Searching for ways to save money on groceries? Overspending every month? I found myself shopping at Costco at least 3 times a month and sometimes more!!! Our grocery bills were RIDICULOUS!! I was justifying the spending by saying it’s because we are a family of 6 and Canadian groceries are simply more expensive…..
What excuses, it is possible! It was time for a budget reboot!!!! I love a challenge and I have decided to buy groceries for our household at $600/month. Pretty much cutting our budget down by half. Now that is a big task.
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I have been meal planning for a long time, in fact, I have a one-year subscription with Six Sisters’ Meal Plans. I have followed their plan for a good 4-5 months. However, not everything is perfect, as much as I LOVED it all being written down for me, it was expensive. The 6 meals would cost $175 – $200 a week. That didn’t include any snacks, lunches or breakfasts. Do you see how the spending now was getting out of control???
Why was it so expensive when it was simply 6 meals? Well, first of all, they had it their meals planned out to have different meats, different cooking styles and the plan didn’t know what I had in stock in my freezer. Most of the time, it was something so different, I would buy the ingredients and I wouldn’t reuse them the following week.
Here is how I am planning on cutting back on groceries to achieve a $600/month budget:
- Meal Plan!! I will continue to develop our meals for the week ahead of time. I can not stress the importance of planning out your meals. Only plan for 1 week at a time. If you go too big, you will get overwhelmed. Even if you can plan for more than a week, only purchase your groceries 1 week at a time. Focus on sticking to a budget for one week. Do not go over unless you were under the previous week. If you go over, you will start a cycle of “owing” for a week.
- As I write down my meal plan in my book, I use the sheet to the left to write my grocery list. I will then check different online stores for their prices on items. For example, Costco is better to purchase my meat, but I will go to a grocery store to purchase other items that I don’t need in bulk and keep the price within my budget.
- Planning my meals around both my freezer stock and pantry stock. Look through your freezer and write down all your meat. You will be surprised to see how large your stock is. Remember, it is best to consume your meat within a year. Use up your older stock.
- Grocery list, make sure to really look over my meal plan and check that I have all the ingredients necessary to make it. Stick to my grocery budget. When I am out at the store and see a very good deal, I won’t be tempted, even if it means spending an extra $20 to get something free. Even if I come $20 under my budget, I am not going to spend it on a deal. I will save the money and put it towards the following week. It is so easy to overspend, but it’s a challenge to stay under.
- Reduce my bulk purchases. I will only purchase bulk items when it is necessary such as for meat sales. If I buy too much bulk, I will either waste or not use it for a long time. It is easier for me to stay on budget if I simply buy what I need for the week. I won’t buy 3 containers of yogurt because it is on sale unless I know for sure we will eat them all before they expire. I will only buy in bulk IF I have the room in my budget. If I keep buying bulk, I will forever go over budget, therefore no longer save on groceries.
- Make meals my family will eat. No more trying to be fancy. Keep the meals simple and make my meal go further by adding hearty side dishes. If vegetables are not quite in season and the prices are high, look for frozen vegetables. It has been proven that frozen vegetables hold the same nutrition if not more as they are not going bad.
- Only buy fresh foods that we will consume. Not going to buy fruit & vegetables just because they are healthy. I will buy them because we have them in our meal plan. It is no longer buying/eating healthy when I take a look in our fridge and find produce going bad. That is just throwing away money.
- Reducing our milk consumption. Say what??? Well, I’ve been noticing lately that our kids ask for milk for supper, when it’s time to clean up, guess who didn’t drink their milk??? How many times are they wasting their milk? We have plenty of dairy intake at home that I will not worry about getting their daily milk intake. With the amount of cereal we go through, cheese, yogurt, it’s enough. Milk is a big price item on our budget. I was buying 4 jugs a week at $4.50/each. Reducing to 3 is saving me $5 to put towards meat.
