I’m sure we have all read our fair share of money saving blog posts, but few have given me something I can actually work with. Cutting my household down to spaghetti for all of eternity isn’t an option and my ice cream stash takes up way too much room to bulk prep and freeze. Over the years I have tried a few things here and there, but nothing has actually stuck. Food has always been our largest expense, sometimes even topping the mortgage payment! Lately though, I realized it had started to dwindle down, so I took a look at exactly what had changed. I was pretty surprised to see that most of what I was not doing, wasn’t in the other grocery saving articles I had read.
So here is my list of the 5 not so obvious ways I’m saving money on my grocery bill:
1. I DO NOT use coupons.
I tried those one time. I ended up with four boxes of Poptarts and I hadn’t eaten a Poptart in years, yet there I was four boxes deep. Then I found myself with three shampoos I had never heard of and six packs of hot dogs in the middle of February. I had become so obsessed with actually using coupons that I started buying things that seemed like a “good deal” despite not really wanting them. $2 off something I wouldn’t have bought doesn’t really save me any money.
2. I skip the recipes.
If you follow me on Pinterest, my boards tell a different story, but we are all dreamers, right? I actually hardly EVER use an actual recipe. I always needed so many extra things, things I wouldn’t have been buying otherwise. The weird spice that only needs a pinch, well, McCormick charges $5 for that. The breadcrumbs for the fish, the ingredients for the mango salsa, because let’s be honest, that’s the only reason I chose that recipe. All of that adds up! And I am too busy to throw down a two-hour prep or overnight marinate more than once a quarter. Well, it is actually more of a semi-annual occurrence if I am being honest.
What do I do? I stick to the basics. We throw some Adobo on our chicken thighs, Instapot some yellow rice and green beans, and there you have it, a well-rounded meal. Simple, the kids love it and it goes a long way!
3. This may not be for everyone, but we ditched the microwave.
It actually was ripped out during our kitchen upgrade and we never got around to replacing it. We were trying to stick to our Dave Ramsey budget and wanted to get some of the expenses from the remodel under control before running out to grab one. Well, after a couple weeks of growing pains, we actually didn’t really need it. I stopped buying “quick” microwave things like steamable veggies, frozen fatty snacks and those amazing microwave brownies. In all honesty, my husband really misses being able to warm up his coffee and I do miss the brownies, but we have learned to manage and eat healthier because of it. Start small, consider ditching it for a week or two, and see how you feel.
4. Grocery ordering/pick up.
This is LIFE CHANGING! I always, always went over my budget in the store. Some new fancy hummus or brownie crisps (yes, they make those) would catch my eye and I would easily turn a $150 trip into $249.56. But being able to make my list and adjust the wants and needs without ever stepping foot (mine or my toddler’s) into the store is literally the best thing since Shapewear. I have done this with Instacart and Aldi, the pickup at Kroger and now, mostly the pickup at Walmart. I hardly ever go over my budget anymore and I get to skip the 300 requests for gum at the checkout counter.
5. This isn’t a new one: shop the perimeter!
We aren’t crazy health people, but we do try to stick to “whole foods.” Eggs, milk, produce, yogurts, cheeses, high fiber breads (limited), rice, honey, lean meats and seafood make up most of our diet. You wouldn’t believe the number of aisles (when I actually find myself in a grocery store) that we skip! Of course, we grab some Goldfish and maybe a breakfast cookie at Costco here and there, but the bulk of our meals come from the refrigerated or produce sections. A wrong turn and we find ourselves staring at four different cereals (that’s the Holy Grail of treats in our house), crackers galore, boxed juice and four kinds of mac and cheese. Nothing especially good for my skinny jeans or the kid’s dental work. So we choose to limit these choices to times when we find ourselves at a picnic, a friend’s house or very rare occasions.
So there you have my 5 not so obvious ways to save on your grocery bill. Food will probably always be a large expense for us and I will continue to hunt for practical ways to keep it under control. I also love the foodie scene of Chattanooga, so maybe I’ll tackle that expense next.