Feeding eight people three times a day is a financially taxing job. Only about three years ago did I realize I could drastically cut my grocery bill with a few changes — and I didn’t even need coupons! And guess what? You can too!
My hubby and I carefully budget our major expenses every month. Three years ago the food budget did not seem like it was sufficient. We were running out of food and eating meals that no one really wanted to eat. Snacks were pitifully embarrassing and my family was dreaming about hearty, mouth-watering meals — but our budget was still super-tight!
I knew our grocery budget needed to grow, but the cold, hard reality was still staring me in the face. There was no additional income to help it grow. I had to work with the budget that was set before us, but I needed to get creative so my family could begin to enjoy meal time again!
I racked my brain. Think, think, think. What did we spend most of our food money on every month? We don’t buy soft drinks, candy, chips or cookies. What was it? Surely our set budget could work if only I could revamp our spending habits. And that is exactly what I did.
After writing out an estimation of what food I normally purchase and the price for each item, it didn’t take long to see where the money was going. However, I just didn’t think letting those items go was possible. But, it was – –and you can do it too! It just takes a little bit more creativity and thinking outside of the box — um, literally. I want you to enjoy some wiggle room in your food budget, so here are some simple ways that I have cut our family’s grocery bill, and am still able to provide yummy, healthy, hearty meals!
Simple Ways to Drastically Cut Your Grocery Bill
- Make it from scratch! Our family loves sauces and dressings. We dip our fries, chicken tenders and just about anything in our fave condiments. However, salad dressings, dips and sauces can add up fast! Our family started making our own honey mustard, salad dressings and other fun dips to cut back on costs — and it worked! We also make home-made macaroni and cheese, pancakes, tortillas, creamed soups and more. We don’t miss the package versions because we learned the fresh, homemade versions taste even better! And, don’t be intimidated about making your own food. It’s a fun and tasty learning adventure that your entire family can get involved in? One of my fave items we make homemade is hot cocoa. Mmm…never give me the powdered stuff again!
- Cut out the cheese. Wow, I see the eyes brimming with tears on this one. I know, I know — it still hurts sometimes. But, I have to say that our entire family was quite amazed at the amount of dishes that taste great on their own — without added cheese. I even make some Tex-Mex dishes without cheese. Cheese and I are best friends, but right now, we have to see less of each other. If your budget is in a pinch, this step will drastically help!
- Become a vegetarian — for a few meals a week. I have a Southern man as my hubby, and yes he LOVES fried chicken. But, he also likes the idea of a meatless meal when he sees the total price of a meatless meal. Soups, burritos and salads are all great meatless meals. If you can’t fathom the thought of going meatless, just cut back on the amount of meat you use per meal. I have found that I can feed my family with two chicken breasts if I cut them small and put them in a stir-fry, soup, casserole or fried rice. If I make fried chicken — no way. I use three times that amount!
- Plan ahead. Don’t go to the grocery store without a plan. Write down your weekly or monthly menu plan, estimate the prices and then consider which meals are actually budget-friendly. But, be flexible. If you get to the grocery store and there is an amazing, unexpected mark-down on some foods you eat, switch your recipes and meal plan around to fit those in. So many times I have walked in and experienced handfuls of financial blessings by checking out a marked-down section in the grocery store. I quickly rearrange and rethink my plan. But most of the time, items that I truly need are not marked down — so planning is essential.
- Eat out of your pantry. There are more times than I can count when I have been at a friend or family member’s house and they said, “Well…there’s nothing to eat!” But I see food items that can make at least four hearty meals! Taking time to make sure that you use all the food in your pantry will save you a pretty big hunk of change in your grocery budget. Get creative and try new recipes with that can of tomato paste before you run to the grocery store! Use that bag of flour and amke tortillas or homemade bread. Try it for one month and you’ll see a difference!
- Place leftovers in attractive, clear containers. You want your left-overs to look appealing. Don’t throw them in ugly, mismatched containers, but clear, matching and ones that are eye-pleasing. Also, move those containers to the front so you’re reminded that you still have food to use before ordering take-out or stopping by the grocery store — one more time.
- Make freezer meals. Now, why do freezer meals save you money? Because when we’re tired, hungry and don’t see any ingredients that inspire us to cook, we often purchase higher priced convenience foods or order delivery. Spending a weekend cooking up some hearty meals and freezing them for later will keep your family away from the “last minute” splurging temptation — and help get a hearty, healthy meal on the table in minutes!
- Waste less. Have you ever fixed your child’s plate and they only ate 1/8 of the food? Guilty right here! It took me a few years to really realize how much food I was wasting when that happened. Now, I start with two tablespoons of each item and tell them they are welcome to get more if they are still hungry. It’s a simple solution that saves us a good bit on our grocery bill!
- Cut back on juice. Juice used to be a staple at our house, but in the past five years it rarely finds its way into our fridge. My family still loves juice, but it is a pricier item on the grocery list, and it really isn’t a staple. Instead, we invest in whole fruits which are healthier and cheaper options. But, if your kids just can’t part with juice, try watering down the juice. I actually always water down my juice because most commercial juices are just too sweet for my taste. I find that if I give my kids watered down juice in their younger years, they tend to still enjoy it watered down when they get older.
What are your best tips on cutting your grocery bill? Share them with us on social media! We need all the tips we can get!
Want some super sneaky money saving tips for shopping for kids clothes online? Check out the ones I’m sharing at Deals Plus!