My husband and I have started buckling down on our expenses lately due to a few life changing plans we’re making so I’ve been looking for ways to cut down on our cash flow out. We really don’t spend insane amounts of money on anything nor do we go out often due to our 1 year old so it took me a while to find a place to start making cuts. One of the things that I (used to) spend a lot of money on is groceries. After tallying it up one day I realized I was spending over $700 a month in groceries! Yes, you read right. $700! So basically, it was averaging about $200 a week. And there was only 2 of us! I was horrified and frankly, a bit terrified to tell my husband lol. Needless to say, he was horrified as well.
When I first began trying to cut my grocery bill, I started buying organic foods only for Harper (my one year old), buying cheaper meats for my husband and I, ditching the gluten free pastas and trying to use coupons. I figured about $100 weekly was an agreeable amount. Honestly, I used my “budget” as kind of a base line. I’ve always menu planned but I would see something new in the store I wanted to try, or I decided to add a meal to the menu at the last minute, etc. $20 or so over wouldn’t hurt anything, right? Wrong! That budget pretty much went out the window and we were back to square one spending too much money.
I saw a pin on Pinterest a while back where a woman had a $25 a week budget for her and her husband’s grocery bill. I was convinced that there was NO WAY I could ever get my bill that low. Throw a few organic vegetables into your cart and you’ve already hit your budget! But after reading some of her suggestions, I was really convinced that I could do this! It totally made sense. I set aside $50 for the grocery store (this includes toilet paper, laundry soap, etc.) So along with some of her suggestions, I’ve added a few of my own that have helped me stay on (and under!) budget.
- Do not go to the grocery store without a plan! Fail to plan means you’re planning to fail. Sit down and plan meals for every day or every other day of the week. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Account for leftovers! Bonus points if you can recreate another meal with leftovers from the day before 🙂 Include every item you need for that recipe on your grocery list.
Base Your Menu Plan Off Of Things You Already Have
- Always check your food stock before menu planning. Look in your fridge and pantry to see what base items you have and create meals off of that! For example, I had a package of chicken thighs ($3.14) in the freezer that I had forgotten about and a bag of potatoes in the pantry. All I needed was a bag of baby carrots to make chicken with roasted carrots and potatoes. That meal cost me about $5!! Cheap and easy 🙂
Go vegetarian a few times during week
- This is a super easy way to cut costs and you really don’t even miss the meat! A few things I have on my menu plan this week that are meatless: 3 bean chili, spinach and cheese tortellini, gluten free spiral pasta with squash, garlic, spinach and tomatoes tossed in pesto, and cheese omelets with fresh fruit and toast for my daughters breakfast. I plan on going vegetarian most of the week and saving the meat for when my hubby is off work.
- Take advantage of sales ONLY IF YOU ACTUALLY USE THOSE ITEMS. I used the excuse ‘well it was on sale!’ all the time when I would buy extra things and that is exactly what would blow my budget. In my store, Wal-Mart has clearance shelves for food that has packing damage or is about to expire. I always check this little section and only buy the things I need. I actually got 4 packages of gluten free pasta for $1 a piece! You can’t beat that price and I have several meals that I can make off of that.
Stick to your list
- Easier said than done! I still struggle with this one. It’s sooo easy to throw in an extra item here or there and think it wont hurt anything. But stay strong!
Cook cheap meals
- A lot of the times my hubby likes to grill out on his days off and lets be honest, steaks can get pricey. So when I know this is going to happen, I plan several super cheap meals the previous week to help stretch the budget to where we can afford rib eyes. Example: my 3 bean chili costs $3.64 to make (add $4 if you add meat), chicken thighs with roasted vegetables cost me about $7 for 4 servings and spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread is about $13 for 6-8 people. With those 3 meals alone at $24.64 you can eat for 6-7 days! And depending on your budget, you’ll have PLENTY of money left over to splurge on steaks, baked potatoes, grilled asparagus and beer. YUM.
- I never thought coupons applied to me because I don’t buy things like Poptarts, candy, soda, and chips. Where are the coupons for fresh veggies?! But HEB is really good at handing out coupons based on your purchases that day. I’ve gotten bananas, almond milk,and a few bags of frozen veggies for free plus $5 off baby wipes, diapers. You cant beat that! I don’t go crazy with the coupons (kudos to those who do!) because just thinking about being an extreme couponer gives me a headache. But I do keep an envelope on my fridge that I put all my coupons in after shopping. Before a trip to the grocery store I’ll go through the envelope and see if I have anything thats worth taking. When you’re sticking to a strict budget, every few dollars really helps!
Use A Calculator To Keep Track
- This has sort of become a game to me. I keep my calculator app out on my phone and keep track of every thing I put in my cart. This helps me stay on track and I usually like to see if I can beat my budget. I get an adrenaline rush the closer I get to my limit….I’m lame I know.
This is an example of my haul for today. My budget was $50 and I came in at $47.89. The Shout, chicken breast and almond milk were my most expensive items!
My menu plan for this week:
- 3 Bean Chili
- Spinach and Cheese Tortellini
- Kitchen Sink Pasta
- Fish Sticks and Organic Mac & Cheese (already had items)
- Chicken Thighs with Roasted Vegetables
- Grilled Chicken with Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes or Rice
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and a vegetable
- Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread
So I have 8 meals here all with leftovers for $47.89!! Thats some pretty good shopping if I do say so myself!