It seems like everyone is itching to save these days, so what better way to do so than to cut down on monthly food expenses? We all want to know how to save money on groceries, especially with families to feed. With a little planning and preparation, I am able to feed my entire family for a month using no more than $300! My family consists of myself, my husband (who should really count for two people), my mother in law, MJ (5) and Baby Girl (1). That’s three eating adults instead of the normal two, so I really have the challenge of stretching meals and making our budget work.
My Sample Monthly Shopping Plan:
1st week: The biggest shopping week for us. This is where I re-stock all of our meats, canned foods, eggs, bread, milk, juice, pantry staples, seasonings, fruits, vegetables and other necessary items. I spend about $125 on this trip.
2nd week: This trip is usually a Walmart/Target trip and includes toilettries, snacks, paper towels, laundry items, cleaners and anything else we need to maintain the household. I buy enough here to last the whole month. I spend from $50-75 on this trip.
3rd week: A light re-stocking of grocery items we have run out of, such as fruits, veggies or specifics I need to cook with for the week. I spend about $40
4th week: Another Walmart/Target trip, re-stocking odds and ends me may need before it’s time to do the next mass shopping trip. I spend around $40.
I have friends that are single and calculated their monthly spending at $400-500 per month on food alone, FOR ONE PERSON. Yikes! It’s wonderful to treat yourself to the more expensive ways of living when you can afford it, but when you are on a tight family budget, you must pinch pennies and be a smart spender. Check out these ideas I have implemented in my weekly shopping trips…
Buy Staples In Bulk – I buy all of our staple foods in bulk. When you do so, you save a pretty good amount rather than buying small amounts every week. A few examples:
- You can buy 3 lbs of frozen chicken breasts for about the same price you would buy 1 lb of fresh chicken breast.
- Buy a large 10 lb. bag of potatoes instead of smaller bags or purchasing them single. My local farmer’s market has 10 lb. bags for only $1.99, where as I would only get about 3 large potatoes for the same price if I bought them seperately.
- Stocking up on rice is cheaper when you buy it in bulk, plus it can be used for so many great meals and is very filling.
Matching Coupons with Sales- Clip and save those coupons, you never know when an item is going to be marked down! As always, if the matching store brand item is still cheaper than the brand name item with a coupon, I would buy the store brand. Take a look at the store’s weekly ad and compare them with the coupons you currently have and that are available to print. You can end up saving over 50% by matching manufacturer’s coupon with sales and/or in-store coupons. There are a few great blogs that do this on a weekly basis to make our lives a tad easier. My favs:
- MoneySavingMom.com: Posts the greatest deals and coupons match ups for a variety of stores, including Walmart, Target, CVS and more.
- ForTheMommas.com- Provides different scenarios on how to maximize your savings at various stores, such as Kroger, Safeway, Kmart, Shop Rite, Geunardi’s, Meijer, Food Lion and more.
- PocketYourDollars.com- This site actually makes a shopping list for a bunch of popular food and drug stores across the country. Take advantage of the deals posted here!
Shopping at Discount Stores- Do not be afraid to visit your local Food 4 Less, Save-A-Lot or 99¢ stores, you would be surprised at what you can find! Even the Target and Walmart Supercenters have better deals than your local expensive grocery store. I have seen multiple items at almost half of the price they would be at the grocery giants. It really makes a difference.
Store Brand Items- Many of us are stuck on brand name items. Remove yourself and take a peek at what the store brand has to offer! They often have many of the staple items, snacks, toilettries and beverages you may be looking for at only a fraction of the price of the more popular brand name items. Some of my favorite store brands are Safeway brand, Market Pantry (Target) and Great Value (Walmart).
Shopping in Season- This applies to mostly fruits and vegetables. Try to stick to the items that are in season, they are much more plentiful so they cost less. For example, buying peaches in the winter is almost always a fail. If they are available, they cost an arm and a leg, and usually end up being super hard anyway!
The Unnecessary: Selecting Snacks and Sweets- Snacks and sweets are wonderful to have in the pantry, but they are not always necessary. Be selective of what snacks you buy and how much you are really getting for what you pay. I know those cookies look delicious, but in reality, snacks are some of the priciest items to buy, don’t be afraid to limit yourself. This is one of the times that you should strategize, using the “Matching Coupons With Sales” and the “Store Brand Items” sections above.
Plan for Left Overs, Left Overs, Left Overs!- I normally cook about 3 times a week and I make sure to cook enough food for at least one night of left overs. It is much easier and cheaper to double your family recipes and cook it once than to have a new meal with different ingredients every night. Breakfast and lunch are simple, but it is dinner that I have to plan out. Check out my weekly menu scenario for next week…
When you do eat out, save a bundle using Restaurant.com. You can get $25 gift certificates to restaurants in your area for as low as $2! There are different promotions and codes available, GO HERE to see the latest.
If you are not already trying some of these steps to reduce your grocery bill, I suggest you get started. It really makes a difference in my household. How large is your family and how much do you spend monthly on groceries, eating out, toilettries, and household necessities? Please leave a comment and share!