save money on groceries

How We Keep Our Grocery Budget Under $250 Per Month

by Tim on July 25, 2011

My wife and I are pretty frugal when it comes to groceries and others area of our budget.  We never thought twice about spending less than $250 each month on groceries until a few of our friends asked in amazement “how can you do that?”  Apparently, $350 – $400+ is normal for two people, but we’re here to say that it’s possible to eat well and spend $250 or less on groceries each month.

While these tips seem simple, they’re ALL essential for us to follow in order to maintain our well-kept food budget.   If you are trying to cut back with your groceries, I strongly encourage you to review these steps and honestly ask yourself which area might need improvement.  If you’re already living on a trim grocery budget, these tips might save you extra money without feeling like you’re tightening your belt.

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1. Plan your meals ahead of time –  Before we shop for the week, we plan our meals and look for ways to maximize items – i.e. if we’re buying ground beef because of a sale, we’ll plan for tacos, sloppy joes, or hamburgers to make sure we use up all the food.

2. Make a list and stick to it! – If you plan your meals ahead of time you’ll know what you need.  Don’t deviate, and you’ll learn to buy the essentials required to make the meals you planned for.

3. Don’t shop hungry – Sounds like it’s too simple to work, but if you’ve ever shopped hungry, you know what I’m talking about.  Drink some water, eat a granola bar, or chew gum to stave off your hunger until you’re out of that grocery store!

4. Use a cash only budget for groceries – When you set out cash for each week, you’re forced to cut back and think twice before you throw something in your cart!

5. Price match when possible – I know that WalMart offers this, so we take advantage of other store sales while getting the best price at one location – saving time and money…gotta love that!

6. Watch store circulars for sales – Walgreens and CVS will highlight their store savings in a store circular, so be on the lookout for this small paper when you walk in.  Sometimes these deals will combine with a coupon and make the item nearly free!


7. Clip coupons from the Sunday paper and match with store sales -  Nearly 75% of grocery coupons come from the Sunday paper.  That’s why we will buy 2-3 copies and maximize our savings.

8. Know your store’s coupon policy – If you plan on using coupons, it’s good to know how your store handles them.  I’ve known some people who have even brought a copy to the store if they thought a cashier would make an error.

9. Print coupons – We print coupons from coupons.com, redplum.com, and couponmom.com for even more great savings on our groceries.

10. Use rain checks if products are sold out – If you missed a sale, ask a floor manager if they will provide a rain check on the sale item.  The next time you’re in, you can redeem the rain check even if the product isn’t on sale anymore.

11. Build a small stockpile –  Our stockpile isn’t huge or anything, but we do have a few items like deodorant, soap and other toiletries that will last us 6 months or so.  By the time another great sale comes around, we’ll be able to replenish our supply at a great price (oftentimes for 25% of the regular cost!).

12. Freeze your fruits – Don’t throw away those over-ripe bananas – freeze them!  The same can be done with blueberries, strawberries, and other fruits.  We like to use them for smoothies or for baking.

13. Pick your own produce – You can save a lot of money if you pick your own produce.  Visit a local blueberry farm and pick a pound for $1.75 instead of paying $2.00 for a fraction of the berries.  Freeze them and you can have them through winter too!

14. Try the store brand – We will often get name brands because coupons make them cheaper than the store brand, but some things don’t make a difference to us.  The pennies can add up, but if you can tell a difference with the products, you might be willing to pay a little more.

15. Stay organized –  Nothing’s worse than having a disorganized pantry when you’re trying to save money on groceries.  Keep items well organized and in sight so that you don’t buy something by accident or forget you have an item that will soon spoil.

 How do you save money on groceries?  Will you try any of these tips?

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

CityFlips July 25, 2011

Having a few meatless meals can help stay within budget as well. Also, buying frozen vegetables is often a better (and just as good for you) deal than buying fresh veggies. Especially for out of season veggies!

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Tim July 27, 2011

Awesome tip CityFlips! I didn’t think about that, but it can really save some money each month.

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Jon | Free Money Wisdom July 25, 2011

Holy moly! Mine is at $600/month just for me! Should I feel embarrassed?

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Tim July 27, 2011

Yikes! $600 is a little too high in my books. You’ll need a second job to pay for food if you get married and have kids….just think about that food bill :)

(just giving you a hard time Jon :) )

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Jack Hudson July 26, 2011

Hey,
I have gone through your blog ( http://www.faithandfinance.org/ ), its really informative and I really loved it.
I am willing to share my ideas to your audiences through my unique article.
So if you give me the opportunity to share my unique article, then please contact me.

Your positive reply will be highly appreciated.

Regards,
Jack.

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Tim July 27, 2011

We love to feature guest posts. Just check out our ‘write for us’ page:

http://www.faithandfinance.org/write/

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Samirian July 27, 2011

$250 for a couple is pretty good. I try to stay under $200 @ month (single). In addition to many of the items you listed, my latest strategy is to give myself one hour to shop. That way I stay focus. I shop by a list, leave my cart on the outer aisle and walk down center aisles only for items on my list. Grocery stores are very strategic to get you to overspend!

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Tim August 2, 2011

Thanks for sharing your tips Samirian!

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michelle July 29, 2011

For a few years, I’ve bought gift cards (one for each week of the month) at my big box store where I buy groceries. I use one each time I shop (mine are for $85 each). Of course there are a few items that may come up during the week but this works great.
Also, #1 rule, I shop alone(no kids). I tell em this is “serious business for mom” so I have to go alone.
The last thing– is that I put necessities in the big part of the cart and “fun stuff if there’s any money left on the gift card” in the top of the buggy (cookies, candy, soda). Lots of time I can get at least some of the fun stuff :)

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Tim August 2, 2011

Good insight Michelle! I’ve thought about using gift cards, but we’re trying to use straight cash now.

