Have you noticed that your grocery budget is higher? Nope, you’re not going crazy. The amount of money we’re spending on groceries is actually increasing each year (thanks, inflation.)
Plus, many busy families find that they spend a lot more on food during the summertime. It makes sense! You’re busy… you’re shopping on the fly a little more often… you’re opting for convenience over savings.
When you cut costs, you have more cash to use towards other goals like paying off debt or saving for your first home! I spend around $800 per month for my family of four on groceries. This works out to be about $50 per person, per week. (I’m on Vancouver Island in Canada, for reference!)
It is TOTALLY possible to reduce the amount that you spend on groceries WITHOUT changing your diet or eating ramen noodles every dang day. Here are some ways that I do it.
Plan your meals… and have some regular family favs to fall back on.
I always recommend having a list of tried and true family favs, so that when you’re feeling uninspired, you know you can fall back on ingredients you’ve used many times before. Creating a theme for the week helps inspire meal-planning, too! (Think Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Fish Fridays… you know.)
If you don’t have a plan before you hit the store, you’re gonna throw a bunch of random stuff in your cart and end up having to come back again. #Fail!
Shop in your OWN house FIRST.
Before deciding on your meal plan for the week, do an inventory check in your freezer, pantry, and fridge. You already spent money on the food that’s in your house. USE IT FIRST.
For example, let’s say you have a random pack of chicken, a bag of rice, and a can of cream of chicken soup. Using these items you decide to make a chicken broccoli casserole so you buy a head of broccoli and a pack of shredded cheese.
Easy peasy, lemon squeasy.
Order your groceries online.
I swear by ordering your groceries online! Not only does it save you from dragging your kids through each aisle, but you’re not going to be as tempted to throw those random impulses into the cart.
Many major grocery stores now offer grocery pick-up services or even delivery!
It’s super easy to compare pricing online, which will allow you to choose food options that are in season and lower cost. Plus… you can run over to the fridge while you’re meal planning to see if you have an ingredient, (if you haven’t already done your inventory check.)
As you add items to your online cart you can see the total, which saves you from having to manually add up the items yourself. Then, when you’re all done you know how much your total is before you check out.
This gives you the opportunity to remove items as needed to stay on budget. Gone are the days of being super embarrassed at the check-out line because you spent wayyyy too much.
Stay OUT of the store!
I recommend shopping online once per week. (I do it every Sunday.) Guess what happens if I forgot to order something, or I run out of something… or I get a sudden craving for something?
I don’t rush out to buy that one thing. I wait until my next order.
We’re not going to die without bananas.
If I didn’t order that ice cream when I was doing the shop… I don’t really need it that bad.
This mentality has really helped me because it encourages me to use the ingredients that I already have on hand… AND I won’t be tempted by impulse buys (which will happen if you find yourself in the grocery store multiple times per week.)
BULK buy ONLY if it makes $ense
Some of my clients have a butcher prepare half a cow for them and then they deep freeze the portions. This allows them to have multiple cuts of meat (including the fancier ones) for an averaged price.
Even if you’re bulk-buying your meat at Costco, you have to keep in mind the cost per portion. Many people are tempted to use way more ground beef in one meal because they bulk bought it and just have SO much. I always recommend splitting up the portions into SMALL amounts, so that you can get more meals out of one bulk purchase.
Figure out how many meals your bulk purchase will make you and if you’re actually saving by having that ingredient for the next 2 months of meal prep, or if it works out to be the same if you bought a smaller portion for the next week.
Prep freezer meals.
Freezer meals are perfect for those days you just don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove. Instead of ordering take-out, you just pop a frozen burrito out and stick on the frying pan for 5 mins… or load up your crock pot and go about your day.
Then when it’s time to eat, dinner will be ready.
Also, never underestimate the power of having breakfast for dinner… or simply eating sandwiches.
Mama ain’t got time for gourmet every day… and that’s OKAY.
Plan for left-overs and repeats.
This tip alone has helped to stretch my grocery budget! When you’re planning your meals, choose dishes that will allow you to have leftovers. You can bring them to work to eat for lunch or warm them up for dinner on the nights you don’t feel like cooking!
Also, you don’t have to plan for a completely different meal every single meal of the week. I recommend doubling up on meal plans… so you might have the same meal Monday for dinner as you do Thursday for lunch.
The kids are going back to school soon…
So now is the time to start thinking about getting back to routine. Download my free grocery shopping guide to help you organize your next shop! You might even save enough money to pay for those school supplies.