Before I started OperationGet Shit Together, I think I was spending around $500 a month on groceries, maybe more. We were also eating out a lot, either because I bought food all willy-nilly and couldn't actually make many meals out of it or because I didn't end up cooking, letting the food go to waste.
Now I'm spending about $400 a month and we are rarely eating out for lunch or dinner. We have probably spent that savings on date nights, but I am 100 percent okay with that.
I was feeling good about myself until i found bloggers who only spend $40 a week for 2 people or even $200 for a family of four. Impressive, until I noticed that people were achieving that kind of savings by getting all their toiletries at the dollar store, cutting out things like alcohol, cheese, and bacon and replacing butter with margerine. You gotta do what you gotta do to make ends meet, but things will have to be unimaginably grim before I allow margerine to pass through these doors.
If you want to trim your bill even just a little, a couple simple steps will help.
1. Meal plan based on what's on sale. Check weekly ads for your favorite stores, take stock of what's on hand at home, and plan meals accordingly. Pro tip: plan meals with like ingredients. Something call for 1/2 cup buttermilk? You will have a lot leftover. Make a salad/slaw dressing with it, buttermilk pancakes for breakfast for dinner, buttermilk chicken. Better yet, make your own buttermilk. You get the point.
2. Throw a coupon in when you can, and/or take advantage of double ad days if available. A lot of coupons are for crap I am not interested in, but organic brands sometimes offer them if you sign up for their newsletters, and my local natural food store has a monthly coupon booklet.
3. Cook what you buy! This might require meal prep days, depending on your schedule. Make friends with your slow cooker, whatever you need to do so it doesnt go to waste.
4. Eat leftovers for lunch.
5. Get some low cost recipes in your repetoire. Shredded meats are your friend. E.G. - pork shoulder on sale? get 2-3 pounds and cook it low and slow and use the meat for tacos, sandwiches, over mashed potatoes, on nachos, on homemade pizza.
6. Stock up when prices are way low. Get your freezer in on the action.
7. Cook from scratch as much as you can. jarred sauces, packaged cookies, and the like will quickly drive up your bill
Number 1 is the first step, I think. I check the ads, put together my meal plan, and make my list on Saturdays.
I still buy organic cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and high quality butter. We still have beer or wine in the fridge. I go organic with meat as often as I can or go to a local grocer whose meat is not technically organic but is raised in the area without antibiotics or hormones. I buy mostly organic fruits and vegetables. and so on. Point is, we eat in much the same way as we did before but still manage to save some money.
Eat well, enjoy your food, and save a buck.