We’ve been on a budget for 8 years now. Every month we sit down and create our budget…which includes no credit cards. When we first started off, we were a family of 4, and now as a family of 6, we budget $175/week for our groceries. After talking to many family and friends, I’ve learned that a lot of people either don’t have a budget, grocery or otherwise, or that they have a hard time staying on budget with groceries. So, while some of them might be over-the-top obvious, maybe others aren’t, so I thought I would share my 7 best tips for staying on budget with groceries.
1. Make a List from Meals // Meal Plan
We usually start with our meals for the week (aka meal plan) and write down everything we need for them. (Check out Lindsey’s cute and easy DIY dry erase menu board.) It seems silly to mention it, but without a list we would forget a ton of groceries, and likely have to make at least one more trip. Plus, we would grab impulse items that we don’t need. Of course, those not only blow the budget, but many times, they also don’t help us with healthy eating.
Then, check our list. Twice.
List twice. Shop Once.
Something like that, right?
2. Keep tabs on items you’ve run out of
We have a small dry erase board on the wall where we write items we’ve run out of or finished off. Even the kids know if they finish something they need to make sure it goes on the list. This prevents those extra store trips and also makes sure we buy it at our favorite inexpensive store instead of making an emergency trip to a closer store. If you have a smart home device, you could use that to add to your list, too. (I’m not telling the kids about this option for fear of them starting a list a mile long of all things candy and chip!)
3. Check fridge and pantry for all list items
Now that you’ve got your list, go check your refrigerator and pantry and make sure you don’t already have things on the list. We used to be really bad about doing this and would have 10 cans of tomato sauce at one time when we only needed like 4. The good thing is that they keep, but when you are trying to stick to a weekly budget, things like this slowly add up.
4. Purchase meat in bulk
Anything bulk can be tricky. We know that our family typically can’t buy produce in bulk because we won’t always finish it all. But, meat we can do. We buy 40lbs of chicken breasts or 93/7 ground beef at a time and store it in the freezer. It does get a little tricky with how you manage a weekly budget with this large purchase, but you can either set a little aside each week, or plan it into the month knowing that you won’t need to buy meat for a month or two after that.
I’ve also know many people to buy their meat in full animal form from a farm if that’s an option for you.
5. Use cash and have a budget
One of the easiest ways to get started on a budget is to actually write it down and have one. Do it before the month starts and tell you money how you will spend it. It’s not a budget if you just keep track of what you’ve already spent. Within that budget, groceries need to be cash. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t go over because there isn’t any money left. You can’t make money appear and you have to not allow yourself that satisfying swipe of a debit or credit card.
There are some weeks that we go over, so the next week usually has to be leaner. It makes us be creative with our meal planning so that we don’t go over budget or have to take money from other categories.
6. Get the kids involved with the budget and the menu
Make sure that the kids are aware there is a budget. Let them know if they eat all of their favorite snack on Monday that it won’t be replaced until the next planned grocery trip, so they need to figure out how they will eat it. Also, when they help plan the menu for the week, they are more likely to eat what is purchased so you don’t have food go bad.
7. Organize your fridge and make produce last longer
If the fridge (and/or pantry) is a mess, it’s so hard to know what you have at a given time, which can result in overbuying things (like that tomato sauce) or food just going bad because you don’t even know it’s there. In addition to helping me see what produce is available in my fridge, FreshWorks containers keep produce fresh up to 80% longer*.
Not only is food in the fridge in a more organized way so we see it and eat it, but while it’s waiting to be eaten, it will last longer!
We are a household that loves roasted asparagus. But, so many times, the tops (my favorite part) get all slimy staying in the bag from the store. And then they smell terrible and they get thrown out. But, with the Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver with FreshVent, it actually stays fresh in my fridge longer. Before using Rubbermaid FreshWorks Containers, we would have to try to eat a good bit of our produce in the first day or two after going to the store. Now we get must longer freshness so we can eat fresh produce at the end of the week, too.
Fresh produce that looks as good as the day that I bought it is a huge savings. We will still eat it, and it won’t go bad in the fridge because we can’t see it!
Why Use FreshWorks Produce Saver?
Keeps Produce Fresher, Longer: FreshWorks is a food storage container that uses patented FreshVentTM technology to keep produce fresher up to 80% longer* than traditional produce packaging. It uses a revolutionary built-in FreshVent™ lid, which naturally regulates the flow of oxygen and CO2, in and out of the container to create the optimal environment so produce stays nearly as fresh as the day it was picked. The CrispTrayTM at the bottom elevates produce away from moisture and promotes proper airflow to help reduce spoilage.
Reduces Waste: Many people find that their produce has spoiled after just a few days, leaving them no choice but to throw it away. FreshWorks extends the life of your produce, so you can eat your produce before it goes to waste.
Saves Money: As a result of throwing away fresh produce, Americans waste $24 billion worth of produce every year, which is the equivalent of $192 per household.**
Easy to Use: With FreshWorks Produce Saver, you can simply move produce from store packaging and into the FreshWorks containers before refrigerating to maintain freshness for up to 80% longer*. The lid filter lasts a lifetime, no replacements needed.
Made in the USA of global components, BPA-free.
Available now in six sizes to hold all types of produce: Lare Square (11.1 Cups): Perfect for Tomatoes Long Rectangle (8.4 Cups): Great for asparagus or zucchini Small Rectangle (4.0 Cups): Will keep your green beans fresh. Small (2.5 Cups): Ideal for small berries. Medium (6.3 Cups): Perfect for strawberries. Large (17.3 Cups): Optimal for leafy greens.
Do you have trouble staying on budget with your groceries, or is that your strong suite?
FreshWorks Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Your giveaway must be open to U.S. residents only. SheSpeaks will ship a Rubbermaid FreshWorks prize to your giveaway winner.
*Based on strawberries in FreshWorks™ containers vs. store packaging. Results may vary depending upon produce and use.
** Source: USDA 2014