It’s the middle of the month and I realize I have a fourth of my grocery budget left to last two weeks. This always seems to happen to me with 1-2 weeks left. We budget $400 a month for groceries. That’s for a family of 3 (2 adults, 1 toddler boy). This also includes non food items such as paper towels, toilet paper, toiletries, shampoo/condition, Costco trips, etc. We aim to spend $100 a week each month (over 4 weeks in 1 month). But when I get to the last week in the month, I often only find I have roughly $60-80 left. So, I try and stretch that money as best I can.
5 Tips To Stretch Your Grocery Budget:
1. Shop your kitchen first. I will search my pantry and freezer first to see what staples or meats I have that can be used for meals that week. Often times I’ll find 3-4 meal ideas just from searching. And doesn’t it feel good to clean out your pantry and fridge of items that have just been sitting there?
2. During the same process above, I will clean out my pantry, fridge, and freezer. This helps me know what items I need to buy on the next (or new month’s) grocery list. And of course, will provide some ideas for meals.
3. Make inexpensive meals that week. After you’ve shopped your kitchen first, plan meals (including breakfast, lunch, and dinners) that do not require a ton of items and/or items that don’t cost a lot or are on sale. See below for some meal ideas.
4. Make meals that provide leftovers or meats that can be used for another meal the same week. For example, I love grilled chicken on the OUTDOOR grill, but my hubby is the only one who can work the grill (yes, I cannot man the grill…I’m afraid it will blow up). So, when we grill chicken for a meal one night, we’ll throw 1-2 extra breasts on the grill to have for a meal the next night. Usually we’ll use the leftover chicken for Quesadillas or Grilled Chicken Salads (lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, boiled eggs, and dressing).
5. Go out to eat that week using your coupons. Often times, eating out can be more expensive than eating at home, but if you have the right coupons or restaurant deals, eating out can save money. For example, we have almost 100 points with Papa Johns Pizza right now, which is 4 free pizzas. If we used 25 points to order a pizza one night, that’s a free meal. You could throw in a bagged salad (usually only $3 on sale at Kroger). And can even make a dessert with a couple bucks (read HERE to find my favorite dessert for $3-4 that feeds a family or more). Many restaurants offer “Kids Eat Free” nights during the week to bring in customers, as well as other weekly deals. I have tons of other tips for eating out for cheap. Read HERE how we budget eating out. Just for reference, we currently budget about $160 a month for eating out (and we do this OFTEN).
I like to look on Pinterest if I’m at a loss of what to make, but here are a few meal ideas to stretch a dollar!
1. Spaghetti with ground beef, ground turkey, or shredded chicken (or just canned meat sauce). I like to add a loaf of garlic bread (make your own by adding butter and garlic powder before you bake it) and a salad.
2. Chicken Spaghetti – I will do a full post of my mother’s recipe soon, but basically it’s 1-2 shredded chicken breasts (I just boil in water and shred), 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 green bell pepper, green olives chopped finely (about 1/2 cup), spaghetti noodles (or whatever you have on hand), and cheddar cheese. Cook noodles, set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients minus the cheese. Add noodles to mixture and top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
3. “Brinner” – Breakfast for dinner. I find I always have something on hand and don’t have to buy any ingredients (pancakes, waffles, biscuits, breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls using just a canned pizza dough, etc).
5. Grilled Meat (chicken, steak, fish) with a couple sides. This is only beneficial if you already have it on hand.
1. Oatmeal – This is super cheap. My 2.5 year old LOVES it as well. I add mashed banana, a tsp of brown sugar, and some cinnamon.
2. Toast or English Muffin with Peanut Butter.
*I usually have eggs on hand and fruit that I can add to a meal.
1. Sandwiches – PBJ is probably the most inexpensive since you will most likely have peanut butter and jelly on hand. Could also do egg salad sandwiches, turkey, grilled cheese.
*Lunches are usually the hardest for me to cook something up for myself and Beckham, but whatever I can find around the kitchen is what we eat.
Do you have any tips on how you manage your grocery budget each month or some meal ideas that are inexpensive?