People often ask me how on earth I manage to feed us on such a tight grocery budget and still eat healthy and organic. We spend about $280-300 a month on food, which comes out to $70-$75 weekly.
I thought maybe giving some of my tips would help the next time you go shopping:
But, start small! Don’t bite off a bunch of change to how to buy your food all at once or you may get discouraged and throw in the towel. For the longest time I only implemented one or two of the following points before I felt ready to dive in deeper and I’m still in the process of improving my game.
1. Menu Plan. I can’t say this enough. Simply writing down what we’re going to have for dinner for the week and the ingredients I need to pull it off has drastically cut back on the amount of money we spend because I don’t aimlessly peruse the store until something novel comes to me to eat for dinner. This also eliminates buying things you already have on hand that you may not have noticed in your kitchen otherwise.
2. Buy in bulk. You know those huge bins with all the loose stuff that just looks like a pain to deal with. Well, it’s not! It’s cheaper! I love buying all my baking needs, grains, beans, quinoa and even peanut butter in bulk. Come home and store them in mason jars and canisters. You’d be amazed at how much money you can save when you’re not paying for packaging.
3. Be a vegetarian. We’re not really vegetarian, but the majority of the time we eat like we are. We get much more bang for our buck if we get our protein from other sources like Quinoa and beans instead of meats. Because I will only buy organic meat, we don’t buy it often since it is more expensive. But when I do, I buy a large amount so we can incorporate it once or twice a week and stretch it out for a couple months. Same goes for fish.
4. Pay with cash. Since we follow Dave Ramsey’s advice for financing and paying off debt, we have said no to credit cards and pay with everything with cash in envelopes that are labeled different categories. If there’s no money in the envelope, we don’t buy it. You become a lot more conscious of the things you buy when you know you only have what you have and nothing else. Swiping a debit card simply does not have the same effect. I used to pay for things and not even pay attention to what I was being charged. Now, my “wants” are quickly determined from the “needs” this way and I’m held accountable.
5. Stick to your list. When you take your list to the store with you, it’s not meant to be a rough idea of what you need. It’s supposed to have everything you must have to survive the week. If it’s not on the list, it’s not in the basket.
6. Be willing to travel. Most of the time I do my grocery shopping at 2-4 different places. I know prices are cheaper at some places than others for the same item. Our organic produce is immensely cheaper (and fresher) at the Farmers Market. Our salmon is cheapest at Costco. Our beans are cheapest at Henry’s. Ralph’s has a huge sale on tomato sauce and I have coupons that will allow me to buy them for pennies. Trader Joe’s has the best deal on Sadie’s snacks. You get the idea.
7. Coupon. This is one I’m still getting up to speed on, but after years of watching my mom successfully come home giggling with her huge box of coupons, 3 carts of groceries, and a receipt of $23 I know enough to know you’re silly if you don’t utilize coupons.
They get a bad wrap because they have a stigma of being unusable if you care about your health at all. But with the huge database of online coupons available now and companies offering discounts and give-aways via Facebook, it’s simply not true.
If anything, use coupons for your paper goods and toiletries. You can get many of these things for close to free or free so you can afford to spend more on the things you would rather be able to splurge a little on.
8. Pantry Challenge. I challenge you to just eat from what you have in your kitchen as of right now and see how far you can get. You may be pleasantly surprised at how creative you can get and it may help you get out of a rut of cooking the same old 10 things all the time. Some of our best meals have been when we do this.
9. Skip the processed. Processed foods are an easy way to eat up the money you have to spend. We don’t buy a whole lot of that kind of stuff for that reason. Instead, grab a couple pears or apples, or have some toast with almond butter for a snack.
I sincerely hope this helps any of you out there reading and challenge you to pick one thing and implement it to your regular routine and just see how it goes!