Groceries….. can’t go without them, and we end up spending oodles of money on them every month. We aren’t down to subsist on rice and beans alone – though we have plenty of both. We eat nice foods, and also have the fun stuff (I’m looking at you wine…). However, we are able to save a couple of hundred off our grocery budget with some of the following tips:
Leftovers – I can’t overestimate this. There is little else I can’t stand than throwing away food we should have consumed. We eat leftovers…. a lot. If it freezes well, then we put them in the freezer for another time so it seems new again when they are re-visited. We’re a busy family, so it’s nice to have ready made dinners waiting for us anyway.
- Meal Planning – I do this, religiously…. every week (Saturday morning after breakfast). I always start from the fridge, cupboards, and cross-reference our calendar. Since our schedule has us here, there and everywhere, I accommodate for that (which days are leftovers nights) based on our happenings. I make a list of the ingredients we still need to make a meal work.
- Fend Fo’ Yo’self Night – we usually eat together at the dinner table (most nights). However, sometimes our schedules are wonky, and we have random bits of leftovers of things/or folks just aren’t incredibly hungry (cereal for dinner, anyone?). So, I put these on the calendar to give us some wiggle room. These nights are moveable depending on how we all feel, and what we need to eat to keep food from going bad.
- Crockpotting – this isn’t a verb, but it should be. The crockpot is a lifesaver. It can take cheap pieces of meat and create an amazing meal while you’re at work. It makes the house smell homey, and everyone can eat at their own schedules on those tough nights of running around town. Crockpots aren’t expensive (cheaper than one dinner out) and saves us $1,000s each year.
- Shopping – I show up with my meal planned list of items to buy. I don’t include things like fruit, snacks, or side-item veggies. I buy what is on sale for the add-ins. Then, before heading to the checkout, I do one last looksy at the sale meats, cheeses, and other “ingredient” items and stock up. We also have a little discount section (dinged cans, discontinued items) that I check every time. These items will go in the freezer and/or cupboard for the next week’s meal planning. The saving cycle continues!
- Vacation Meal Planning – this is the least fun thing I do, and my family HATES that I do it. Before we go on a vacation, we go through all the things in the fridge, freezer, cupboards and plan our meals around exactly what we have. It isn’t for the faint of heart and we have PLENTY of random meals as we get toward the end. Buuuuuut, we don’t come back to a fridge of bad food, and start fresh on our groceries when we return. Plus, when you’re looking forward to a vacation it isn’t so bad to suffer through a few odd meals.
- Gardening – honestly, I’m not positive if this actually saves any money. It’s something I enjoy doing, is completely organic, and provides a significant bounty of delicious food several times a year. We plant only the most expensive items in our limited garden, and things that really taste 100% better coming from the back yard (um tomatoes!). The pictures throughout this post are what we’ve grown in our VegTrugs with a drip irrigation system. We’ll have a future blog post on our gardening escapades, successes and failures.
What other tips might you add? Good luck, cutting your grocery bill.