When I realized how much I was spending each month on groceries, I created these 5 simple steps to cut your grocery bill in half! The are simple, quick and do not include cutting coupons!
I realized the biggest non-fixed expense in my monthly budget was…my groceries! And the numbers were appalling! Like to the point I was honestly embarrassed. I had known for a while that my grocery spending was likely where most of my expendable income was going (which all by itself is pretty bad). But I was afraid to really sit down and be honest with just how much I was spending.
I have never been (and am still not) a frivolous spender. I don’t just go shopping for clothes on a whim or go out to eat often during the month. I have been wearing the same pair of sneakers for almost two years…and I go to a bootcamp class 4-6 days a week!
Plus, on top of my natural tendencies, I grew up very poor so I was instilled with a sense of frugality that most of the world unfortunately doesn’t get to have. So I knew that just going and spending money on groceries was crazy.
I hadn’t always been this way – when I first got married, I scoured the sales ads for deals. I cut every coupon imaginable and my grocery list sent me all around town shopping the best price for everything from grapes to ground round.
And then….kids happened.
When Hannah was born, it took me a while to get the mom thing down. I mean, I felt super accomplished if I was able to just shower, nurse her and actually make it to one store for groceries.
Then baby #2 came and things got all out of control! Going to the grocery store with a potty-training toddler and a nursing baby in tow meant all that was important was getting in and out of that store in 20 minutes or less. If I came out with actual food, it was a win-win.
But then even as my girls got older, my slacker habits remained even though
grocery shopping actually got easier.
Here’s what I was doing wrong:
1. Choosing to shop in “pretty” stores that had free cookies and fun shopping carts for my little girls.
2. Shopping without a list.
3. “Grocery” Shopping in a megastore that appealed to me in MANY departments outside of groceries…think Target and their awesome clothes!
4. Trying to do all of my shopping in just one store.
5. Shopping with my kids!
6. Making multiple trips to the grocery store throughout the week – for items we forgot or ran out of. Which inevitably resulted in me buying MORE than what I had originally gone in for.
I knew this trend couldn’t continue. And what’s more, it didn’t bring me any joy because I spent so much time worrying about how much I was spending and not knowing how to change it.
So here’s what I did – 5 VERY simple changes –
that have resulted in me spending LESS than 50% of what I was spending before in groceries.
1. I basically “quit” Target – I love Target, everything about it. The pretty pictures, the trendy clothes, the beautiful housewares that make my house look modern and clean. But because of that, I would go into Target for groceries and walk out with much, MUCH more. So I realized I can’t do regular shopping trips at Target.
2. I quit shopping with my kids – at least most weeks. I am a full time stay at home mom and rarely spend time away from my girls. But I realized that they were helping to wreck my budget. I was so distracted trying to keep them happy during my grocery shopping trip, I lost most of my ability to rationalize what we did and did not need.
So now, on Saturday morning, I workout at 8 am, finish by 8:45 am, hit all my grocery stores and am usually home unpacking by 11 am at the latest. Plus, this gives my hubby some real quality time with the girls that he doesn’t get during the week.
3. I don’t leave home without a list…and a Meal Plan! Trying to buy a few staples and hoping I could piece together dinners for a week was not working for me at all. I would either end up at the store again on a Monday or worse, spend even more money on us all going out to eat.
So now I spend about 15 minutes each week and make up my grocery list. I plan 4-5 meals and make sure I have ALL the ingredients on my shopping list. As an added bonus, I don’t have to wonder what we are having each night because it’s already planned out!
4. I gave up on the “one-store” dream. No ONE store can give me the best deals and the best variety of products. At the same time, I don’t want to drive all over town buying everyone’s B1G1 deals.
So this is what I do – I buy about 5-6 items a week from Sam’s Club (gatorades, rotisserie chicken, pull-ups, etc).
I then head to Aldi – perhaps the best grocery chain in the world!! Hands down, this is the lowest-priced grocery store I have ever found and their products are amazing. They carry only their own product line and I have never been disappointed. In fact, I prefer their “generic” products 99% of the time. But they don’t always have specialty items. So I buy 80% of my grocery list at Aldi’s. A full cart (like over-flowing full) usually averages me about $75.
I then go to Wal-mart for the other 10% of my list. Yes, Wal-mart is a super store but it just doesn’t appeal to me the way that Target does. I rarely get sidetracked here – I’m in and out the door with just my list items.
5. Grocery shopping is a one-time event for the week. Meaning unless it’s a real necessity, I don’t run to the store in the middle of the week. My girls now know if they eat their favorite cereal all up in the first 3 days, they will be having oatmeal or eggs or english muffins until the following Saturday.
And that’s it! Pretty simple huh?
I DON’T cut coupons.
I DON’T use sales ads to base my meals plans on for the week.
And I DON’T spend more than a couple hours each week on my grocery list, meal plan AND grocery shopping.
Yet these 5 simple tricks have lowered our monthly grocery spending budget by 50%. Try it today – you will be amazed at how much you will save!