I posted this several years ago, but goodness they're such good reminders and still work for us! I have to confess that as I’ve gotten busier I have occasionally purchased (*gasp*) pre-packaged snacks, but this morning I was in the kitchen filling up my Dollar Tree containers for the kids. (And our grocery budget has gone up to $80-$90 per week as our kids have gotten older and I don't have quite as much time to coupon.) I'd love to hear what other tips you all have for living frugally, beyond just clipping those coupons.
I’ve had friends ask me how I keep our grocery budget between $40 and $50 weekly (we have a family of 5, and this includes all toiletries, diapers, paper products, etc.) First, I think I’m a little genetically predisposed to living frugally. If you visit my Dad’s house he’ll probably tell you to use only half of the 2-ply toiletpaper – I think he’s kidding but I’m not completely sure!
Also, my husband provides very well for our family so that I can stay home with our kids, and I hate to see his hard earned money wasted on consumable groceries that don’t last. So I work really hard to spend as little as I can on groceries, because I’d rather have money to do the things we really enjoy, like giving, fun things for our home, and vacationing (we love that one!) Here are a few things that I've found work to pinch a few extra pennies in our home.
1. Constantly try to think of ways to use less.
We rarely use paper napkins (I have a huge stash of cloth ones) and we use rags instead of paper towels as often as we can (my hubby used to hate this one, but he's finally come to a place where he sees the value in saving on these!)
The dishwasher doesn't run until it's completely stuffed (saving on dishwasher detergent, water and energy), and I use half a dryer sheet instead of a full one or a very small amount liquid softener (even that’s a luxury, when I’m being really cheap I just use vinegar!) It's rare that I even use disinfectant wipes to clean because they’re just too expensive, instead I buy cleaners at a really good price (less than $.50-$1 per bottle) along with good ole’ fashioned rags. I also try to use grocery sacks (the plastic ones) as often as I can for trash bags so that I use fewer garbage bags (I can never seem to find a good garbage bag deal!)
2. When it comes to snack foods, skip the snack-sized bags.
My kids have to take a snack to school each day, so I usually stock up on the very cheapest snacks I can find (they’re getting a little tired of Chex Mix, but it’s just so stinkin’ cheap!) and pack it in small plastic containers that I found at the Dollar Tree so I don’t waste Ziploc bags. I also sometimes bake homemade muffins or snack mixes and they have those for snacks.
My kids don’t get often get juice boxes or water bottles, instead they get plain old tap water in re-usable plastic bottles. (I did pick up some of the BPA free ones in the fall, so I feel a little less anxious about that whole plastic thing!) We really do stick to milk and water in our house and very occasionally orange juice when I find a great deal on it.
3. Stock up on meat when you see a good price on it.
When I find chicken breast or ground beef for less than $1.99/lb., I buy as much of it as my grocery budget can afford. I also stock up on any basic pantry items when they’re really cheap, such as pasta, canned goods, frozen veggies, and frozen bread.
If I have leftovers of meat that won’t get eaten, it gets frozen to re-use in another meal. It really does hurt me to see food wasted, so I constantly think of ways to eat up everything we cook (another one that my hubby doesn’t always enjoy, but he’s willing to sacrifice to reach our long term savings goals!)
Make a menu plan and grocery list. (I use the PPP Slow Cooker Menu Plans as well as Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plans and absolutely LOVE both of them.
While I've always made a menu plan and grocery list, using a menu plan that's made for you can be a game changer. After using menu plans for a few years I am 100% hooked and highly encourage you to try a menu plan out if you're struggling with this in your finances.
I used to make my own menu plans which takes a solid 30-45 minutes each week, so I love having the work done ahead of me. (Especially for $4.98 per month or $1.24 per week – well worth $1 to save myself 45 minutes of time!)
I also love the Eat at Home Whole Foods Menu Plan because we're working on a healthier 2016, and the list was pretty simple to follow. (I loved that you got all three menu plan options though for one price!)
I sometimes worry that my kids will have way too much to talk to their therapist about after growing up with this penny pinchin’ mama, but every once in a while I see glimpses of penny pinchin’ even in them. They love it when I come home with a new fun freebie (the free Nesquik was a big hit last week!), and they’re always excited to sample something new when I find a coupon on an item we haven’t tried yet.
I really hope to teach them that we don’t always need everything all the other kids have, even when we sometimes could afford it if we chose to. And along the way maybe they’ll learn that we’re called to use wisely what God gives us, and to share with others, hopefully creating lasting, meaningful joy (you can’t get that in a juice box, even though my 2 year old would disagree!)
Looking for more ways to save on your grocery budget in 2020? Here you go:
- 70 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Budget in Half (without using coupons!)
- 20 Items You Need to Buy At Aldi
- My Teensy Tiny Couponing Pet Peeve
- No Spend Grocery Challenge
- Can you Shop Aldi Only?
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