A big goal of mine this summer has been to cut down, considerably, on my grocery bill.
This has been very difficult for me, for a number of reasons:
1. I like to cook and that means trying new recipes, which I often don’t have many of the ingredients for starting out.
2. I like to be able to choose from fresh, healthy options and these generally cost more.
3. I like to stock up on pantry items or meat when they are on sale so that sometimes means more money up front.
4. I’m not really sure what an appropriate grocery budget is for a girl who lives alone but has company a couple weekends a month.
What I do know, though, is that I had been spending far too much on groceries for essentially 1 person. And this needed to stop!!
So…I’ve been trying the cash only for groceries trick. You know, the one our grandparents used before credit cards, debit cards, etc.?
I’ve started at $100 per month. When the $100 runs out, that’s it!
I think this is actually a little low for a grocery budget but I’ve been doing this for almost 2 months now. The first month I had a dollar to spare, and I’m right on track with month 2. When winter hits I may need to increase the budget a bit as I will no longer have access to fresh garden treats!
Here is how I’m making it work:
1. Be very conscious about what goes into the basket at the store.
If I’m getting low on cash, I skip some things (chips, ice cream, etc.). I want to still have things in the house I enjoy but it might mean there’s a couple weeks I have to go without.
2. Never buy more fresh produce than can be used, and use the fresh before falling back on frozen/canned.
This really goes for fruit right now. My garden is producing my favorites in the fresh veggie world so just keeping up with that has proven a challenge some weeks. I’m getting ready to start preserving for the winter months though so that will be a big help in the nearer than I’d like future.
3. Eat less meat.
This one is difficult for me also, because the rule of thumb is actually to have a couple meals a week without any meat. Can’t do it! I have to have a few bites of meat to feel like I had a meal BUT this doesn’t mean I can’t cut that pork chop or chicken breast in half and fill up on veggies from the garden.
4. Avoid throwing anything away.
This fits had in hand with #2 but I mean with ANYTHING. Sometimes I get sick of leftovers, or simply want something different, but choosing that option also might mean throwing out perfectly good food. AKA: wasting! Eat it, freeze it, or figure out another use for those items that are nearing their end. Got a couple bananas that are past their prime for your taste? Let ’em go and turn them into banana bread!
5. Shop the sales & use what’s on hand.
Plan your meals for the entire week around what you already have on hand. This will mean fewer ingredients to purchase at the store. Also, shop the sales. If chicken is on sale, save the steaks for another week when you can pick them up at a discount also. If you can handle playing the coupon game, go for it. I respect those gals who can extreme coupon but I just can’t get in to it myself. I don’t need 645 bottles of ketchup that will never in my lifetime get used and I also don’t have a storage facility for all the ‘extras’ I would bring into my home.
6. Drink less soda.
I’d like to say I can stay away from soda entirely, but I haven’t made that choice and commitment yet. Drinking sun tea, brewed right on my deck is helping me to cut way back – which means BIG savings at the store!
7. Barter a trade.
This one is my very favorite right now. A girlfriend of mine has a bigger space to garden, thus she has planted things I could definitely use but didn’t have room to grow myself. She also has chickens, which means I get the hookup on fresh eggs. Just a couple weekends ago we engaged in a trade. Her garden is behind mine in production because I’ve got the benefit of the greenhouse. So…I’ve taken her green beans, squash and zucchini in trade for this:
Potatoes, white & red onion, and garlic.
I also have the hookup on bird feed so we exchange feed for eggs BUT this year, added bonus, she bought some butcherin’ chickens so when I was out to her place to have lunch, and trade veggies I was also presented with a whole frozen chicken.
I wish I had a place to plant a GIGANTIC garden & raise chickens!
Do you have any other tips or tricks that help keep your grocery budget in check? Also – what is your grocery budget and for how many people? How do you go about setting this budget? I am beyond interested in hearing your ideas and the method to your madness!!