- Make more food from scratch. Bake buns, I have found an easy recipe that I can make them ahead of time and freeze. I am currently going to try and find a good bread recipe that is both easy and delicious. We can go through a loaf of bread in a day and have you seen bread prices??? It’s not that cheap. If you are looking for a great dinner rolls recipe, this is the one I use over and over: The Best Dinner Rolls
- I am not a couponer because first of all, I don’t have the time to search for that stuff. Two, I don’t want a coupon for something I didn’t need for the week. I don’t need to spend $3 to save $1, I still technically lost $3 because that item wasn’t on my list. I have to stick to my list. Remember, to save on groceries you must work on need versus want. That isn’t always a fun concept, but when you stick to what you need you will focus on saving.
- Paying attention to the meat I am purchasing. As meat is my biggest expense, I am paying very close attention to what I am buying.
- Chicken breast is one of the worse prices regardless of where I find it. I try to buy it from the freezer (yes, those that are flash frozen in a bag or box). I buy it this way as if we are going to want chicken, it is served with pasta, pie etc. I don’t use as the focus of the meal.
- If you want chicken, try different cuts that are more inexpensive (thighs, chicken wings or quarter legs).
- Costco sells a large Pork Loin for under $20. I cut it up and use it for either pork chops, roast, pulled pork or pork chops. For under $20, you can make multiple meals.
- Beef options include ground beef, stew or roast. I don’t bother looking at steaks anymore, it is much too expensive. You can even extend your ground beef by adding beans to the meals.
- Seafood is another option, but maybe it’s because we live in the prairies, but I am not a huge fan. The types I do like are expensive and other ones, I can pass.
- You may have already created your meal plan for the week, but before you head out the door to go grocery shopping, quickly scan the grocery store flyers. Review the sales. If there are items such as meat that is very well priced, add it to your meal plan. Remove an idea and move it to another week. Working within sales will help reduce your grocery bill and possibly even get you under budget. Example, if you were wanting apples, and a specific type is on sale, buy it, don’t get the fancy ones.
- Be frugal with not only your meal ideas but your snacks. Think of items that your children will eat that are still frugal. Bananas, apples, carrots are great options. If you have granola bars on your list, make sure to buy an inexpensive brand. Don’t always go for the brand name. I avoid the junk snacks, as they are usually full of sugar, and will not keep my kid’s bellies full. Plus they are more expensive.
- Striving to have zero food in our fridge by the end of the week. This concept is hard. I’ve always had the mentality that I need to keep my fridge well stocked. That is not right. It means we have too many options and more chances of produce spoiling and wasting. Striving to eat more leftovers and only buy produce we will eat. I will not buy 10 different fruit options. I am limiting what we will buy and when we are looking for a snack, we are forced to eat what we have.
- Checkout 51 – I will use this app only after I have gone grocery shopping. This is the same principal as #8. I don’t want to buy something just for a deal. It has to be on my list. At least with this app, I can claim a coupon after the purchase, and enter to win money for groceries.
- Caddle – this app is similar to Checkout 51 but you can earn money by answering simple and quick surveys. Just by signing up and answering surveys the first time, I made $6.15 and it took very little time to answer the surveys. If you are interesting, signup with the following code: 64582 and receive your first $1.
- Flipp – I enjoy this app as I can view all of my favourite store flyers. I favourite the ones I want to see all the time and can view all their deals before I am ready to go grocery shopping. This helps me se if I need to change my meal plan in order to take advantage of the right sales.
- I follow Jordan Page’s budget method where she says budget $100/person or $300 if you are a couple. It doesn’t seem like very much, but I bought her budgeting course and she does offer tools to help understand how to budget. One thing I do differently is that I don’t include all my consumables within my grocery budget. I buy diapers, toilet paper and other similar items as a different budget. I feel as though I don’t overspend in those items. I’m giving us this budget to control the items we eat. As I said in the beginning, we were spending above $1k a month just on groceries. This challenge is to cut it in half, and it’s happening.
Finally, I will start saving my meal plans and grocery lists. I will share them on a blog post with the recipe links I used when I can find them. I hope you found these tips helpful!!