11 Simple Ways To Save Money On Groceries And Eat Well On A Budget.

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11 simple ways to save money and eat well on a budget

I wanted talk about how to save money on groceries!

I think there’s a little part of all of us that wants to walk into the grocery store, walk out, and feel like “wow, I really saved money at the grocery store today.”

Something that has been integral in my process of losing weight has been planning. Meal planning has been one of the most important parts of my process because it ensures that I’m taking in the right amount of calories to have the fuel to really work out, but that I’m also buying what I need, and nothing in excess.

With my job situation being the way that it is right now, it is so imperative that I watch my spending. I used to be able to spend $100 at the grocery store for each visit, but times have changed, and I’ve had to become more frugal about my food.

I really hate wasting food, or throwing food away, and I totally hate going over budget, so I wanted to share some of how I plan out my grocery shopping, and my thought process to simplify your life, and show you how to save money, AND eat well.

Before the store trip.
I do a few things before the store trip to make sure I’m being as thorough as possible

  1. Budget
    – About every week I go to the store with $50 to buy whatever I need. I know that’s my absolute ceiling, and I can’t spend any more, no matter how much I would like to. Make sure you have a realistic budget set in place for your food. I just recently gave myself $20 extra, because I started buying vitamins, and I wanted to invest in some glass tupperware for my food.
  2. Plan out Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner AND SNACKS for a week
    -This sounds insane to most people, but after you do it, you realize how much sense it makes. When you plan out each meal, it will do two things for you – it will put your eating week into perspective and show you what you want that week, and how your eating is actually doing, and two, it will tell you the ingredients you’ll need to shop for that week. By planning early, you’ve halfway tackled your grocery list. I always plan 5 breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, and I’ll have them two or three times in that two weeks. It makes my life super easy, and I get something a little different every time.
  3. Think Seasonally – If you buy foods seasonally, they’re much cheaper and they tend to stay fresh a lot longer.  I usually put in a little time for the research on a weekend.
  4. Take Inventory 
    -Walk into your kitchen, open up your cabinets, and take inventory every single time. It also sounds tedious, but I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve gone to the grocery store and bought duplicates of food, or spices I didn’t need because I didn’t check my pantry before I left. You’ll really save yourself some trouble, if you check out what you have before you go. You won’t have unnecessary items on your grocery list, and you also can replenish the things that are about to run out before you have to go without them.
  5. Make a list of must-haves, wants and total dreams.
    -Finally, the best part. Make your grocery list. I divide mine into must-haves, wants and dreams. Must-haves are stuff that I have to leave the store with in order to comply with my eating plan for that week. Wants are stuff that I could realistically buy if I stay under budget – extras like make-up, or nail polish, or a new lip gloss. Just random stuff that might not even have to do with groceries. Dreams are things that I couldn’t buy now, but maybe if I were under budget for a few weeks (or months), or I just have some really random extra money, I might be able to buy it

 

During your trip.

  1. STICK TO YOUR LIST
    -Don’t let anything divert you from the list. If it’s not on your list, you have to be strong enough not to put it in your cart. I used to have trouble with this. I would put a whole bunch of stuff on my list, and then I would be like “but strawberries look so goooooood!” Give yourself a slap in the face. If you didn’t think highly enough of them to put on your list, then they don’t go in the cart. The end.
  2. Walk around with a calculator
    -I surprisingly never see anyone do this, but it helps me stay on track. I calculate the price of everything I put in my shopping cart to be sure that I stay on budget. If my needs exceed my price limit, I’ll actually put stuff back, and re-think parts of my list.  That actually doesn’t happen to me anymore, but it really did at first when I wasn’t so sure about what I was buying. You get the hang of it after a while, but it’s good to have something reminding you of your budget.
  3. Make sure you leave only with what you need, no extra. I’m really fond of the Shop Easy App It helps me stay on track, and even has a currency converter if you happen to leave the country.
    -Seriously. Nothing more. No extra. If it wasn’t on your list, you didn’t need it.

After your trip.

  1. Prep, and cut all of your food, and portion them out.
    -Slice and bag up produce (but don’t wash them until right before you use them!). Ziplock cereals, and granola (make sure you label, and write expiration dates on the bags with a sharpie, or steal the expiration date from the packaging). Portion out meats and chicken, and fish into individual bags (I weigh mine, and bag them up to freeze). All of these things are extra, but it really takes the hassle out of your prepping for the next week. You can literally just take stuff out and eat it. It might take you 20-30 minutes to do all of this stuff, but its so worth it. I’m always sure to keep the nutrition facts label, even though I put everything else into new air-tight bags. I cut it off of the box usually, so I can log the calories and I don’t have to guess the serving sizes. I actually think that’s a little insane, but I totally believe in it.
  2. Be really happy that you don’t have to do anything for 6 days!
  3. Stick to the plan for that week!
     -Everything is done for you for a week. It usually takes me an hour to plan my meals for the week, an hour to grocery shop from start to finish, and 20-30 minutes to cut, and portion out all of my food for the week. It seems like a ton of work, but saves me so much extra time during the week when I’m actually busy, and I save money just thinking about what I actually need. I very rarely have food go to waste. It really helps!

This can totally be modified. I only go once a week because I’ve finally mastered the art of keeping food fresh, and it synchs up with the way I get paid, but if you do this less often, it really works out.

Some Bonus Tips:

  • Buy online if you can, sometimes it’s cheaper!
  • Buying in bulk is definitely cheaper, but only do it for things you know you can store properly.
  • Try out different things. Don’t get stuck in the same routine, and allow yourself to keep variety in your diet, or this gets so boring, so fast.
  • Be free with this! Have fun with the planning process!

If you have any great shopping tips too, let me know! I love efficiency!

Share these tips with your healthy friends! Use the share, bar below – it’s kind of my social tip jar!

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Mila Clarke Buckley
Mila Clarke Buckley

Mila is the author of Hangry Woman and a person with type 2 diabetes, trying to navigate the world of food, while also sharing positive representations of people living with type 2 diabetes.

She lives in Texas with her Husband, Bryan, and her pups, Lily and Cooper. She loves to talk to her readers, so find her on social media and say hello!

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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13 Comments

  1. February 19, 2013 / 7:59 am

    Such an awesome post! I try and meal plan, but sometimes the cost can still go over my preferred budget! Thanks you for reminding me of some great resourceful ways to save money! 🙂

  2. February 19, 2013 / 6:21 am

    for me it 100 percent comes back to STICKING TO THE LIST…

  3. February 19, 2013 / 5:32 am

    Buy staples in bulk, especially when on sale. We stock up on natural peanut butter, quinoa, beans and oats when we can get a super deal.

  4. February 19, 2013 / 5:04 am

    I really, really need to work on budgeting the groceries. We do so well with everything else, but we kind of slack in this area. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

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