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Do you ever wonder if you can decrease your grocery budget, and fast?
When we first got married our grocery budget was sky high! I was used to having a ton of groceries on hand and whipping up whatever I felt like making when it was time for dinner.
As much as I love not needing to follow a recipe, this often led to wasted food and a huge grocery bill.
It took me years to finally start shaving down our grocery budget.
The very first thing I had to do to decrease our grocery budget was commit! I committed to shaving $50 off and stuck with it.
The first few months we’d get to the last week or so and be stuck with eggs and pasta for dinner. But over time, I learned the secret to planning delicious meals all month long.
Now that the holidays are approaching and we’ve been making some longer term “investments” in our house and car, I’ve decided to shave another $50+ off of our budget each month.
These 5 tips have helped me not only decrease my grocery budget but get cash back for the groceries I do buy.
1. Create a List of Meals for the Month
That’s right, the entire month. I usually take another grocery list-like pad and write down anywhere from 20-25 meal options.
At the beginning of the month, I will go through the calendar and count the days that we will need a meal at home. For example, this month we are traveling for Thanksgiving weekend so those 3 nights (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) we will not need a meal.
We also have 3 family get-togethers and will plan on going out to eat twice, so for the 30 days of November, I’m down to planning for 22 meals.
But, I will account for leftovers for 2 nights, so I will in total plan 20 meals. (I hope I haven’t lost you yet!)
Some meals like spaghetti I will place a “x2” beside and count as 2 separate meals and plan on making twice during the month.
So my list for November included 20 meals that we either had ingredients for already or could easily get at the store.
This method has helped me to prepare and plan which meals can go together based on ingredients and this helps to save a lot of money over time.
For example, I bought carrots for a buffalo chicken salad but also decided to make my chicken noodle soup that week.
This list sticks on my fridge for the entire month. It’s flexible and is really just used to draw ideas from as I meal plan.
Next, we will talk about the actual meal planning that helps you to budget.
2. Meal Plan 2 Weeks Out
I only meal plan 2 weeks out because a lot changes in 2 weeks.
I try to plan the meals in a way that can flex if needed. If we have to eat a quick dinner before heading out, I will choose a quick meal like tacos or cook a big meal the night before so we can have leftovers.
But plans change, people get sick, and the meal plan needs to flex with our schedule. Otherwise - I’m just going to give up!
So I write my meal plan in my PLANNER and I write it in pencil.
I’m constantly rearranging but having my list of meals for the month makes this easy.
I try to buy all the non-perishable foods at the beginning of the month and leave the weekly or bi-weekly trips for the perishables. This makes it even easier to flex the meal plan if needed!
3. Plan One Cheap Meal Each Week
I have been planning for one extremely cheap meal each week and this helps a lot! If you need to shave even more off, you can do 2 cheaper meals each week.
I keep a running list of meals that cost less and try to fit them into the month as often as possible.
You can download my list of 5 of these cheap meal ideas to add to your month to get you started below!
These meals are go-tos, easy to cook and light on the budget. The more creative you can get, the more you can shave off your budget!
4. Get Actual Cash Back for Your Groceries
I recently got started with Ibotta and it has helped me earn cash back straight to my bank account each month!
Let me start by saying, I’m a sucker for all of those “earn money quick” schemes. I’ve signed up for all kinds of survey sites and user testing sites hoping to make some money on the side. And it becomes a colossal waste of time because I don’t have the time to do surveys all.day.long.
Ibotta is nothing like that. You literally can look through their offers and tailor some of what you buy to the things that will give you the most cash back!
I signed up at the very end of August and earned a little over $30 dollars each month so far!
Here’s what it requires:
- Look through the offers, add which ones you think you’ll buy
- Coordinate the offers in the app with the offers in the store
- Scan in your receipt and select the offers you bought
- Wait about a day and receive cash back to your account
Some months you will have more offers than others. In the first month, they offer you 15 dollars when you redeem a specific number of offers.
You can also redeem some offers to stock up on things like cereal or toilet paper.
I love this app because it can be used at whatever pace works for you.
You can sign up for Ibotta here: https://ibotta.com/r/hwtoffu
5. Plan for Leftovers or Freezing
When you make a double portion of something, you can eat it for leftovers or freeze it for another week during the month.
This will save you money on ingredients because you can buy in bulk or just use an entire pack.
For example, I will often only need half of a bag of carrots for my soup, but when I double the recipe, I just use the whole bag. This not only prevents it from going to waste but helps cut down on cooking time during the month.
Sometimes, I get creative with leftovers and use them in a slightly different way to spice things up.
But when we get sick of having a meal multiple nights in a row, I end up freezing some of it and getting it out in a week or two.
Right now, I have some frozen white chicken chili that I will get out next week and a quick and delicious meal!
Shaving down your grocery budget doesn’t have to mean gruesome hours meal planning and eating nothing but rice and beans. Getting creative and taking just a few minutes to make a list at the beginning of each month can help you decrease your grocery budget fast!