When we decided that I would stay at home with the kids, I made it my mission to cut our budget as much as possible. One area that I spent a lot of focus on was saving money on food.
How could I lower our food budget without eating beans and rice for dinner everyday? I’ve tried many things – coupons (they just don’t work for us because we avoid most of those foods), buying in bulk, menu planning – and figured out what worked for us and what didn’t.
Photo credit: Lori L. Stalteri
I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re trying to trim the fat. (Pun is so intended. Sorry, couldn’t help it).
I began doing this after reading the Tightwad Gazette. I took an inventory of everything in my pantry and put it on paper. If something got low, I replaced it. It’s that simple. Any meals I plan are based off of items already in the pantry so that I don’t need to go buy new stuff, unless it’s something I think should become a regular item.
I do like to check grocery store flyers and see if what I’m getting low on is on sale somewhere, but I usually know which stores have the cheapest items because I buy the same things over and over.
Buying in Bulk
This initially began with shopping at Costco. Buying in bulk can save you a lot of money, BUT, you need to have a plan. I know many people who tell me they can’t spend less than a couple hundred dollars there because they buy stuff they don’t need.
If that’s the case, you need to go in with a list and stick to that list or stop shopping at Costco, especially when you’re hungry. By having a plan when I go in there, I usually spend around $75 there twice a month.
Bulk bins are another favorite of mine. I buy a lot of staples like salt, flour, nuts and popcorn from bulk food bins. They have a lower cost per ounce and I don’t have a bunch of packaging to deal with, especially when I reuse the bags.
Meat and produce are the most expensive items on my grocery list. It’s important that they’re grown chemical-free and organic when possible. Unfortunately, that usually translates into a larger grocery bill. That’s why I buy and use less meat.
What I do buy needs to go well in lots of dishes. I’ve pared down even further recently and the meats on my list are chicken, ground beef and sausage. Because we love bacon I’ll get it occasionally, but I just realized that we haven’t had any in weeks and nobody has said anything. (Don’t say anything when you read this honey!)
I found that there were some foods that I kept buying because they were on my list but would just go bad because we didn’t really like them or because they went into one recipe that was used very infrequently.
I also realized that there were some food items that could be substituted with different food that we were eating on a regular basis. This usually was the case with veggies, which are easily substituted for one another, taking me down to a small list of vegetables that we use regularly.
Making It Myself
It’s ridiculous how much money you can save on certain items if you learn how to make them yourself. Pancakes and waffles from scratch taste so much better in my opinion. As do different soups and sauces.
Buying and roasting a whole chicken and then making your own chicken stock will save you lots of money and provide you with several meals. Yogurt was my recent experiment and the family was extremely happy with how it turned out. My friend Jenna is the yogurt-making queen.
If you’re interested in making it yourself, checkout her site at Everyday Yogurt.
Next time I’ll share a few simple tips I use to make sure I come in under budget while I’m out shopping. How have you lowered your grocery budget?
Originally posted 2013-04-02 12:36:55.