Meal Planning and Budget Cutting
As a mother of five children, grocery shopping can sometimes be a nightmare on the check book. Four out of five of my children are , it is scary at times, but my nine year old daughter can eat nearly as much as my teenage sons. I needed to devise a plan to get my shopping bill in check, and do it fast.
1) Plan out your meals!
You can do this by the week or by the pay period. My husband and I get paid every two weeks so I sit down and plan out my meals for two weeks at a time. (This has also saved me from the daily question, “Mom, what is for dinner?” which can be ever so annoying!) I simply write it out and then place it on the refrigerator. I always know what to pull out of the freezer every morning, I never have to think about what to make and I don’t get hounded by all five of them wanting to know what we are having every day. This has been a sanity saver.
Don’t ever go to the store without a list of what you need in hand! Because you have already planned out your meals for the next week or two it is very easy to look at that meal plan and figure out what you will need for ingredients for those meals. Simply list them out and add in the other essentials, dish soap, shampoo, etc.
3) Take a calculator!
I know, this sounds like a hassle but it has cut my grocery bill in half. I have never walked out of the store without overhearing at least one person saying to their partner, “I need to do that.” Keep a total of everything you put in your cart. You will be amazed at what you don’t throw in there because you don’t want your total to go higher. (You will also be amazed that the things you don’t splurge on are the things that will also expand your waistline, not just your bill!)
By following these three simple steps I have cut my grocery budget down to $500.00 a month whereas before it was nearly $1000.00! That’s right, a family of seven really CAN have a food budget of $500.00 a month and actually eat better than we did when I just shopped without a plan or budget in mind.
Some friends of mine find it beneficial to go to an all cash system when food shopping. They simply determine what they feel they will need for the monthly food budget, pull the cash out in advance and refuse to write a check or use a card, whether it is debit or credit for their grocery budget. When the cash is gone the cash is gone! Others have a very hard time with this because you are never sure when an emergency will arise and hate that feeling of failure when they need to pull out the extra cash or use the card. This system works great for some and not so much for others.
Coupons are always a great way to save extra cash at the grocery store. Again, couponing works great for others but not so much for me. I work full time outside of the home and when I am home with the kiddos and the hubbie I don’t want to take away any extra time cutting coupons when it can be spent with them.