Lately, I have had a lot of clients come to me with the same common problem : They are spending too much money on groceries and finding it hard to save money. There are a number of ways to combat excess money leaving your home, but I have found over the years that many people do not realize exactly how much money they are spending on groceries. So, I always start with your grocery bill as the first and foremost way to save money ! One of the most important things you will ever do is to sit down with all of your grocery receipts and really see not only what you are purchasing but also exactly how much you are spending.
Here are some ways that I have learned to save money on groceries. Remember, creativity takes courage and you'll pat yourself on the back when you see how much money you start to save !
This is your blueprint to success and many of my clients have used the same blueprint with amazing results.
FOOD PREPPING :
1. First thing, plan your meals for two weeks in advance.
2. Set one day aside to commit to meal prep ( it works )
3. Keep a list with you ( on your phone or on paper and put in your purse ) of everything you still have left in your freezer, pantry and cupboards. I cannot tell you how many times I have purchased the same thing over and over again.
4. Set a realistic goal/budget for food shopping.Withdraw that amount in cash ( do not use credit card / bank card for this. Leave card at home - reason is knowing you have extra $$ at your disposal WILL result in impulse buying - like Oh, Gee that cake looks fab )
FOODS THAT GO A LONG WAY TO ADD TO YOUR LIST :
Beans, Potatoes, Rice, Oatmeal, Eggs, Whole Chicken, Peel and Eat Shrimp, Pot Roast, Whole Turkey, Ground Beef, Pasta. The goal here is to get as many meals as possible out of the items on your list.
SPLIT YOUR SHOPPING DAYS :
One of the most helpful things I have found is alternating shopping weeks. It has not only saved money, but it has also saved on a lot of waste especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
SHOPPING LOOKS LIKE THIS :
- Week One ( if you still have meats in your freezer ) shop for all of your side items. This consists of your fruits and veggies, pasta sauces, etc and if you have a farmers market or produce vendor go there. Refer to your menu for your choices.
- Week Two - Shop for meats. If you can go in the morning this is the best time because you find a lot of reduced meats. Grab your turkey ( whole ), chicken, etc for whatever is on your menu.
- Week Three - This is your replenish week. If you are out of a meat, buy it, out of a fruit, milk, etc, purchase it. Only purchase that in which is on your list.
Now, by week 3 I am generally under my budget by about $20 or more from each week. NOTE : My budget is $100 a week ( still a little more than I like but I have a teenager, who plays football and is an eating machine, plus he has hypothyroidism and a metabolism that is off the chain ). In this week I take my roll over money ( generally around $40 , but keep in mind I still have a $100 bill stashed because my budget is $100 a week X4 weeks which gives me $400 ) and here is where I purchase some extras like flour, chocolate chips, brown sugar, all the little things I can use at home to MAKE my own desserts.
Remember the apples you purchased from a week ago that aren't eaten yet, they make a great apple pie, they are amazing in a slow cooker with some cinnamon and brown sugar to top your oatmeal or pork chops and so on. Now, there is ZERO waste on anything you purchased and by making your own cookies and other desserts ( you can also shop up extra fruit and freeze it for smoothies, bananas etc ) you are not only saving money but also avoiding fillers, processed foods and preservatives. We make our own ice cream A LOT because it's cheaper and healthier by using frozen bananas, coconut or almond milk and vanilla extract, you can also add cocoa powder etc for amazing chocolate ice cream).
As you can see I generally have an extra $80 to $100 a month left because I am under budget. Listen, there is something psychological that happens here. First, no-one wants to get to check out and be over the amount you actually have ( so you really use a calculator to ensure this doesn't happen ) and for some reason ( at least for me ) since I don't carry a lot of cash ( or didn't ) I don't want to spend it, so I FIND ways to hoard it ( LOL ). Mix this level of thinking and budgeting with some coupons and you've got a huge handle on groceries.
Some of you are asking well, " What do you do with the extra you didn't spend " ? I have a Jar at home. Every cent that wasn't used, change and all, goes in the jar. Walk away, forget about it. This is my " Oh, $hit Fund ". This can end up paying for Christmas, car repairs ( unexpected ) school activities ( shoot me now it's my son's Senior year and when the heck did PROM tickets cost $100 a ticket and Senior Photos over $600) and even help pay down some debt at the end of the year. Dedicate a specific month you are allowed to withdraw ( unless you get hit with something unexpected ) or allow yourself 2 times a year to do it. If you don't need to, roll it over. Its makes a great Christmas fund, too !
SOME MEAL IDEAS on how you can get more than one meal :
- Turkey or Chicken - Regular meal with sides. Day Two - Sandwiches with side of fruit or homemade french fries from potatoes. Freeze extra by day 3 - and split it up into freezer bags for other meals like turkey and rice with gravy, soup, more sandwiches or to top salad.
- Ground Beef ( I purchase big rolls of it ) separate into freezer bags. Spaghetti, Meatloaf, Meatballs ( to make sandwiches ) burgers, Salisbury steak, Goulash ( meat, elbow mac, diced tomatoes and seasoning ) etc
- Make Breakfast for Dinner
- Overnight Oats ( top with fruit )
- Pot Roast - Regular meal with potatoes and veggies. Open faced sandwiches, vegetable barley soup, served over egg noodles with gravy. Freeze excess like with turkey and chicken and re-use for later meals )
Also, take advantage of stores like Aldi, and stores that offer buy one get one free like Kroger, Publix, Winn Dixie. Shop at places like BJ's and Sam's ( that is all I have here ).
Get creative. Get on Pinterest. The goal is to always try and stash some money in your jar ( hey, even $5 adds up ) and be under budget. You will feel really accomplished and when you know you have a stash fund your mentality around money changes from " Never enough " or " I hate groceries because it takes all my money " etc. Mindset plays a huge roll in EVERYTHING.