Grocery budgets can sometimes be difficult.
Especially if you live in a high cost area. When we moved from my home town, where grocery prices were relatively low, we struggled for a little bit to find a budget balance. We had a little bit of a rough patch as we tried to get used to the cost of living in a town that catered to tourists. The prices for groceries were nearly double of what we were used to. But thanks to my budgeting skills I was able to work a budget and lower our grocery bill.
So here are a few tips to keep that grocery bill on the low end:
Cost Per Meal
Something that I think is important in creating a food budget is cost per meal. Cost per meal is when you add up the cost of all items associated to make that meal. Some things are somewhat difficult to do this with, like trying to figure out how to divide up the cost of spices, but most everything else you can break down to figure out a basic cost per meal. Meat heavy meals are usually more expensive so if you can find ways to reduce the amount of meat you use in certain dishes, this alone can save you some $$. To figure cost per meal: For Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread. (This is a pretty simple meal and a staple on my budget menu.) I will need ground beef, pasta, sauce, and garlic bread. I know the price I normally pay for ground beef is around $5 a pound. Normally with my large family I would purchase more than 1 pound of meat but with the sauce and carbs as a filler I can reduce the amount of meat. I know carbs are not really considered “healthy”, but this isn’t about healthy meals, this is about creating a lower budget and be able to feed your family. Anyways… I also know that a package of thin spaghetti runs around $1 and pasta sauce runs around $1, add the cost of the garlic bread for an additional $2 and the grand total is $9! At that price I could easily add a side salad for $2 a bag (you know, for the health factor and assuming I already have dressing) and I’m still sitting good. If you can do this for most of the meals you make you can see what costs the most (and least) and use it to plan your meals according to your budget.
Shopping the Ads
Another important item for budgeting is shopping the ads. Every Tuesday we get a little bundle of advertisements in our mail box, it usually contains a few coupons to restaurants and the weekly ads for our local grocery stores. I love Tuesday!! I look over the ads with a fine-tooth comb looking for anything that might be a better deal than what I normally pay for something.
If you don’t get ads that come straight to your mailbox, you could try out the Flipp app (available in the app store on most phones and tablets). I downloaded this app when we lived in our last town. We didn’t get flyers there, of course we didn’t even get mail delivery where we were located. Flipp automatically detects the stores near you and shows you the weekly ads for each one. I found it very useful.
I am always careful about ads though because something that can seem like a great deal, may not be what it seems. Like those 10 for 10 deals that are always on the first page. Yes, sometimes they can be worth it, but I wouldn’t waste my time (and fuel) to go to a different store for a $1 box of pasta that I can get for .88 at the store I already plan on buying my groceries at. Meat on the other hand is a reason to travel.
Plan your meals
This one is oh so important. I plan for a pay period (2 weeks). Every meal we eat for those two weeks I plan out on weekly menus. I’ve included a link at the end of this post where you can get the one I use. This includes breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and sometimes dessert.
If you’d like to know more about meal planning check out Meal Planning (with free weekly menu planner).
Make a grocery list and stick to it!!
It’s a proven fact that people who use and stick to grocery lists spend less money while at the grocery store.
Make your list directly from your menu. If you follow your menu you won’t need any other food in your house.
I usually shop for 2 weeks at a time, I have multiple reasons for doing it this way, but it’s up to you how often you choose to shop. Just as a side note though, if you plan to lengthen your time frame, remember that things go bad, so if you don’t plan on using meat within a week, freeze it, produce would be better if you just make an additional trip to purchase, as needed. Canned and jarred fruits and vegetables can sometimes be a good substitute for fresh produce. They keep longer which is great for when you don’t plan on using them right away. They also can reduce your grocery bill depending on the circumstance. For instance, 2 jars of generic green beans might be .50 each as opposed to a bag of fresh green beans costing somewhere around $2.50. I have nothing against fresh produce, in fact, I love them and when we can afford to I buy them. But again, this is about saving money.
DON’T and I repeat DON’T go to the grocery store hungry!
This can ruin anyone’s good intentions! I’ve done this more times than I’d like to admit, and it has ultimately ended up costing us an additional $50 each time.
Purchase in bulk if you have the room
If there is an amazing sale on ground beef I will most definitely purchase more than I need. I will divide it into 1-pound portions and freeze it, this saves me so much money later on. Also, some places will have a “max pack” discount, where it costs less per pound to purchase the bigger package. I do this sometimes. It is good deal if you can afford the few extra bucks.
Make things from scratch
I always make my rolls from scratch. I can’t justify spending nearly $3 on a package of premade rolls, that honestly don’t taste anything near as good as my homemade awesomeness and it costs about a ¼ of the cost of the premade version. WIN WIN!
So, there you have it. If you found this post useful let me know. Hit the like button, share on social media, or scroll way down and comment. And as promised here’s the link to my weekly menu planner.
If you’d like to receive email updates from alwaysdoinsomething.com sign up here!