3 Surprising Ways to Drastically Reduce Your Grocery Budget
With 5 growing kids, our grocery budget is our highest household expense. Every week I am shocked to see how quickly we go through the food that I buy.
I am constantly tweaking the menu and trying to make things stretch as far as I can. Since I know many of my readers are in the same boat (tight budget, but you gotta eat!) I thought I would share some of the more surprising ways I have found to reduce our grocery budget.
(Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.)
1. Don't use coupons.
Yes! You read that right! Now there was a time when I would have vehemently disagreed with that statement, but I've completely changed my tune now!
I used to be quite the couponing queen – to the point that I often made money buying my groceries. As I traveled further and further down the path to a more healthy lifestyle, though, I eventually realized that there weren't too many coupons for healthy foods, and the coupons were only tempting me to splurge on unhealthy things way too much. (Read about the time we ate 40 boxes of Pop-Tarts!)
I ended up spending 25 cents here and 50 cents there on food I would have never purchased otherwise just because it was cheap. You might be very surprised to find out that once I stopped using coupons, we were actually able to eat better quality food for less money.
Because I was nickel and diming myself to death on the cheapest things I could get, but that we didn't necessarily need. Sure, our grocery bill was very low, and cooking was a breeze with all those boxes and cans in my pantry that I could just dump into a pot. But I didn't have planned-out, healthy meals; it was just pure randomness.
Once I started planning healthy meals, and I ditched the coupons, our health improved and our grocery bill went down. I found that planning trumped randomness on both quality and cost, even when the randomness only cost a few pennies!
2. Use cash.
Paying for my groceries with cash forced me to create a plan and stick to it.
And as I already emphasized, planning plays a gigantic role in lowering the grocery bill.
When I use cash, I am adding up the cost of all the ingredients as I add them to the cart, and if I'm over budget, I can't cover it with a credit card; I'll just have to put something back.
There's no better way to stick to a budget than by giving yourself no other option!
3. Don't shop on the same day each week.
This strategy might not work for everyone depending on your family's schedule, but one really successful way I have found to keep my grocery budget low is to only shop when I run out of food.
Even though meal planning is important, things don't always go as planned.
- When I'm cooking I might decide I can use 1/2 the meat that the recipe called for and substitute beans for the rest.
- We may be invited to someone's house to eat and not end up using the meal that was planned.
- We may sleep in and have brunch instead of breakfast and lunch that day.
So if I plan to shop once a week, inevitably there will still be random food articles left in the fridge on shopping day.
But if I wait until I've used up everything in the fridge and pantry, I can stretch our budget for an extra day or two (or if I'm really feeling resourceful I can sometimes make it an extra whole week!)
Using everything up before I shop keeps my fridge spic and span without forgotten leftovers rotting in the back too.
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