Two years ago, after going over our spending, I realized we were spending WAY too much money on food. We didn't eat out very often, but our grocery budget was much bigger than I wanted it to be. I was unwilling to change our spending habits at first as we seemed to do a lot of things right. We didn't buy processed foods (very often!) we mostly ate healthy, and we always had a meal plan, but we were spending over $1000 a month on groceries. Yikes! That number seemed so high and I felt like we could save some money in that area, but I wasn't sure what to do.
At first, I tried saving money through an online app. I maybe saved a couple dollars a week, which was nice but not what I was looking for. I also tried to track sales in flyers and even shop at multiple stores. It was a lot of effort, and sometimes I even spent more money because the prices seemed too good to pass up.
After trying a few things out for awhile, and doing some online research, I managed to cut our grocery bill down by $300-$400 a month! How did I do it? There were lots of little things we did that helped, but one of the most significant things was (drumroll please) ... we started cooking and eating the same meals on rotation.
Not exactly what you expect to hear from a meal planner, but this worked so well for us. We didn't eat the same dinners every day, or even every week. I made a two week meal plan, and we ate that on rotation for a couple months until we got bored of the recipes and then we switched it up. We also changed recipes with the seasons.
How exactly did this save us money - not to mention a ton of time? Let me explain...
1. Buying in bulk
We all know that buying bulk tends to be less expensive. This is really only the case however, if you need all the items you are buying. When you are making the same recipe, and using the same ingredients every two weeks, non-perishable items bought in bulk save some serious cash and you know they will get eaten up quickly.
2. Not having to purchase new ingredients every week
This goes along with the last point. When you buy in bulk, or even regular sizes, you don't need to repurchase constantly. For example, if you have caesar salad on rotation, and already bought the bacon bits, parmesan cheese, and croutons to make the recipe a couple weeks ago. All you need to buy that week is the lettuce. You are eating up the ingredients you already have, and don't need to go and re buy all new ones to make a different recipe.
3. Having a small amount of pantry staples
As I mentioned in point number 2, you don't have to buy a ton of new ingredients each week. You have a few pantry staples that you need to make each recipe. Your pantry is tidier, more organized, and your bill is much smaller.
4. Learning how to cook the recipes really well
This saves you time - and time is money am I right? I always find I am less motivated to cook when I am planning on making a new recipe that has a lot of steps, and I have to follow the instructions very closely. If you are making a recipe you have already made a few times, it is much easier to throw it together in a hurry.
5. Not having to rewrite an entire grocery list and meal plan
This is a big one in the time savings department. You have your master grocery list for each week, and you can make any changes to it based on what ingredients you still have from previous weeks. You don't need to come up with an all new grocery list every time you head to the store. This also makes grocery shopping a breeze because you have already bought all the ingredients and know exactly where to find them.
6. BONUS - Make your family's favourite recipes
When we did this, we chose our family's favourite recipes to have on rotation (with a couple new ones thrown in for fun!). This meant minimal complaining about what we were eating, and I knew that I would be cooking something that everyone likes. When we got tired of eating something, or it wasn't seasonally appropriate, I would swap that meal out for a different recipe. When the plan got tired, I would create a new plan for us to follow for a few months and then switch again. Easy!
As I mentioned above, I recommend trying this on a two week rotation, but you could also do this monthly, or even weekly if you don't mind repetition. Don't have time to sit down and plan a month's worth of meals? I would love to do it for you! Hit me up! Angela@kinsalt.com.
Saving money seems like a fitting subject this time of year - since Christmas can get expensive. Next week we will talk more money saving tips!