Food … Evidently, you need it to live. Fine, fine, fine … As frugal as I am, I still like living. But why does it take up so much of my monthly budget?!
We are currently spending around $900 per month on average on our grocery bill. This includes things like toiletries, paper towel and laundry detergent. I find this number to be way too flippin' high for my liking!
In my frustration and desperation, I threw out a question on the Investing and Personal Finance Club that I'm in on Facebook. My post:
“We spend about $900 on groceries (toiletries, etc included) every month for our family of four. We don't shop at a super expensive grocery store but we do like to eat healthy. Does anyone have recommendations to help our family trim the grocery budget down? Or is $900 typical?”
Man, did I receive some excellent feedback! 130 comments in 24 hours!
Here are the top 5 tips I received from this smart group of savers on how to lower my grocery bill:
1. Do a Weekly Meal Plan
A lot of the group agreed that doing shopping weekly is a great way to reduce food waste and stay on your budget. In addition to shopping weekly, a few select individuals recommended planning out each of your meals throughout the week. This way you're only buying what you absolutely need.
Shelley: “I shop once a week. Try to avoid stopping in the store in between trips. You end up buying things you don't need.”
Holly: “We plan out our week. This is what I'm having for breakfast, lunch, dinner. And we buy just what we are going to eat. By the end of the week the fridge is bare… but when never throw out food.”
2. Less Packaged Goods, More Bulk
I know I'm a big offender of purchasing pre-made and packaged goods. And based on the feedback in our group, it sounds like I'm definitely paying for that convenience.
Instead, the group suggests buying in bulk. Things like rice, uncooked beans, meat and frozen veggies should be purchased in larger quantities to help you increase your savings (evidently Costco is great for this) .
Here are a few bulk buying tips that came out of our conversation:
Vanessa: “I buy whole grain bread from Costco it is $4 for two packs and $4 a pack in the regular grocery store. I keep it in the freezer.”
Tabitha: “We have a bulk section at our grocery store that saves us a ton on herbs, spices, and grains like quinoa.”
3. Shop with a List
Going into a grocery store without a list is like going to a casino without setting a spending limit. If you go list free, it can cause you to buy things you don't need too easily.
My wife and I create a grocery list in the notes section of our iPhones. We link up both of our phones to the same list so we can easily edit them during the week when we run out of our favorite foods.
Dave: “Making a meal list and shopping list ahead of time cut our costs in half and visits to the store from 6x a week to about 2x.”
— Andy Hill (@AndyHillMKM) February 9, 2017
4. Switch to Aldi
Aldi was this group's favorite store by far! I've never shopped at Aldi but it sounds like it has a great selection and very competitive prices. I found a store 6 miles from my house using this handy Aldi store locator.
The Kroger where we shop is in a well-to-do part of town. They are probably paying high rent for their location and the price of their food reflects it. This was an “Ah-ha!” moment for me as I was figuring out how Aldi (in the next town over) can be much less expensive and still have the same quality food selection.
Michael: “Go to Aldi & shop. Could probably get down to about $450 per month.”
Karthigan: “Shopping at Aldi help cut our grocery bill by 20%.”
5. Visit your Local Farmer's Market and Buy in Season
When you buy off-season, you're going to pay for it. Our group highly recommends planning your weekly meals based on what is in season. A great way to save and know what is truly in season is to visit your local farmer's market. You can get fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost. And you're supporting your local economy too!
Don: “Look for farmers markets. You'll save a bundle.”
Dana: “Eating what's in season does reduce the bills.”
Okay, I have my marching orders. Thank you to all of the contributors in the Investing and Personal Finance Club! If you're looking for an excellent group that helps you win with money in all categories, check it out – no spam, no sales, just good free peer-to-peer advice.
I'll do a post next month to report on how we did in getting this $900 monthly monstrosity down a few pegs!