I focus on stretching the grocery budget because it is the most variable expense in your budget. Plus, in most families it is the second to largest expense other than rent or a mortgage. This means that changing your grocery budget can make a huge difference. There are several ways to do this and although some may seem overwhelming, doing a few will be helpful and doing them all will overhaul your budget.
#1: Plan correctly
You may have heard people say you need to have a meal plan before. While this is true, you can’t just meal plan things that sound good to you if you want to have a tiny grocery budget. You must plan your meals around what is on sale. Focus on what is cheap then search inexpensive meals that use that as a main ingredient.
Let me give you some examples. This last week was Cindo de Mayo and you better believe we had fajitas, enchiladas, pizzas on tortillas, quesadillas, nachos, and taco salad this week because tortillas, salsa, cheese, and tortilla chips were all on sale. One week spinach was super cheap so we had spinach risotto, spinach in smoothies with pancakes, Alfredo pasta with spinach, white bean and spinach soup, spinach pesto paninis, and more.
Use produce in season or frozen from when you did buy it in season. You can also use canned food you preserved yourself or buy dented canned goods you find on clearance at your local grocer. Whatever you do, never pay full price for produce when it isn’t in season.
Use close dated or clearance meat or stock up when it is on a case lot sale if you use meat in your home. You can absolutely substitute a cheaper cut of meat most of the time.
#2: Combine coupons with sales
Don’t just use coupons every time you have them. Use coupons when you can combine them with sales to get insanely cheap products. Do not buy crackers that are normally $4 per box because you have a fifty cent coupon. Wait until they are on sale 3/$5 and you have a coupon. Then jump on the deal. Yes your coupons will expire. Don’t let FOMO rob you of your money. Wait until you find a coupon and a sale that align.
Use websites that match coupons for you. I like Hip2Save and KrazyCouponLady, but you may find others that blog about the stores closer to you. There are bloggers who match coupons and coupon apps though, and do the work for you. If you can find one that does, it is worth taking advantage of to save you some time.
Make sure you check your store’s digital coupon queue. Most grocery stores and many drug stores have online coupons nowadays. You may need to use their app or you may be able to download them to your shopper’s card from a desktop computer. However they work, take advantage of them. Shopping without spending a few minutes clipping coupons for things you want to buy is missed money.
#3: Use leftovers wisely
Consider your leftovers meal prep for another meal. If you have leftover spaghetti sauce try pizza tomorrow. Leftover salsa or pico de gallo from tacos or something similar can be mixed with eggs into a breakfast casserole easily. Baked potatoes can become potato soup or potato casserole for the next day easily. My kids get a kick out of guessing what I will make with our leftovers sometimes. Succotash becomes summer squash soup, BBQ lentils become chili, moo shu is put in pad thai, and so on.
Never let leftovers sit in a container for more than a couple of days. If you do, you run the risk of them turning into a moldy lump in your fridge. That is money dumped in the trash. Let your leftovers work for you not against you! Along this line don’t lock in what your meals will be each day. Be flexible so you can use leftovers wisely. If you have a ton of leftovers from the day before push back the meal you were going to make until tomorrow and make something that uses your leftovers instead.
Good luck bringing your grocery budget down using these simple tips! Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for supporting Homesteading Unrefined.