9 Ways I Keep Food Costs Low – Under $300 a Month!
According to the USDA, American families of 4 spend $800-$1200 a month on food. You know what I spend?
And that’s not just on food.
That $400 budget includes food, cleaning supplies, paper supplies, personal care, and basically everything you would buy at Walmart.
And you guys? We eat well! We have steak, fresh fruits and vegetables, and we even eat organic as often as is reasonable.
So how do we do it?
We shop at Aldi:
Say what you want about Aldi, I’ve heard all of the excuses: “Their food has fillers,” “It’s low quality,” and “It’s low-class.” They’re bogus. Not only does Aldi maintain the highest quality standards and have 200% money-back guarantee, their prices are 40-60% cheaper than any other grocery store. You can read an in-depth discussion about Aldi here.
We meal plan:
Does meal planning sound like a hassle to anyone other than me? I mean, to think about sitting down with sale flyers, a calendar, and a freezer inventory and somehow put all of things together into meals that can be carried out in a timely manner sounds like torture. Also, I don’t have 3 hours to make that happen – and I”m guessing you don’t either. That’s why I use eMeals. Their selection of mor ethan 20 meal plans for everything from dietary restriction to 30-minute & slow cooker meals, there is something for everyone – and it’s super affordable! Each week eMeals delivers a meal plan, shopping list, and even prices of the items I’m buying so I know about how mucn I’m expecting. Up on the fridge goes the meal plan and we’re set for week. Not tempted yet? Get a FREE 2-week trial of eMeals and see if I’m wrong!
We eat our leftovers:
No one likes leftovers. And I get that. I don’t either! We (You & I) really have 2 options: either cook exactly enough for your family when you cook, or force yourself to eat leftovers. The Big Guy and I have resorted to a sort of “rewards” system because we hate eating leftover so much. For each week that we don’t let any leftovers go bad, we get ice cream. Moose tracks, specifically. I have also heard of families having challenges or contests to promote their kids eating leftovers, but do whatever works for you to not let that food go bad! If you want more information out how to not let leftovers go bad, check out this post: 4 Strategies to Never Let Leftovers Go Bad
We keep quick meals on hand:
Meals like Macaroni & Cheese, Grilled Sandwiches, and Tuna Salad are quick and easy to prepare – and they require additional to no heat! Sometimes, life is just too busy to stick to a meal plan, and it’s in these situations that we resort to quick meals. After all, it’s not worth losing precious sleep because you were preparing a gourmet meal for your family, is it?
We cook with a slow cooker:
Like the Quick Meals, sometimes life doesn’t let you take an hour in the kitchen to prepare a gourmet meal for you family. And sometimes you can see those kinds of days coming a mile away. So prepare, and use a slow-cooker meal on those days! I like to prep them the night before (sometimes I cook them at night while we’re sleeping and then pop them in the freezer) so they’re cooked and ready the minute we’re finally ready to eat. Sound familiar?
We Challenge Ourselves:
Sometimes, we find ourselves halfway through the month with nothing left in the budget to spend on food. We’ve had this happen after vacation, lake trips, and even on a random month where we just really bought a lot of food. When this happens, Stop. Take a Breath. Give Yourself Some Grace. Seriously, it happens to EVERYONE. Now that you’ve cut yourself some slack, make it a game! If you have kids, you can turn anything into a game! Challenge each child to make a meal on a different night, and have the parents be the “judge.” Whoever’s meal is best wins a special prize!
Yes, I stockpile. No my basement doesn’t look like something out of Extreme Couponing. I coupon strategically for items that we use all the time, that have a long shelf life, when they’re at rock bottom prices. And this reaps rewards in spades. I don’t have to make midnight runs to the drugstore for medicines when someone gets ill. I never run out of diapers or formula. And we don’t need to buy shaving cream for at least 6 months. But you don’t necessarily have to coupon to stockpile. Just by spending and extra $5.00 during your weekly shopping list on items that are at rock-bottom prices and stashing them away for later, you budget will thank you!
I make my own cleaners:
Why would I buy a $4.00 of toilet cleaner, when I can make my own for $0.80? Why would I buy oven cleaner at $6.00 a bottle when I buy use baking soda for $0.45 a box? I wouldn’t – and you shouldn’t either! Homemade cleaners are very easy to make, inexpensive, and free of the harsh chemicals found in many mass produced cleaners. You can read more of my cleaner recipes here!
I stop at drugstores, too.
Drugstores, while they may seem more expensive than walmart or target on the surface, are actually significantly less expensive if you’re smart about shopping sales. My other site, Ten Minute Savings, lists the 5 best deals from CVS and Walgreens each week, so you can get in and out of the store quickly, save massive amounts of money, and only spend 10 Minutes doing so!
Are you an average american family?
Do you spend $800 – $1200 a month on food?
What about cleaners, makeup, paper towels, diapers, and medicines?
What could you do with $1,000 in savings each month by adopting these strategies?
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