Each and every time I announce to a group that we have a 64 dollar grocery budget, I get at least one person that says “well, I know I couldn’t do that.” Most recently, I’ve been getting the “you now have another mouth to feed. That budget won’t last.” Oh, thanks! There’s always a myriad of reasons why these nay-sayers think they can’t do it: special diets, no discipline, and even where they live becomes an excuse. Well, I’m here to tell you, there are other reasons why your grocery budget isn’t working.
You don’t use portion control
It happens to everyone. You know that when you make spaghetti, you need at least 2 pounds of ground meat. If think if you don’t have enough, the whole meal is ruined. When I share how to stretch one chicken into 7 meals, I constantly hear people stating that their family finishes a whole roast chicken in one meal. But, why? No one thinks about the proper amount of protein needed for each family member, or how you can lower that by using a few tips and tricks.
Try This: Use alternate forms of protein. Hide minced mushrooms in your spaghetti sauce. Add a sunny-side up egg to your fried rice. Slice up roast chicken in the kitchen, and only serve half of the meat at the dinner table. Utilize portion control when shopping and cooking, and you’ll immediately save.
You don’t factor in snacks and desserts
Yes, you need snacks. Yes, desserts are perfectly fine to add to your budget. In fact, these two items are needed in order to keep your budget low. Healthy snacks help to get families through the day without having to use up items reserved for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dessert was the big secret to our family becoming debt-free in under 2 years.
Try This: Keep dessert simple, like sautéed cinnamon apples with whipped cream, but always offer dessert at least 3 times a week. It stretches a meal, and kids are more prone to eating all of their food if you offer them a dessert, no matter what it is. Make homemade snacks, like granola bars, or popcorn made on the stove.
You don’t shop seasonally
One of the easiest ways to stay within your budget is to buy what is in season. This sounds so simple, but many of us forget to shop in this way. Items that are in-season will cost less, and will be fresher.
Try This: If you or someone in your family is a picky eater, only purchase the in-season items that they will eat so food doesn’t go to waste. Also, in-season produce should be frozen for future use, and to help lower your grocery budget in future weeks.
You shop by recipe
I blame this one on Pinterest. We see a pretty picture, an awesome recipe, and then rush to the store to buy all the ingredients. Nope, don’t do that. Buy what’s in-season and on sale, then find recipes that will accommodate what you’ve purchased.
Try This: Use the website supercook.com to find recipes that will use the items you’ve purchased on sale.
You accept defeat
This is the most maddening part of chatting with friends and family about their grocery budgets. Like I stated above, they immediately announce that there is no way they could have a lower budget. If you think you can’t, then you won’t. Let yourself win. This is a tiny battle in the war of being debt-free, so see it as such.
Try This: Create a grocery shopping process that will encourage you to save. Shop at a store you enjoy being in, set a time limit for how long you’ll shop, and encourage yourself to stay under budget. If you end up saving a couple of dollars, let everyone know! Celebrate those small victories.