Recently I have had many emails and comments regarding our grocery budget. Here are the fast facts about our grocery budget.
- Usually I budget about $600 per month for a family of eight.
- My kids’ ages are 14, 12, 8, 6, 4, and 2.
- The 14, 12, 8 and 4 year old eat as much as an adult on a regular basis.
- I live in a high cost of living area (Washington D.C.).
- I shop exclusively at the military commissary with occasional trips to CVS.
- Our grocery budget covers everything, including diapers, cleaners, toiletries and bird seed :).
- I use coupons, but only save about $15 a week when using them.
There are many people who spend significantly less than I do to feed as many people or more. I do not have all the answers on how to cut your grocery budget, but I will share the things I did to go from a $1200 a month grocery budget to a $600 a month budget.
- Menu Plan -Knowing what we are eating during the week helps me to shop more efficiently at the store. We also waste very little food. I am ashamed to admit that a few years back I would throw out a garbage bag full of rotten food every few weeks because I over bought or we just didn’t eat it.
- Shop with a list – My list is my master. It is my goal not to buy anything that is not on my list. I am able to check the commissary sale prices before I go to the store, so if I see a great deal I can add it to my list before I go. There are no impulse purchases.
- Shop Alone- I love my children but I do not take them to the grocery store. When we are out in public I am always working with them to have appropriate behavior, and this is difficult to do when I am shopping for 21 meals for 8 people. There are many other opportunities to work on behavior while out, so I shop alone.
- Shop Weekly- I have little fridge storage space so shopping weekly works best for me. I do not make little trips to the store here and there to pick up things. We just do without until the next shopping day. Little trips add up to big money.
- Stay away from convenience foods- I purchase very few prepackaged food items. I shop the produce, dairy and paper aisles. I usually buy one bag of chips and one box of crackers per week and no other snack foods. My kids snack on fruits and veggies, cheese and popcorn.
- Eat Seasonally- I try to plan my meals around the produce that is in season and less expensive. The exception to this is apples. My kids love apples and I purchase them year round. A few months back I wrote a post about how to save money on produce.
- I bake my own bread, bagels, pitas, pretzels, pizza crust, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc.
- We rarely have meat as our main dish. I usually serve two to three meatless meals a week and the other meals usually have a minimal amounts of meat in them. If we have chicken pot pie I use one and a half chicken breasts in a 9×13 pan and fill the pie with lots of veggies and potatoes.
- We don’t eat dessert, soda, juice, candy, or cereal (with rare exceptions).
- We eat a lot of beans. They are healthy, filling and super cheap.
- We eat leftovers and throw away very little food.
- Buy in bulk. Make sure you check the price per pound, but usually you can save quite a bit of money purchasing in bulk. I am part of a food co-op and order every few months. I save a lot of money on honey, grain, and oats by purchasing these items in large quantities.
- I purchase organic when I can, but I try to put my organic dollars to good use. Here is a list of produce that usually contain the highest amount of pesticides.
- I shop with cash. This has made the biggest change in my grocery spending by far. I am so afraid of not having enough money at the register that I keep track of everything into my cart. Cash as helped me to curb impulsive spending and allowed me to walk past the cereal aisle without picking up a box or two.
Those are some of the things I do to keep our grocery bill under budget. I am sure there are many ways I could cut back even more, but this works for us. What do you do to keep your grocery bill down?