Recently, I wrote a post about getting out of debt. In one of the ideas listed was to do a $20 a person grocery budget per week. I thought it was impossible, but after just 2 weeks of doing this (though I have to confess my groceries came to $42 and $41.05 respectfully) I was amazed that it could ACTUALLY be done. The key is just a little planning.
Here’s a few tips.
– Write your menu plan for the week including lunches and breakfast. It doesn’t mean you have to eat cereal on the day you planned BUT you know that you bought cereal for 3 days out of the week.
– Keep the menu items simple and use similar ingredients. We had “Asian” last week (my hubs Filipino fried rice last us for days!) so our meals of salad, fried rice and veggie soup all had similar ingredients. Breakfast included omelets, or smoothies.
– Use up what’s in your house first. You may to have be a little creative but a meal can be thrown together in as little as 3 ingredients. Can of soup + broccoli + rice. Boom dinner. e. Also EAT up everything. Seriously if you have to finish that stale bag of chips, you won’t waste them anymore.
– Shop with a list, and a calculator. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. If your amount is over your budget, something has to go back. This past week I put popcorn back, and I’m glad I did, since popcorn packs on the pounds!
– Bring cash only to the store, and leave the cards and checks at home. If $40 is all you have in your pocket and no extra means of getting cash, you HAVE to stay in budget.
– Go grocery shopping once a week. I used to go grocery shopping every other week, and then I went once a month. However, I realized that I was actually spending more money because we would run out staples so “early-on” and would have to wait for ever until the next trip. I would then just go ahead and buy it again anyway, and always spent more. Now I go every Thursday. Our stock up pile is pretty big so I usually just need a few fresh veggies, milk and bread. Plus, when you go once a week your shopping trip goes VERY quickly. It may not workout every week with some families with small children, but if you can manage, go.
– Stock up. Last week when we had Asian food, I bought a 5-lb bag of rice. This will last us FOR WEEKS, and I won’t have to keep buying it. I can plan a lot of meals around a bag of rice, so stocking up on staples is a good idea.
– Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where the fresher produce and healthier options are for you. The inside of the store has processed and canned foods. Some stores like Aldi’s aren’t set-up that way, but just keeping in mind where the healthier sections are will help you.
– Eat simply. Keep your menu to simple meals, and leave the extravagant recipes for special occasions or company. These meals will be more special if you don’t eat them as often, you will be healthier and save lots of money.
– Shop with a receipt app. My favorite has been check-out 51. After my shopping I look at the offers. This past week the offers were Apples, Milk and loaf of bread. Simply by taking a picture of my receipt with qualifying items, I received $2.25 back! That’s not alot but it adds up. After $25 Check-out 51 issues you a check. Cha-Ching! You can also use apps like Receipt Hog or Ibotta for similar benefits.
– If you’re a coupon er- put those coupons to work. However, only use coupons on items you were already going to buy. It can be easy to want to purchase items just because you get a good deal, but it’s a waste if you have no use for them.
– Limit or stop eating out. That includes Starbucks and trips to Wawa. This is especially hard for me, since I want to stop and get a soda or a coffee when I’m out running errands. Thankfully instead of drinking 3-4 sodas a day like I did years ago, I occasionally get one and it’s budgeted or if I have change. The biggest thing is, I tell myself NO more often, and it saves us a lot of money. Bringing a water bottle, or water with Ningxa Red or Ninga Nitro help curb that desire to get something out as well. In the end, I still have to tell myself NO. If eating out meals is your thing, bring lunches to work, or eat before you leave the house. Carrying snacks in your car is helpful if your out and about near meal-time. It’s a good challenge to try not going out to eat for ANYTHING for a whole week and see if you feel better. Also, check your bank account to see how much cash is still there.
– Realize that shopping with a budget, eating healthier, and not going out to eat is not about “depriving” yourself. It’s about making small decisions NOW that will benefit you later, whether it’s paying off debt, having more savings, or just being healthier, understanding and remembering our WHY will keep us motivated.