Don’t you wish you could keep your grocery budget lower each month, giving you freedom to spend that money elsewhere? I use to hate how many dollars I’d see fly out of my purse each week at the store, and became determined to learn as many Tips for Easy Meal Planning on a Budget as I could, and today I’m sharing the best ones I’ve learned that help me keep my family food budget under $150 a week for a family of six!
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Another helpful thing is our newest book, Meal Plan on a Budget: Feed Your Family for Less Than $5/person/day! It’s 52 weeks of menus, with all the recipes included. And it averages less than $5 per person each day without sales or coupons! And guess what? This week it’s available for a major discount for our big adoption fund sale!
PDF Download: Normally $9.99 – on sale for just $5.99!
Printed Book: Normally $19.99 – on sale for just $14.99!
This sale is only going through this Sunday, October 2nd, and funds will help our family adoption fund. Our other fun products – like our Disney Activity & Autograph Book and our 2017 Planners – are on sale as well for crazy low prices! Check them all out HERE.
Tip #1: Know the Average Cost for Common Things
I actually spent many hours at a few grocery stores figuring out prices of things – ground beef, bread, cheese, cereal, lunchmeat, etc. – and averaged it. I didn’t want to stress about sales, so just did regular everyday prices. I then spent many, many hours going through all our favorite recipes and figuring out how much each one cost. Again, without sales.
I then had a spreadsheet with breakfasts, lunches and dinners and their prices. I could easily put them into a weekly menu with an end budget in mind, mixing and matching to make it work out. If I wanted a higher priced dinner, I’d do a less expensive breakfast. It’s all about averaging it out! I was now in control of my budget and my menu was super quick to put together.
Tip #2: Compare Prices
I love that grocery stores often have the price per ounce (or pound) on the little tags under them on the shelf. This makes it really easy to compare things like which ketchup is really cheaper. Perhaps it’s the generic one versus the name brand, or maybe the larger container costs less per ounce than the smaller pack. It can vary, so just quickly check each time. Buying more pounds of ground beef at a time often brings the price per pound down, for example.
Tip #3: Be Willing to Trade
I know there’s some things you’ll be firm on the type/kind you want, but where you ARE willing to make trades, do so if it saves money. If the brand of bread your family will eat best costs more than a cheaper brand, decide if it’s worth the switch. If you were planning on strawberries with crepes for breakfast, but blueberries are on sale for cheaper, think about trading out.
Tip #4: Shop Your Pantry, Fridge & Freezer FIRST
This not only helps prevent waste from things going bad, but it can save you lots of money if you check for ingredients in your home before heading to the store. Why buy more chicken at the store, if you have some already cooked and frozen in your freezer?
Tip #5: Try to Shop Less Often
I’m awful at sticking to a list, and almost always end up with one or two splurge, last second purchases. If I go shopping more often, that adds up to a lot of random buys that I didn’t need! Try to plan well enough that you only go grocery shopping once a week, or whatever is most realistic for your family.
Tip #6: Don’t Let Bulk Sales Fool You
Sometimes those 10/$10 sales are amazing and worth stocking up on the items you know you’ll use. Other times, it’s actually just smart signage. For example, check the price – is it really a deal if the cans that are $0.89 a can are on ‘sale’ for 10/$10?
Tip #7: Ask the Meat Counter or Deli For Specials
This is something new I’ve learned – sometimes the meat or deli departments will mark things down, but they’re in the back and haven’t been put out yet. The other day I asked if they had anything marked down in the back, and it turns out they had tons of ground beef marked down to $2.49/3 lbs in the back! It wasn’t expired or anything, they just got a larger order and hadn’t had time to put it out. Now THAT’S a killer deal!
Tip #8: Make Fun Meals to Avoid Eating Out
I’m a HUGE fan of eating out, but my budget isn’t. You’re less likely to be tempted to eat out randomly when you not only plan your meals ahead of time, but also include some delicious, fun and exciting meals. Make it WORTH eating at home!
Overall, it just takes planning to keep your grocery budget down. Know what the average cost of things are to spot deals and grab the best prices, rotate your recipes to be fun, yet easy. And enjoy your meals – after all the time we spend eating each day, it should make you smile!