Grocery Budget

8 Secrets to Slash Your Grocery Bills

Food costs seem to always be on the rise, and that makes it increasingly difficult to set a grocery budget for your family that you can actually stick to. It’s no easy task feeding a family for cheap, but it can be done! I know, because we consistently stick to our food budget of $350 per month for a family of 4. Ok, there are some months where we go a little over- we’re not perfect! But for the most part, we stay within our budget by following a few simple tricks.

Let me share with you the secrets to slashing your grocery budget and sticking to it:

Create a Master Price List

The next time that you go to your regular supermarket, jot down the price of the items that you most frequently purchase. You could even just snap a picture with your phone, or use your receipt as a reference once you get home. Write out a comprehensive master list so that you have a general idea of what things cost.

You can refer back to this list, and even use it to compare prices at other supermarkets.

From there, you can break it down into cost per meal. The point is to start being aware of the average costs of the things that you buy and cook and that your family likes to eat. It doesn’t have to be an exact number, just get a rough estimate for your most frequently prepared meals.

Start Meal Planning

In my humble opinion, there are no hard and fast rules about meal planning that you need to follow. It can be as simple as listing out the things that you make often and then spreading them out over a few weeks.

Think about the ingredients that you use most often, and write those down. Whatever works for you as meal planning is what works best!

Next, take some time to browse online or go through your cookbooks for new recipes that you would like to try. Add these new ideas to your plan.

Once you have a basic outline of what you want to make, then you can start looking for the best deals! Refer to your master list if you want to do a more detailed breakdown of each meal. The great thing about meal planning is that you can do it once, then use that same plan for another week next month. It’s a great way to simplify your life.

Don’t Waste Time on Coupons

If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, then you don’t have to become an extreme couponer. Browse quickly through the weekly circulars or do a quick search online to find coupons for items that you buy. My favorite coupon and deal sources are Coupons.com and Target’s Cartwheel app.

Did you know that you can stack manufacturer coupons with retail coupons? One thing I love about Target is that I can use a manufacturer coupon, a Target coupon, and Cartwheel to really get the best bang for my buck.

Find the grocery stores in your area that will double coupons. Even a few coupons will help you save on a shopping trip, but they may not be worth spending much of your time on.

Digital coupons are becoming increasingly popular, especially at supermarkets. If you’ve signed up for a store loyalty card (hopefully you have), then adding digital coupons is ridiculously easy. They get loaded right on to that loyalty card, so you scan it once and the deals come off before you pay. Quick and easy!

Planning the weekly menu

Post the Weekly Meal Plan

Once you have the week’s meals planned out and the ingredients purchased, write it down and post it in the kitchen. Not only will this help you to remember what’s on the menu, but it will also allow family members to see what’s coming up, too. They’ll know what’s being prepared, so there are no surprises.

As a mom with a picky eater, I hate having to cook separate dinners. By planning ahead and making my daughter aware of the upcoming dinners, we can discuss it ahead of time. No surprises mean less stress for everyone!

Make Meatless Meals

If you’ve always made meat the main course of your dinners, then it can be hard to move away from that mindset. However, opting for meatless meals several nights a week will definitely help your budget.

Another way to eat less meat is to simply use smaller portions. Try meals with beans, rice, lentils, and even veggies with meat mixed in. One of our favorites is to make a big salad and add some chicken, pork, or sausage. This way, meat isn’t the main event, it’s simply another ingredient in the mix.

Meatless Meals

Get Creative

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try new dishes. Your family may resist at first, but eventually, they’ll come around and discover new meals that they’ll enjoy. Look for low-cost ingredients and fresh produce to come up with creative recipes. There’s certainly no shortage of resources on the web for ideas. I love my Pinterest boards when I’m stuck for ideas!

Cook in Batches

Preparing meals in batches is a great way to have food for several days without having to put much thought into it. This is also the perfect way to get lunch and dinner out of one dish. Eating leftovers isn’t a bad thing, it’s a great way to stretch your dollar!

Not sure where or how to start with batch cooking? These posts offer great guides for beginners:

30 Day Batch Cooking from Betty Crocker

Big Batch Cooking 101 by Parents Magazine

Embrace Simplicity

Life’s busy, and we don’t always have time to cook amazing meals. Every meal doesn’t have to be an event or something special. Embrace simple recipes and simple meals that are easy to prepare and will stretch out over several days. Pick dishes that your family likes, but try new things, too. By figuring out how much your favorite meals cost, you’ll be able to plan ahead so that you can stick to your grocery budget every month.

 

Do you have tricks you use to reduce your food spending? 

