For so long, I used to spend so much money every month on groceries! It was literally throwing money away! We had no money left over at the end of the month. No money to save. No money in case of an emergency. No money to have some fun with, and a very HIGH-stress level.
One day we decided to try out an experiment to see if we could sort out our finances in this area of our lives and pull ourselves out of bad spending habits.
It changed our lives and we would never dream of going back.
Here are my four steps to saving money with groceries:
1. Set a monthly limit.
This will depend on your income and family size. We are a family of three, plus a little dog. We budget our month at $400. As my son grows, we will have to increase it but for now, it works.
2. Withdraw the cash amount.
Withdraw at the start of the month. This works because you can physically see what you are spending. Do NOT have this cash on hand. Only take the money with you when you have planned to go to the shops to buy groceries and toiletries. This way if you are out "window shopping," you will not be able to burn your budget.
3. Shop once a month.
Let's be honest, every time we go shopping we do buy a bit more than what is on our list. This way, it limits how much extra you spend. The only exception is bread and milk which is bought weekly. For those weekly bread and milk shopping trips, make sure to take just enough cash to buy it.
4. Meal Prep
I don't mean spend hours making and then freezing your meals every month, that would be exhausting to me. I mean have a weekly schedule of what you will eat. This helps you to shop for exactly what you need and you don't overspend.
My weekly meal schedule looks like this:
- Monday - Meatless Monday
- Tuesday - Meat (Beef, lamb, pork, etc.)
- Wednesday - Soup (To give my digestive system a break)
- Thursday- Chicken, turkey, etc.
- Friday - Fish and seafood
- Weekend - Whatever weekend
5. Count your savings.
There will be months when you have money left over. I have had $50 left over and I have also had months with $0.50 left over. What I do is put it in a container and then in December, I will take a little bit and it pays for Christmas without having to spend extra money. What is left over from that, we then deposit into our savings account. This is money that you have saved and you can choose to play or invest it. Or both.
Good luck with your food budget. It's lots of fun once you get started.