Thursday, March 26, 2015

Six Easy Steps to Cut Your Grocery Bill by at least Half!

With my hubby in full time school and myself on an educators salary, our family has had to make a major adjustment  overhaul to our spending habits.

Back in the day we were those lucky people who pretty much didn't even check our paychecks to make sure they paid us appropriately (ok…Phil probably did, but I did not). I always just knew we had enough. It didn't really concern me how we spent our money. We were frugal (or so I thought!). It's not like we got Starbucks every day or ate out every night. We used sites like Groupon to save money. We paid attention to sales. We also spent upwards of about $120-150 on groceries each week and about the same amount on restaurant bills each week.

Well, there is spending with the idea that you are saving money and then there is actually saving money. We managed to take our $120-$150 weekly grocery bill ($300 if you add in restaurant bills) and slashed our costs to around $60 of weekly grocery costs (with under $50 a month in restaurant bills)!!! That's an over 50% reduction in weekly food costs! Here are just a handful of manageable ways that we reduced the grocery bill. You might be thinking there is no way that you can modify your current eating habits, yet these steps are so simple, you will be slapping your forehead in disbelief that you didn't start doing these earlier. We sure wish we had! We could have saved sooo much money!

1) Make a weekly menu plan and shop only once a week.

In the beginning, I attempted to do this on pre-printed fancy menu planning paper. I attempted to keep separate menu plans and grocery lists. I attempted to rewrite the menu on a little white board in our kitchen for display purposes. Then reality caught up with me and we just grabbed whatever piece of paper was around, jotted down the name of the recipe (and page if it came from a cookbook), along with all the necessary ingredients that we had to shop for. All in one spot. Then we just grab a magnet and stick it on the fancy display white board instead of going through all those extra steps. Sometimes I guess when people have less money they seem to have more time, but that's not us. We keep it real y'all! It's just a matter of making menu planning a priority. Once I decided I HAD to do it, I do it. Every Sunday morning, I create the plan and then go shopping that same morning.

2) Shop once a month in bulk (we shop Costco).

Costco truly saves us. I tried to cut out expensive cereal, yet we still really really like to eat cereal in the morning. My compromise has been buying one of the bulk cereal boxes at Costco each month and when we are through we are through. Costco keeps Phil's coffee addiction and my Chai Tea addiction going on the cheap. Instead of spending between $20-$30+ each week at Starbucks, we spend about $15 for the whole month. We grab one go to freezer meal for those nights you just really can't get to the menu planned meal. Our frozen meal of choice is spinach ravioli. We buy nuts, crackers, string cheese, and tortilla chips in bulk to tied us over with snack food. We stock up on canned goods. Amazingly we don't only eat rice and beans, but we certainly stock up on various beans, corn, and tomatoes to add to our super yummy vegetarian meals.

3) Cut out meat from your diet (or at least scale back to once a week).

This one may seem a little counter intuitive, yet we happen to be quiet snobby about our meat. We do like it, but we can't bring ourselves to eat industrialized meat. Eating local, grass fed, sustainably raised meats had really brought our grocery bill up to a whole other level. Hence we backed off and really only buy it once or twice a month. In the mean time we have a variety of vegetarian cook books and vegetarian recipes found on pinterest. We are currently cooking our way through Martha Stewarts Meatless and haven't found a bad recipe yet!

4) Only order out or eat out once or twice a month.

We used to go out A LOT. Not like every night a lot, but a lot. At least three times a week. That's not including all the weekend adventuring coffee, pastry, lunch, snacks purchased. Now we eat out once or twice a month. We truly stick with our menu plan. Sometimes we arrange which meals go on which day, but we don't let ourselves get convinced that eating out isn't that expensive, because it is. And do you know what we usually do when we go out or decide to order in? Pizza! Yes we miss a lot of restaurants, but our jam is just plain old fancy Zeeks, Zaw, or Papa Murphy's pizza!

a homemade butternut squash pasta instead of eating out

5) Make your own easy foods! (granola and hummus couldn't be easier!)

Because we have cut back on spending, our weekends have become a lot more low key and local. Thus we do have a bit of extra time for cooking ahead of time. Our go to, make at home, recipes have been hummus and granola. Each one you can customize to have a little different spin, yet they are so easy to make and end up tasting way better than store bought anyway. They are probably way healthier this way too as they contain no preservatives! If you want our go to recipes, check out my pinterest boards to find a few we've tried!

6) Don't buy alcohol.

This one is our toughest! Luckily we still have all three of our loving parents to continue to feed our love of wine and beer now and then, yet we have really cut back on purchasing alcohol each week. Now we will pick up a six pack or a bottle of wine for a special occasion with friends or family, but we cut back on our one drink most nights habit big time!

7) If it's not on the list….don't buy it!

This is so self explanatory, but probably the hardest one. Gone are the days of occasionally grabbing a magazine or even a candy bar in the check out line. We make it a point to shop when we are not going to be hungry, since being hungry does not help fight the urge to impulse buy!

If I haven't convinced you yet that you too can drop your grocery bill by at least half, let me remind you that we used to spend upwards of about $120-150 on groceries each week alone (not including restaurant bills) and now we are at a weekly grocery bill of around $60 a week (and minimal to no restaurant bills!).

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