are reusable!), thermos, bento box, etc. to pack those snacks instead! I like the Great Value square snack bags they have now – smaller size but still in a convenient shape.
6. Be brand blind
Be open to store brands because they usually taste just as good. While there are some items that I have found a difference in (like tomato soup!) most things I can’t tell a difference, especially if it is an ingredient in a cooked item (like cream of chicken). You can save quite a bit of money switching to another brand, especially on things like cereal.
7. Doctor up cheap meat
The key to making cheap cuts of meat tender is to cook them low and slow – like in your slow cooker. You can buy way more inexpensive cuts of meat this way. When we were younger and didn’t have many bills (or kids!) we would often have steaks. Now that we have four kids steak is out of our budget most of the time, so we find cheaper cuts and cook them in the slow cooker.
8. Consider canned and frozen
Especially for things that are out of season, buy canned or frozen versions. I used to think that frozen foods weren’t as nutritious or fresh but I’ve since learned otherwise. Most frozen vegetables, for example, are picked and frozen almost immediately, whereas the vegetables in the produce section may be weeks old, making the frozen version a better buy. We also don’t have to worry about the frozen veggies going bad before we use them like we do with fresh. Now we always have bags of frozen vegetables and fruit on hand to whip up quick sides – and most of the time they are cheaper, too!
9. Put on your apron
You should consider making some things yourself instead of buying the premade versions. A big one of these for us is bars – like LaraBars and Kind Bars. We love these, but they get crazy expensive real fast, especially with four kids. One box of Pressed by Kind only has four bars and is $5!! While I haven’t been able to make a bar like that at home, we regularly make LaraBars and granola bars of our own at home as well as bread and baked goods.
10. Make soup with a little meat and lots of veggies
Soup is really a budget-stretcher. You can get the flavor of meat (especially if you make your own broth from bones) without actually having a lot of meat in the soup. We will buy a whole chicken and cook it in the slow cooker, then make 2 meals out of it (one night roasted chicken, save some for soup!) and make the bone broth from everything that is left after we remove the meat. This is super good for you and our kids go crazy over the chicken and rice soup we make from it. Plus, rice is also super cheap!
11. Make meatless meals
Every week we have a veggie night. Now, I know our kids might be weird but they really love it when we have a night of nothing but vegetables. You don’t have to go this crazy if you don’t like veggies, but how about a bean burrito night or something of the sort? Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal so this saves big time. For us we will get sweet potatoes and use a variety of frozen vegetables and even mushrooms for me since I love them.
12. Stock up when on sale
When items we use all the time go on sale I make sure to stock up. This also works for things you can freeze (check out this list!) so be sure to buy a lot of items when they are on sale and save them for later. We do this with things like shredded cheese when they go buy one get one free at Publix and throw them in the deep freezer. We also buy maple syrup, coconut oil and items like these when they are on sale.
13. Take advantage of leftovers
Get creative with the food that is left after a meal. Like I mentioned before about saving the leftover chicken for soup, you can often take leftovers and stretch them into another meal. Don’t have enough for a separate meal? Why not have a smorgasbord night where you heat up all the leftovers and everyone serves themselves from a mini buffet? One piece of pizza? Cut it into small pieces. Get creative. 😊
14. Avoid eat-ertainment
Plan outings around activities NOT food. This one was really hard for me because I love to eat out and often when we would plan get togethers with friends or a date we would focus on where to eat. Now we have friends over to our house and we do a potluck (plus the kids can play outside instead of sitting in a restaurant!) and we plan other activities for date night so the meal isn’t the focus.
15. Grow your own
Every year we grow a garden and try to improve from the year before. We used to just grow whatever vegetables were recommended for the weather and our area, but we found that a lot of it went uneaten because we really didn’t like it! Now we focus on the things our family actually likes to eat and if we grow a surplus we make sure to give it away. Besides vegetables we also planted lots of berries and a few fruit trees that produce every year. Not only is it healthier but it’s really exciting to watch everything grow!
16. Go less and buy more
If you make less trips to the store you will keep yourself from making so many impulse buys. I know whenever I go in to any grocery store or Wal Mart I usually always buy at least one thing I didn’t plan on. To keep this from happening so often we try to only shop once a week on the weekends. If we absolutely need something I will send my hubby in because he works near a grocery store and he’s good at making a beeline for the one thing we need without deviating and buying other stuff.
I hope these tips help you save some money the next time you hit the grocery store. If you would like to check out a grocery challenge I put together for our family you can check that out here. See you soon!