How I Feed my Family for $100 a Month - Without Skipping the Steak or Shrimp!
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Looking for a way to save money on groceries? Read on to find out how I cut ours in HALF!
If you didn’t already know, my husband and I are full time college students, so we don’t have an overabundance of money. We aren’t poor or struggling, but we aren’t rich by any means. Any of you current college students or even alumni will understand what I’m talking about. College budgeting is a STRUGGLE!
What little money we do have, we try to stretch and make it last so we can go and do the things we enjoy when we don’t have tests to study for or labs to go to. One way that has helped us do that is setting a budget. I know, I know, you’ve heard about the importance of budgeting a million trillion times and you’re tired of hearing it. I was too! Until we actually created one for ourselves and saw just how much we were spending a month on frivolous things that we didn’t even want. And how much we were spending on food! We were literally spending $200-$250 a month on food for just the two of us. Yikes!! I had to find a way to get this number down, and fast.
Immediately as I started changing habits and doing the things I am about to advise you to do, my grocery bill was cut in half. I started spending only about $25-$30 a week on groceries for the two of us, but we easily could feed a family of four on all the leftovers we had! We did not eat beanie weenies every night, nor did we settle for a sandwich. This was good, nutritious food such as burgers, steak, spaghetti, pork chops, vegetables, and even the occasional dessert!
Ready to find out just how I did it? Here are some tips to help you save money on your groceries this month:
Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan!
I never realized the importance of meal planning until I started doing it. I also never realized just how much we were buying junk on an impulse until I started strategically planning out our meals for the week ahead of time. My husband and I would go to the grocery store every week and just buy whatever we (thought we) were craving, and then it ended up sitting in our pantry for months and months until it got old and we had to throw it out. That’s a huge money-waster.
Find things on sale and plan your meals around them
I’m still trying to discipline myself on this because there are some weeks I just don’t want what is on sale. That’s perfectly okay on some weeks, but the majority of the time (for my budget’s sake) I have to go with what I like that’s on sale. Look at the weekly deals of your favorite grocery store and plan your meals around them. If hamburger is on sale for $1.60 a pound that week, make most of your meals with hamburger meat. Ground beef is so versatile that you can use it in casseroles (which will use less meat and therefore less money), sandwiches, or just by itself. It’s the same with chicken and pretty much any other kind of meat. Use fillers like rice, beans, and noodles with your meat. That way, you will still feel full but you will have used less of your meat in one dish. Also, check your favorite grocery stores for the days of the week that they put their meat on discount as a “manager’s special”. This usually happens when the store is trying to get rid of meat that is going out of date soon. Take it home and freeze it immediately so it will stay fresh until you are ready to use it. Sometimes the store will have set days that they do this during the week, or sometimes they might just have them at random times. It doesn’t hurt to check, and usually that is when I get the best deals!
Eliminate waste as much as possible and eat leftovers
Make things that taste good heated over the next day. Chicken and rice, for example, is so great to make in a huge crockpot. Once your done, stick it in the fridge and you have enough for lunches for the whole week! Check back soon for my family’s favorite chicken and rice recipe!
Make things homemade
Homemade food is always better, healthier, AND cheaper! Instead of buying expensive biscuit and pancake mixes store-bought, make your own. Same with cake mixes, gravies, frozen meals, etc. This has really helped us cut back on our grocery bill, since I’m not spending $3 for a box of Bisquick or any other kind of pre-made mix. We use mason jars to keep our mixes fresh!
Choose to make easy meals instead of fancy ones
This is one of my biggest flaws. I love making gourmet, fancy meals but they require a long list of expensive ingredients. Save those types of meals for special occasions and stick with easy meals for everyday life. The crockpot is my lifesaver when it comes to quick and easy meals. I love just throwing the ingredients in and having dinner ready as soon as I come home. I was gifted a Crockpot at our wedding that has a timer on it, and I absolutely LOVE it! It was honestly one of the best gifts I got. You can set the timer for as little as 30 minutes or up to 20 hours so you don't have to worry about your food burning! If you're looking into buying a Crockpot, I definitely recommend this one. You can buy it here. Need some new crockpot recipes? Check these out.
Shop at different grocery stores
Drive a couple miles down the road to get the best deal you can. Each store has its own set of deals, and if you don’t mind a little bit of driving, you can get almost all of your groceries on sale at different stores.
As tempting as it is, don’t go out to eat except for on certain planned nights
This has saved my husband and I tons of money. We LOVE going out to eat, but we realized that we were spending all this money on groceries and we were STILL going out to eat spending $20-$30 EVERY NIGHT of the week! If you love to go out to eat and don’t want to have to cut out the steakhouse or nice Italian place, plan what days you are going to eat out and set a limit on price. For example, Friday’s and Saturday’s are our days to go out to eat, but the rest of the week we cook at home. I put this on my meal plan at the beginning of the week, and that way we don’t buy any groceries for Friday or Saturday.
You don’t have to coupon to save money on groceries
Don’t get me wrong, coupons are GREAT and someday I would love to learn the tricks of extreme coupling. BUT, just because I don’t use coupons doesn’t mean I can’t save money on my groceries! Just by being mindful of what I purchase, getting creative, and planning out my meals, I can easily feed my family on $100-$150 a month. And trust me, we eat GOOD! So don’t get discouraged if coupons aren’t your thing. Even if you choose not to use them, you can still go grocery shopping on a budget.
There you have it! This is how I cut my grocery bill in half within a month. What are your best tips for saving money on groceries? Did I miss anything?