I am writing this post to keep myself accountable. You see, I have been slacking on sticking to my grocery budget. Yes, food prices are up due to inflation, but I have not been heeding my own advice, causing me to spend more at the grocery store. So let’s go over my tips for saving money on groceries, and no, I’m not going to tell you to start clipping coupons.
I have two places to shop in my town—the discount grocery store and the bougie grocery store. The bougie grocery store is close to my house, never that crowded, so finding a parking spot is not a problem, and the staff is super friendly. They know me by name and ask how my family is doing. And it’s like the watering hole of the city. I always run into someone I know while shopping, which I don’t mind. As a work-from-home and stay-at-home mom catching up with people in the flesh is refreshing. But for all the convenience the bougie store brings, it also cost me in the end. So, my first tip is to suck it up and go to the overcrowded, unfriendly, bag your own groceries, discount store. Boo.
Here is my other problem with the discount store. I’m a sucker for things “on sale.” They have
racks with workout clothes, shelves full of kitchen gadgets, brand-name beauty products, and all the organic, gluten-free so-called healthy snack foods that I didn’t know I needed until I walked down the aisle. I always have a list when I go grocery shopping. That’s not the problem. The problem is only getting what is on said list when I’m bombarded with these other items. So my next tip is to stick to the list you brought and not buy all these fabulous, fun, and on-sale things. Easier said than done, I know
When I stick to my list and don’t add in anything extra, I assume that I am also sticking to my budget. But when the cashier tells me my total, I’m always shocked by how much it is. The only way to know how much you are spending is to add up the items you place in your cart as you go along. We all have a calculator on our phones. I know it’s not sexy, but pull the thing out and add it all up as you go. This one tip seriously saves me so much when I do it. But I usually remember to use my calculator about halfway through my shopping trip. Insert facepalm emoji, lol.
If you are doing all the above but still going over your budget, you might need to look at your meals. Complex meals with lots of ingredients are going to cost more. Simple meals with fewer ingredients will naturally cost less. We tend to make the same handful of dinners each week at our house. We eat a lot of tacos, spaghetti, and roast meat with veggies. Plus, simple meals usually mean fewer dishes to wash. Score!
Another thing we make sure we do is to eat all of our leftovers. The last thing you want to do is throw your money away by not eating them or that bag of lettuce that’s about to wilt hiding at the bottom of the crisper. My brother-in-law, who is a fantastic cook, never eats leftovers. It blows me away. He will spend the whole day making birria tacos from scratch and only eat one portion. Score for me, though, because he gives us all his leftovers. Kid you not, he will make a family-size frozen lasagna, eat one piece and give us the rest. Who raised this kid?
The last tip I have is to be frugal with expensive ingredients, like meat. For instance, if I make sliders on Monday for dinner, I will use about ¾ of a pound of ground beef for that dinner. Then the next night, I will use the remaining ¼ pound of meat for tacos. That isn’t very much meat to feed three people. So what I do is add some onions and either corn or bell peppers to the meat to make more taco filling. I'm able to get two satisfying dinners with just one pound of beef. Plus, I’m also getting my picky eight-year-old to eat more veggies. Win-win!
So maybe if we all shop at the discount grocery store, don’t get suckered into buying the fun “on-sale” items, stick to our list, add up the items with a calculator as we shop, make simpler meals, eat all our leftovers, and are frugal with expensive ingredients we will all stay within our budget each month. If you have any other tips, let us know in the comments.
If you don’t use a list when you shop, click on the digital download section. I designed a fun weekly meal and grocery list that you can print out for free and use on your next shopping trip.