Welcome to January, where I am sure your news feed is flooded with New Year’s resolutions, fitness/health-related articles, and budget tips. While I typically love to bring you a break from the norm, this topic is just too good to pass up this month.
I am not sure if it has just been quarantine and the fact that most of our family members are home now most days or the few extra stress treats I have been adding to the cart since March, but our grocery bill has definitely seen better days.
This ‘fluff spending’ as I like to call it, used to totally stress me out, that is, until I became a frugal Mom.
Budgeting and ‘pinching pennies’ I’m sure isn’t high on your list of exciting things to do this year, but it totally should be! I promise that stretching your grocery budget is not as hard as you may think, and I bet you are already doing a few of the things I am about to list.
From one frugal Mom to hopefully another, here are my tried and true tips:
Set a budget and establish an end goal.
Easy, right? It actually is!
Start by figuring out what you currently spend on groceries, and then decide what you REALISTICALLY want to spend. I say realistically because we inevitably will all have different needs and factors that will determine what that looks like. (Diet, number of family members, income/expenses, etc.)
Where and how you shop matters.
Look at your budget and ask yourself where and how you can get the most bang for your buck. For me, that means doing the majority of our shopping at Aldi and Meijer. I love Aldi because let’s face it, it’s just cheap, but in the best way possible! They have almost everything that I need on a weekly basis and it is easy to get in and out quickly. (Time is also money!) For those few things that Aldi doesn’t carry, I go to Meijer. They have an awesome perks program that helps with saving and you can access more coupons through their app as well. There is another app I utilize each week as well called Ibotta. It gives you cash back on whatever offers you add for different stores. It isn’t huge savings, but any little bit helps.
Make dinner and grocery lists AND stick to them.
Seriously, stick to the lists!
Part of what changed when I joined the frugal Mom life was that I started meal planning. Making a dinner list (and sticking to it) has saved us a lot of money, and my sanity as well. You can read my tips for meal planning here. Again, it is not as hard as you may think. Stick to meals you love and you will look forward to eating them instead of going out. Yes, even leftovers! Which is another super staple for stretching that weekly budget.
The second part of that is the grocery list. This part can take time, but if you add to it throughout the week, it helps. I view grocery shopping as a bit of a break sometimes, and overall it has always been something that I’ve enjoyed doing. However, if you aren’t that person, or if you are someone who tends to add a lot of impulse items to your cart last minute, I would suggest trying store pick-up! A lot of grocery stores are offering it for free now, and that is an easy way to know that you are getting only the items you came in for! Stick to that list, Mama!
Eat at home or adjust your budget accordingly.
This one can be tricky, but don’t fret just yet.
When I first started on this cost-conscious journey, I would find myself planning all the meals, hitting my grocery budget perfectly, and then a random Tuesday night would come along, (you all know the ones, where the kids are being wild, and it’s just been a long day!) Well, Chick-Fil-A always calls my name on those nights. But, I had a meal planned for that night. UGH. This happened enough that I realized that instead of freaking out about it, I would just plan accordingly. So, now our grocery budget looks like eating at home 85% of the time, but then we leave about 15% for those inevitable Tuesday nights.
Ask yourself this: “Can we go one more day/week?”
I saved the best for last!
This question totally helped me reframe my thoughts around grocery shopping. I used to think I had to shop on the same day every week and buy about the same amount of stuff as well. FALSE! Get in the habit of asking yourself if you can make it ‘one more or week’ with that jar of grape jelly, if you can plan one more dinner with the things you currently have in your pantry, or if you can stretch it one more day without going to the grocery store. This may feel small, but over time, it will add up!
I hope that this will help those of you who are looking to reign in your grocery budget. I know how stressful money talk can be, but this truly isn’t as hard as it sounds sometimes! If you have more frugal Mom tips, I would love to read them. Drop them in a comment below!