Not long ago, I was challenged to feed my family on “just” $5 per person per day. When I did the math, my mouth dropped. For a family of 7, that amounts to $245 per week.
Now, I try to spend $300 or less when I shop for groceries every 2 weeks. So for me, feeding my family at $5 per person per day wouldn’t be a challenge. In fact, quite the opposite!
Today I want to open up a little bit on how I do grocery shopping on a budget. Read on for numbers and ideas for saving on food.
Grocery Shopping on a Budget
I live in the midwest. Your circumstances, store availabilities, and other factors might make some of my ideas impractical for you. These tips are a starting point. Make adjustments to fit your own circumstances.
Save on Meat
There are several ways to save on meat, and I’ve written on this topic before. But I’ll get a little more detailed on the way I’ve bought meat lately.
At the grocery store, I try to never spend more than $3 per pound on meat. Regular price on whole chickens in my area is 99 cents. For boneless skinless chicken breast, it’s $1.99. We eat a lot of chicken, but I’ll also “spring” for $3 ground beef and other meats from time to time.
Additionally, I like to buy extra turkeys and hams when they go on sale at holiday times. Even with a larger family, a big turkey or ham will feed us for several meals. We eat the meat, then use leftovers for sandwiches, casseroles, soups, and more. When we take it down to the bone, I can make stock from the turkey bones or yummy
When we take it down to the bone, I can make stock from the turkey carcass or yummy crock pot ham & beans from a ham bone.
Another huge money saver is replacing just one or two meals per week with a meatless meal. For tips on how to get the family on board with that and some great meatless ideas, check out this post.
You aren’t limited only to the grocery store, so get creative when it’s time to fill your freezer with meat! Read more on that here.
Know Your Price Points
I try to have price points for my most frequently bought items. I don’t have the time or organizational skills to keep up with an entire price book, but I can handle a mini version.
Since I have my price points memorized, I know when I’m getting a great deal and should stock up. Here are a few of my personal price points I’ve set for myself:
- I stay at or below 15 cents per ounce on cereal. (We eat a lot of cereal these days, even though there are certainly cheaper foods to eat for breakfast.) Sometimes sales are great and this is easy to do. Other times I’ve bought bagged cereal or generics. I’ve even found organic cereal on a better sale than regular cereal.
- I try not to spend more than $1.50 per pound on produce, though I prefer it closer to $1 per pound. We eat seasonally. That means a big variety in the summertime, and sometimes only apples and oranges in the winter.
- I prefer to spend 49 cents per box of pasta. This happens only a couple of times per year. So when I see that sale, I make sure to stock up on enough to get me through to the next sale.
- Butter freezes well, so I stock up when it hits $2 (this is getting harder to find these days!).
Over time, I’ve discovered the importance of shopping regularly. I go every other week in line with Hubby’s paycheck.
I used to wait until we were out of food before I’d make a shopping trip. I’d use up my pantry stock. That meant we’d sometimes have to run to the gas station to quickly grab a couple of things that we were out of.
Of course, those little stops add up. But more than that, I was missing out on the benefits of shopping regularly, before we had run out of everything.
- I was missing great sales on items we use often.
- I had to buy so many things that I blew our entire grocery budget on must haves. I had no wiggle room for stocking up on items that were on a great sale.
- Knowing that I’ll be back at the store in two weeks calms down that “gotta get everything now!” urgency that makes me buy extras.
List, Coupons, Meal Plan
I know, no one has time to write out a shopping list that you’ll just forget on the counter anyway. I simplify my list by creating a standard grocery list of items that we use the most. Learn more about that and get a free printable here.
As I run out of an item, I add it to my Cozi shopping list. I keep this free app on my phone, so it’s always with me. Then I only need to round out my list with the sale items for the week.
I prefer to use digital coupons and apps like Ibotta when it comes to coupons. But when I find the time, I add online printable grocery coupons like these and only print the coupons that I know I’ll use.
I write a 2-week meal plans on Mondays. Keep a simple list of meals on hand to choose from each day to keep you from running out for pizza.
If you don’t have time to meal plan or write out a list, use a service like Relish that will do the meal planning for you. You’ll save much more than you spend on this service. It’s worth the money if you just don’t have the time to make a plan for yourself.
I’ve also simplified by using an online grocery service for pickup at my local grocery store. Read my review on that here. It’s not something I’d do regularly, but in especially busy times it’s worth it.
That’s how you do your grocery shopping on a budget.
Feeding your own family on $5 per person per day might be realistic. Or it might not. Challenge yourself to beat your own budget a little bit more each week.
For more help saving money, be sure to check out my challenge that will help you Identify and Destroy Your Budget Busters.
How do you save money on groceries?