Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How I Save Hundreds a Month on Groceries

When Trevon and I started our family, we decided that I'd be a stay at home parent if it was at all possible. We felt very strongly that what was important for our family is that our kids would have a parent at home to help them, love them, teach them, and raise them.  We both believe that a child deserves that. Even when the kids are all at school, I will be home as much as possible because I really feel that every kid deserves to have a parent at home when they get home from school. So from the start, I became a stay at home mom.  This has been challenging in several ways for me and for our family.

One of those ways is financial.  It's hard in today's world to have a stay at home parent and afford the cost of living.  And I've found myself several times thinking "what can I do to help us save more?" also fully knowing that I'm not in a position to go get a full-time job, nor do I want to.  One way that I can always save a little more here and there is at the grocery store.

The average amount for a family of 4 to spend on groceries is around $750 a month. We have a family of 5 (and really Trevon could count as two because he eats A LOT!) and we spend right around $500 a month without doing ultimate couponing or anything like that and today I'm going to share a few tricks with you to help you cut down on your grocery bill.

I've tried several of the frugal trends. I gave the coupon thing a good try but ultimately decided that it was a lot more work than it was worth to me. I tried the less shopping method, where you only shop once a month or every two weeks, but I found that the food we did get either spoiled or ran out before it was time to shop again.  I tried freezing meals, and that worked well for a little while but we had to stop because we ran out of room in our freezer and have no room in our house for a second freezer. The thing is, these plans work well for some people and that's great! But it doesn't work for all of us. So here are a few things that I do in order to make sure that we are saving as much as possible on our groceries every month.

The first thing I do is make a dinner list and a grocery list. I do this once a week.  Sunday nights I plan all of our dinner meals for the week and then from that list of meals I make of list of groceries that we need in order to make those meals. I only do this for dinner. Lunch and breakfast are pretty easy for me to keep cheap and quick and filling. But for dinner I always want to make sure that I'm making something that will fill our family, that is healthy, that will help my kids grow, and that they all like. That's kind of challenging sometimes but it can be done! After the things that we need for dinners are all on the list, I go through the kitchen and add things that we've run out of or that have gone bad.  I split that into two different lists. One for our local grocery store, and one for Costco. I split these by the price. If I know something is at Costco that is cheaper and that we will for sure go through before it goes bad. Mostly this is some fruit, meats, milk, cheese, bread, diapers, wipes and kid snacks. Now a lot of people think that the money I save on food at Costco comes out of my pocket by paying for a membership, but we use the Costco credit card and we have always earned enough back to pay for the next membership plus much more that goes right into our savings account. I'm talking hundreds back.

Next, I go shopping and I follow my list as closely as I can. I only go down the isles that I need something on. I If there happened to be a coupon that I found, I use it.  If I know that we have a good amount of room in our budget left for the month, then I will let the kids pick a treat or I'll splurge a little bit here and there. But mostly I just stick to the budget. Most of our grocery list usually consists of things like produce and eggs.  don't often impulse buy, and I don't buy a lot of junk food. We don't usually buy chips, pre-cooked meals, or other foods that we know will not hold us over or fill us up and we honestly don't miss those things all that much.

After I get done shopping, I check my Ibotta account. I love Ibotta because I almost always get some little bit of a rebate back. Even if it's 25 cents, it's still more saved than nothing.  So I go through and make sure I didn't miss anything that I bought that would count towards a rebate. (Ibotta is great for more than just groceries. You can get rebates for a lot of different stores, anything from Joann's to Amazon, to grocery stores and more).  When I reach around $20 back in my Ibotta account I transfer it to my PayPal and then to my bank account. I can't say that I get to cash out from Ibotta on a monthly basis, it usually does take a few months for the money to add up, but $20 after a couple of months is better than nothing.

I cook at home every night. I pick from the list we made, or I let the kids pick between two on the list. Then, if we have leftovers, we save them for lunch the next day (I don't think there's anyone who doesn't do this...). It is pretty rare that we will go out for dinner or pick something up. And a lot of times when we do get something we feed the kids something easy from home and then Trevon goes out to get us some dinner while I put kids to bed. It counts as our date night and we don't have to pay a babysitter. When we go out as a family, we splurge and don't worry so much about what it will cost. If the kids will eat it then we are ok with it.

By doing these things, we save a couple hundred dollars a month (according to the norm) in groceries. These aren't hard things to do and most of it is just habit now. (I'll add a little disclaimer here that I honestly do not buy many "organic" things. In my opinion, an apple that has been sprayed with a pesticide and hasn't been eaten by any kind of worms or bugs that I need to wash or peel, is just as good as an organic apple that costs twice as much anyway that I don't have to wash but could have a worm or bug bite on it. We buy whole produce, just not organic.)

What is your favorite way to save money at the grocery store?

What is the smallest amount you've paid at the grocery store in a week?

Do you have a favorite money saving app?

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