A great way to stick to your grocery budget is by making a meal plan. Try to make your own by using this Meal Plan Template. If you would like five inexpensive meal ideas complete with grocery list, make sure to subscribe to Military Spouse on a Mission at the end of this post!
In the template, there is a section for you to put each meal and all of the grocery items you will need for those recipes. Cross off the items you already have and then compile the rest into a list using this Grocery List Template.
I like to make 4-5 meals and have 2-3 nights be left over nights so you don’t waste any food, saving you more money. Since I just cook for two, we always have left overs. I will also have leftovers for lunches as well.
Here is an example:
Sunday- turkey chili and cornbread
Monday- Spaghetti with meat sauce
Wednesday- broccoli cheddar chicken
Thursday- parmesan tilapia over brown rice, served with corn
Saturday- Tex-mex casserole
That is a whole weeks worth of dinners for around $30 and you will still have frozen tilapia in the freezer to make for the next couple of weeks if you have fish once a week.
To make your meal plan, go through your pantry and see what you have that you need to eat before it goes bad. I used to be horrible about buying whatever I wanted at the store and then leaving it to go bad in the pantry! This can cost you quite a bit of money so try to avoid it by using the things in your pantry and freezer first.
For example, if you have a box of pasta, make one day spaghetti night. That way all you have to buy is some ground beef and a can of sauce (super easy and inexpensive!)
When making my meal plan, I try to mix it up but also add dishes I know are inexpensive. I go with mostly dishes that contain ground beef, chicken, or tilapia (a bag of individually frozen fillets is actually very inexpensive if you break it down by how many meals that makes!)
These are all pretty inexpensive even though I prefer chicken breast instead of the cheaper cuts. If there is a good deal on beef, you can also get a roast or sliced steak for a reasonably priced dinner as well.
When making your grocery budget, keep in mind how much you eat out and how much you can save by making a meal yourself.
For example, if you buy your lunch every day at work, you will end up paying an average of around $30 a week (per person). If you take your lunch everyday, you can save $20 a week (per person) depending on what you pack.
When I was working, I packed both mine and my husband a lunch. I would usually either take leftovers, make a salad, or make a meal at the beginning of the week (like chicken and rice) and put it into separate Tupperware containers for lunch. I would usually make my husband a sandwich with veggie straws, carrots and dip, a cheese stick, and some raisins and dried mango.
I make all of our meals at home to save money. When I was working, we had a great cafeteria in our office building with delicious food so tons of people would get their breakfasts and lunches from there and take it to their office.
I only did this once when I forgot my lunchbox at home and noticed right away how much you can spend if you do this daily. I spent $6 on breakfast and $9 for lunch. That is $15 a day which done every day is $75 a week or $300 in a month.
By packing my own, I could save $10 a day or more if done right. Great things to fix yourself for breakfast are oatmeal, cereal, yogurt and granola, or eggs and a tortilla. This can all be bought in bulk pretty inexpensively. Add a piece of fruit like a banana or an apple for a balanced start to your day.
I try to go to the store only once a week if possible because I find myself spending less money that way.
Never go to the store without a grocery list. Download this cute Grocery List Template. When you go to the store, try to stick to your list as much as possible. Any time I am at the store, I have an inner monologue before putting an item in my basket. “Is this item on my list?” “Is it a necessity?” “Is there a cheaper alternative?”. You can cut you extra spending and buyers remorse by asking yourself these questions.
For household items like cleaner, paper towels, or baby items like formula or diapers- buy in bulk. It is far cheaper per diaper or toilet paper roll to buy the larger packaged item most of the time. You can save a lot of money by buying the large bottle of cleaner and pouring it into your spray bottles for cleaners. I also do this with soap.
Next, go through your list of grocery items and see what you can find coupons for. I always use coupons for things like formula, toothpaste, and other household items. You can find manufacturers coupons online and print out to take with you to the store. I love coupons.com because you can flip through tons of coupons and clip the coupons you need for the items on your list.
Also- keep an eye on sales at local grocery stores. I generally buy everything at the commissary. You are generally going to spend less at someplace like the commissary (for fellow military wives) or at a place like Foodmart (cost plus food). However, if you go when there is a good sale at a store such as Target or Albertsons, you can save money as long as you buy only those sale items.
I hope this article was helpful to you! If you enjoyed it, please like, share, or pin on Pinterest!
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