Saving Money on Groceries
No matter how you slice it, in order to save money, you have to cut expenses. It’s the unfortunate truth of the world we live in. So many people have come to me exclaiming: “But there’s only so many things we can cut!” And for the most part, they have cut a lot from their expenses. They’re learning to live without shampoo, without cable, without the “luxuries” we normally allow ourselves. However, the area in which people struggle the most to save is when it comes to food. Saving money on groceries is HARD.
That’s pretty simple: food is an essential item. We need food to survive. We cannot simply cut food from our spending because it would be detrimental to our health.
It’s true. There isn’t a ton we can do to get rid of the expense. However, saving money on groceries is entirely possible and I’m about to tell you how my wife and I spend less than $200 per month for food. Here goes!
Saving Money on Groceries
There are many strategies to help with saving money on groceries, but I promise this won’t be a list of places to go cut coupons. Okay, I know that coupons could probably save me a ton of money. And I also understand that if you use them right, you can legitimately get free groceries.
The amount of time it takes to get the coupons, learn how to use them, and then drive around to multiple different stores is a turn-off for me though. I can’t help it. I’m sure that I will get to that point someday, where I’m not working a full-time (plus some) job and running my blog while still trying to work some side hustles to pay off debt. I’m sure I’ll get to the point where coupon cutting is worth the time for me.
That time simply isn’t now.
So, I’m here to say, for all you other busy, go-getters, for all you SAHMs / SAHDs, for all you entrepreneurs, for all you college kids, and for all you anybodies out there who simply don’t have the time to devote to coupon-cutting, there’s another way.
Last month, my wife and I spent less than $200 for groceries. This month? It should be the same – if not lower. How are we doing this? How do we feed ourselves, our dog, and buy housing supplies / cleaning supplies / hygiene products all for under $200?
It’s not that hard. Let’s break it down into three steps:
Saving Money on Groceries means Learning to Make it Yourself
One of the biggest things I notice when I am talking to people about budgets is that they complain that everything is simply too expensive. While I agree that inflation has sky-rocketed the prices of everything we purchase (it’s really hard to say no to that one, right?), I also think that people are paying for convenience more than they like to admit.
A friend of mine came to me and asked how I spent so little on food for the month. I responded with by explaining the three steps in this blog – I live without, I plan ahead, and I learn to make things myself. That’s when I was met with the response that makes me chuckle every time:
“Well, you still buy the basic essentials right? Bread, pasta, veggies, meat, milk…”
The list goes on, but you get the point. Without fail the items “bread,” “pasta,” and “milk” are always on this list. Why? Because our culture has become overwhelmed with convenience. We have been led to believe that convenience is a staple.
I do buy the “staples” but these are very different on my end than on yours. My staples include yeast and flour for bread and pasta, a box of dry milk which is priced astronomically cheaper than the refrigerated milk, and baking soda and vinegar to cover all of my cleaning supplies and hygiene products (for the most part). Basically, I’ve learned to make it myself and it has made all the difference.
Still not sure? Check out these posts for cost analysis and how-to:
Saving Money on Groceries means Living Without
The next thing people say when they ask about saving money on groceries is: “What about treating yourself?” Then they’ll go on to tell me about how they work such-and-such long, hard hours a week for their money and they deserve to eat this expensive food.
Which brings me to one of the most complicated points I strive to make: It is difficult for us, as humans living within this day and age, to live within our means.
Why? Well, I could talk about that for another whole blog post, but I won’t. If you want to hear some of my why, I talk about it in another blog post HERE about How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt for GOOD.
So, whether you deserve to eat fancy, expensive food all the time isn’t really the question anymore. Now it’s about whether you should treat yourself once in a while. Well, here’s my thoughts on this: I want steak. I love steak. Steak is on my top one lists of favorite foods that I can’t live without. In fact, meat in general is just one of my favorite things ever. Yet it’s expensive and I am in debt. So, what does this mean?
Simple: If we want to spend less on groceries and pay back our debt quicker, we have to give up some of our wants – even if that means having more meatless meals and eating steak less often.
Now, I want you to know that it’s okay to treat yourself once in a great while, but don’t go overboard and use your “fun” money to pay for it. Remember: if it’s not in your budget, it’s not worth it.
If you’re interested in more on this topic, visit this post on Huffington Post:
Saving Money on Groceries means Learning to Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is the most essential way that I can tell you to start saving money on groceries. Keep track of the food you have in your home. Experiment with the food you already have at home and create meals you never imagined. When you run out, plan ahead before you buy more groceries.
Creating a meal plan means that you are more likely to stick to your budget for many reasons. First of all, you are less likely to eat out if you have a meal planned and ready to be made at home. Why? Because it’s easy. One of the top reasons that we grab fast food on the way home from work is convenience, right? We all know it doesn’t taste quite as good as home cooking, so that’s the main reason. So, if you have the food ready in a convenient way, you’re less likely to spend the money on fast food – even if that means doing some meal prepping over the weekend.
Second of all, if you plan your meals ahead and shop for those meals, you’re less likely to make grocery store trips. My wife and I go shopping once every two weeks and pick up the groceries we need for two weeks worth of menu planning and it works for us. The thing is: when you don’t shop for specific meals, it’s easy to say you’ll just run out and grab something to finish the meal which leads to more spending.
Both of these reasons prove the importance of planning ahead, but if you don’t believe me, check out this example:
Let’s say you decide make breakfast for dinner one night on a whim. You get off work and head toward home, but you realize that you don’t have all of the ingredients. You have three choices at this point:
- Go home and try to find something else for dinner (GOOD choice, but unlikely because we are conned into believing that convenience is necessity)
- Go to the store, head to the back to pick up your ingredients, see a bunch of other things you “need,” spend $30 by the time you leave the store.
- Head to the nearest fast food place and buy food for your family for $30.
It’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Planning ahead can make all the difference.
Plus, I’ve got this great post on how to make a really cute menu board to plan your meals, check it out HERE: Stylish DIY Menu Board
Saving Money on Groceries
Overall, remember that it’s important to work on saving money on groceries, but it probably won’t happen all at once and that’s okay. Start with learning how to make something from scratch, then try something new, and work your way up from there. Above all, remember that you can do this. Mindset is everything.
Saving money on groceries isn’t that hard when you implement these steps. Here’s a quick recap:
- Learning to make things from scratch – like shampoo, bread, pasta, and more!
- Learning to live without – you may want to treat yourself once and a while and that’s okay, but don’t go overboard.
- Learning to plan ahead – make a menu for your meals and stick to it!
Would it be helpful if we shared our meal plans at some point?
Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money through Fronto, Ibotta, and other companies, and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.