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On A Budget: Saving on Groceries

how to save money on groceries

One of the biggest budget killers in any household is the category of groceries. We all have to eat, and who doesn't like to eat good food?? With some practice, Alex and I have learned to get a handle of this category. Below are the ways we keep our grocery bill down. Grocery prices can vary drastically depending on region, but using the basic principles I've described below, you'll be able to save a lot of money regardless of where you're located. 

1. Have a plan 
This is probably the most crucial step in saving money on groceries. Planning a weekly menu will help you be organized-you know what ingredients you need and already have, and you can use some of the same ingredients in multiple recipes. All of these things will save you major bucks. I started planning weekly menus and now I'm up to planning for the whole month (more on that in January!) Start small- plan one or two meals a week and then gradually increase from there. 

2. Shop less 
Having a plan means that you won't be going to the grocery store multiple times a week. The less time you spend in a grocery store means you'll spend less money because there's less of a chance of impulse purchases. We go to the grocery store once a week maximum and that's only if I forgot to pick up a critical ingredient that I can't substitute. 

By having a grocery list when I do go to the store and not going additional times beyond that, our grocery bill stays low. 

3. Shop sales
While making a menu plan for the week, I sit down with my grocery store's ads and try to plan at least a couple of my dishes around what's on sale. The sales I especially pay attention to are the sales on veggies and meat since these are the most expensive (and important!) parts of our grocery list. If something calls for an ingredient that's expensive and not on sale, I'll often substitute the ingredient (i.e. green peppers for red pepper) or, if possible, leave it out all together!

3. Be okay with repetition 
We have a really good dinner menu and I try a new recipe at least twice a month. However, breakfast and lunch stays pretty standard for us. Breakfast consists of cereal, toast, or fruit (maybe an egg if we have time), and lunch is almost always sandwiches or dinner leftovers. Alex and I are okay with the repetition and that keeps our costs low. We're not spending boku bucks on frozen entrees for lunch or different kinds of cereal, pancakes, fruit, frozen waffles etc. 

4. Get creative 
One end of the spectrum is being okay with repetition but the other end of the spectrum calls for some creativity when designing your meal plan. I know a lot of families that have a couple of meatless meals a week to help cut down on the meat cost. The hubby likes meat a lot so we only do meatless meals a couple nights a month. However, we save on meat by using cheaper meats that you wouldn't ordinarily think to use. For example, we use pepperoni in a couple dishes a month- it's cheap but still fulfills the protein need that Alex has. :) Turkey bacon or deli cuts of lunch meat find their way into mac n cheese or chef salad. I'll substitute ground turkey for ground beef in a lot of dishes because it's healthier and cheaper. 

Creatively substituting proteins or going meatless can significantly bring your grocery bill down. 

4. Buy less junk 
You will {almost} never find our house with soda, frozen snacks, candy, or other prepackaged items (think cookies, chex mix etc.) We do buy a couple bags of chips a month but only pull those out for the Broncos game. We try to have healthier snacks around like yogurt, nuts, and cheese sticks. Pre-packaged stuff is expensive and we'd rather just not have the temptation around. 

By skipping a lot of the prepackaged snacks we're healthier and we keep our grocery bill down. If you think you or your family will have trouble cutting out some of their guilty pleasures, start slowly. Don't buy soda for a couple weeks, then the next couple weeks don't buy soda or cookies- so on and so forth. Gradually breaking yourself in is the way to do it- soon you won't miss those items and when you do get them it is a true splurge! 

How do you save on groceries? 
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  1. Love it! I have a post on the exact same topic! We are all about saving money!!!

  2. haha that's too funny, I'll have to go over and check out your post. frugal gals for the win! :)

  3. I read that if you are able to have at least 20 meals, you can rotate them throughout the month and it saves on your budget. I am such a work in progress when it comes to this.

  4. I totally believe that! I think we have about 25 on the menu this month but with leftovers and unexpected things it may land up being closer to 20. It's a hard thing to master for sure, I'm still a work in progress myself!


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