Glad to hear that you can have some room still for a little fun stuff :)

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George August 2, 2011

So $250/m for two people is supposed to be something to write about? We are a family of 5 (two adults, two teenagers and a 12 y. old) and ours is $600/m. And we buy organic bread and chicken a lot. Am I supposed to write a “how to” post now, too? :)

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Tim August 2, 2011

I think so :)

You’re welcome to share a post here if you’re up for the challenge.

http://www.faithandfinance.org/write Looking forward to your post :)

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World of Finance August 7, 2011

Great tips F&F :) Thanks for sharing.

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Rebecca August 11, 2011

What would be a month amount for 7 people? We have two teen, boys, and three other kids ages 9,7,5.

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Tim August 11, 2011

Hi Rebecca

I don’t think there’s a hard and fast number to follow, especially since everyone’s finances are a little different. (I don’t expect every couple to spend $250 on food…some may spend less, others may spend more)

It sounds like Chris M (below) spends about $600 a month for a family of 7. That’s less than $100 per person each month. When you put it into perspective for a per meal cost, $600/month for a family of 7 is $0.95 per meal per person. For our family of 2 (on our $250 food budget) we spend about $1.39 per person per meal.

Try to drive down the per person cost of each meal. Aim for less than a dollar on average. If you can get it to $0.75 per person per meal, you’ve knocked down your monthly food bill to $475. It might take eating rice and beans (to steal a line from Dave Ramsey), but that might be necessary for a time as you balance your budget.

hope that helps!
Tim

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Chris M August 11, 2011

We also have a family of 7. We try to live on $150 per week with two teen boys, 1 teen girl, two others ages 6 and 4. Any advice for us? It is a constant struggle. I would love ideas from anyone. you can email me at cmredhead5@gmail.com – please but ‘Food Budget’ in the subject head. Thanks!

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MGalloway August 16, 2011

Good tips…

I’ll add a couple more:

1) Start a garden if possible. It may take a few tries to figure out what grows best in your area, but things like peppers (green, jalapeno, etc.), tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables are relatively easy to grow. If you know how to can, that could save even more.

2) Get a deep freezer and buy frozen meats when they go on sale. Sometimes I’ve seen deals where you can get a a large pack of meat (i.e. a dozen pork chops) for a reasonable price. You can then split up that pack into twos, threes, or fours and freeze them for individual meals.

3) Freeze leftovers. Some things work well…for instance homemade chicken or vegetable soup freezes really well and you can store them in individual plastic containers, too. It’s pretty easy to make a big batch of fresh soup and then freeze a bunch of it for a later date.

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Rebecca March 13, 2012

We have a freezer full of venison meat. We kill the deer and then grind it up ourselves. It took me many years of making food to be able to enjoy a meal with venison. But now, it is worth it! I have two teen boys (16, 14) and three younger ones (10 ds, 8 dd, 5 dd). I can only imagine how much it would cost us if we had to purchase ground beef. We do have leftovers but the kids don’t like eating them. So, I put the leftovers in the freezer and in two weeks they come back out. Or, I don’t make anything else until all leftovers are eaten. We also have 25 laying chickens that are somewhat free ranged. They have a fence around them, but they get moved every week to a new spot. The chickens also get our leftovers.

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pune flowers August 24, 2011

This is really very good and informative article. The points were well chosen and well explained too. Good tips. Thanks for the article.

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SDL November 3, 2011

These ideas are certainly very nice and new also when it comes to saving money.I really like the ideas too much and thanks for posting these ideas.

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Letia December 31, 2011

I loved your tips! I wasn’t sure even what range I should be aiming at for my family of 3, but I feel pretty happy now knowing we can do it.

Another hint and thing to consider is food co-ops, and bulk producers, like Bountiful Baskets and Zaycon foods. I spend $1.49 a lb on chicken breasts (buying in bulk from Zaycom). I have to buy 40 lbs at once, but a friend of mine and I split it for our freezer. Its wonderful having chicken all the time.

Bountiful Baskets is a fresh produce co-op, I buy a basket for 16.50 and get about 30 lbs of fresh fruits and veggies.

I also have friends that do “Yard work for fruit” by hopping on freecycle websites and asking if anyone has fruit trees going unharvested. She goes to their homes, picks their produce, leaves them a basket takes 1-3 baskets herself, and cleans up the produce already rotting in their yard. Its especially helpful for the elderly, they love eating off their own trees, but its so much work!

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Australian Finance March 9, 2012

a best guide on this topic. It covers all the essential points and I really like this part of the information.

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Karla March 12, 2012

Thanks for these awesome tips! Since we are only on one income right now (I’m staying home with our three kiddos) money is very tight and I needed to find some ideas to budget for groceries! I am going to try your tips! Yeah! :-)

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Merchandising Companies March 15, 2012

Article explains tips to keeping our grocery budget under 250 per month. For using, some tips you can maintain your grocery budget tips are make grocery list, freeze your fruits, plan your meals ahead of time and many of tips helps to decrease grocery budget. Excellent article.

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Budget-meals.org April 7, 2012

We teach people to save a lot more with less. You might want to check out our web site and book, Beyond Couponing. Available on e-book for $9.99 or soft-back for $24.95.

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