Let’s face it – eating healthy can be expensive. Actually, groceries in general are expensive – and in today’s economy it is important to stretch your family’s budget in any area that you can. Next to our house payment, our grocery budget is our family’s largest monthly expensive. That is mostly because we eat almost exclusive at home. All three of us pack our lunches and snacks for work and school each morning, and other than an occasional meal out, we eat at home.
The mister is our family’s chef, so he plans out all of our meals for the week, making some ahead of time for night’s that he has to work late and even making all of Eben’s breakfasts and lunches for the week on the weekend. He does all of our cooking from scratch and says that this is the single best way to save money. Since boxed foods are expensive and packed full of perservatives, I agree that cooking from scratch is the way to go.
However, there are other ways that you can save money on your grocery shopping bill, and these ways are also great on the environment too. Read on to get started and save some money in grocery budget in 2014:
1. Track Your Food Budget
Keep all of your grocery shopping receipts for an entire month and place them in an envelope in your kitchen or office. At the end of the month, tally up your food spending for the month. Then, spend some time analyzing your spending to determine what items you could cut from your shopping list and where you could save money. Take that total dollar amount and divide it by four, that is your new food budget for the month – now stick to it for the entire year. By doing this alone, you should be able to cut down on your grocery budget considerably.
2. Stick to the Budget and the List
Once you have established a budget for your grocery shopping, the next step is to make a list and stick to it. I like to organize my list by the layout of my grocery store. I divide it into different sections; produce, dairy, dried goods, household items, etc; This makes it much easier to ensure that I don’t miss anything and don’t have to track back to one area once I have moved on. Most importantly, you have to commit to only purchasing what is on that list and avoid all impulse buying – tell yourself if it isn’t on the list, I am not buying it.
3. Join A CSA Or Co-op
A CSA (community supported agriculture) gives you the opportunity to develop a relationship with your local farmers and is a simple concept that can have a profound impact not only your health but on the farm that you support and your local community. We have found that by building a relationship with our local farmer, she is willing to give us any surplus produce at a discounted rate.
Another great option is a food co-op, which is is a collectively owned grocery store. The common goal of a co-op is to bring together a community by providing products that are eco-friendly, organic, fair trade, and socially responsible, many food co-ops will have the option to purchase items in bulk – which can save you money in the long run.
4. Meatless Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday….
Let’s face it organic meat is expensive, not only on our food budget but also on the health of our families and the environment. In our home we do still consume some fish and poultry, however when we eat those proteins we treat them as a side dish and not the main course. We try to have a meatless dinner several times a week, and this has definitely cut down on the size of our grocery bill and our family feels healthier too!
5. Buy More Vegetables and Fruits
In our home, we plan our weekly menus based on what we find in our bi-weekly CSA box (when we are a member of one). We plan meals that are plant based and have found that not only is this great on our budget, it has really boosted our health. We have replaced our regular morning breakfast with smoothies and green juices made using the fresh fruits and vegetables that we receive in our CSA box. If you don’t have a local CSA, other great options include the farmer’s market and produce stands. Eating more fruits and vegetables has not only shrunk our budgets but our waistlines are shrinking too – and that is a good thing!
What ways have you found to cut your grocery store spending?
The photo is from our stop at our local produce stand – they have the best selection and are a great way to supplement any items that we run out of in between CSA boxes.