Grocery shopping on a budget feels restricting sometimes. But you can feed your family well using less money than you think. Here’s how.
Once, 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. Shoot, we could have steak on that budget!
Back in the real world, grocery shopping on a budget is a reality for most of us. But with a few tips, you can actually eat well on less money than you think.
Grocery Shopping on a Budget
I live in the mid-west. Your circumstances, store availability, 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
Meat can be an expensive portion of your grocery budget. Luckily, there are so many ways to save on meat!
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.
You can fill the freezer with extra turkeys and hams when they go on sale at holidays. Even with a larger family, a big turkey or ham will cover several meals. Use leftovers for sandwiches, casseroles, soups, and more.
When you get it down to the bone, make stock from the turkey bones, 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. Get tips on how to get the family on board with meat free Mondays.
You aren’t limited only to the grocery store, so try these ideas for saving money on meat!
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Know Your Price Points
Get price points for your most frequently bought items. Personally, I don’t have the time (or the 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. 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!).
You might think that waiting to shop when you’re out of anything to eat saves money. But I’ve actually found the opposite to be true. These days, I go every other week (when we get paid).
Waiting to shop meant we’d sometimes have to run to the gas station to grab a couple of things that we needed.
Of course, those little stops add up. But more than that, I was missing out on the benefits of shopping regularly.
- 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 buying extra boxes of 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 grocery list template of items that we use the most.
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 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 last minute dinner ideas 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 Emeals 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. (Click here to start your free trial of Emeals!)
I’ve also simplified by using an online grocery service for pickup at my local grocery store. This Kroger Clicklist review shows you how simple it is to grocery shop, even when you’re short on time! 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.
How do you save money on groceries?