Groceries tend to be a huge budget item, but i’ve found this budget item is certainly one of the most flexible. I’ve spent the past few months trying and tweaking our grocery list and spending, and here are some ways i’ve cut back on our grocery budget (to make room for more alcohol, of course.)
Going to the grocery store without a meal plan is like walking into a home improvement store without a list – without a plan, you are guaranteed to overspend and make unnecessary purchases. You have got to have a plan! We don’t stick to a super strict meal schedule, so our meal plan is more like 6 dinner meal options for the week (we eat out once a week) that we can move around for our convenience.
How you Prepare your Coffee
I wrote about this in a recent post, but how you prepare your magic daily fuel can have a huge impact on your grocery budget. To see how I cut out over $600.00 a year in our budget, check out my post.
Avoid Food Subscription Boxes
This trendy way to cook at home has taken America’s kitchens by storm, but if you’re trying to save money don’t fall for it! With prices starting around $9.00 per serving, this is a huge increase in cost compared to what you could make from your routine grocery trip. Kevin and I generally don’t pay more than $5.00 for any meal we eat at home, which covers both of us and generally some leftovers. If we want to pay $20.00 for a meal, we prefer to go out and enjoy being waited on. This is simply personal preference, and if you get a lot of enjoyment out of home cooked meals that require no preparation beforehand, you might think the cost is justifiable.
Decrease the Protein
Protein: think chicken, hamburger meat, steaks. These are generally the most expensive portion of our meals, so of course decreasing the amount of protein we eat will cut the cost of your meal. Don’t make protein the center of your meal, but instead an ingredient. For example, enjoy a grilled chicken salad instead of a grilled chicken breast with vegetables. Lately i’ve been doing steak kabobs with peppers, onions, and grape tomatoes to decrease the amount of (expensive) filet i’m consuming. I still get to enjoy my steak but as a smaller portion, and i’m satisfied at the end of dinner too!
Another way we decrease our protein intake is how we divide and freeze up our meats we purchase from Costco. By decreasing our ground beef portions from 1 pounds to .75 pounds, we get a completely extra serving out of our bulk buy and never notice too much of a difference in meals like Hamburger Helper, Spaghetti, or Tacos.
Utilize your Leftovers
I’m the type of person who can be happy eating the exact same meal I had for dinner for lunch the next day. My husband, unfortunately, does not feel the same way, so i’ve learned how to reinvent meals in addition to simply opting for a reheated meal as opposed to going out and spending money on lunch. I very, very rarely spend money out on breakfast or lunch and reserve this money for special dinner occasions.
Know what you Like
When I first began couponing, I went in with the mentality that brands were irrelevant and that I could plan my meals around what was on sale. This was a great plan until I realized that there were some brands and some frozen foods that Kevin and I simply did not care for. For example, we decided to purchase sirloin steaks one day at Costco over our normal filet steaks since there was a special and these sirloin steaks were a MUCH better buy. They were so different from our normal preferences that we actually ended up throwing some out because we disliked them that much! Even though we spent less, we ended up not eating so the savings weren’t actual savings at all. This mentality can prove true for things other than food – even if it’s an amazing deal, you save no money when purchasing items that go to waste.
This benefits from a health perspective too, but drinking water instead of sodas, La Croix, power drinks, etc is so. much. less. expensive. We use a Brita water filter since we have a well and love the taste of Brita filtered water. Drinks are a huge cost we avoid by drinking water!
Use Pickup Services
If you aren’t a huge deal finder/couponer, but instead find yourself doing a lot of last minute splurge purchasing, consider allowing the grocery store to do your shopping for you! Many of these services do cost some sort of money, but the benefit is knowing exactly what your groceries are going to cost ahead of time as opposed to being surprised at the end of your shopping trip. After doing some research, I even discovered that Harris Teeter allows you to use coupons for order pickups, and your savings are applied at your next shopping trip.
Cutting back on spending is not easy, and most times requires a lifestyle change. What are some changes you’ve undergone to cut your spending?