Awhile ago, I polled my extended family to find out how much they were spending on food, and I was floored by how little they were spending — around $600 for a family of five. I on the other hand was spending over $1,000 per month for my own family of five. This amount includes fast food, to-go dinners, eat-ins, groceries, coffee stops, cafeteria meals, etc.
Suffice it to say, I was pretty much budget-shamed for my over spending.
I realized it was time to get serious and start implementing smart strategies to get our food budget under control.
I’m happy to report that while I haven’t gotten it down to $600 per month, we have managed to save over $200 each month for the last three months thanks to the decisions I’ve outlined below.
If this resonates with you at all and you could use some advice to tame your food budget beast, please continue reading.
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Shop At Home
My first decision was to take full inventory of what we had at home. I was finding that we at times were buying things we already had on hand.
So before you head to the market, take a look at what you already have in your pantry and cupboards. If you have a deep freezer, shop in there too.
My mom and mother-in-law often gift us with bulk cuts of meat that we store in our deep freezer (that we tend to forget about).
Plan Your Meals
The game changer to keeping your budget under control is definitely to plan your meals. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And that couldn’t be more true in this instance.
Keep a collection of meals your family likes that you can make from time to time. Pinterest is a great place to find cheap, easy meal ideas.
I use Trello to keep track of my family’s favorite meals and others I find on the web.
I also love using $5 Meal Plan. This service will send you a delicious meal plan where every meal will cost about $2 per person, and in most cases less. Save yourself some meal planning sanity and check it out.
Additional tip: Plan your meals based on sales happening in your grocery store.
It’s easy to peruse grocery aisles and simply grab the brand you’re always used to buying, but have you checked out the generic version? Oftentimes it’s the same quality and maybe even better but at a lower price.
Of course, if your brand is on sale, then go for that option, but most of the time, I encourage you to check out the less expensive version.
Related Read: How To Easily Save Money
Maintain a Clean Kitchen
You are highly more likely to cook a meal at home if your kitchen isn’t a mess. How many times has the idea of cooking come up but your excuse to go out or order in is because the kitchen is a mess? Guilty here.
Maintain a clean kitchen by washing your plates, spoons, etc. before they pile up and lead to an unimaginable heap in your sink.
A cluttered, messy kitchen makes for a cluttered mind, so keep it clean, and you’ll be more likely to cook at home rather than take the easy route of outside food (which costs more).
Cook Enough for Leftovers
You save more when you eat out less, so cook enough food for leftovers.
I love doubling our dinners and packing the leftovers for my husband to eat for lunch the next day at work. This way he doesn’t have to spend money on food in their workplace cafeteria.
One Meal at a Time
Consistency is the key to success so my recommendation is to take it slow. Don’t expect to completely overhaul your food budget in one month or even two. Aim to dine out fewer times a week. Maybe designate only one day, such as Friday, as an “order out day.” Or I’ve heard great things about implementing at least one meatless meal during the week.
I’m positive that by getting serious about cutting your food budget and implementing some smart strategies, you’ll be able to save $200 or more from this month’s food budget.
What are some other ways you save money on food? Let me know in the comments!