When I resigned from my job for family reasons, our monthly budget sliced in half, which meant our grocery bill needed to, too. Grocery shopping on a budget is tough and can be hard to fix after you're so used to spending more. But it's even more difficult when you have children, many of whom are picky eaters, will only eat certain things, and are obsessed with certain snacks. The first few months were rough with our new grocery budget — we tried couponing, different apps, and even dabbling with some interesting recipes. But over the course of a year, I figured out a magic formula to help our family cut (chop? slice? I could do this all day.) that total on the receipt in half.
- Meal Plan — I'm sure you've heard it before, but making a list of exactly what you need (and nothing else) before heading to the grocery store is extremely helpful. This will help you stick to the essentials and not randomly add things to your cart. But you should also take it a step further and plan out every single meal for the week, too (this includes snacks for you and your entire family). If you plan out every meal, you won't overbuy.
- Go Grocery Shopping Once a Week and No More — The more often you go to the grocery store, the more you'll spend. We try to head to the grocery store only twice per month, and although it's difficult, I know it saves us money.
- Eat Less Meat — If you're already a vegetarian, you're already saving money by not eating meat (that stuff is expensive!). But for our big Greek family, this one is tough. We try to have one meatless meal per week, and I also try to stretch the meat that we do buy (on sale, of course) by making it into two meals. For example, if I buy a package of three chicken breasts, I'll put them in the slow cooker to make chicken enchiladas and a chicken soup to eat throughout the week.
- Always Buy Generic — This one is simple. Never buy the name-brand stuff so long as you're happy with all the ingredients. The prices are jacked up and everything usually tastes the same.
- Shop the Perimeter and Cook Your Own Food — All of the fresh produce and dairy is typically placed on the perimeter of grocery stores. This is also where most of the healthy food is. The center of the store is where all that prepackaged stuff lives, aka the junk your body doesn't need. By buying from the perimeter of the store and preparing your own food, both your waistline and wallets will benefit.
- Try Shopping at Aldi — Many people are apprehensive about shopping at Aldi for different reasons. Maybe it's that you have to bag your own items or put in that quarter to use a grocery cart — I don't know. But what I do know is that everything about it is worth it. If you're serious about cutting that grocery bill, Aldi will help make it happen. I've found that we save the most on produce, meat, and dairy by shopping at Aldi, and everything tastes great.