Hey, there! Mrs. Bottlesoup, here. I write a lot about what not to do if you want to make some extra money. You can read more about various MLMs and Direct Sales companies to avoid here. What if instead of looking for ways to make extra, you saved extra instead?
No, I’m not talking about Extreme Couponing. Who has time for that? No, I’m talking about buying real food that your family will eat, eliminating grocery waste, and saving thousands of dollars by grocery shopping just once a month. This sounds like a scam, you’re thinking. Nope! There’s nothing for me to sell you, here. I’m going to explain exactly how we’ve reduced our grocery bill from an insane $1,100/month (or about $275/week) to less than $400 a month.
That’s an $8,400 savings per year on groceries for us. But maybe you’re thinking our family was spending a lot more than average. Here are the latest national statistics on groceries for a family of four. Keep in mind that this data is over four years old now, but you can get a good picture of national grocery spending:
“The USDA uses national food intake data and grocery price information to calculate different costs for a healthy diet at home. The latest numbers for a four-member family: a thrifty food plan, $146 a week; a low-cost food plan, $191 a week; a moderate-cost plan, $239; a liberal plan, $289 a week. Some food waste is built into these costs.” (Source: Cost of feeding a family of four: $146 – $289 a week. USA Today)
So, 52 weeks in a year. Here are the annual costs:
- Thrifty: $7,592 spent on groceries annually ($146/week)
- Low-cost: $9,932 spent on groceries annually ($191/week)
- Moderate-cost: $12,428 spent on groceries annually ($239/week)
- Liberal plan: $15,028 spent on groceries annually ($289/week)
What do we spend on groceries annually? Less than $5,200. That’s $2,392 less than the “thrifty” average.
So how do we do this? And how do we do it without couponing or eating junk?
The answer: economics. By assessing what we eat and use on a regular basis, and keeping track of that data, we were able to eliminate making wasteful purchases. Then, with our Costco membership, we are able to make bulk purchases for cheap.
Now, we do cook a lot of meals from scratch. And I do feel that my KitchenAid is a necessity for homemade meals. But, as a working mom, I don’t feel burdened by cooking for my family. I enjoy it. And a lot of times, I cook on Sunday and pre-make meals for the week. Other times, it’s a breakfast-for-dinner situation. No one goes hungry, and we’re no longer stressing our grocery bill.
Ok, ok, that’s great, you’re thinking. But what do you actually eat?
I thought you’d never ask! Here’s what our typical rotation looks like:
- Breakfast: coffee with eggs & salsa, raisin bread, breakfast sandwich, or homemade bagel with cream cheese, veggie quiche
- Lunch: peanut butter sandwich, tuna sandwich, burgers, homemade pizza, veggie quiche
- Dinner: veggies + protein (whatever is on hand), pasta or mac and cheese for the kids as an extra side or meal, omelets, veggie quiche or any of the lunch options
- Snacks: cheese plate, peanut butter, applesauce, leftovers
You may think, Wow, that doesn’t look like a lot of variety. And you’re right. It’s not. But what we found is that we were buying a variety of foods, and our kids just would not eat a lot of them, or the food would go to waste due to our hectic schedules. In fact, my husband refers to the fridge crisper as “The Food Graveyard – Where Vegetables Go to Die,” thanks to my habit of purchasing lots of fresh, leafy greens and other produce only to have it rot there until we threw it out. Our solution was not to stop buying veggies, but to buy them frozen. After all, which is better? Never eating veggies at all, or frozen? I’ll take the frozen.
So, we shop exclusively at Costco, and I bring my spreadsheet with me. Yes, I’m that mom. Because although I am quite the foodie, I’d rather have extra money for vacation and activities for my kids rather than a bunch of groceries.
Here’s a sneak peek of the free Costco Budgeting Spreadsheet and how it works:
I’ll be updating the spreadsheet each month with our actual costs. You’ll see that this month, we only spent $327.10 (or $81.77/week). That means we have $72.90 left over in our grocery budget for things like fresh produce, meat, fish or – let’s face it – takeout! 🙂 Note that we rotate purchases. So, every other month we’ll get a 10 lb box of burgers, etc.
Another thing to note: I make a lot of things from scratch specifically for my husband’s ketogenic diet. Did you know you can make pizza dough and bagels from almond flour, mozzarella, eggs, cream cheese and baking powder?
It’s so delicious. Here’s a few pictures of the homemade keto foods I’ve made:
Subscribe below to get your budgeting spreadsheet and please leave a comment letting me know how your trip goes, and what creative meals you make! Coming soon: an article on what we’re doing with some of our $8,400 in savings. Spoiler alert: we’re going to Disney World! 🙂