5 Tips to Get Your Food Spending Under Control – How to save money on your groceries and stick to a budget when you grocery shop. Simple and easy ways to start living with a grocery budget and still eat delicious food. Perfect for busy and stressed out moms working with a tight budget, low income or just one income!
My name is Caroline and I’m a compulsive shopper. It’s been 2 weeks since I gave in and bought………. takeout.
I don’t usually lead into conversations like that, but it’s the truth. And it’s especially bad when it comes to food.
See, I hate cooking. And not like in the “oh, tehe, I hate cooking… but, here, try this lemon meringue pie I just whipped together in 5 minutes and there’s a Cornish game hen in the oven for dinner!”
Oh no. We’re talking like “maybe if I just wait long enough, they’ll all forget about dinner” or “maybe the new house we move into won’t have a stove!”
Yeah. It’s like that.
So what’s that got to do with compulsive spending…?
I hated cooking so much that, despite my best intentions of maybe making my family dinner (some day), I’d spend our whole grocery budget… and then grab Chipotle on the way home for dinner.
Then barely touch the food that I bought.
Meaning that I was basically throwing out half of our food budget. Literally throwing money into the trash can!
When I was in the grocery store, I was no different. Suddenly I’m shopping around like I’m freaking Martha Stewart; grabbing chutney and biscuits off the shelves because “I saw it in Better Homes and Gardens and I’m going to make it!”
SPOILER: I didn’t. (And, I might still have that jar of chutney in the way back of my pantry that’s probably years past expiration.)
When I finally stopped avoiding the inevitable and actually sat down to make a budget, I looked over my debit transactions for the past 90 days and saw something awful… we were spending almost 50% of our income on food. And about 25% of that was from takeout!
Wait for it…. for 2 adults and 1 baby.
We. Were. In. TROUBLE.
If you’re anything at all like me, the second you do that hard work looking at your spending, you do what any rational person would do: take a hack saw to your budget and slice it in half for the next month.
But that wasn’t addressing the core issue: I hated cooking!
And everything I ever tried to make was WAY beyond my skill level (like, I tried to make coq au vin when my usual dinner repertoire was pasta or taco meat).
I’ll zip you past the months and months of binge spending on food – feeling like I was depriving myself with my half-spending then saying “SCREW IT! WE’RE GETTING CHIPOTLE!” – and all of the fights over who was wasting more money getting takeout and over what was going to be for dinner, and get you straight to the things you CAN do when you feel like you’re drowning in your food budget.
Here’s what you can do to make your grocery budget last:
1) Start with K.I.S.S. – KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!
Don’t go straight to Pinterest looking for dinner ideas and pick the one recipe with 62 steps that requires you to live in the kitchen all day! Simple is best!
My all-time favorite books for super easy recipes are More With Less and $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook. Each of them are made for moms and by moms who need to get dinner on the table without much prep and with the food you have in your pantry.
Check out these super easy recipes that I love!
- Cheap and Easy Instant Pot Recipes
- Easy Weeknight Instant Pot Meals
- 32 Easy & Cheap Dinners From a Rotisserie Chicken
- 100+ Cheap and Easy 15-Minute Meal Ideas
- DIY Starbucks Copycat Recipes
2) Eat out of your fridge, freezer, and pantry!
How many of us could survive for months off of the stuff in the fridge, freezer, and pantry? Try to take a week off of spending for food and only use what you have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
You have a huge stockpile right in front of you – use it!
3) Plan your grocery trips… and stick to them!
This is the biggest one for me! Once I found the recipes that I thought I could handle, making the list to take to the store was the next biggest hurdle… second only to actually sticking to JUST the list!
ONLY buy what you have on your list. That means staying away from the middle aisles of the grocery store where the junk food and impulse buys live. Stay around the perimeter and avoid the snacks aisle!
PRO TIP! Pack some snacks from home to take with you. Shopping always makes me hungry, so I bring a baggie of trail mix with me! Yes, like a child.
But hey! It works!
4) Make your meals meatless as often as you can!
Meat is expensive! Especially when you make it as the main course for each member of your family!
Take at least 1 night each week (or more if you’re adventurous!) to skip the meat. If doesn’t have to be by using tofu or any other meat replacement (those are often even more expensive than meat!), but it can be as easy as cheese pizza, pasta with butter or sauce and garlic bread, or my go to – beans and rice quesadillas!
5) Have someone help you get started!!
This is the biggest thing – you don’t need to figure it all out yourself! Every family is different, I know, but we all want the same things when it comes to dinner time – stress-free meal times, delicious, family friendly meals that you can actually make that all stick to a budget!
That’s not too much to ask, right?! (LOL!)
The good news is that my friend Tiffany over at Eat at Home Meals has made it super easy for you to get meal plans for whatever you’re trying to cook for your family and to learn how to meal plan for yourself with her AMAZING meal plans!
And – until Friday – you can get the same amazing meal plans I use for 30% off when you use the code “caroline30“! Seriously, this has been SUCH a big help for me and my busy schedule – all I have to do is print my meal plans with the grocery list and head to the store once a week!
The bottom line is that you’re not doomed to crazy-high grocery bills each month. NONE of these changes are earth-shattering, but they DO make a big difference.
Try these tips out and see how much you can save just by working on making meals that you will actually cook!
And if you’re like me and need someone else to do the legwork on recipes and meal planning, then my monthly meal plan that I love is the best deal that you’ll find that will help you save money at the store AND make delicious food all day for your family!
Don’t forget! Get 30% off when you use the code CAROLINE30 until Friday! (That makes it as low as $1.13 per week!) Get yours HERE!
Not sure if the Eat at Home Meal Plans are for you? Leave a comment with your questions! My one and only goal is to get you to be a master of your money! 🙂