Our Conscious Effort to Reduce Grocery Spending

As you may recall, during our October spending challenge, we went over our budget on groceries and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. I had no idea we were spending as much as we were on groceries. Well, I’m pleased to let you know that not only did we reduce our grocery bill in November by over $200, I think we’ve set up a sustainable plan to help us keep that bill lower.

Our total expenditures on groceries for the month of November was $447.62. If you recall, our October spending was $658.58! Gadzooks! That savings even exceeds my loftiest of expectations! Now, we were gone for about 5 days around Thanksgiving, though we did buy lots of extras to bring with us for that long weekend so it wasn’t a “free” 5 days. But over $200 of savings? I’ll take it!

Meal Planning

How did we do it? Well number one, and I can’t emphasize this enough, was that I started meal planning. Initially, I was planning weekly meals but mid-month I expanded to planning meals two weeks in advance due my husband’s work schedule. His work schedule is on a two week rotation and there are several nights a week when he’s at work. That makes a difference in what I prepare for dinner. Planning what we’re going to have in advance means that I only buy what I need for those meals. I used to just buy a bunch of things and figure out everything on a daily basis. Now, not only do I not buy any extras that we don’t need for the week, but I’m not stressed out mid-afternoon while I’m trying to think of something to make. And I feel like we’re eating much healthier, overall.

I’ve also expanded my repertoire of meals to include a few more meatless options. Meat is expensive. But my kids are coming around to beans and so far have not resisted meatless Mondays. They also continue to love egg sandwich night though they have not yet warmed up to my turkey sloppy joe sliders. Ken and I find them delicious, so they still make the cut!

No More Mid-Week Shopping!

The other important change that we’ve made is no mid-week stops into the grocery store for anything unless it’s absolutely urgent. If it’s an ingredient that I need for a meal, I move onto another meal that I have everything for. The only time we stopped for mid-week was milk. I put my imaginary blinders on, made a bee-line for the milk, and didn’t pick up anything else. We used to manage to find something that we were out of and next thing we knew, we had a mid-week grocery bill of $50. Cutting those trips out has been key. We now shop once a week at Hannaford and our total comes in around $100, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. Then once a month, we pick up our Trader Joe’s favorites for about $50.

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My grocery shopping partner!

Cook in Bulk Whenever Possible

The last change that we made was cooking certain things in bulk. For example, Ken likes to take soup to work for his dinners. So, instead of paying $2 for a sodium laden processed can of corn chowder, I learned to make a big batch from scratch. The out of pocket cost for bulk corn chowder came out to about $1.50 per serving. That isn’t a huge savings, but it is much healthier. I also am a big fan of making a oversized batch of veggie chili. I freeze whatever isn’t being consumed in the next few days and it’s the savory gift that keeps on giving!

In the end, I’m ecstatic about our progress on our grocery bill. I hope we’re able to continue on this path. My husband is having Hannaford withdrawals so I hope that he doesn’t get sucked into his mid-week shopping again. How long do they say it takes to make or break a habit? Now if we could just make a dent our “home” budget… At least we’ve had no emergency room visits in about a month!

Any other ideas to help us streamline our grocery bill?

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Our Frugal Life

2 Comments

  1. We try not to go to the grocery store during the week, either. The big exceptions are bread and milk because those are staples for the kids. Keeping grocery spending in check is an ongoing challenge at our house! We do pretty well most of the time, but there are times when it’s extremely difficult.

  2. I’m going to give you an idea you can tuck away for later when the kids are older… my brood is four girls 6-15. A few years ago, during the holiday season, I decided to plan meals. I was tired of people complaining about dinner and the daily scramble. We had a family meeting and decided on four themes, one for each day, based on what we all liked to eat. (Friday is leftovers and we eat out on the weekends) I cut up the calendar dates and they drew from a hat and had to decide what we were having that calendar date, based on the theme. Mostly they gave me an idea (“chicken”) and I had to figure out the sides. From then on, the complaining stopped (“YOU picked this dinner!”), my grocery bills went down, and I no longer had the agonizing 5:00 PM dinner scramble. The End. 🙂

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