My Blogging Experience

February 9, 2010

How I manage a $250 grocery budget each month

Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , , , — debyj @ 9:45 pm

I recently did an Elluminate session on nutrition and the question was asked: “is eating healthier more expensive”? I replied that for me it is not and I do not think it has to be. When I tell people that my husband and I spend $250 each month on groceries, they think I am crazy (either that or anorexic), so today I will be explaining why I am not crazy and why healthy does not have to equal more money!

The number one reason I can keep a low budget is a Meal Plan. We usually make a meal plan no more than 5 days in advance. Before I make the Meal Plan, I always have a quick look at grocery store flyers online. I figure out which store I believe has the best sales and then make my meal plan using foods that are on sale. I also like to have a look at what is in my refrigerator and my freezer and use that up first to prevent food from going to waste.

Here as an example of what my Meal Plan looks like for today:

Feb 22 – 26 Breakfast Lunch Supper Snacks Take out
Monday

Nick 8:30-6

Deb 4:30-10

Your Choice:

Yogurt, berries and nuts

Fruit salad

Cereal with fruit

Porridge

Nick: spinach salad and sandwich

Deb: BLT

Leftover pork chops, steamed carrots, and rice Apples,

Bananas,

Oranges,

grapes

Berry shakes

Banana loaf

Raisins

Trail mix

Applesauce

yogurt

Veggies and dip (broccoli, carrots, celery)

Ground beef

We have a column that includes our work/school schedules for each day to help us plan out who will be cooking and when is the best time to eat. We almost always have different lunch plans because I am usually home at that time and he is usually bagging a lunch for work. We like to include one general list of snacks for each week so that when we want a snack, we do have several options to chose from. We also include a column for what we need to “take out” of the freezer for the next day so that it is thawed out and ready to cook.

I really enjoy using a meal plan mainly because I never have to try to come up with supper on the fly. I always know what I am going to be making that day and look forward to meal times because I know I will be eating healthy, nutritious, tasty, and inexpensive meals.

Another way we save money is that we avoid convenience foods. If we know we will not have much time to cook a meal one day, we will make something the day before so that we can specifically avoid those pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods. Generally, convenience foods are going to cost more and they are not going to be as healthy for you as a home-made meal or snack. You will also typically have to eat more of the convenience food than say carrots to feel your hunger is satisfied.

Some people buy everything in bulk, but I would like to suggest that you only buy in bulk the items that you know are cheaper than in singles AND you know you will use up in three months or less. It may seem like you are saving a lot at the time, but if it all goes in your basement where you forget about it, it becomes wasted money when you throw it out because it is too old.

My last tip for saving money on groceries is to be sure that when trying a new recipie you use something that includes ingredients that you typically already have in your cupboard so that you do not have to go out and buy a whole bunch of new groceries for that one meal.

Everyone is different and has different lifestyles and eating habits. By planning out your meals and doing your research on sales, you can save yourself a lot of money, stress, and time. Meal plans are great because you can easily personalize them to your own needs and lifestyle. They do not take long to create either. I usually spend 15 minutes on my meal plans each week and it probably saves me time every week because I am not humming and hawing about what I am going to eat everyday at meal time. It is definitely something I am glad I got into the habit of doing and hope you can try it too!

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4 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the thorough analysis of something you’ve obviously put a lot of thought and studying into.

    Comment by Dean Shareski — February 22, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

  2. This is something that I have tried to do at two different times. As we all know being a university student definitely has an impact on your bank account. I can say with all honestly I have completely failed in both attempts. I am curious to know how long it took you to develop this routine? Was it something you tried and didn’t work so you had to make changes? Or were you lucky and it just clicked for you and worked from the beginning?

    Comment by nicolereeve — February 27, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

    • It took me a little over a year to develop the routine actually. It was something I heard about every once in a while, so I would try it, but it never seemed to work out. I think the main problem I had when I started making meal plans was that I was too detailed. I slowly learned that it is better to have a simple, short meal plan than a plan that includes a new recipe every day and spans over more than five days. There are things that always change, so it is easier to have a shorter plan so that making changes are simple when needed. Why do you think you failed at your attempts to make meal plans?

      Everyone is very different, so you have to learn to personalize your meal plan so that it works for your schedule. It definitely takes some trial and error! If you are having trouble and want to try again, I would suggest making a meal plan for three supper time meals per week and gradually add on meals bit by bit. It will give you something to feel successful and excited about and start you on a great path to saving money!

      Comment by debyj — March 4, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  3. I live outside of the city and found with three kids I have to be prepared for lunches and suppers on the go. I do not want to prebuy too much because if I end up running out of time I do not use the food in the fridge, but I need to buy enough or we may not get the food we are looking for in our small town. For example, we do not have a fresh meat department. It may be a hassle but I will buy daily. I also found that sticking to the simple type foods helps the pocket book and my hectic lifestyle. I will make a chicken or beef supper once and week and then we can have leftover chicken for salads, wraps, etc. helping me the next day when I do not have a lot of time between home time and gotta go time with the kids activities. I do like your weekly schedule and want to try it with the kids. I always want them to have some say in their lunches and meals and this way we can sit down together and formulate a plan. I do not know what they feel like eating all the time. Thanks for sharing that!

    Comment by shiels3k — March 8, 2010 @ 9:50 pm


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