Your family is eating money. At least it probably seems like that. Groceries are one of the largest monthly bills for families. Fortunately, they are also one of the areas you can save money on groceries if you plan well.
When my husband and I were first married we’d make our bi-weekly trek to the grocery store where we’d punch numbers into a calculator in an effort to save money. We followed a strict budget and were always conscious of that budget We did all the normal things the people do to save money on groceries. Things like:
- Clipping coupons
- Shopping at multiple stores
- Shopping the sales
- Hitting up case lot sales
- Growing a garden
- Cutting out premade or freezer meals
- Buying the “manager specials”
We had a strict grocery budget. In fact, years later we still have a pretty strict grocery budget. However, we no longer clip coupons. I am lucky if I haul my four kids to the Walmart pickup, let alone multiple grocery stores. Out of the last four years we’ve only had a small garden once. And, I admit that I still occasionally buy premade freezer meals.
Even skipping all of those
Cut out unnecessary trips to the grocery store
We learned this as a slow progression. First, we stopped grocery shopping more than once a week. Then we spaced it out to every two weeks. We even attempted to go a whole month between trips for a while. Today, we do one big grocery shopping trip at the beginning of the month and then we might go to the store once or twice more during the month for fresh produce. As far as spending is concerned, we usually spend a few hundred dollars at the beginning of the month, and $50 or less on one or two trips later in the month for fresh produce. This one simple change saves us oodles of time and hundreds of dollars per year.
How to save money on groceries
I know. You are convinced there is no way your family could live with just two shopping trips a month. I promise, it’s possible. You might even be saying, “well I bet they don’t eat healthy.” I promise we do. You’ll need a few key ingredients to help your groceries stretch between shopping trips.
We use a large chest freezer. All the time. Nearly everything goes into our chest freezer. From meat to frozen fruits and veggies, to cookie dough balls. Even butter and milk freeze well. We love cutting up things like onions and freezing them in half cup portions to make for quick and easy meal preparation later. Our family is on the larger side with six of us, so our freezer is large. If it’s just one or two of you, however, you could probably use the smaller freezer attached to your refrigerator.
Bring a grocery list to save money on groceries
Don’t expect to walk into the grocery store at the beginning of the month with your entire grocery budget and walk out with the things you’ll absolutely need for the month unless you have a plan. Take some time to construct a list of your family’s essentials. I have a list that my family uses every month. It is comprehensive enough that I can review it each month, cross out the things we don’t need, and use it to remember everything else.
Meal planning is not always fun. Doing it for an entire month might even feel like torture. Sit down and brainstorm a list of your family’s favorite meals. If you cook five nights a week, you’ll need around 20 meal ideas for the month. Write those ideas down and add extra necessary ingredients to your list. It takes a little coordinating, but if you plan on making a grocery store run later in the month for produce
Learn to wait
I know it sounds hard. We live in a time of instant gratification. But, the thing about spreading out your shopping trips is that you’ll learn to wait. If you run out of something, you wait until you go again. Sure, it’s a little inconvenient at times. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to eat a banana and we’ve been within a few days of a shopping trip, so I wait. Instead I grab an apple from the fridge.
Cutting back on the number of trips you make to the grocery store will save you money. Unless you’ve got unlimited self-control, every time you go to the grocery store you buy more than you need. Limiting your trips will limit the extras. Instead you’ll learn to cook more at home (which is healthier anyway). You’ll cut out the junk. You’ll learn to buy only what you really need.
Do we ever break down and go to the store before it’s time? Sure. It’s not about denying yourself no matter the cost. Sometimes you really do need to go to the grocery store. But, cutting back on the number of times you shop will save you money overall.