Here’s a little fact about me: I LOVE grocery shopping. It’s fun with my kids, and it’s even more fun when I’m shopping solo. There is something very therapeutic about it for me. Grocery budgeting, on the other hand, is not really my cup of tea. I have always had an idea of how much we spend on groceries each month. I’m a way more frugal shopper than my husband, and am always hunting for deals. So imagine my surprise when I recently sat down and went through months and months of credit card bills to tally up our total grocery spending…it was not pretty. We were easily spending $200- 300 MORE each month than I thought! With this shock, I decided to set about making some serious changes to how, when, and where I grocery shop.
8 Tips and Tricks For Stretching Your Dollars
When I needed some fresh ideas, I do what all good mamas do – I asked for advice! Here are some tips and tricks on stretching your dollar from many mom friends from across the country:
1. Use the Simple online bank to create goals with what is in your account. The app makes it easy to track your spending in real time. The two friends who recommended this tool swear it has absolutely transformed the way they spend money.
2. The Envelope system by Dave Ramsey has received a lot of praise from many of my friends and family members. The premise is simply: figure out your monthly budget for different categories. Next, withdraw that money at the beginning of the month (or in intervals correlating with paychecks) and put the cash in an envelope. Use that cash and ONLY that cash for your purchases. The idea is to keep you accountable and disciplined with your spending. I’ll be trying this strategy next month for grocery budgeting and will post my experience later!
3. Shopping at discount store Aldi. At least half a dozen friends from across the country suggested this. If you are an Aldi newbie, know before you go: this is the most minimalist store ever. You pack your own bags, you pay a quarter for your cart (but you get it back when you return it!), and the store is rather austere. One does not go to Aldi to get the warm-fuzzies while shopping. However, there are some amazing deals to be found here at truly rock-bottom prices. Incredible deals on organic produce and meat are probably the top two reasons why people keep coming back.
4. Look over the weekly coupon flyers from local grocery stores BEFORE meal planning. My sister-in-law in Omaha gets her coupon flyers on a Tuesday; in DC, we get ours on Thursdays. Plan accordingly based on the ingredients you know you can score at a savings.
5. Meal planning has helped me stay sane with feeding my family. There are many different ways to approach meal planning: I plan for two weeks at a time. Each week I’m really only making a handful of different meals. I know that one night a week we will do pasta and vegetables, on Fridays my husband makes pizza, and I typically make one big batch of soup to have for one night’s dinner. That just leaves me with a couple of days to fill with something creative (and I always make big batches to have leftovers!). Since discovering my grocery overspending, I’ve been using my meal planning more deliberately to keep my grocery budgeting in check.
7. Become a member at discount stores like Costco or Sam’s Club (possible con: you end up justifying spending more, so be very intentional on your trips to these warehouse stores).
8. Do your shopping on one dedicated day each week. For me, this was an eye-opening suggestion, albeit one that is probably obvious to many people! As I previously stated, I relish outings to go food shopping and even look for excuses to swing by a store (Trader Joe’s = my happy place). This clearly was not helping any sense of budgeting I was trying to achieve.
How Do You Save Money?
What strategies does your family employ to save money at the grocery store? Please share any grocery budgeting ideas you have in the comments!