When it comes to spending money on groceries, I feel like I sit in the middle of two camps:
1) Spending money on healthy food is an investment in our health and the best way to prevent disease
2) Mama loves a bargain
Good news. You can happily sit it both camps! I feed our family for about $11 a day. (Can you hold on a second while I go do a happy dance? Didn’t realize it was so low until I did these calculations! Yee haw!)
A little context:
- We are a family of three: two adults and a preschooler
- My husband and I both work from home, so we usually eat three meals and about two snacks a day at home
- Max goes to daycare four days a week and lunch is included in his tuition, so he only eats two meals at home four days a week, and three meals and two snacks at home three days a week
- Our grocery budget is exclusively for food (no paper towels, dish soap, etc. included)
- We never buy alcohol or supplements (vitamins, protein powders, etc.)
- We do not eat out very often– maybe one or two times per month
By the numbers:
- On average we eat 59 meals and 34 snacks per week at home
- Monthly grocery budget: $350
- Average monthly spend: $322
- Average weekly spend: $74
So, I feed our family of three for about $11 per day. BOOM! **fist bump emoji!**
My tiny assistant wanted to “help” me take the photo so he climbed up in his booster seat… needless to say this was a quick photo shoot. #savethemilk
Here are some of my tricks for saving at the store:
Shop the sales: Before planning our dinners for the week ahead I look at the grocery store ads online to see what’s on sale. I base my meals around the sale flyer, so for example, if chicken is not on sale I won’t plan any chicken recipes. If there’s a great deal on avocados or cheese, I’ll probably plan at least one Mexican meal (any excuse to eat guacamole, really).
Shop at more than one store: Okay, I get that this one can be a bit of a pain. I happen to live within five miles of more than six grocery stores (100% serious– it’s nuts) so it’s not a huuuuge inconvenience to make two stops. I do the majority of my shopping at Aldi, and fill in the gaps at Kroger or Sprouts (I choose which “extra” store to shop at based on what is on sale). Aldi is a pretty small store, so if I stick to my list I can usually get in and out in about 20 minutes; and because my list for Kroger or Sprouts usually isn’t long I can get in and out pretty quickly there, too. All in all it doesn’t end up taking me that much longer to shop two stores. (Tip: Try shopping at off-peak hours, too, like mid-week and in the evening. The stores are less crowded so you can get in and out quicker.)
Have personal price limits and stock up: With meat, in particular, I have certain limits in mind. For example, I know I can get boneless chicken breasts and pork loin for $1.99/pound, so I only buy those two items when they hit the $1.99/pound mark. When it hits this price I usually buy the family pack or two regular packages. When I get home I trim the meat to portion sizes and freeze the pieces flat in quart sized freezer bags). Since we only eat meat a couple times per week, this usually lasts quite a while.
Know prices of foods you frequently purchase: There are some items that I purchase every single week: whole milk, almond milk, eggs, bananas, bag of spinach, bag of carrots, etc. I have a rough idea in my head of how much each of these items cost at the grocery stores I frequent when they are not on sale. I buy it at the cheapest store, but if one of those items goes on sale at another store I automatically know if it’s a better deal.
Use a coupon if you have one: Several years ago I tried to get in to the whole couponing fad, but it took me forever and I found I was sometimes just buying something because it was a good deal (and not necessarily because we needed it). That being said, I do flip through any coupons that happen to come in the mail, and sometimes Kroger sends coupons in the mail that are based off my past shopping history (intel they have from my shopper’s card). If I’m wanting to try a new product that I know is going to be pricier than I prefer, sometimes I’ll do a quick search online to see if I can find a printable coupon.
Eat what you already have on hand: About once a month I make myself delay going to the grocery store as long as possible. It can take a little creativity, but I can usually get a few dinners out of what we have on hand in the pantry and the freezer. I’ll survey what we have and hit up Pinterest for ideas by searching for whatever two ingredients I have the most of.
Make big dinners: I try and make dinners that feed six to eight people so we can have leftovers for lunch the next day. Not only does this save time, but it’s also a good way to stretch a dollar as I usually don’t have to buy separate ingredients for lunches.
Eat a semi-vegetarian diet: I feel a little self-promotional here as “eat a semi-vegetarian diet” is the whole premise of this website, but it is a money saving tactic I employ. Beans, lentils, eggs, tofu, and tempeh are really inexpensive compared to meat. It’s a great way to stretch your grocery budget and still have filling, delicious meals every night.
It’s important to me that my family eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, but saving money is really important to me, too. The strategies I use don’t take that much time, and once you get used to the process, it really doesn’t require much additional effort.
What are your favorite tips for saving money at the grocery store?
Would you be interested in reading more grocery shopping on a budget type posts? Let me know in the comments below!