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How To: Tips on Keeping your Grocery Budget Down

A recent friend of mine asked about grocery budgeting tips and saving money on food. Here was my response to how we keep our budget down, in a nutshell, with a few helpful articles I've read along the way:

We had a food budget of $60/week and so I have some great tips for you to try out if you wish.The number one thing that helps me/others stay on food budget (and I've heard this from all over) is: Make a Meal plan! Sit down once a week or even once a month or a season and plan menus. I do this every week, but I have seen it online where people do it only 4 times a year depending on the season & what food is available then.

Here are some other things that do to keep our budget in check. Some of them can be really hard to change, but if you do change, I promise not only will you save money--you will be eating REALLY healthy, too! :)

  • Make things from scratch. This can be the hardest change for people, but it really does taste better and I find I appreciate my meal times & tastes if I make it from scratch. Involve your kids, too! One can do clean-up, one can help pour ingredients, one can set table, etc, and then switch it up every week or so) Lukka already does this at 2 and he LOVES to help from making food, stirring something on the stove, washing the dishes or clearing the table!

  • Buy from the bulk foods section instead of packaged items. This is literally 50% cheaper on most occasions than buying food packaged! Get some cute mason jars and store your foods there--it looks good in your kitchen and is frugal (it keeps better, too). Also, a great way to discover new foods like really really healthy grains & expand your ethnic recipes!

  • Check your stores weekly ads & plan your meals that way (online or print version). For example, we shop at Russ's and they have a weekly ad that shows the items that are all on sale, and they run it online, too . When I see that certain items are on sale, I write them down on my list & then am able to plan our meals properly.

  • Stick to your grocery list & don't go shopping when you're hungry! I know these are common sense, but it's true! I always end up buying way too much if I go to the store when I'm hungry.

  • Try to shop weekly. This keeps produce fresher and waste down. There's only so much banana bread you can eat from over-ripe bananas and it helps focus on "just one week" until you get the hang of planning menus and you're able to do it on a monthly basis.

  • Make a cash budget for groceries. This was what we did when we really had to 'watch it' for the last few years. We allotted $250/mo for groceries, put it in an envelope, and when it was gone, it was gone and it was us searching through the cupboards until next time. I know this sounds extreme, but it works SO well (although, takes lots of discipline).

  • Your crock-pot can be your best friend. Here's some great tips (scroll down to the 3 part series) on using your crock-pot, and we use this for a nice warm meal at least once a week! Cheap, home-style, yummy meals, you can make anything in the crock-pot! (A favorite crock-pot recipe book of mine-5 Ingredients or Less).
  • (Update): A local baker and friend-of-a-friend, The DISH, also gave a great tip--shop at the local ethnic markets. Spices, produce, etc. are all going to be less expensive, there is a lot more selection than a regular super market and get this...more ethnic.

The only thing that is "hard" about these things are re-adjusting to the fact that making meals/planning meals does take time....not a lot, but just more than "no time at all".

I hope this helps! We had to do so much trimming I became a connoisseur of all things frugal, and I found that these two websites were so encouraging and helpful: Passionate Homemaking and Keeper of the Home. I also love Tasty Kitchen website for recipes and every one I've tried was very good!


kylee said…
I was doing so well with our grocery budget (even the meal planning!), but I've fallen off the wagon as of late. Thanks for the post to remind me to get back on track!
the DISH said…
great tips. Also, you should check out ethnic grocery stores if you need things like spices, dried fruits, tea, etc. they are about 80 % less than anywhere else. Here in lincoln, i recommend the middle eastern grocery at around 25th and o and the mexican market (good for produce) at 16th and p. cheers!
yes!! I forgot about that, they are soo great...Im updating as we speak...

Sarah M

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