I am constantly trying to find ways to trim our family budget. About twice a year I attempt to hack away at unnecessary spending and cut out anything that will help the household bottom line. There comes a point in everyone’s budget where it is not possible to reduce anymore items from monthly expenses. Once you hit this threshold you are forced to get creative.
Even though I handle the finances for the house, my wife has developed and implemented a money saving system we have used over the past year that has proven vital to our money saving goals. When we first were married we had a difficult time adjusting to the regularity of food purchasing, preparing and consumption. We both grew up in homes where our parents would go to the grocery store bi-weekly or every three weeks, load up two grocery carts worth of items and spend several hundred dollars each visit. My wife and I continued on with this painstaking tradition and quickly discovered that our cash on hand within our budget was very low after each visit to the grocery store. In addition to that, we were still buying food to meet the requirements of meal recipes for 4-6 people. For several months we would watch several Tupperware containers full of spoiled left over food hit the trash can. Eventually we both acknowledged that something had to change.
Breaking the cycle of your budget dealing with essentials like food can be extremely difficult. Our transition took several trial and error attempts. Around the time we chose to change the way we purchased groceries I enrolled us in new credit cards with a very handsome cash back rewards program. Of course wanting to maximize our cash back potential, I wanted to put everything on the card – especially groceries (6% cash back on EACH purchase). This created a major conflict of interest with the system my wife was trying to convince me to buy into that you are about to read below. Here is a six pack of tips to help you cut down your own jolly green giant of a grocery bill:
BREAK THE CYCLE GROCERY SAVING TIPS:
1. Create a weekly menu – This is very hard at first and takes time to complete. Once you have done it a few weeks in a row it gets much easier. Plus, you get into the flow of scheduling different dishes and not repeating meals if you hold on to your schedules from previous weeks. If you don’t mind eating leftovers once or twice a week, you may even find that you can cut even more off of your grocery bill if you can double up on large dish portions.
2. Make Pintrest your friend - It is not a matter of if, but when you will run across into “scheduling block” when planning your meals. Unless you have a whole kitchen cabinet full of cook books or have been on the show Top Chef, it is very likely that you are like the rest of us and eat the same 10 dishes on a fairly regular basis. Fortunately for me, my wife is a fantastic cook. Even more fortunate for me, she uses Pintrest for recipies. In the nearly four years that we have been married there has only been one meal that I hated that originated from a pin on Pintrest. Make this great resource work for you in the kitchen.
3. Buy only what your need (for the weekly meals!) Necessary ingredients = less waste and more $$$ in your pocket. Since we have started planning out our meals each week WE HAVE CUT OUR GROCERY BILL IN HALF.
4. Get your spouse involved! My wife is very good at getting me involved in making the menu each week. Beyond that, we all share the responsibilities of grocery shopping. The event has become our weekly family trip out. Each Sunday morning we jump in the car and hit the grocery store between 9:30-11:30AM. There are no crowds and can usually go about our business in less than an hour. If you have young children, get them involved as well. We have found our two-year-old son enjoys helping out riding in the cart and picking out groceries. This also helps little ones get used to behaving properly in a public setting when it is done regularly. The outing serves a multitude of purposes.
5. Keep track of your spending - We attempt to cap our weekly grocery spending total to $100. You may be laughing out loud right now yelling, “YEAH RIGHT!”. Don’t believe me? Try it.
6. Buy in – literally. This is not an instantaneous fix for your monthly grocery bill. It will take you a good 3-4 months to see significant results. Once you see your bottom line I guarantee you will never go back.
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Great tips @bjhoward12 and @auntdeb, I love saving money and will definitely keep these ideas in mind as I’m planning things out!
Great tips.. saving money on groceries gives the household budget a huge bump up. Congratulations on finding a system that works for you!
After almost 40 years of married life there only 2 things that I would add to this ~
1) Coupons can be real money savers, especially if you shop at stores that double them. The key to saving money with coupons is to buy only the items that you will use.. buying something that you will never use just because you have a coupon for it is the same as throwing your money away.
The second tip is something my daughter taught me.. I swear she is the queen of cost savings!
2) Join/open rewards clubs & cards.. they’re usually free and almost every store has them. Target is a great example, you get money off your your purchases just by having their Red Card linked to your checking account/debit card and their Cartwheel app has even more deals that you can add on to their regular Sunday ad and really maximize your savings.