Save money on groceries and feed a family of four on $100 a week OR LESS!
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Save Money on Groceries
I’ve written about my families’ fall into poverty before. One of the positive things that came out of that experience was learning to live on less. A lot less.
I learned to shop, stockpile and meal plan like a coupon-wielding ninja! Seriously yall, I could make a meal out of practically nothing.
Nowadays I don’t have to be quite so ruthless with my spending but I’m still able to keep our grocery budget low because I learned these simple grocery lessons when it really mattered.
Read on to learn how I continually feed our family of four on $100 (and
sometimes usually less) a week.
Start a Stockpile
Okay, I’m not talking about converting your entire garage into a mini-mart à la extreme couponing. (Unless of course that’s your goal, in which case I wish you well!) No, I’m talking about a small stockpile of staple foods that have a long shelf life. Your stockpile should consist of foods that can be used alone or together to whip up cheap and simple meals.
Foods to stockpile include dried grains, dried beans, canned foods, dry pastas, and jarred items. For example, I always have at least five packages of spaghetti and five jars of pasta sauce on hand at all times. These staples can be used alone or combined with other ingredients to create a ton of different dinners.
Having a stockpile allows you to lengthen the time between grocery store trips. As I wrote in this post, going to the grocery store less often means larger savings in the long run.
Related Post: 10 Weird Ways to Save Money and Increase Your Savings
Use a Food Saver
Stop throwing food away by sealing everything in airtight containers. I like this food saving system. Make sure to seal all meat and veggies for a longer refrigerator shelf life.
Buy One, Get One Free Deals
Many grocery stores offer Buy One, Get One (BOGO) deals. A lot of coupons are BOGO coupons too. I buy these types of deals strategically and only when it’s something we already eat or something that I can stockpile. Routh Soukup wrote an excellent article here that goes into detail on BOGO offers.
For me, a BOGO deal is worth it only if it’s an item I can stockpile or it’s an item I would be purchasing anyway.
Something else to consider with BOGO deals – if the BOGO is for name brand items, does the deal come out cheaper than buying two of the store-brand at regular cost? If not, it’s probably not a good purchase.
This brings me to my next point:
Buy Store Brands
Seriously, store brands are SO MUCH CHEAPER!
Now I know that all store brands are not as good as the name brand item, but I’d say 8 out of 10 are. I guarantee you, if you open up my pantry you will be hard pressed to find name brand items. 95% of it are store brand. I only buy the name brand if A) the store brand doesn’t compare to the real deal. So far this only holds true for Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce. Or B) I had a coupon that made the name brand cheaper than the store brand.
I like a name brand on my bags, shoes, and makeup – I don’t need it on my ketchup. LOL
Pay Attention to Portions
The most important thing to remember about portions if you have kids – kid portions are small. There’s no need to load a kid’s plate up with food! You’ll only end up having to have to throw it away. If the kids want or need more food, they can get seconds.
Same goes for adult portions. We use these plates a lot in order to keep portion sizes in check. It saves money in the long run and keeps the scale happy.
Eating something sweet after a meal makes the brain feel full and satiated. Try it! Eat just enough food to get to the edge where you could go back for more but you’re not really hungry anymore. Then eat something sweet. You’ll feel fuller and more satisfied.
Just don’t go crazy with buying desserts. Get simple stuff like vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce instead of name brand ice cream treats. Basically, the more processed and packaged, the more money you’ll spend.
Don’t Meal Plan
Ok, I know this goes against so much advice out there but I don’t meal plan.
Instead I buy what’s on sale and use it that week.
Why this works for me:
- I don’t cook complicated meals. If a recipe calls for more than four ingredients, I won’t make it.
- It makes me use what I have and what’s on sale.
- It allows me to change plans at the last-minute.
Now this might not work for everyone. Some people swear by meal planning because it cuts out the “what do you want for dinner” conversation and saves time in the long run. For me personally, meal planning takes longer than I’d like to spend worrying about food.
I just buy what’s on sale and put it into combinations that I know will work throughout the week. Honestly, we eat a lot of broiled meat seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs. This is a fast and flavorful way to prepare meat and it goes with all types of side dishes and vegetables.
We also eat a lot of crock pot, casserole, and freezer meals.
Eat More Soup
Soup is really cheap, especially if you make it yourself. We eat a lot of acorn squash soup in the fall and winter and lighter broth based soups in the summer. Plus it’s an easy way to sneak vegetables into your families’ diet.
If you make enough, a big pot of soup can cover a few meals throughout the week and is a great “to-go” option for lunches.
Remember to Use Ibotta
I earned 50 cents back this morning for a quick run to the store to grab milk and eggs. It wasn’t much but it was stuff I had to buy anyway– might as well earn something for it.
You just download the Ibotta app to your smart phone and go grocery shopping. Find items that you bought at the store on the Ibotta app and scan the item’s bar code and your store receipt to earn cash back.
The cool thing about Ibotta is that if you sign up through my referral link you will automatically start out with $10 in your Ibotta account.