January 28th 2019 - by Amanda Huinink
My husband and I had recently moved into our second home. Once we felt we were settled in, we wanted to get a good handle on our new monthly budget. This included thinking about things like paying off renovation debt, growing our joint savings and covering all monthly expenses. After a couple of months of monitoring our spending, we noticed our monthly grocery bill was astronomical. I mean, after all, we were only two people, how could we be spending that much on groceries each month?! I must admit, we do host a lot, especially in the summer months, so a good portion of that food spending was going towards larger groups of people, but it didn’t matter, we had to make a change. We started weekly meal planning – and we can safely say 5 months into it, we have cut down our eating out and grocery spending almost in half! We’ve gone down from well over $700 a month to on average $400 per month.
Here are my tips to reducing your monthly grocery bill:
1) Track your spending.
Look over at least 2-3 months of your monthly statements and add up how much you are spending each month at the grocery store. Find out what on average you are spending each month and see how that realistically fits into your budget. For us, groceries and eating out took up a huge percentage of our monthly budget that we just couldn’t afford. By making a plan and creating a grocery list, we were able to reduce our grocery spending dramatically each month, giving us more money to put towards debt repayment and savings. One thing we noticed on our grocery bills was the high cost of meat. We decided together that we needed to reduce this cost. By adding in more fish, cutting down on meat products and increasing our veggie meals, we were also able to decrease the total of each grocery bill.
2) Plan out your meals.
This one is huge. This is the biggest change we made to our weekly grocery shopping trips that had the most impact for multiple reasons. We did this by making a list of what meals we wanted to eat each night of the week. We also would take into consideration our calendar for the week. Lighter, quicker meals on nights when we had sports or late work nights, larger meals every other night so we could take left overs for lunch and make sure to create a good balance of nutritional meals throughout the week. *Tip* This is also a great time to think about using some similar items in different dishes to use up the entire portion. For example, if you are buying herbs for one dish, try and plan another dish later in the week that requires using the same herbs, getting more bang for your buck!
3) Make a list.
While you are thinking about all the different meals you want to cook up for the week, make sure to look in your fridge and pantry to see what you already have that can be used, how much more of certain items you may need and ensuring you have all ingredients for your meal plans for the week. Aim to do one grocery shop (unless you are buying something fresh that night like fish) and to use up all the groceries you purchased that day. I find by making a list it ensures that you aren’t buying items you already have, causing less waste and you’re less likely to buy random grocery items that aren’t needed for the week. *Tip * I do recommend stocking up on key pantry shelf items that you find you use frequently when they go on sale.
- Less spent each week on waste (reduced over all monthly spending)
- Less likely to eat out or grab take out when you have a meal plan for the night
- Focused on dishes during the week that would make enough for leftovers, therefore saving money on constantly buying a lunch
- Stopped spending money on items that I thought we might need or that sounded great, but we never got around to using
- Worked our calendars and day to day lives into our meal planning so we would leave ourselves time to make dinner instead of ditching the meal plan and grabbing something on the go.
Overall, by only spending money each week on the groceries we actually needed, for the meals we had intentionally planned to make, we stopped throwing out a ton of rotten food at the end of each week. Our fridge has less in it, but that is because we are eating it all and nothing is getting wasted. We still go out for dinner every once and a while, however we have factored this type of thing into our budget and plan for it each week.