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When I started this blog I had to ask myself “how can I take what is already out there and make it better?” I keep this question at the front of my mind every time I write and this post is no different…
I’m here to tell you there are A LOT of articles and posts telling you how you can save “thousands” on your grocery bill. While most of these contain sound advice, there are a lot of extra tips that you really just don’t need or will never use. The tips I have included are strategies that have served me well and that I still use every single month.
Use a notebook, meal planner, or both
In this world of tech and apps, a notebook may sound outdated, but trust me it is my favorite menu and meal prep tool!
A list allows you to organize your thoughts. You also avoid buying things you don’t need. Trust me, every SINGLE time I go to the store without a list or a plan, I am going to end up with items I don’t really need. They say never go to the grocery store hungry because everything seems good when you’re hungry. Therefore you will get more than you bargained for. Well, the same could be said of going grocery shopping without a list!
Plan out your meals first. We always make 4 – 5 dinner meals, leaving 2 -3 nights where we either eat leftovers or take-out. It really depends on your family and lifestyle. For example, if you are a stay at home mom with two small children, then you probably want to fix 6 or 7 meals a week. You’re likely not gonna wanna load the kids up and take them out to eat every night! The freedom to make your lunch every day ain’t gonna happen either. Making 6-7 meals means you have leftovers for the week or even when you just “can’t even.”
If you have older kids, you most likely won’t have enough for leftovers depending on the number of servings per recipe. OR, you might be a busy family with older kids going to this and that activity. If that’s the case then you realistically need to factor in 3 – 4 take out nights! Another option is to make larger batches of something and eat leftovers during the week. You can buy a large bag of green beans or potatoes and have the same side item for several meals.
Once you have your meals planned out you can then start on your list. If I am working with recipes that I know by heart, I order my list by aisle (produce, meat, snacks, etc.). This saves me from going down every aisle and adding things that I really don’t need.
Plan your menu by the store’s weekly ad
To me, shopping by weekly ad is just like shopping retail sales. You buy what’s on sale! You will almost always have some type of pantry item on sale whether it be cereal, soup, or pasta. If I have wiggle room in my budget I usually stock up on these items when they are cheap. The best part is, most of them don’t go to waste so you can forget about them and not feel bad or wasteful.
Meat is the most expensive item that I shop by sale price. If boneless skinless chicken is on sale for $1.69/lb then you can bet I will incorporate it into 3 – 4 meals that week. You can always buy something in bulk and divide it, especially if it is a better price than buying seperate 1lb. containers. Food scale? Who needs it?..I just eyeball what a pound is, but hey I’m a rebel :)..
Consider a meal prep service or subscription
I know what you’re thinking! No way, those are too expensive, too complicated, too whatever!
You can use coupon codes, referrals, and sales to get the subscription prices down to less than what you end up spending at the grocery store.
When I got my first teaching job I was living with my Mom. We both were busy ALL the time. Meal Prep and those things were such a waste of time, food AND MONEY! A friend referred us to Blue Apron and BOOM, we were hooked. We made beautiful meals 3 nights a week, we were challenged in a good way by trying new flavors, and we weren’t wasting food or money.
Plus every Friday when our box came it was like mini Christmas! Lol. Who doesn’t like getting packages? 🙂
Most meal prep services are completely tailored to your tastes, there are no leftover ingredients and waste, and they take 30 minutes or less to make. When I am doing a Keto stint I use Factor, which makes the meals for you. They arrive fresh too, not heavily processed like Nutrisystem and the like.
Meal kits are especially helpful if you’re trying to stay healthy but don’t have the time for planning and prep. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are two of my favorites and they almost always have a deal for new subscribers!
The Freezer is your friend
Did you know you can freeze literally almost anything??? I have used this trick with Milk a lot when it goes on sale for .99 cents a gallon. Yes, you heard that correct. I have gotten GALLONS of milk before at ALDI for $0.99!! Pro -tip though, leave room for it to expand in the freezer. Also, you MUST use it within a week of unfreezing. But if you’re like us, we can easily go through a gallon of milk per week.
So go ahead and freeze that chicken you meant to cook but something came up! If you are not sure then here is a good rule of thumb: You can freeze most anything that does not have a high water content (think lettuce, rice, etc.). If you are still not sure, google it :).
Shop in-season produce or seasonal sales
The best part about seasonal produce is that you can eat it fresh, freeze it, or can it, thus extending the savings for MONTHS!
Summer is a great time for berries, melons, corn, tomatoes and tons more! Fall and Winter are an amazing time to score root vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Seasonal sales include more than just produce. For example, I bet you already know that you can get steep discounts on canned goods from October – January (holiday gatherings). You can use this time to stock up on your pantry supplies for the winter or simply incorporate more can-friendly recipes into your meal plans.
Reducing your grocery bill is an excellent way to save money, create more room in your budget for other things, or even pay off debt quicker. If you follow the tips above then you will be cutting that grocery receipt in half in no time at all!