When Phillip and I decided I could stop working full time, we took a serious look at our budget. We would be okay, but things would have to tighten up to make it work on essentially one income. Things got even more real when Phillip came to me after our daughter was only a few months old and told me he was quitting his job and going into business for himself (insert new hormonal mom freak out here)! Needless to say, I knew I had to get serious about cutting back on our spending, and being that most of our expenses were pretty much set the way they were, I knew the first place to really make an impact on our budget would be our food bill. But knowing that I wasn’t a huge coupon person, I knew I was going to have to get creative. And with a little bit of planning some creativity, I can happily share with you how I was able to cut our food bill in half without coupons (hint, meal planning plays a part, so I’m hooking you up with a free printable!).
– Make a meal plan: Like many other budget moms will tell you, having a meal plan and sticking to it makes a huge difference! It not only helps you organize and see what it is you need to buy for the week, but it also helps minimize the chances of running into those nights where you don’t have anything planned for dinner and end up spending extra money at a restaurant or ordering out!
– Take a second look at your recipes: Another thing I found that really helped save money with my groceries, is when I sit down to make my meal plan, I look to see what meals I can make that involve a lot of the same ingredients. Am I making burgers this week? Why not also do meatballs that weekend? Take a look at some of your family’s recipes and you may be surprised at how many call for similar ingredients.
– Make a list and stick to it: Making a list when you’re creating your meal plan is also an essential way to save money because it limits your impulse buying. This one was HUGE for me! Whenever I go into a grocery store unprepared I end up overspending and missing a few essential ingredients along the way. Make your list and stick to it!
– Consider shopping at a bulk store: I have found I save a good bit on my grocery bill by shopping for the items that we use more frequently at our local Sam’s Club. Yes, you do have to pay for an annual membership to shop there, but I have found that the money I save shopping there more than makes up for it. Anything that we go through on a pretty regular basis we buy there (meat, eggs, coffee, etc). I can only speak to Sam’s Club, but I found they have really great prices for organic produce which was super exciting for this mama since “organic” usually meant it wasn’t in my budget. Bonus: I also discovered Sam’s carries a selection of Carter’s clothing at a great discount!
– Make a few meals in advance: I know meal prepping can be a bit time consuming, but if you’re like a lot of moms and have a crazy busy lifestyle, having one or two meals in the freezer on those nights where you just don’t have the time can seriously save you on your food budget.
– Stop eating out as much: I know this one is tough, but if you really want to get serious about your food budget this one has to go. Sure you can set a little aside for special occasions, but eating out on the regular can be a black hole on your food budget. I know it’s hard, but it is so doable. And if you keep a few of those freezer meals on stand by and have a meal plan already in the works you may find that it’s not so hard after all. And bonus: not only will your wallet thank you, but your waistline will too!
– Minimize your meat budget: I have found that meat can take up a huge chunk of the grocery budget. So I have found that by choosing meals that use the same meats I can make my meat budget stretch a little further. I tend to stick with ground turkey and chicken breasts. I’ll grab what I can afford at my Sam’s Club and then divide it up, stock it away in the freezer and stretch it out over the course of a few weeks. If I can get more than one meal out of the meat I want to buy then I’ll get it, but if it can’t play well with multiple meals then I save it for special occasions.
– Limit brand loyalty: a lot of times you can save a good bit if you try store brands or grab brands that are on sale. I know we all love our favorite brands, but sometimes it’s worth getting cozy with another one if it saves you some cash.
– Cut back (or all together) on the alcohol: this one can be a hard one for some if you love your glass of vino every night (trust me, I get it!). But I think we can all agree that alcohol can have a huge hit on your grocery bill. We don’t get any on the regular anymore just to save money. When we do I like to use my Ibotta and Shopkicks apps to make sure I can try and get a little money back on the purchase.
– Use shopping apps to earn some cash back: I’m a big fan of Ibotta and Shopkicks with my grocery shopping. Ibotta gives you money back if you buy any of the rebate items they have available that week. They have everything from produce to baby items to alcohol, and while the rebates tend to be on the smaller amounts they quickly add up if you get into the habit of using the app. Shopkicks is another favorite. It doesn’t give you a direct cash rebate, instead, it allows you to earn “kicks” (points) for walking into certain stores (like your grocery store), scanning certain items (you don’t even have to buy them), and for buying certain items. These kicks quickly add up and can be cashed out for coupons to some of your favorite stores (like Target, Starbucks, Old Navy and TJ Maxx).
Honestly, this is just scratching the surface on ways to start saving on your food budget. All you really need to get started is a little creativity and some organization. Lucky for you, I have a free meal planning printable to help get you started!
Click here for your free meal planning printable!
What are you favorite ways to save on your food budget?