Many people are shocked when they find out my husband and I eat on only $120 a month. Here are our tips and tricks for reducing our grocery bill. Now, I will tell you that some of our tips and tricks require personal sacrifice but for us it’s worth it because it allows us to have more money to do other things and pay off student loan debt. So while, this might not be a long term solution for some, for others, it may give you just the right amount of extra income to invest in other areas in your life.
Eat Portion Controlled Servings
Eating portioned controlled serving allows you to stay healthy and consume less food. What I do is portion out every meal according to the nutrition facts then when the meal is ready to be served I distribute it evenly on the plates. My husband and I know that when our plate is empty all the food has been consumed. Now, sometimes we’re still a little hungry so we’ll eat a lower cost snack like pretzels or carrot sticks. This makes sure that we stay on a healthy diet and that we aren’t spending a ton of money on more expensive meal items because we are reducing the amount we eat of those higher cost foods. If you end up not being able to eat all your serving then save it for lunch the next day so you aren’t wasting food or money. Because every time you through food scraps away you are throwing away money and natural resources.
Make Eating Out a Special Occasion
It is so easy to just grab fast food on a lunch break. To reduce the chance of getting fast food meal prep your lunch the night before. Then you can just grab and go with your lunch. Remember to pack a drink so you don’t feel tempted to go to the vending machine. We save eating out for our date night and love trying new restaurants. We have the opportunity to do this just about every week because we don’t eat out during the week.
Meal prep is so important to saving big money when it comes to groceries. I found that before I started meal prepping I would just buy what I thought I needed every time I went to the store and would end up throwing away lots of food which means I threw away lots of money. When I meal prep I know exactly what I need and when I’m going to use it. I prep around certain foods so that all the groceries I buy are used. For example, if I buy a bag of broccoli I can use half for stir fry and half for broccoli soup so that all the broccoli is consumed and none of it goes bad.
Eat More Veggies & Fruit
This is probably the biggest saving area for us. Before we reduced our meat and dairy intake we were spending $200 to $300 a month. While many think vegetables and fruit are too expense this is a huge misconception depending on the area you live. Also, you can get a ton of protein from veggies and fruit. Now, because we eat a primarily plant based diet we use the app Chronometer to make sure we are getting all the nutrients our bodies need. Make sure you consult with your doctor before changing your diet. Reducing dairy can also help save you money and it also has benefits for the environment. Check out this article to find out more. My husband and I no longer buy meat or dairy unless we are eating out. We treat meat and dairy as a luxury. So a meal of homemade mac’n’cheese is a special treat not an every day or every week occurrence. We replaced cow’s milk with almond milk and our almond milk only cost $1.60 a half gallon which is cheaper than $2.25 a half gallon for cow’s milk. We also buy vegan butter for the same price as regular butter, and we replaced a lot of our creams and cheeses with homemade cashew creme.
Eat More Legumes
Legumes are very cheap, high in protein, and very good for your body. This was challenging at first for me because I hated beans and honestly they are still not my favorite. But they are very inexpensive and very filling. My favorite are chickpeas, lentils, and edamame. You can find some really awesome recipes on Pinterest.
Shopping local stimulates the local economy and can save you money. Now, it’s not always cheaper to shop local but sometimes you can get deals by buying in bulk. My husband and I often pitch in with our family and friends to buy a box of a certain food like bananas or plums. When we divide the goods by family we end up saving money.
I know not everyone has an Aldi but if you do check it out. You can save a lot of money by buying your produce from Aldi. I only spend $1.60 for a whole bag of spinach! Keep in mind that their costs are lower because they don’t give you bags and you have to rent a shopping cart for a quarter (don’t worry, you’ll get your cart back when you return your cart). So remember to pack your reusable bags and it may be a good idea to bring a quarter so you can rent a cart.
Look at the bottom shelve for the best price. Many may not know this tricky marketing tactic but stores actually put the most expensive items eye level or higher. Usually, the lower you look on the shelve the cheaper. Also, you can usually look at sale ads online so you can check out the sales before you enter the store. This will help you make an affordable meal plan.
Shop Publix BOGO
I am obsessed with Publix because their staff is so dang nice! But did you know that some Pulix stores will give you the BOGO price even if you only get 1 of the product? That means if bagels are buy one get one (BOGO) you can actually just get one bagel for half the price! This is important if you are only buying food for a limited amount of people and would not consume the free food before it would go bad. There are certain foods we only buy when they go on BOGO like Morning Star Veggie Burgers. They are our favorite veggie burgers but they can be a little pricey. So we are on constant look out for this deal.
We already talked about how you can save money shopping in bulk locally but you can also shop bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club. These stores require a membership so there are a few options. You can go with a friend or family member that has a membership, you can buy a second membership card at a discount from a friend or family’s already existing membership, or you can buy your own membership. My husband and I only buy a few things in bulk from these stores and they usually include: Pretzels, peanut butter, nuts, oils, and snack food. We don’t do this often but when we do it pays out.
Keep Certain Products Consistently in Your Pantry
My husband and I always keep peanut butter, cashews, almonds, tortillas, bread, pretzels, and potatoes in stocked in our pantry. This allows us to snack cheap and healthy.
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