Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats: The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100

Fed up with how much you are spending at the grocery store?  Me too.
Read on to see how I personally cut $100 out of my bill.

I also teased about this post on Facebook and I'll be answering some of your questions at the bottom of this post.

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100.  Tips, thoughts and ideas!  I slashed my grocery bill by $100 and I survived.  Easy ways to cut down on excess and get back to the basics. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

It's Spring cleaning time and while I love a good deep clean of my house I also love saving money.  Who doesn't?  Saving money helps put that cash into other categories in your life that could use it a little bit more {debt, vacation, etc.}

Here's the thing.  My grocery bill has recently been getting out of hand.

For the past few months I was mindlessly wandering through the store throwing items in my cart and not really paying attention to how much I was buying.  Gradually each time I stepped up to the cashier for our big trips {every 2 weeks} my final bill was climbing up a fast ladder to infinity.  My cart was overflowing when in the past it hadn't and when I got home I couldn't even fit all the groceries in my small pantry cupboard or fridge.

It was getting out of control.

So I called an intervention on MYSELF.  Since I do the majority of the shopping and I'm a stay-at-home-working-mom it is MY JOB to keep this grocery budget in check.  Something I was failing on miserably.

I sat down, made a list of things I could cut and started brainstorming.  Here is that list.

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100.  Tips, thoughts and ideas!  I slashed my grocery bill by $100 and I survived.  Easy ways to cut down on excess and get back to the basics. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Let's cut to the chase.  I was getting lazy.  We were eating on paper plates when we could use real ones.  I was buying boxes of k-cups when I could easily make a regular pot of coffee.  I would come home with fancy boxes of protein bars and granola bars, sometimes 5 boxes at a time to get us through the two weeks {one brand is $4.99 a box!} and don't get me started on frozen pizzas.  I found a brand at ALDI that we LOVE, but they are close to $6 a pizza, when I could easily make my own for pizza party nights for much, much cheaper.

So needless to say I cut many things out.  They weren't needed and just simply a convenience.  But since we still "needed them" to get through our busy weeks, I then sat down and researched some homemade recipes.  

So far I've made these breakfast cookies and these homemade granola bars, plus this bar is on deck.  Both were a success!  I simply baked them up on Sunday and wrapped them up individually for the week.  I imagine I'll need to make another double batch this weekend.  Plus, I made their favorite spicy ranch pretzels to divide out in bags for their lunches during the week instead of buying pre-packaged crackers.

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100.  Tips, thoughts and ideas!  I slashed my grocery bill by $100 and I survived.  Easy ways to cut down on excess and get back to the basics. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Another MAJOR reason our grocery bill was skyrocketing was because of meat.  Golly, meat is expensive - beef, chicken, pork, all of it.  But, we're from Iowa, we're meat eaters so I didn't feel I could get around it very well.

BUT, the glorious thing about living in the heartland is that we have a lot of local farmers.  So about a month ago we hooked up with a friend taking one of their cows to the butcher and bought half of the cow.  Yes, it is expensive up front.  You might need to pour yourself a stiff drink when seeing the bill, but in the end it pays for itself HANDS DOWN.  

So yesterday all this meat was delivered and I played a little game of tetris trying to stack it all in our two freezers.  Now, we are stocked with ground beef, steaks, roasts and more for a long, long time.  No more buying it at the store!

We also do this with local pork when available.  Unfortunately I'm still buying a package {sometimes two} of chicken at the store, but not much. 

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100.  Tips, thoughts and ideas!  I slashed my grocery bill by $100 and I survived.  Easy ways to cut down on excess and get back to the basics. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

The other problem I was having was impluse buying.  I'm often shopping with my 3 year old.  Has anyone ever shopped with a 3 year old?  Consider yourself blessed if you haven't.  She for the most part is pretty good, but there are times when I want to run for the hills.

We'd stroll by the chocolate aisle {never good} and I'd throw in some fancy dark chocolate covered caramels because she would say, "Mommy, these are your favorite!".  Yes, they are girl.  Then we'd swing by the baby aisle and I'd pick up a applesauce squeeze pouch to keep her entertained.  And finally I'd grab some pre-made chicken salad {because it's awesome} when I could easily make my own, as well as some extra sharp fancy cheddar cheese to hide in the back of the fridge JUST FOR ME, when really again, not needed.

