Simple Stewardship – Grocery Budgeting pt. 2

How to Save Money on Groceries

The other day I shared tips on ways to save on your groceries. These are things my family has done that have really slashed our grocery budget. Every family is different, and many of these tips are very basic — but when I started, each of these shocked me with the amount of money I was able to save! If you missed last week’s post, check it out here. Then move on to the next 5 tips!

6. Ditching cans and boxes can save TONS of money. This isn’t one everyone has time for, and I totally understand that. However, if you’re like I was and you have a little more time than you do money, this is most definitely worth it. One of the biggest things I stopped buying was Creamed Soups. I have seen countless pins where people tear down the canned soup because of the unpronounceable ingredients in it – and I get that, too – but that wasn’t our family’s reasoning. For us, it was just crazy how much we could save. In recent weeks, I’ve seen name brand cream soups for sale for as little as 50 cents! Yes, I bought some for when we’re in a time crunch. For the most part, though, I can make these for less than 5 cents. Butter, flour, milk, and 2 minutes of your time is all it takes to have a much yummier, much cheaper substitute! Many things are this way. We no longer buy bread crumbs – we save the heels from our bread loaves and freeze them. When we need bread crumbs I either hand them to a kid to crumble, or I pop them in the food processor, then I season them however I want. Way better than spending $2 on a tube of them. Other products that are better made than bought are chicken broth, shredded chicken, pizzas, and lunchables. One day I’ll try pasta, as well, but I’m not quite there yet!

7. You don’t have to use every teeny thing the recipe calls for. When I began meal planning, I bought a thing of capers because a recipe called for it – even though I didn’t know what they were!. When it came time to make that meal, we were busy and did something else instead. I still have those capers. I’ve since learned that cooking is much less of a science than baking. (Casseroles count as cooking in this comparison, btw.) If I’m cooking, and I need buttermilk or sour cream, I use lemon juice and milk. It bakes just fine, every time, and always tastes just as good – if not better. Don’t spend money on ingredients you don’t use regularly, and don’t run to the store in the middle of dinner prep before you’ve made sure there is absolutely no substitute already sitting in your kitchen. Oftentimes now, if I’m not making several meals in a week that need a specific ingredient, I won’t even put it on the list. I can’t even calculate how many tubs of sour cream and cartons of buttermilk I would have thrown away if I hadn’t learned this trick. (It applies to many other things, as well! If you’re looking to substitute something in a recipe, Google is your friend!)

8. Planning ahead of time will save you money every time. There are a crazy number of benefits to meal planning, which I’ve outlined in this post, but in brief? Plan ahead. When it’s 5 o clock and afternoon fatigue hits and you just want dinner to be on the table already, you’re in no shape to think up and put together a meal. You’ll end up with chicken nuggets and tater tots for dinner – and not only is that not the best nutritional option (though better than AIR in a pinch!), it’s also way more expensive than a wholesome, mom-cooked meal. Take the time once a week, or twice a month, or once a month to sit down and write out what you’ll feed your family. There are subscription services for this, as well as bloggers who share their meal plans for free, but I prefer to do the planning myself – mainly because I know what my family will likes to eat. And while you’re at it, make a list of groceries you need. Not only will this save you from having to stop and grab groceries during the day or cancelling a meal, it’ll cut down on those wasted moments in the grocery store wondering if you have enough potatoes to make tonight’s casserole.

9. Buy when it’s cheap – and buy a lot. This is another one that not everyone can do because it requires space, but I made it work with my family of 4 1/2 in a 1K square foot apartment, so it’s possible if you make it. The biggest challenge was meat – it was also the biggest money-saver. For a season, we had NO frozen convenience foods or ice cream. We bought a ton of chicken when it was $1.49/lb and a ton of beef when it was $1.98/lb and we saved at least $1/lb for meat every single time we ate. It was well worth the sacrifice, especially since, for my meat-eating family, meatless meals are really not much of an option! We apply this with most of our non-perishables, as well. Pasta, canned veggies, tomato sauce, canned soups (for a slightly quicker, less inexpensive dinner in a pinch), breakfast cereal, oatmeal, beans, etc. It also works for some refrigerated foods – especially if they freeze well, like cheese.

10. Ad hunting and price matching are worth the effort. Last week my husband did the grocery shopping – with three kids in tow. He went to Walmart, bought the items on my list, and matched the prices for nearly every item he purchased. I bragged on him a bit on Facebook and a friend remarked that they ‘never do that.’ Let me tell you, even with the stress of doing it in that environment, it was well worth it. We saved a LOT of money. Here’s how I do it each week. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time (it’s way less time-consuming than couponing!), and it isn’t stressful at all. I encourage you to look at the ads for your area – armed with your list of standard prices (even if it’s a mental list!), and begin bulk-buying your foods to save money.

A few bonus notes:

– The prices in the ads aren’t always good prices. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an advertised price that was significantly higher than the standard/average price for that item!
– Don’t let this process stress you out. It’s best to do one or two or three things at a time, and add on as you can. If it makes your chest get all tight, scale back. Saving money will relieve stress long-term, but learning how to do it does take work.
– Don’t beat yourself up every time you spend an excess penny. I totally did this when I started (still do now and then), and it led me to tip two regularly!

Remember that it isn’t yours to start with. God is providing you with whatever money you have, and stewarding it is an act of worship. Enjoy the process just as you would any other!

Are there other grocery budgeting tips you have used? Share below!

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