Today, I'm sharing a little more about how we save money on groceries. Because a penny saved is a penny earned, right?
Recently, a friend said she noticed our "incredibly low grocery bill" on one of my recent posts. We budget $100/week and can often spend around $75/week. I've talked about it some here and here. Then, she asked how we keep it so low.
The day she asked that we had spent $120 on groceries and household essentials (things like laundry detergent, toilet paper, and cosmetics are included in our grocery budget). That's pretty high for us. But two things came to mind: 1. $120 for some families is actually pretty low, and 2. looking at why it was higher is a good indicator of what things keep it down the other weeks.
Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
Here's what I noticed that keeps our grocery bill down...
Grocery Money-Saving Tip #6 | Stock up only on the always used/versatile items.
Limit snacks.I generally try not to buy too many snacks because I don't feel like the kids need them (thanks to Bringing Up Bebe and the French's anti-snack tradition) and we eat them too quickly. It adds up when I buy granola bars, wheat thins, graham crackers, gold fish, etc. (which I did that week). It's better if I can limit this to a couple cracker options and fruit.
Shop when full.Such a simple thing, but when I've just eaten I always stick to the list and make better choices. When I'm hungry, everything sounds good and feels like a need (i.e., a full stock of crackers).
Make a meal plan and shopping list. And stick to it.Meal-planning, making a detailed shopping list, and sticking to it play a huge part in keeping our bill low. I made a meal plan and list that week, but I added extra things (see "shop when full" :)
Plan simple meals.Our cheapest weeks, by far, are when we eat simple, few-ingredient meals. A box of whole wheat pasta and a jar of sauce is cheaper (and easier) than the fancier homemade sauces and pasta dishes (yet healthier than Kraft mac n cheese). Right now I'm aiming for a balance of healthy enough while staying cheap. We eat a lot of the same stuff, maybe even too often: homemade chilli + cornbread, haystacks, beans and rice, rice and curry, pasta + sauce, tacos, etc. For suppers we have sandwiches and smoothies (fits in with our evenings at the gym--when we go).
Rely on staples.That week we were out of some of our go-to items: beans, rice, coconut oil, frozen fruit, etc. Usually our first week of the month is a little higher because we restock on these items, then the rest of the weeks are cheaper because we already have these items on hand for easy and healthy meals.
Stock up on the always used/versatile items.That said, we don't really "stock up" on things. We only buy what we need for the week. Except for things like baking supplies, beans, rice, pasta, bread, smoothie supplies. Those are items we use every single week, don't go bad quickly, and can easily become a meal if we delay going shopping again for a day or two.
Get used to leftovers.Our small family can easily make one meal and eat it twice. This saves time and money by not having to exert energy for an entirely new meal, and not having to use all new ingredients. Sometimes this might mean simply reheating a meal from the day or two before. Other times it might involve repurposing yesterday's leftover chili into today's tacos.
Those are the primary things that help us save money. (And, when not followed, the reasons we go over budget.)
After sharing these with my friend, she replied with two things that changed and really affected their budget:
1 | She started planning simple meals (#4 above). She said the more complex meals didn't get made, and the ingredients for them would go to waste.
2 | After going back to school, her mom offered to do her grocery shopping to help out with her family responsibilities. This means she needed to make a specific list, and her mom stuck to it (#3 above). Someone else isn't likely to make impulse buys for you. We could all use that kind of accountability! For our budgets and our health.
cash envelope system
monthly dose of simple
linked up: everything frugal