Cooking is something that I love to do and I’ve always felt like cooking is a way that I can care for my family. One of my favorite decorations in my kitchen is a little sign that says, “Cooking is love made visible.” That’s exactly how I feel about cooking, but it can be difficult to learn how to stick to a grocery budget and still have fun experimenting in the kitchen!
When we made the decision for me to stay home, creating and sticking to a grocery budget became something that I’ve really focused on. I’ll admit that it does take some time, but the payoff is well worth it. We used to easily spend $150 or more weekly on groceries. With these tips I’ve been able to cut our average weekly grocery bill down to $50-$75!
- Check the weekly store ads. I have 4 different stores that I check for ads each week. I then choose which store to go to based on the number of sales they have that match the items I would typically buy. The one pitfall to avoid with this is making sure that you don’t buy things you don’t need or typically eat just because they are on a great sale! As you’ll see in tip #5, stick to your list!
- Start tracking the lowest price you’ve paid (or seen) for an item. For example, I made a list of the basic types of meat that I typically buy (chicken breast, chicken thighs, ground turkey, ground beef, pork loin, pork chops, etc) and each time I went to the store, I wrote down what I paid that week. I also checked ads for the stores that I wasn’t going to. Over the course of a few weeks, I started seeing the lowest price I had paid or seen in an ad. That tells me what my target price is each time I buy that item. If that type of meat is above my target price, I don’t buy it again until it’s back at the target price. When it reaches the price I’m willing to pay, I stock up and freeze it. I then chose which store I would shop at that weekend based on the most number of sales for things I was needing to buy. Once in a while if there was a great deal at another store, I would make a special stop at that store.
- Shop farmer’s markets. I absolutely love going to the farmer’s market in the summer! It’s a fun family outing, gets us outside, and I like buying local. Just be sure you know the average price of an item at the grocery store before you go, as farmer’s markets aren’t always cheaper. One of my favorite recipes to make with my finds at the farmer’s market is this wonderful BLT Panzanella Salad from Cooking Light. I also love to stock up when prices are good at the farmer’s market and spend a day in the summer canning/freezing. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
- Grow your own! I know this takes a bit more work, but you really can save a ton of money just buy growing your own herbs. I love cooking with fresh herbs, but they are really pricey at the store and don’t last long in the fridge. Grow your tomatoes with your basil for better tasting tomatoes. Here’s what I grow every summer:
- Basil (I love to buy the gallon pots of basil in May when they come in at Whole Foods – they take off quickly and grow into big, beautiful bunches of basil!).
- Tomatoes (like I said, I always plant my tomatoes and basil together).
- Rosemary (I plant my rosemary in a separate pot as it’s not the friendliest herb from what I’ve read)
- Mint (I also plant my mint in a separate pot so that it doesn’t take over my entire garden)
- Organize your shopping list by area of the store and don’t stray from the list. This helps me get in and out of the store quickly with no distractions. I organize my list into the following sections:
- Canned goods (anything non-refrigerated)