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The grocery budget is the one sacred items many Mamas resist cutting while paying off debt.
I certainly felt this way thinking we wouldn’t be able to make it on less.
When I realized that other families like the Money Mustache family eat for less in my state, it inspired us to do the same.
Our budget was over $450 before instituting a strict $75 per week goal.
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At first, I didn’t know how we’d make this new grocery budget happen.
But, really we only had to make a few simple changes to our eating methods.
Now, we save thousands of dollars just by eating less.
Here’s what you can try to make it happen in your home.
Make it at home.
If someone else makes it, packages it, and brings it to the store to sell, it’s likely more expensive than making from scratch.
Makes sense, right?
Prepared foods can be more expensive than handmade ones.
Where it’s easy to implement, try to make the majority of your meals at home.
Some ideas to get you started are
- Pasta sauce
- Rustic crusty bread (no knead)
- Sweet potato fries
- Seasoning packets
Count the ingredients
The number of ingredients in food can sometimes reflect how expensive it is.
In my experience, items with many ingredients usually cost more than simple, one-ingredient items.
If a manufacturer has to make the food in a lab, then the consumer pays for that ultimately by paying higher prices.
The hack here is to look at labels.
Generic labels sometimes are just as good or better than branded foods. It pays to try it.
There’s usually a great frugal alternative to keep you fed and your wallet fuller, too.
Batch cook and use bulk
Cooking can be much easier if you’re open to eating leftovers.
Cooking multiple meals at once through batch cooking eliminates the time needed to cook every night.
It also keeps leftovers ready to go for the Monday hustle.
Using up your bulk foods items and freezing the leftovers can be a big with for a tired mama.
Some great freezable meals are
- Spaghetti with roasted vegetables
- 9×13 casseroles
- Shredded meat slow cooker taco bowls
- Turkey burgers wrapped with lettuce and rice
Eat more rice
There’s a reason why the debt free community talks about “beans and rice, rice and beans.”
Eating beans and rice is nutritionally complete and affordable on most budgets.
Rice has so many advantages because it’s tolerated by many tastebuds and keeps well over several days.
The beauty of rice is that it can go as a side dish one meal and in soup the next.
If you’re a mom, it can feel good knowing your child is getting affordable good-for-you whole grains.
Look critically at advertisements.
Sometimes sales ads appear better than they are.
The layout of the ads have prices in bold bright colors splashing across the pages.
It makes it look like there’s deals around every corner.
To stock up on great deals, try using a price book for a month or two.
The layout of the ads might appear to be a “deal” when, really, the price is the same for months.
A coupon or on sale product isn’t a deal if you don’t need it.
Opt for fresh.
Fresh can be really affordable if you opt for simple recipes and buy produce that has a longer shelf life like bananas, oranges, and apples.
When you compare the snack of prepared biscuits or a small piece of fruit, you’ll come out ahead buying in-season produce over prepared products.
Use a deep freezer.
If you have the space, a used deep freezer can save loads of cash!
The deep freeze can house meats, casseroles and any other prepared items you want to eat later.
It’s easier to buy extras of on-sale items if you can freeze what you can’t eat immediately.
Sometimes, grocery stores will sell meat at half-off, which is a great time to buy extra.
Make a price book for a month.
Among other frugal ideas, I learned this idea from the Tightwad Gazette, my frugality bible of sorts.
It can be overwhelming to enter the grocery store and see “on sale” prices everywhere.
Not all of them are as great of a deal as advertised in my opinion.
The only way to know if something is a good deal is to track it in a notebook as I mentioned above.
You don’t have to track for long to know if what you’re buying is priced well or not.
You’ll be amazed at some of the in-store banners that scream “low prices” that might not be.
On the other side, knowing what a great price chicken is, for example, might encourage you to stock up.
You might have more abundance than you think if you
- Cram foods into your refrigerator
- Can’t find what’s in your pantry within five seconds
- Have food that’s gone bad in your freezer.
Use abundance to your advantage.
Before making your shopping list, shop all the places in your home that stores food.
Plan meals around what you have. It might even save a trip to the store.
If you have a running total of what you have on hand, meal planning becomes so.much.easier.
- Awesome tips to make your first budget
- These 4 frugal snacks cost pennies to make!
- 5 ways parenting has made me more frugal
What are your secrets to killing the food budget?