For many families, the food budget is one of the highest. Thankfully it’s also one of the most malleable. Here’s how to slash your grocery bill by 37%:
So you’ve committed to cooking family dinners and have even planned your meals. You eat healthy food your kids actually like. But then you see your food bill, you add up your monthly budget… and you realize you just spend over $1,210.58 on groceries.
That was my story. My family of five (two of whom are only one-year-old) have been spending over $1,000 in groceries. The voices in my head justify the hefty bills: We shop at the farmers market. We want good, healthy food instead of processed.
Still… $1,200+ is a lot to spend on a month. Thankfully, your grocery bill is one the most malleable expenses. I wanted to cut costs without resorting to terrible food. So I found 10 tactics to slash my grocery bill while still eating good, healthy food. The result? $763.44.
10 tips to slash your grocery bill:
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How do you slash your grocery bill without sacrificing quality? Get your grocery bill down using these 9 tips.
1. Plan your meals and make a list
I’ve talked about the benefits of meal planning and how anyone can do it. One huge benefit is saving costs. With a list and recipes in mind, you’re more likely to only buy items you need and nothing more. You’ll also use the food you buy instead of letting them sit in the pantry for months unopened.
Need a way to organize your weekly recipes and shopping lists? Join my newsletter and get my printable meal planner—at no cost to you. You’ll have an organized way to record your recipes and shopping lists—no more wasting time or feeling frazzled!
2. Find and cook from budget recipes
I found an awesome blog called Budget Bytes that features delicious and budget-friendly recipes. Resources like these help slash your grocery bill. For the bulk of your week (if not all), stick to recipes designed for inexpensive purchases.
3. Eat less meat and seafood
Certain meat and seafood items are cheap, such as ground beef, chicken thighs or canned tuna. But most of them come at a steep price. Limit your more expensive meat and seafood purchases to once a week or for special occasions.
4. Buy generic, especially when you can’t tell the difference
Talk about the power or marketing and branding. For as long as I remember, I only bought brand name sugar. I have no idea where this started, but it had never occurred to me to buy anything else. I’d always reach for those pink and white bags or cartons.
Then one day after I briefed my husband on our plan to keep the grocery bill low, he came home with generic sugar. Could I tell the difference? Not a bit. Now I buy generic when I can, especially when there’s little difference.
Sometimes brands do matter—I’m particular about the milk I buy, for instance. But in most cases, generic works just as well as their brand name counterparts, at a lesser price, too.
Note: The 37% reflects my purchases of whole and organic food whenever I can. For instance, I’ll buy organic milk or even organic canned food over the standard ones. I’m sure I can save even more if I bought standard food.
5. Buy on sale
So the recipe calls for farfalle pasta, but you see that penne pasta is on sale for $1 per box. Here’s where you can be flexible with your recipes: choose the penne pasta because it’s on sale.
How about produce? If you were like me, I would buy the same fruits every week, never mind if they were or weren’t on sale. Now I know better and only buy the ones on sale. Later, the others will be cheap enough to buy on sale as well.
6. Base recipes on ingredients you already have
One of the best ways to slash your bill is to use food you already have in your kitchen. Go through the pantry and find pastas, grains, spices and oils you may have bought once and never used again.
Look through your kitchen and find a recipe that uses that oyster sauce you bought a while back. Allrecipes.com has a great feature that lets you search for recipes by ingredients. And I’m sure your freezer has bags of frozen vegetables that would make a delicious fried rice or stir fry.
7. Find recipes for next week that use this week’s leftover ingredients
Here’s another tactic: after cooking a meal, note which ingredients didn’t get used up. For instance, a sauce may have only used half a can of tomato paste with the rest sitting in your fridge. Find a recipe that uses half a can of tomato paste and cook it next week.
8. Shop at bulk stores
Another big reason we were able to save so much is because we bought some of our groceries at Costco. After I made my shopping list, I noted which of the items I can buy at Costco. You’re paying more up front but saving in the long run.
The big warning: Only buy items you’ll actually use. If you hardly cook with breadcrumbs, don’t buy it at Costco. Those two containers will sit in your pantry for years. And when you buy a four-pack of sausages, put them to good use and find recipes that include them in the coming weeks.
And personally, I only bought items at Costco that I’d buy at the grocery, not at the farmers market. For instance, I could have bought three pounds of organic ground beef. But I want to support the farmers and continue to buy my ground beef from them.
9. Eat less
This should be obvious but in our modern world, it’s not. Food is a resource, one that we don’t always need a whole lot of. It can even make us sick if we eat too much, especially of the wrong kinds of food. Mind your diet and don’t overeat—your budget and your body will thank you.
10. Learn to budget and track your food expenses
For years, I’ve tracked everything I spend, down to the penny. Sure, I never spent more than I earned and I set aside some for savings. But I never actually set a budget for food. I figured so long as I wasn’t in the red, I was okay.
Only in actually seeing how much I spent on food every month did I finally get a wake up call. I got the sense we were spending more on food, but I waved it off as part of our growing family and feeding growing boys. Truth to a point, but still not a complete excuse.
Now I budget $200 a week for groceries. That mindset has made me more mindful of what I put in our shopping cart.
Get more tips about food and money:
- 10 Frugal Tips for Moms that Actually Save You Money
- Raising Children on a Tight Budget
- Finally… Meal Planning for Beginners
- Get Cooking at Home! 7 Ideas that Actually Work
Tell me in the comments: What do you do to slash your grocery bill?
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