21 comments on “8 Secrets to Slash Your Grocery Bills

  • Megan , Direct link to comment

    Meal planning has made a big difference for me. When I lived at home, my mom and I would just go to the grocery store and roam up and down the aisles, picking up what sounded good (we still shopped sales and sticked to a budget) but when we got home we didn’t actually have much to make for meals. Now that I’m a college student livin on my own, planning my meals for the week before going to the store not only helps me stay organized with classes but also helps me nip impulse spending in the bud – I only get stuff on my list (unless there’s a good BOGO). For 3 people (adults), I usually spend about $90 a week – but we eat lots of meat.

    One thing I don’t do is make a price list. It’s a good idea, honestly I have no sense of what food should cost (especially if it’s stuff I don’t buy often).

  • Anne @ Money Propeller , Direct link to comment

    I have never got around to figuring out rough costs on the meals that we eat most frequently. I think that’s in part to most of our proteins coming out of the freezer, so the price I paid is rather disconnected from when I actually consume them. That said, they are going into the freezer because I buy them on clearance 🙂

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life , Direct link to comment

    I don’t even eat meat and I’m lucky if I make it through the month only having spent $300. I also wind up feeding my bf a lot and my brother/roommate definitely picks through my food, so it’s kinda like a family of three after all, haha

  • Holly@ClubThrifty , Direct link to comment

    We do some light meal planning and that really helps. What also helps is taking inventory of the ingredients I have already. Sometimes that is half of the battle!

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer , Direct link to comment

    Memorizing prices and embracing simplicity have been huge for us. By knowing the prices, I know whether a sale is truly or a sale, and I have my top prices that I’ll pay for things. And the simple meals have become so enjoyable for us. We’ve really learned to enjoy simple things like rice and beans, and, it’s a super cheap meal!

  • Petrish @ Debt Free Martini , Direct link to comment

    I believe that people underestimate a price list. Having a price list will also help with getting deals for no one really can remember the price of every item that you purchase on a regular basis. For me buying more fresh goods, sticking to a list, meal planning, and buying only what I plan to consume has saved me a lot of money.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money , Direct link to comment

    Excellent tips! Over the past couple of years, we’ve done a pretty good job of lowering our grocery bills. It’s involved many of your suggestions. We go to Target for groceries and there are a ton of ways to save if you are aware of the strategies and willing to put in the effort.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde , Direct link to comment

    We cut our grocery bills in half last year and the biggest key to our success was meal planning but also having cheap back up meals in our back pocket in case there was a store sale we didn’t know about. It takes some work when you initially start meal planning; however, over time, it’s really easy and actually takes a lot of the stress out of the whole experience.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom , Direct link to comment

    A great list of commom sense stuff that actually works! We have a family of three with a similar budget ($70 per week, so $303/month) and do a lot of the same stuff. (we also get fed at the in-laws twice a week, so we spend way more on what we eat than you) Breakfast for dinner is one of our simple cheap meals on the meal plan each week.

  • Kristin , Direct link to comment

    I gained control over my grocery budget a few months ago and it’s really helped me stick to a budget. It’s really helped me to make a menu and stick it on my fridge! This way I can see what my options are and not feel tempted to order in!

    • Lauren , Direct link to comment

      It is so, so tempting to order pizza when you’re hungry and tired. That used to kill our food spending.

  • Tawcan , Direct link to comment

    Great list, our grocery budget is one of our focuses in Feb as we over spent in January. We are trying to cook meals in batches so we can stretch out the budget more… this also saves us time in the long run.

    • Lauren , Direct link to comment

      Yes, I love having leftovers so that we don’t have to cook. That’s a good dinner, no matter what.

  • Kara @ The Daily Whisk , Direct link to comment

    Our grocery budget is a big focus for this month. I’ve started to troll dollar/discount stores for certain food items. In some cases they are priced much lower!!

    • Lauren , Direct link to comment

      I love my discount grocery store! They always have the best selection and prices on produce, too.

  • Elroy , Direct link to comment

    One trick is to find a place which sells produce at inexpensive prices. For example, when we lived in Houston, Fiesta grocery store had SUPER cheap produce, usually 20-40% of the cost of the same thing at Kroger.

    We always blow our grocery budget. The wife does a good job with coupons and running around for deals. Granted, we lump diapers and a lot of household things into the “grocery” category b/c I’m too lazy to break it all out.

    • Lauren , Direct link to comment

      Oh yeah, with diapers and household stuff I can see how it would add up fast. I categorize those separately, and try to buy in bulk when there’s a good deal.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach , Direct link to comment

    I wish I did but my food budget has always been a bit of a sore spot. I think I’ve decided to just embrace it because I AM eating super healthy. AND I almost never eat out!

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