Today I am linking up with Shannon over at Baby Shmizz to discuss a subject near and dear to my heart: the grocery budget. Shannon has a weekly blog hop called She Works Hard for the Money that's all about the things we do to save some dough and even put a little in our pockets from time to time. I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to blog about one of the biggest things I do to save our family money. If you know me in real life, you probably know that I have a very strict grocery budget of $80 per week for our family of 3. I have often been asked "how do you DO that?" So today I'm going to tell you :)
First let me discuss the evolution of that $80 figure. My mom has always been great at saving money and scoring deals. When my brother and I were living at home, she could feed our family of 4 on $80 a week! No lie. Her approach was simple: she built her grocery list around the sale flyer each week, cut coupons, and avoided pricey or impulse buys. So when I moved into my studio apartment after graduating from grad school, I decided (rather arbitrarily) that my grocery budget would be $40 a week. I figured if my mom could feed 4 people on $80, I could feed lil' ole me on $40. It worked great for me, even without clipping coupons or even looking at the sale ad. Fast forward a few years: I'm now married to Hubs (who can EAT) and the $40 per week grocery budget isn't cutting it anymore. So, logically, I doubled it. And that's how I arrived at that number, and I haven't budged from it ever since. Here's how I keep the grocery budget in check, even with the addition of Sweetie Pea (who's eating more and more every day!):
- I always, always, always, without fail, plan a weekly menu before going shopping. If I know what I'm going to serve each day, there's no last minute running to the grocery store and overspending.
- I plan for leftovers at least 2 nights a week. In addition to saving money, this strategy is wonderful because it means I'm not cooking every night. Two nights a week I make a meal that will feed us the next night as well.
- When I make a soup or stew, I double the recipe and freeze the extra. A few weeks down the road, I can pull it out of the freezer for a fast, cheap meal (maybe add a salad or rolls).
- Beans are our friend! We don't eat a lot of meat in our house, which saves us a ton of money. Plus we really like black, kidney and cannellini beans, and lentils. They are tasty and super healthy!
- One night a week, we eat cheap. That means Annie's organic mac and cheese, grilled cheese and sweet potato fries, or tuna pita pockets. It's amazing how far that cheap meal will stretch the grocery money.
- I clip coupons from the Sunday circular, and I try to combine them with them a sale item whenever I can. It is so satisfying to get something like deodorant for 89 cents or less.
- I just say no to expensive items. I used to be able to include things like Hubs' overpriced razor refills or my Bumble and Bumble shampoo on the weekly grocery list, but when Sweets came along I needed that money to go further, so I booted them off the list. Sorry Hubs.
- I always shop with a calculator. You can call me a dork if you want, but my trusty calculator keeps me from blowing the budget. If I see that I'm getting close to my limit, I remove some items that can wait until next week.
- I breastfed and we cloth diaper. Not having to buy formula and diapers saves us like a jillion dollars. For reals.