I have been asked by many how I get my grocery bill under $100 a pay period or $200 a month. To be honest I was shocked by the questions because I thought I was not even close to some other bloggers who are way under that. Then talking with others and hearing how much they spend each month I realized I was way under their spending. I thought that I would do a short series on lowering your growing bill. Please know that I am nowhere close to being an expert and these are tips that I have learned along the way.
Menu planning is very important while lowering your grocery bill especially if you are just starting. Menu planning just does not save you time in the kitchen but can help you save money. How you menu plan is entirely up to you. You may plan just for dinner or for all three meals or you may plan for five days and not the weekend. You may plan on doing menus weekly or bi-weekly or by the entire month. I plan my menus every two weeks or by our pay period.
When planning your menus you can make a list of meals that your family likes and start inputting them into the days. There is nothing wrong with pizza night every Friday or cereal for breakfast for three days out of the week. When planning your menu try to plan around the coupons you have clipped or sales going on in the store (more on that next week). Whatever works for your family is the idea here.
After making your menus take a look to see if there is anything you can make from scratch, such as pizza or convenience breakfast foods. I make all of my breakfast foods unless I found a great deal. I know not everybody would like to wake up and start cooking. Well, you really do not have too. If you have pancakes on your menu twice for the week or for the following week you can always double your batch and then freeze the extra. Then come the morning of pancakes you just grab them from the freezer and pop them in the toaster or microwave.
When it comes to lunches it does not always have to be a meal. I know some people will not like that idea but smoothies and a snack to go with it can hold many people over until snack time. My kids love having smoothies for lunch. Along with the smoothies they may have crackers and peanut butter and after they are done they are just as full as having a meal. Sandwiches are a good meal and with sandwiches you can switch it up. You can make grilled cheese one day and peanut butter and jelly the next. Or forget the bread and have lunchmeat rolled up with cheese. Whatever works for your family.
When I plan my dinners I try to plan something that we can have for leftovers or freeze. Also, having a meatless dinner can lower your grocery bill. I know of people who have to have meat at their dinner meal and that is okay. I am not saying you cannot have meat I am just making a suggestion. We tend to have meat at our dinner but every once in awhile we will have yellow rice and black beans or "breakner".
Menus can be made up on notebook paper, your computer, or pre-made menu sheets found online. Whatever works for you is the idea.
Next week I will cover coupons and how it can be used in menu planning.
Do you menu plan? How often do you menu plan weekly, bi-weekly or monthly?