I never knew food was so expensive until I became the SAHM who takes care of all groceries. (I also never knew packing lunches was the most miserable “mom” task ever).
We have a family of 5. I shop only at big name stores (Publix and Kroger) and we have a $500/month grocery budget. If we break that down, that is $100/person…it seems like a lot of money but to some it will seem impossible. However, I stay at or under my given budget most of the time. Have there been months where I have spent $800 on food? Absolutely. But there has also been months where we’re barely touching $350. But trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.
The question is how?
- Planning-both trips and meals
I typically spend Sunday’s planning my meals for the week (Yes, I grocery shop every week). While I’m planning my meals, I also write my grocery list. Going to the store without a list is asking for trouble. You’ll most likely wind up in the candy aisle trying to decide which chocolate wrapper will be quieter when you’re trying to sneak it from your children. But no really, a list is necessary. I don’t make a fancy list with aisle numbers on where everything is but I do try to keep it organized and grouped together by food group. Also, there is an amazing app Grocery IQ that allows you to input your grocery list either via typing, barcode scanning, or voice. The app also lets you put in the quantity you need, and the aisle category it in is. It also keeps a history of past items so if you’re like me and buy most of the same stuff every month, it saves you a little bit of time. Best perk of them all, it’s free!
Now back to the meal planning, I only plan dinners. Breakfasts are usually cereal or something quick and easy for the kids before school. Lunches are typical as well so it’s easy. A typical week in our house goes something along the lines of cook, cook, leftovers, cook, out to eat, cook, cook. I also plan quick, easy (healthy) meals that I know my kids will eat. Meatloaf, homemade pizza, tacos, quiche, spaghetti, chicken fajitas, sausage and rice, and chicken fried rice are just some of our daily meals.
- Skip the prepackaged items
Just because it’s prepackaged doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. Companies typically hike up their prices (and preservatives) for prepackaged food because it’s convenient. People pay for convenience. When you break it down, you can roughly get more than twice as much product for generally the same price and it’s typically healthier.
For example, you can buy a box of (4) Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches for $5.44 -or- you can buy (12) English muffins for $2.28, (12) eggs for $1.98, and (12) sausage patties for $3.96. So for $8.92, you can get 12 sandwiches (that freeze and defrost perfectly)
- Stock up on non-perishables
Especially when they’re on sale! I have enough cans of green beans in my house to survive the end of the world…twice. Seriously, there is a lot. If something is on sale, and it won’t go bad, save yourself some money (and time) and buy it. I recently just purchased 5 containers of juice as they were on sale from $3.98 to $2.00. So not only did I save myself almost $10, I saved time on shopping trips because I have juice for at least 4 weeks. Most items that you keep in your pantry, won’t go bad for quite sometime as long as they’re closed and sealed properly.
- Buy in Bulk when practical
We have a Sams Club Membership and it’s fantastic. I typically buy bulk items there. It is definitely worth the money we spend on the membership and keep an eye out because sometimes they do free memberships or passes.
Buying in bulk is initially more expensive. Calculating it out however is more cost effective and beneficial. We typically buy non-perishables or foods we go through quickly from Sams. Buying in bulk again helps save time and money.
Believe it or not, it is cheaper to buy (1) 3lb container or peanut butter than it would be to buy the equivalent in single jars.
I was the crazy coupon lady for a little while. I was getting shampoo and conditioner for $.33, toilet paper for $.10 and free toothpaste. It was fantastic! I then realized that companies rarely put out coupons for everyday food items. They’re typically for paper goods. Sure, you can find some ones for food and absolutely use the ones you find. Because essentially, cents leads to dollars.
Saving $.35 on cottage cheese two times per month is a yearly savings of $8.40…that’s almost enough to make homemade breakfast sandwiches!
I know grocery shopping isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but it’s a necessity. With a few tips and tricks you can make it almost, almost pain free.