My Family’s Plan to Cut Down on Food Costs

As a family of 5 {well 7 if you count our 2 dogs, which I do!}, one of our largest monthly expenses is our grocery bills. Spending a ridiculously high amount of money on food each month is what led me to start using coupons a few years ago. Find out how these simple strategies can help you cut down on food costs every month.

The amount of money we started paying for food was out of control. At the time I knew our family was only going to get larger and the spending would only increase. In came my new obsession: finding ways to lower those food expenses each month. I am sure most of you know how expensive it is having a newborn. Well, my two oldest boys are only 14 months apart so we went from one newborn to the next and the costs continued to increase. Within a year we went from a family of two to a family of four.

Using coupons was an excellent way for me to save money and I also started to make my own baby food once they were old enough to eat solids. But, being a mom brings on its own challenges and finding the time to cook wholesome meals was more difficult. I quickly found myself searching for the easiest possible choice when dinner time rolled around.

Couponing has definitely helped our family over the years, but I am embarrassed to say that we still spend a pretty significant amount of money on food every week. Each month I would sit down and use my monthly budget spreadsheet and budget a particular amount, but somehow we never stayed within the budget. As our family continued to grow so did our food expenses. I have now pinpointed a few of our problems and I am ready to tackle each one so that we can start to save more money on our grocery bills.

Do not meal plan – I stress over what to make each night because I do not take the time to meal plan. I tried it a few times but I somehow would do great for a week or two and then I would just stop. One of my biggest struggles with meal planning is not knowing how our week is going to play out. Sometimes my husband has to work late, but we never know until that day. I hate making a big dinner without him being home because I often feel like I am just cooking it for myself since my kids eat such small portions.

Too much fast food – I hate to admit how many times we eat at a restaurant or fast food. It is just plain easy. With our hectic schedules and my lack of cooking skills we wind up at these places far too many times a week. I am sure you can agree with how much easier dinner time is when you can just roll through a drive through window.

Being wasteful -Even though I am really good with couponing, and stockpiling, there are plenty of times where we let food expire or go bad. I always have big plans to try a new recipe, So, I purchase ingredients that I would not normally use to cook. Then, I never touch them again.

I am NOT good in the Kitchen – Cooking has never been my strong suit. Sure, I have a select few meals that I know how to make that my family enjoys, but that is it. We eat the SAME foods over and over again. Although this is not a quick fix, I am going to make a conscious effort to step out of my comfort zone and try recipes that do not include “instant” on the packaging.

Now the hard part. Deciding exactly how much money we should be spending on groceries and restaurants combined. I would like to say less than $1,000? I know a lot of people who only spend a few hundred dollars a month on their food budget, so this may be a bit high. But, to start I am going to go with $1,000 and hopefully decrease it each month. I want to be realistic and also start to see a big savings when it comes to our food budget. I am going to keep subtracting $50 a month from the budget as we make these changes.

Find out how these simple strategies can help you cut down on food costs every month.

Here are a few things I am going to do to reach that goal each month to stay within our budget and cut down on our food spending.

Stop being lazy
I am honestly not a lazy person. I am very productive, but when it comes to eating I take the easy way out. This is definitely going to stop. Like I mentioned above, fast food is so simple. I need to get out of this slump and just plan to eat fast food on an occasion or a special treat for my kids. It does not need to be a weekly occurrence.

Meal Plan
Whether I have to actually make our meals ahead of time, all in one day, or even try freezer meals I am up for the challenge. I cannot wait to start having a meal plan. Not only is it less stress, but we will be eating a variety of meals instead of the same ones all the time. I know having a meal plan will allow us to be less wasteful and help us to stick to our budget. To make it easy on myself I am going to have the meal plans sent directly to me each week. Yes, you heard that right!

I recently signed up for $5 Meal Plans and I CANNOT wait to get started. You get the first 4 weeks for free and then after that it is only $5 a month and you get meals plans AND shopping lists sent straight to your inbox. Does that sound awesome? I also became an affiliate and will review the service and share it with you in the future.

Try new recipes
I am hoping that this new meal planning service will help me to come out of my shell. My kids are becoming picky eaters and I know it is because I do not offer them the opportunity to try enough foods. I don’t know how to cook from scratch, but I cannot wait to try new recipes that are delicious and inexpensive.

Stop buying individually wrapped items
In my efforts to cut down on our food spending each month, I am going to cut down on our purchases of food that is individually wrapped. Although I do like buying in bulk and it does save us money it is not always the case when it comes all of our food. For example, my youngest loves eating apple sauce. I have foolishly been purchasing the easy squeeze packs of it. No more will I fall victim to these gimmicks! It is much cheaper per ounce to buy apple sauce by the jar.

Stick to the list
I have a hard time sticking to my list when we go shopping. Even though I shop deals and sales I am sometime suckered into those impulse purchases or those late night snacks. I am going to make a conscious effort to stick to my grocery list to avoid those unnecessary purchases.

No more junk
This will definitely be the hardest one for me. I am a junk food junky. Snacks and treats are my downfall. I know a large amount of our food budget is going to junk food that is not filling nor is it cost effective. I need to change my mindset and start thinking about our necessities and sticking to foods that will be in our meal plans.

 

I am really excited to implement these changes and to see the effect they have on our budget each month. It will be nice to see the amount of money we can save by not eating as much fast food and by having easy meal plans.

How much money do you spend on for each month?

Find out how these simple strategies can help you cut down on food costs every month.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. I have found that meal planning and using cash to buy our groceries and for eating out helps tremendously. I also stopped couponing so much. I was actually buying more junk food and therefore spending more money than if I used coupons for those things we actually eat/use. I spend on average between $400-$500 monthly on groceries. I’ve tried gardening, but that hasn’t panned out yet. I also belong to a produce co-op, so we are eating more fruits and veggies. And we are trying many we never would have before.

    1. Hi Rebecca! It sounds like you are doing a great job to reduce the cost of your family’s monthly grocery bill. A lot of people have a hard time with couponing and end up doing the same thing you did and purchase unnecessary items because they have a coupon. It sounds like you have a great system!

  2. How’s it going? I feed our family of four for $300 a month – which is zero processed foods and everything but bread from scratch. I meal plan for two weeks at a time and only shop once every two weeks. It’s a great way to go.

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