Right now all of our expenses are basically non-negotiable other than food (school tuition, rent, insurance, and gas). We are trying very hard not to have any expenses beyond this, and for the most part we have stuck to our budget.
This past month I have reduced our grocery bill by about $10 - $20 less a week. Still, I feel that we are spending way too much on food and I think I'd like to reduce our grocery bill by another $20 per week. I was recently encouraged to continue to reduce the budget when I read a blog post titled: What I Would Feed my Family on a Monthly Budget of $250. Our budget is well over $250/month, and we're simply a family of 2 (this budget is for a family of 5).
Here are some simple steps we're taking to reduce our budget:
note: some of this may seem super-frugal, but that's how it has to be for us right now.
1. Stop eating out. I seriously crave Tim Horton's Steeped Tea quite often, so this week we'll be setting $5 cash aside per week for quick Tim's runs.
2. Make a Grocery List: Make a grocery list of the essentials, and only the essentials, and stick to your grocery list.
3. Ignore the Sales: Unless the Sale is something that you have on your list, or normally use, don't buy something just because it's on sale! When you do see an essential that is on sale though, stock up with 1 or 2 months supply.
4. Drink FREE water: Don't buy pop. Don't buy juice. Don't buy alcohol. Don't buy coffee. DON'T BUY BOTTLED WATER! Water is FREE (we have a Britta Filter) and can be flavored with a slice of cucumber or slice of lime/lemon. You can also make Homemade Lemonade or Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice.
5. Don't buy Snacks: We try not to shop the aisles of the grocery store, because there are tons of unnecessary snacks on the shelves. Instead, we make our own snacks or munch on fruits or vegetables between meals. Things like chips, cookies, or chocolates are all expensive, unhealthy, and unnecessary. You can make Zucchini Fries, Homemade Potato Wedges, or Homemade Cookies for much less.
6. Don't buy frozen foods: I must admit that Daniel and I enjoy Jane's Chicken Fingers. They taste good, they are super easy and quick for lunch. The problem is, they are very expensive and not healthy! We recently decided that we aren't going to buy any more frozen foods (although we don't really buy much to begin with). Instead, we're going to make healthy lunches like Chickpea Salad or even just eat leftovers from dinner.
7. Search Your Cupboards: Try to find something in your cupboard that you haven't used for a few weeks/months and use that instead of a "go-to-item" that you always use. For example: we have Chickpeas in our cupboard that have been there for a very long time, so we're going to have Chickpea Salad for lunch today. After that, we won't buy chickpeas because clearly we don't use them!
8. Make it yourself: These past few weeks I keep having to ask myself, "can I make this myself instead of buying it?" I've been trying to make homemade chicken stock instead of buying it each week, which saves a few dollars a week. I also made homemade bread this week and will probably make two loaves next week, this also saves some money and just tastes way better!
9. No more Recipes: This is something that I have personally chosen to do. I find that when I was making recipes that I found online or in a book I was having to buy all these ingredients that I didn't have, and often not even using the ingredients again. Now, I try to make my own recipes with what I have (which has made me a better cook). I also try to find simple recipes online, that way I don't have to go out and buy anything.
There are tons more tips that I have heard, but these are the tips that I'm standing by! Next week we're also going to stop buying meat from the butcher and stop buying organic fruits and vegetables. This makes me sad, but I think that we're spending too much because of this, and could potentially save $20/week just by going back to our "old ways". I still plan on buying free-range, grain fed meats at the supermarket, but I think it will still be cheaper than going to the butcher.
What are your tips to reduce your grocery bill?