So if you are like me, and cook most of your meals, you will have noticed that the price of groceries over the past few years has gone up. Jordan and I try to eat at home (meaning he or I or the both of us cook) at least 5 nights a week. We tend to splurge a little on the weekend.
Jordan and I try hard to stay in budget and we personally allocate $80 per week for groceries (this includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks). We get this amount for the whole month at the beginning of the month in cash and then once it is gone, it is gone.
It is so hard these days to do what is considered to be "best" for your family. You hear so much about how organic is sooo much better. Or you hear about which diet is best - no carbs, paleo, weight watchers, etc... Now that I have a little one at home, I am becoming more conscious about the things that I am eating. I want her to have a well rounded diet and not be addicted to snacking all the time. So what am I willing to do and what am I not willing to do at this point? Jordan and I purchase some organic, however the majority of our diet is not organic. I am trying to limit red meat intake to once a week, except with special occasions (i.e. Father's Day and our Anniversary fall in the same week - we love steak...). I am also trying to get away from so many processed foods.
All of that being said, I wanted to write down in one place the steps that I am taking to try to cut our grocery budget.
Here are the things I try to take into account when planning a menu:
1. Meal plan around circulars and personal schedule
-Check the weekly grocery adds for the best deals. Compare sale items across grocery stores and pick one or two stores that work for you and shop for them for the week. Also, think about your personal schedule - if certain nights are busier than others, you may need to have something for the crockpot for those times.
2. Eat seasonally. Know what vegetables are in season for your area and eat those things during those seasons (i.e. you think of butternut squash and pumpkin during the fall, whereas right now corn is at its cheapest).
3. Shop your pantry, fridge and freezer first!
-Look at what you have and try to get creative. Lots of leftover vegetables? Make a pot of soup or stir fry with some noodles or rice. Canned green beans and corn? Add a meat and call it a meal.
4. Set a monthly budget instead of a weekly budget.
-Jordan and I allocate $80 per week. So, a the end of the month, we count up the number of Sundays in the following month and multiply that times $80 and that is what we take out in cash for the month. Why a month instead of a week? Some things go on sale that are a really great deal and you don't necessarily buy them each week so some weeks are going to be more costly and some weeks will be very cheap. If you do this, then it all balances out. For example, it seems that I always run out of paper goods at the same time (toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels... same goes for cleaning supplies) and if I see a great deal on these products, I will stock up on them for the month.
5. Not every meal needs to have a meat.
-Some things that I love that have no meat this includes pastas and homemade pizzas. We love to grill pizza this time of year.
6. Be willing to shop at two places.
- For some, this one is tough. You are busy and you want to get in and out and be done with it. I get that, but there are places that just have better deals. For instance, you can go to Aldi's and get a bunch of your grocery list taken care of for cheap but you aren't going to find everything there.
7. Buy ONLY what is on your grocery list.
- This is tough but if you are trying to save some "dough" then you have to do it.
8. Consider designating certain nights with a theme.
- Examples could be baked potato bar, pizza night, breakfast for dinner night, etc... This makes planning easy. Maybe there is something that your family really loves to eat, throw it in the mix once a month.
9. Cook larger batches of some items and freeze half. This is huge. There are just certain recipes that it is so much easier to make a double batch of and then freeze half. So nice to have a few nights a month in which cooking dinner involves NO PREP WORK! Casseroles and soups freeze great. I have a chicken pot pie recipe that I make in batches - it is one of Jordan's favorite recipes.
10. Consider investing in a Seal-A-Meal. When meats go on sale, I really stock up and you want to make sure that your meats that you freeze don't go bad due to improper freezing.
11. Shop without your children. Right now, this isn't a big one for us. Julia is little right now and really doesn't have an opinion on what I should or shouldn't be purchasing. Give it a bit, and I bet that will change.
Okay, so that was a long post. I am going to try to post frequently on what steps we are really focusing on and what is isn't working. What do you do to save money at the grocery store?