The most important thing (besides using coupons) that you are going to do to lower your grocery bill is to start menu planning. The biggest budget buster you can have is to base your meals on whatever you feel like having instead of what is on sale. When you start to base your meals around what is on sale, you are going to start to see your weekly bill drop.
And it is not as hard as you might think. Some of the meals you cook on a regular basis are going to have the main ingredients on sale that week.
Planning meals for your family each week is a critical part to being successful at saving. You always want to plan your menus around your stockpile and grocery store sales. By doing this, you are automatically going to see a 20-30% drop in your weekly grocery budget even if you don’t use a single coupon!
To plan your menu, start by gathering up the sales circulars for stores in your area.
Take a mental inventory of what items you have in your stockpile. In the Couponing Binder there is a Stockpile Inventory, Freezer Inventory, and Spices Checklist that you can reference and a meal planner page for you to use. You will want to plan as much of the meals as you can from what you already have on hand.
Start by listing the meat on your menu that you have in your freezer that needs to be used this week. Add in any sides and condiments that you already have. Sometimes you will find that you have meat on hand for one meal and sides on hand for another meal but you have to purchase items that are on sale to complete each meal.
Now flip to the meat section of each sales flyer. Pick out the meats you would like to use in recipes for the week. Be sure to check each flyer to see who has the best price. If you see a meat that is a really great price, you need to add multiples to your shopping list so you can stock up on it while it is on sale.
Next flip to the produce section. Pick out the vegetables and fruits that are on sale that would compliment the meats you are using.
Now it’s on to frozen foods, baking goods, and the rest of the flyer. Pick out the ingredients you need to round out your meals.
Once you have finished with the flyer, go through your coupon binder and see if you have any coupons for items that you need for your weekly menu. Purchase generic items for things you need that are not on sale and don’t have a coupon.
I also suggest keeping at least 1 or 2 meals in your freezer that you can cook in just a few minutes (pizza, frozen family dish, a double batch of something you cooked previously, etc). This will cut down on the dinner rush when you are short on time and will keep you out of fast food establishments.
Make sure you stock up on ingredients when you can. Aim to have a 3 month supply of meat, frozen veggies, canned goods, etc. in your stockpile. The bigger your stockpile, the less you will spend each week on groceries.
Tip: Budget your family dinners at $1.25-$1.50 per person. A family of four would budget $5-$6 for the ingredients needed for a meal. If you exceed your budget one night then make a less expensive meal the next night. Aim for all 7 nights worth of meals to not exceed $42 for a family of four.
You want to avoid using expensive ingredients in your meals. If a recipe calls for an expensive spice, search online for a substitute. I avoid any recipes that have more than 7 ingredients. Not only is that a budget buster, but it is also a time waster. Food doesn’t need 6 different spices to make it taste good.
Find out all the ways to save with our helpful Savings Bingo!