We’ve lived on a budget since we were married. One way that I manage our budget is to meal plan. This keeps me from buying extra food that we don’t need and makes grocery shopping a little less exhausting. I mean, it is hard making a million and one decisions on the spot.
I’ve couponed, and shopped sales. I’ve bought in bulk, and read books and blog posts about saving money on groceries. All these things have helped me in lowering our grocery bill, but there was still one thing that has made an even bigger difference than all these others.
Are you ready for it?
The simplest way to save money on groceries is to BUY LESS FOOD.
I know, I know. That’s not practical, right? You’re sure you need everything you buy. I get it, I really do. So here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna share with you how a family of six: two adults, three teenage BOYS, and one preteen girl, currently live on a grocery budget of $120 per week.
Oh, and did I mention that this $120 includes our toiletries?
I will say this: our grocery budget is $120 per week right now because it has to be. My sweet spot would be $150 per week, but that’s just not in the budget currently. This means that right now we do without some things that I’d usually buy, or we are buying something cheaper (and less healthy) in place of something else. I’ll be talking more about this soon.
Also, we have made this transition slowly. It didn’t happen overnight, so I don’t encourage you to try to change things all at once either. Each week, or shopping trip, maybe try buying a little less. As you practice, you’ll determine what you can and can’t live without. Your necessities will be different than ours, but the principles will be the same.
On the whole, we developed countries eat far more than we actually need. And as our lives become more sedentary, we need even less. Will you be able to lower your grocery bill to $120/week? Maybe not (unless you are feeding fewer people), and you don’t necessarily need to. There is nothing special about spending as little money as possible. This post is simply because I was there once, looking for help feeding my family well on less than most people seemed to be spending. I figured there are probably others out there, too, and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.
If you are in a financial position where you have more than enough money to buy all the groceries you want, then maybe these posts aren’t for you. However, I am going to be tackling some deeper issues that the Lord has brought to my attention through living with less that might interest you. I would love for you to stick around and share your thoughts from your point of view.
So, for those looking to cut their grocery bill some, before you even worry about heading to the grocery store, here are some suggestions for right now:
- Eat your leftovers. Stop throwing food out. Make a point to eat your leftovers either for lunch the next day, or have one day a week where you don’t cook a new meal, but you eat all the leftovers in the fridge. Call it a “pot luck dinner” or something, and either let people choose which leftovers they want or simply give everyone a little of everything. Our leftovers get eaten for lunch, but we are all home everyday for lunch. If everyone is at work or school during the day you might need to make one evening a week a “leftovers for dinner” night.
- Eat the food currently in your house, i.e. the food in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. It doesn’t have to be “breakfast” food for you to eat it first thing in the morning, just like it doesn’t have to be “dinner” food to be the last meal of the day. Take a day or two, maybe more if you have lots of food sitting around, and eat what you have. If you have older kids, take a few days and let them eat whatever they want for breakfast and lunch. Literally, whatever. Let them pack their lunches with whatever they desire in the house. Their choices might surprise you. Do not spend more money on food until you absolutely have to.
I have loads more to say on the subject, and recipes for dinners for big families that are under $10 each, coming up. Until then, enjoy a small vaca from the grocery story. I think you’ll enjoy eating all the food your home is already filled with more than you realize.