How To: Stay Under $100 Grocery Budget

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Well hello there 🙂

This is my first post in my Tip Tuesday series!  Hopefully these will be helpful, especially for all those newlyweds or college students getting out on their own for the first time.

As the title says, I’m going to explain how to stay under (most of the time way under) $100 dollars per week for your grocery shopping.

When my husband and I first started to plan our budget before we got married, he had the most say in the budget.  Not because he is controlling of the bank account, but mostly because I had never had to do anything on my own before as I had lived with my parents after high school while I went to college and had never moved out before we got married.So, based on Nate’s experience, he thought for two people we would have to go up to about $400 per month on groceries, and he thought that might be a stretch.

I’ll be honest, that first time we went to buy groceries after our honeymoon, I was stressed out and nervous that I was going to end up spending way more than $100.  I remember seeing some posts my friends had done on Instagram with their first grocery receipt.  They seemed to be about 3 feet long and had 100 things on it! and was scared to death!  How the heck was I supposed to stay under $100?  That’s not possible, especially when you have literally nothing to start with.

Well, we went to the store, got everything on our list, and I only spent $79.70!  You have no idea how relieved I was.  My grocery list was  not nearly as long as the other’s I had seen my friends post, and it hasn’t been since.  There has been only one time that I did go over the budget, and I was still able to stay way under the $400 per month because every other week I spend on average $60 on groceries.  How do I do it?  It may seem obvious when I tell you, but it is a game changer!

No. 1: PLAN!!!  I cannot stress this enough.  By planning your meals for the week, you will save the headache of having to either go to the store everyday or having to fill up your pantry with all the necessities so you can cook on a whim.  Not to say that isn’t nice, but if you have to stay in a budget, and especially when you are starting out and don’t have a padded bank account, it’s best to plan your week out.

**Note for your first trip to the store: whether you are just married or just getting out on your own, realize that you don’t have to buy everything that was in your mom’s pantry to start out.  Really try and stick with the food you will need for that week. Don’t be getting flour, sugar, ketchup, A1 Sauce and the like if you don’t need it.  There will be plenty of time in the future.  Just buy these as you go and your shopping trips will remain manageable 🙂

No. 2: Plan meals with overlapping ingredients.  This will help you reduce food that could potentially go bad.  For instance, if I am making a meal that calls for 1 cup of coconut milk, and a standard can of coconut milk is about 2.5 cups, I will find another recipe that I can use the coconut milk in, too.  I do the same with vegetables. If I have to buy asparagus, but don’t need the whole bunch, I just make sure to plan to use the rest as a side dish.  Easy 🙂

No. 3: Choose meats carefully.  If you don’t like meat, this is easy.  But for people like my husband and I, we love meat.  Maybe too much. Unfortunately, red meat is usually more expensive.  So, to combat this, I buy chicken. Chicken is cheap!  I even use chicken sausage to cut costs even more!  Honestly, it’s hard to even notice anything different, and I love real food- not fake 😉  I buy about $10 worth of chicken for the week. There are times that I will splurge a bit and get enough red meat for 1 meal, but that is rare.

No. 4: Know what is cheaper- fresh or frozen.  When it comes to produce, there are several ways to buy it.  Canned food such as fruit or vegetables, is my last resort.  I prefer using fresh, but sometimes frozen is cheaper, and almost as good. So, before you go down the produce aisle, check the frozen section first and compare the prices.

No. 5: Use coupons or apps.  I like the Smith’s Marketplace app so that I can check the deals.  Generally, everything is cheaper at Wal-Mart, but the quality is also cheaper, so when there are good deals I’ll go to Smith’s.

No. 6: Stay on your grocery list.  It is hard to shop when your hungry, but its doable! Even if you don’t have the munchies, stay with the grocery list.

No. 7: This is one of my best kept secrets. I will only plan 5-6 meals a week! When I shop, I will make sure I have stuff for breakfast, like eggs, bread for toast, cottage cheese and yogurt, but other than that, I only plan for dinner.  I try to make sure I know what our date night will consist of.  If we are planning on dining out, then I only have to plan for 5 meals.  We always go over to my parents house for Sunday dinner, so I don’t have to worry about planning for that day either!

No. 8: Plan for leftovers.  This goes hand in hand with the above.  My husband and I don’t eat a ton.  When I make dinner, we always have leftovers.  We eat those leftovers for lunch the next day, which saves us money!  I don’t have to buy the lunch meat, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles for sandwiches, or whatever else I could dream up. This also saves time in the mornings.  After dinner, we put the leftovers in our separate dishes for our lunches so that all we have to do on the way out is grab them from the refrigerator!

Wishing you happiness,

Madi

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