Years ago, when I first met my husband and even after my second baby, I didn’t think a lot about saving money. In fact I simply went day by day. I decided what was for dinner and I bought what we needed to make that meal. Never thinking to look at the cost of what I was buying. I simply went off what I knew how to make. (which at that point was very limited) As I look back now and ask myself “What were you thinking?” I could have been saving so much money all those years. I want to share with you Five Steps To Trim The Fat Off Your Grocery Budget.
These steps are things I have learned over the years. Some I may have mentioned in other posts, some may be common cents and some of you may be like I was back then and never thought about it. If I am being completely honest, I never use to think about any of these things before we had to start cutting down our budget. If I had we may have never gotten into the debt we did.
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So here is what I have learned over the past several years:
Five Steps To Trip The Fat Off Your
Find Out What You Are Spending:
Take ten to fifteen minutes out of your time to really sit down and look at what meals you make most often. Write down everything you have to buy to make those meals and figure out the regular price of each item. Then look over your list and add everything up. This allows you to see where you are spending the most money and opens your eyes to how much your are really spending for each meal. You may even find that some of your meals are costing you three or four times the amount as other meals on your list. This helps you see just how much money you could be spending if you changed your cooking habits.
Every family is different, we all have different meals we know how to make, children who are picky or who have special diets. So there is no “perfect” grocery budget that fits everyone. However, there is always something you can do to reduce your spending. Once you get an idea on how much you are spending you can then look at how to cut that amount down.
I am not at all saying you need to go crazy and plan all your meals for a month at a time. I am saying take ten to fifteen minutes out of the week to plan maybe 5-7 meals for that week. Then STICK TO IT!
This was hard for me. I admit I was bad about planning my meals for the week, going to the store only to not feel like cooking that night. I also had nights that were very busy and didn’t allow me to make what I had on the menu for that evening. Since then I have learned that for me and my family it is best if I don’t plan which days I am going to make each meal. I instead add a couple of fast dinners into my list. This allows me to have those nights I can pop a pizza in the oven when we have been on the go, or even just if I have had a hard day and I don’t feel like making a big meal.
This allows you wiggle room in your planning. Things come up and that’s alright. By planning 5-7 meals for the week you give yourself options and allow yourself to have the meals in your house. No need to stop at McDonald’s or Taco Bell on the way home from a busy day.
Shop Weekly Ads:
This is how I save the most on groceries. Every Wednesday I look through all the grocery ads and write down the best prices on items we use most. This makes it easier to save more on groceries. I also post this list right here on my blog to help everyone around me find the best prices each week. Take a look at my latest list.
If you know what is on sale you can plan your meals around the best prices. You can even stock up when you find a super low price on something your family uses a lot of. Stocking up doesn’t have to mean buying 20 boxes of cereal. You could buy 2 or 3. Buy the amount that you know your family will use.
By planning your meals around what is on sale you are saving hundreds of dollars. I think back to when I just went to the closest store and bought whatever I wanted to make for dinner and it horrifies me now. There are stores that are much more expensive than others on so many things. So by looking at your weekly ads you get to separate the good deals from the over priced deals.
This alone saves me a ton in meat. My family uses chicken breasts and ground beef most often. So by looking each week at the grocery ads I can see when I should stock up on either. When I find either at about half the price I will buy enough to last a few weeks sometimes more. This allows more room in my budget later because now I have no meat to buy for a few weeks. Literally HUNDREDS of dollars each month is saved just by using this step.
If You Don’t HAVE to Have It Don’t Buy It:
I know this is a hard step. I still struggle with this from time to time. When you see a great deal on something your family will in fact use then by all means it. Do not just buy because it is on sale. I like to look at snacks the same way. With my three kids snacks do not stay in our house longer than a day. So I have stopped buying them. Again HUNDREDS of dollars saved every month by not buying snacks.
Some may think that is wrong and that’s okay. I am not saying we never have snack, I am saying I will no longer pay $150.00 a month in snacks. It just isn’t a need, It is a want. There are better things to spend our money one than fatty snacks that are over priced anyway. So if you Don’t Need it don’t buy it. See how much you save when you ask yourself before purchasing something “Do I need this or do I want this?” You will be surprised how much money you are spending on “wants”.
Leave The Family At Home When You Shop
Okay, okay this isn’t always possible. I know. I have to take my kids with me when I shop a lot of the time. However, you can get better at saying no when they pick up things that aren’t on your list. This will allow you to spend less on impulse buys. It’s okay to say no to the candy by the register, it’s alright if you don’t buy the Oreo’s. No one will die I promise.
It is also okay to explain to your children (or spouse) “I’m sorry honey, we don’t have the money for that today”. Believe it or not this teaches them the value of money. I know a lot of us parents want to not bother our kids or make them worry about money, but the fact is we have to teach them to save up for what they want. It is kind of our job to teach them that we can’t buy everything we want. This will help cut down on future “Entitlement” in our children.
That sounds harsh, but I can honestly say I have a teenager right now who I did not do this for and I am paying for it now. She doesn’t understand the value of money, saving or anything money related. I have been the past few years really working to teach her the difference of wants and needs. Also that NO ONE is entitled to anything, we must all work for what we want.
So maybe you have to take the kids with you to the store that is fine. Just don’t give in to everything they want to pick up along the way down each aisle.
There are other ways to save on Groceries too:
Every family is different so every family will cut costs differently. Find out what works best for your family and go with it. If it is saving you money it is helping. Keep an eye out for more ways to save coming soon.
How does your family save the on groceries?