Problem #34: How Can I Save Money When My Grocery Spending is Always Out of Control?
How often do you check up on your budget with the expectation that you’re doing well just to find your budget trashed – all because of the food/grocery category? What did we even eat that costs so much?
Please tell me that you’re actually doing a budget? If you’re not – you need a plan. Read this post to get started.
Even with a budget/plan, keeping your grocery spending under control can be a challenge. My wife and I had this PROBLEM. But we figured out how to save ~$200 per month while still eating well! You can too!
There were three changes we made that allowed us to gain mastery of our food category in our budget. By the way, I was not willing to sacrifice my tasty dinners for “beans and rice” like a certain other financial guru espouses.
1. Stopped Shopping at BJ’s Wholesale Club
Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s are the most popular bulk foods store in the United States. They are fantastic marketers. They know how to get you to spend money. Have you ever heard someone say, “You can’t leave with less than $250 worth of stuff”? What they mean is – it’s easy to spend large amounts of money in a single trip. That’s exactly what we were doing. Everything seemed like such a great deal.
I’m sure if you meticulously planned your purchases you could save money by buying in bulk. After all, the unit prices are lower when you buy in bulk – usually. But what ended up happening was – we bought other items as well – because they were a great deal. And we rationalized it by assuring each other that we would use those items eventually. We regularly spent $250 every two weeks. And we still had some produce and other groceries to buy. We had to spend even more money. When I broke it down, we spent $165 a week on food/groceries.
So we decided to stop shopping at BJs. It was as simple as that.
2. We set a Limit and Used Only Cash For Groceries
This is the only category in our budget where we use cash. This has enabled the grocery shopper in our family (not me – if you were wondering) to have a well-defined limit. If all you can spend is the cash in your pocket, you can’t overspend your budget. We set a limit of $120 per week. I understand that some may spend more or less, but this has worked well for our family of 5. The point is to not overspend – because you can’t.
I will admit – It was a struggle until we implemented the third change.
3. We Eat the Same 7 Meals for Dinner Every Week
Some of you may not be able to this, but just think about it for a minute. Think through all the meals that you eat for dinner. How many of them do you “love”? If you honestly think about it, there’s probably only 5 or 6 meals that you make that you really love to eat. Start making only those meals. You don’t really like the other ones anyway.
We eat the same meal now every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. Implementing a change like this allows the grocery shopping to be much simpler. My wife almost doesn’t even need a grocery list anymore. She buys the same ingredients every week. This has allowed our budget of $120 per week to stay reasonable.
If you’re keeping track – Our grocery spending went from $165/week to $120/week. A savings of $45/week!! This equates to ~$200 per month.
What do you think? Could you eat the same 7 meals every week? Your grocery spending will become more predictable – it will be under control.