*This is the 5th day of the One Month Spending Freeze Challenge. Please click here to see all of the posts in this series.*
Before we started our spending freeze last year, I was spending about $100 a week on groceries. Each week when I would get to the checkout and hear the cashier say how much money all this food was costing, I cringed inside. It was the first time in our marriage that I was spending so much. I would do everything I could to try and lower it, but somehow it was always going higher than I wanted.
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When we started the spending freeze last summer, there was no way I could continue spending $100 a week, so I had to evaluate what the problem was. It took some trial and error, but I finally discovered several reasons why I was spending more than I wanted.
Not All Groceries Are Needs
One of the biggest reasons I was spending too much money was that I was buying foods that really were non-essential to our diets. If you desire to lower your grocery bill, you must remember that not ALL groceries are a NEED.
Some foods provide little to no nutritional value and can easily be replaced with other healthier alternatives. Need some examples?
- Ice cream – Make smoothies at home instead
- Fruit snacks – Fresh or dried fruit is a great snack for kids
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese – Use cheaper cheese
- Diet Pepsi – Water is a great replacement
When I stopped buying the gummy bears, breakfast cereal, and freshly grated parmesan cheese nearly every single time I went shopping, I started to see a drop in how much we were spending.
To take it a step further, I started waiting to go shopping until I really needed to. We always had food in our pantry, fridge, and freezer that we could eat for a day or a few days before I absolutely had to return to the grocery store.
Anyone Can Spend Less on Groceries
There is one very large reason why I want to address this topic early on in the challenge. A lot of families spend far too much on groceries, and it is VERY possible to lower the amount they spend.
Before we tackle our grocery budgets today, I need you to read 6 Steps to Determine Your Family’s Unique Grocery Budget. This post will help you understand all the factors that go into a grocery budget and why you spend what you do on them.
Did you read it?
The fifth step to determine your grocery budget is all about the amount of work you put into it. Because we are trying to spend as little as possible this month, and only on our needs, it’s imperative that you work on lowering the amount of money you spend on groceries this month.
16 Ways to Lower Your Grocery Budget…and FAST!
As my family has continued this long spending freeze journey, we have done better and better at lowering our grocery budget. Here are just a few ideas we have used that you can use to help lower yours…and fast! I have included links if you want to know more about a certain topic.
- Cut out the non-essentials (a.k.a. soda pop, chips, juice, packaged cookies, ice cream, etc.)
- Use a pantry staples list.
- Meal plan.
- Always cook at home.
- Make simple meals (a.k.a. protein, veggie, and starch).
- Use substitutions.
- Go shopping less. I would suggest only once a week, and even less often if that’s possible.
- Buy food that is cheaper per pound or ounce (but don’t buy something in bulk just because it’s cheaper. You need to use that food before it goes bad).
- Use the food in your house before going shopping for more. Do a fridge, freezer, and pantry inventory sheet and be sure you don’t buy duplicates!
- Stretch your meat over several meals.
- Send a packed lunch with your spouse and kids to work and school.
- Only bother with coupons if you can find ones for foods you actually need.
- If you have a baby, make their food rather than buy jars and pouches.
- Use cash to pay for your groceries so you will stick to the amount you have.
- Freeze leftover food so you don’t have to throw it out.
- Be flexible with your shopping list. Buy produce in season and on sale.
I am positive that there is at least one tip above that you could start working on right now to lower your family’s grocery budget. Use these tips throughout the month as you do the spending freeze challenge, and don’t forget about them later when it’s over.
Now that we have been working on our grocery budget and implementing all these different ideas, we sometimes spend as little as $40 a week on groceries. The highest it usually goes is about $70. I don’t have to cringe anymore, and we’re being as diligent with our food as we can be.
How do you save money on groceries?