So I cut all that crap OUT.

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100.  Tips, thoughts and ideas!  I slashed my grocery bill by $100 and I survived.  Easy ways to cut down on excess and get back to the basics. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

In the past I kept a running tally in my head while shopping, testing my math skills for sure, but I did it every time.  That way I knew generally how much my cart was.  Well, as you can imagine that dropped down the gutter too.

This last trip I did that again!  I've found keeping a pen in hand and jotting down the total every 5 items or so helps a TON, because alas that 3 year old often gets me distracted.  Also, you NEED TO PAY IN CASH.

Please, for the love, take the exact amount you want to spend in cash, this will prevent you from overspending.  For this trip I took $150 and as you can see I went over by $5 but I blame that on last minute remembering I needed to purchase snacks for youth group.  So basically I was right on!  My last few trips I was spending $250 every two weeks and my goal was to decrease that by $100.

I did it.

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100.  Tips, thoughts and ideas!  I slashed my grocery bill by $100 and I survived.  Easy ways to cut down on excess and get back to the basics. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Do you want to cut your grocery budget down?

What are you spending too much money on?

Are you up for a challenge?

I dare you to give this a try.  We really can live on much, much less.  Heck, I could probably skip the grocery store next week and live off of canned goods alone in my pantry.  Maybe that will be my next challenge?

Lastly, I teased about this post on Facebook a week prior to writing this and you all came back with some great questions and ideas.  Here are my thoughts.

Lynn said: "My veggie and fresh fruit bill drives me crazy"

Yeah, me too.  I've found that if I buy a bit less in fresh produce, I end up wasting less.  Also, since I do our big shopping every two weeks, versus once a week, my produce runs out quicker.  So, I've started setting aside around $15 in cash to run to the store a week later and grab a few more things to get us through that last week.

Denise said: "I plan my meals, then get groceries for those meals, but then a week later we don't want to eat those meals or feel like them.  Help!"

I feel ya.  Sometimes I plan a dinner and just don't feel like eating it too.  But, I'm going to give you some hard love here.  Just power through it.  Remind yourself you are saving money by meal planning and sticking with it.  If you really, really don't want that meal that night, swap it with something you have planned later in the week.

Angela said: "Leftovers.  I'll eat them during the week, but the rest of the family isn't interested.  I need help making them into another meal."

Yes!  Leftovers can be a real bore sometimes.  That's just the plain truth.  Reinventing them helps a ton.  If I make tacos one night, I turn them into nachos the next night.  If I have leftover grilled chicken, I throw that chicken on an indulgent creamy pasta the following night.  Try asking your family to eat at least ONE leftover meal a week.  Start small.

Barb said: "Lunchmeat is expensive and full of additives.  Try cooking more meat and turning the leftovers into lunchmeat {i.e. a pot roast into roast beef sandwiches, or cooked turkey breast sliced into leftover lunchmeat}."

Completely 100% agree.  As a Mom of three, our family eats a TON of lunchmeat.  Sandwiches are easy to whip together for kids.  I love the idea of turning leftover cooked meats into the lunchmeat you use on sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Jenny said: "I want an all week sale at grocery stores, not these Thurs-Sat or Mon-Thurs sales.  Is it worth the gas running all over town?"

I'm going to plead the 5th of this one.  I'm not a big sale shopper.  Mainly because #1 I shop mostly at ALDI, where prices are cheap anyway and #2 I'm not big on traveling to various stores for one or two items.  I'd say ONLY venture to multiple stores if that item is an absolute must.  Otherwise I forget it and move on.

Kerri asked: "How to I make breakfasts on the go?  My son has an expensive pre-made frozen biscuit habit."

Breakfasts are hard with kids.  We're always short on time and patience.  I love making my homemade freezer breakfast burritos that easily nuke for a minute and you're out the door.  Honestly I'd try testing a few biscuit recipes, try freezing them and test them out.  All you can do is try!

The Essential Grocery Budget Challenge: How I Cut My Bill By $100.  Tips, thoughts and ideas!  I slashed my grocery bill by $100 and I survived.  Easy ways to cut down on excess and get back to the basics. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)



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