Your grocery bill is the most flexible area of your household budget.
A few of the first things I do, whenever we're in a crunch for money, is look at how much we're spending on food, crazy items that we don't need or use, and how much we're spending at the grocery store. It's usually around birthdays, holidays, or a party when I really start to freak because those times are usually when we're spending the most. That's when we (myself actually) starts working on budgeting our grocery bill.
I usually go over our budget MONTHLY, but there are times I slack off a little and think, “Yo, I got this!” but I really don't! That's when we hit problems and have to pull out a credit card that I have set aside for emergencies only just to pay for groceries or gas in one of the vehicles. I can tell you from experience, this is NOT great. I've probably put us in the hole more than I should have because I thought “I had it” but I really didn't.
Correctly budgeting your grocery bill can save you hundreds a month if you do it right.
Eliminate eating out, Period
- O.K. if your family is screaming mad at you then take them out at least once a month. Make it an occasion. Your family will appreciate a dinner out much more when it's not such a regular event. Consider it “quality time out”. And, remember to look for coupons good at local restaurants for additional savings.
Minimize the use of convenience foods
- You can make it yourself for a fraction of the cost, try it! Many of us are so accustomed to convenience foods that we forget we can make it ourselves. You'll find substitute recipes for everything from baking mixes to shake and bake and salad dressing. All it takes is a little extra time. Even if you had to pay yourself for doing the cooking you would come out ahead. Cakes, bread, muffins, pastries, pizza doughs, pancakes, and waffles all come in a variety of pre-packaged mixes. Make your own for not much more effort and a lot less money!
- Use Amazon Prime Pantry and buy a lot of your necessary items in bulk, especially if you and your family have food restrictions as my family does. Since we're following a Keto Diet, it's easier for us to buy the sweeteners, flours, etc through Amazon Prime Pantry. It's more cost effective and I don't have to worry about running out because it's delivered on a schedule.
Do your homework
- Know what's on sale by checking the weekly sales flyers. Before you even do your weekly or bi-weekly grocery shop, make sure you know what the deals are and plan your trip. I love grocery shopping at places like ALDI. Lower prices, quality food, and I have learned how to meal plan around what I can get there.
Meal Plan for the entire month
- Investing a little extra time in planning will help maximize grocery savings and reduce the food budget!
- If planning for the entire month, scares you, start off planning weekly, then for every two weeks, and move your way up to full month plans.
Eat meatless meals at least twice a week
- Beans and rice are a good example. You can often swap out your meat (at least ground beef) for some delicious black bean and make burgers, meatloaf, etc.
- Egg dishes are a nice change in routine for dinner. You really can't go wrong with having a little breakfast for dinner once in awhile either.
- Try a vegetable stir-fry or casserole. Swap out your rice for some cauliflower, or use spaghetti squash or zucchini for noodles.
Build your coupon file
- It seems coupons are available everywhere now. Your newspaper is a great starting point.
- Pay careful attention when looking through magazines. These are easy to miss. I often find coupons in the home, ladies, or cooking magazines.
- I have used the binder method in the past, but the accordion folder methods work great also.
- Make sure you find the method that works for you and stick with it.
Sitting down and budgeting your grocery bill really isn't that hard!
But you have to DO IT!
You can't half-ass it.
You have to sit down, be honest with yourself and that paper in front of you and be honest.
I have an awesome budgeting printable (you can sign up to receive when you join my mailing list) that will help you with budgeting your household and it comes with awesome meal planning sheets also. Use them, they are important if you're wanting to stay on budget.