Whenever people hear that I spend under $450 a month for groceries they are shocked. I have had people tell me that they spend several hundreds of dollars a week to over a $1000 a month on groceries. According to a report released by the USDA in January of 2017, the average family of four spends anywhere from $550 to $1300 a month depending on shopping habits (2017). So how do I spend under $115 a week on groceries? I have learned that in order to save money you need to attack grocery shopping strategically. I have never been fond of coupon cutting although I did briefly dabble in coupons a few years ago but I found I spent more money with coupons not less. I learned that the best way to stick to a budget was to create a flexible meal plan, get rid of the “go to” store, and create and stick to an organized shopping list.
The first step towards saving money on your grocery budget is creating a flexible meal plan. I have tried to map out my meals day by day but this isn’t feasible with our family’s hectic lifestyle. Also, I like to fly by the seat of my pants and what I want for dinner one night may not be what was on the meal planner. Creating a flexible meal planner is what works best for us and I love its simplicity. Basically, I sit down and I figure out what meals I am going to make throughout the week. I purchase only the ingredients necessary to make those meals and while I am locked into those meals for the week I have enough flexibility to maneuver things around as needed. Here is an example of my weekly meal plan for dinner:
Feb 23rd- Mar 1
Lasagna, garlic bread & salad– two nights
Baked potato soup– 1 night
Sloppy Joes and french fries– 1 night
Broccoli, Chicken & Rice Casserole– 3 nights
I know what we are eating throughout the entire week but I am not locked into making lasagna on a night where I only have enough energy to make the sloppy joes and fries. I feel that rigid meal plans set you up for failure because when things run late or you are tired you may opt for a drive thru run because you fell off your meal plan. When I plan out my meal plan for the week I make it a mixture of quick and easy recipes and a recipe that takes a minute to prepare. This way on a night when things run late I make something quick and easy and I am not tempted to grab takeout.
You may be wondering what I meant by getting rid of your “go to” store and I will explain. Grocery stores are good at getting the loyalty of their customers and while this can be beneficial for shoppers there is a downside. Grocery stores cycle their sales some weeks they will promote great deals that will save you lots of money on your groceries but usually they back that up with one to two weeks of not so great sales. These stores depend on your loyalty to bring you back even on those weeks where the sales are dismal and chances are you probably do just that. It is okay to keep your favorite grocery store in your back pocket but get to know several other stores in your area. Every week get the store ads luckily, this is becoming easier because most stores have a digital ad you can access online. Look over the sales and choose the store that has the best sale going. Ignore the part of you that wants to go to the store that you are most comfortable with and this will help you save money.
Once you have reviewed the store ads for the week you can begin to create your grocery list. Make sure that you take a grocery list because winging it at the store always leads to more money out of pocket. Only put the items you need for the week on the list and make sure when you are in the store that you only purchase those items. When I write out my list I like to separate things by department because this prevents me from hunting and pecking for my items through the store. The more organized your list the faster you will be able to get in and out of the store. The more time you spend in the store the more likely you are to purchase things that aren’t on your list which will quickly throw you over budget.nce
These are the three major ways I have strategized my grocery shopping and this has helped me save so much money. Other ways I save money is that we keep breakfast and lunches simple in our house. For breakfast we eat cereal, eggs or pancakes and lunch is usually a peanut butter and jelly. I like to keep fresh fruit, veggie sticks, and granola bars on hand for snacks. Hard boiled eggs are another go-to snack in our house because the kids can grab them out of the fridge quickly. With the money we save on groceries I am able to put that money aside so that I can purchase books and supplies for our homeschool. This helps out quite a bit especially since we are now living on just my husband’s income. If you are spending too much on groceries give my way a try. Create a flexible meal plan, figure out who has the best sale and get your list organized you will be shocked at how much money you save.
I would love to hear how other moms are saving money on their groceries. If you give my way a try let me know how it goes I would love to hear how much money you were able to save.
USDA. Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, U.S. Average, January 2017. Retrieved from