Last Updated on July 9, 2020 by Early retired mom
Looking at my February grocery spending, I was surprised to realize we spent half the amount on food then we did in January.
This is 50% food savings!
And the important is that I was able to make sure both my husband, our 3 small kids and myself will eat healthy food.
At this point you probably ask yourself how I manage to cut the grocery bill and still eat healthy?
First, you should know that it wasn’t that hard. I am a food lover and I anticipated it to be much harder than it actually was.
Why should you cut your grocery spending and still eat healthy?
Before we get into the how, it is important to understand why you should do it.
Did you know that the average American waste 30-40% of their food?
Imagine that, 30-40% of the food that we buy goes into the trash!
This is already 30-40% food saving opportunities to be explored.
The thing is that the grocery bill is the easiest place to start saving money from. We spend so much money on food that sometimes we don’t notice it. And it sums up.
That’s the first reason – because it is the easiest category off your budget that you can substantially reduce and save that money for other purposes.
Second, because it is just not right to waste so much food.
I know it sounds like a cliché but if we were only more conscious when we throw food to the trash, maybe if will get us to think twice before we buy at the first place.
Third, because we want to focus on becoming healthier, use food smart and in a way that can bring our body more energy.
So, here is the list that helped me cut grocery spending by 50%:
1. Use a Grocery Budget Calculator
First step, you need to know how much you are spending today on food.
I have set my grocery budget to be 5.5% of my total family budget. If you have not setup a budget yet, please read this post.
Now that I have a budget, I can easily see that in February, I spent only a 3.9% of my budget on food which was far less than projected. This is really awesome!
Just for comparison, in January it was close to 9%.
How do I know all this?
I use a grocery budget calculator to forecast my spending.
Generally, I do our grocery shopping online most of the time. I purchase all the basic ingredients except for fruit, vegetables and eggs. I find supermarket quality when it comes to those items is not so high and some of the fruits and vegetables are tasteless.
However, the point that I am trying to make is that I can compare upfront between the price of each of the big supermarket chain and order where my grocery bill is the lowest.
2. Create a grocery list and stick to it
I always have a pen and paper handy in the kitchen.
Whenever I run out of something, I just add it to the list. When I am ready, usually on a weekly or bi-weekly basis I create my online grocery order and go to the farmers market for the fresh items.
And I stick to the list.
I am very conscious about buying any items that do not appear on the list and usually, I just don’t buy, even if this is something that I like.
I keep reminding myself I have a budget and a purpose for doing a list and cutting down my grocery bill and still eat healthy.
3. Start a 30 Day No Eating Out Challenge
We didn’t go out this month at all. This is more than 100$ in food saving.
We saved all our going out budget and only ordered food twice (this was when we moved and didn’t have anywhere to cook for a day, so I am hereby forgiven).
Just this by itself can help you cut your grocery bill and for sure eat healthier.
4. Cook It Yourself
One of the great things that came out of having a tight grocery budget is that I started cooking for myself (as I work from home) and for my family.
Now, I know it takes time to cook, especially when you come home from work all tired. Believe me, having 3 very small kids while having a full-time job can drain the energy out of anyone.
I have been there too many times.
However, I found a system that works for me (somehow).
I generally make the same type of dishes. I usually make them every week.
They are very easy and do not take a lot of time to prepare.
For example, if I make pasta, I generally make a lot. I save some with no sauce for the kids. They can add it as a supplement to dinner.
My husband likes it with Pesto sauce which I make fresh.
And I like to mix with garlic, cherry tomatoes, olives, thyme and basil. I add olive oil and salt and that’s it. Easy. It takes me 5 minutes to make and last for 2 days.
So, I save time and rather than preparing complex dishes, I try to keep it simple and fresh.
Another thing is I do not buy salad dressing and sauces. So, for example, I make Teriyaki myself. It is so easy. I usually make a big portion which lasts for a while.
I bake cakes and cookies and do not buy it outside. This is how I can control the ingredients and sugar level that goes in.
And again, I manage to do it in my limited spare time. If I really want something fancy, I save it for the weekend.
5. Stop Buying The Most Expensive Grocery Items
How much I love those fancy food items. Whether it is a special spice or special vegetable.
But I stopped buying them.
Usually they come in bigger quantities then what I actually need, and I end up, almost 100% of the times use it 2-3 times and then forget about it.
Also, I try to buy vegetables and fruit that are growing now. I live in a country blessed with good sun and we usually grow everything we eat rather than import it. But again, if you want to know how to cut the grocery bill and still eat healthy – you start cut cutting off expensive food items off your grocery list.
If I still want something that is expensive, I try to look for alternative. For example, I love to cook Thai food. And I love their special Thai spices which are quite expensive and not easy to find.
Some spices, like Kfir Lime, I will buy as I use it in many dishes. But Galangal is hard to find so sometimes I just replace it with Ginger.
You get where I am going with it. Cook what you love but keep focus on the cost.
6. Buy Fresh Buy Local
I am lucky to have a fresh local market where I buy all my fruits, vegetables and eggs.
I love it. It is like a routine to go to the market and buy very fresh supply (mostly picked the same day) at reduced prices.
This is a win-win situation.
I get to buy fresh at a cheaper price then the stores and super marketed. It is so fresh that you can smell it. The farmers get to keep a higher margin.
7. Don’t Waste Food
I love this tip. I am not as big cooker even though I love spending time in the kitchen.
However, this tip alone saves a lot of money and it is environmentally friendly.
So what do I actually mean, here are a few examples:
- Grilling your soft (soon to be thrown away) cherry tomatoes into a tomato sauce and storing it in to be later used as a Roasted Cherry-Tomato Sauce for the pasta / spaghetti that my kids just love!
- Have red, yellow or green peppers which are a bit soft and you know you will now use for any fresh meal? throw them into the oven and make grilled peppers. Add chopped garlic, lemon juice and a bit of salt. And after a few hours, all the tastes merge and I use it for so many dishes and sandwiches.
- Leftover from rice? just chop a few vegetables and throw them into the pen to make an easy stir fried rice.
So here you have it. It is so easy to cut your grocery bill and start eating healthy.
It will not require too much time off your already busy day.
Try to keep it fresh. Stay out of processed food. Frozen pizza, or frozen food in general for as long as you can.
Not only your wallet will love it. But also, your family will enjoy better food quality.
And enjoy it. Don’t eat food that you do not like just because you are trying to save. Make the dishes that you do like a bit cheaper and adopt a conscious mindset about food. But please find that way for you to enjoy this. Otherwise, to suffer through the process is not a good alternative.
Have a good tip?
Share it, maybe that’ll save us all some money