Okay so with running my own business money can be WONKY especially at the beginning and it’s important to me to be frugal in general with money.
Even if I didn’t have to worry about money, I still want to try to be as careful as possible. To be honest, I’ve spent a lot of years frivolously spending and holding my breath while my card swipes. Literally I was going through my drawers the other day and looking at all these clothes i had to have that I rarely wear and was embarrassed.
I can also think of tons of things I’ve spent money on I didn’t need. INCLUDING dining out – mostly when I’m lazy. So I want to try to reign THAT type of spending in too BUT ONE place I KNOW I can save money is at the grocery store.
I’ve tried coupons.
I’ve tried bulk buying (especially meat).
I’ve tried apps.
BUT nothing I’ve tried has been right for me. And it doesn’t mean that these DO NOT work but it means they DO NOT work FOR ME. Does that make sense? Everyone is different.
SO I’ve started using a method that I BELIEVE will work for me. I haven’t gotten my budget as low as I want it yet, but I think I can get there.
I’m gonna be SUPER honest – there have been weeks I’ve spent over $200 on groceries and KNOW some of that has gone to waste. SO EMBARRASSING. I would do buffet style prep and get tired of the food I made, I would do the same with prepping actual meals, I would also over buy OR I would go out to eat and have to toss a meal. SO I’m trying my best NOT to let that happen anymore.
Before I get into this method let me tell you what I’ve found my struggles to be and why I’m going to this method
- Over buying and food waste – I will be honest, one of my biggest struggles is knowing HOW MUCH to buy. I overbuy meat and veggies on the regular and then get bored with the vegetables I buy. So then I wind up throwing half of them away. This also ties into my next issue.
- Getting bored with food – Since I over buy I get tired with the food that I have already purchased this leads to the food waste I discussed above. I guess the two if these really go hand in hand. Throwing away food breaks my heart, but when I’m tired of zucchini I will legit put off eating it.
- Not planning for the weekends like weekends – One thing I noticed that I do is I mostly plan for the weekdays and assume I would want to eat food the same way on the weekends and that’s just not true. I want take out like CRAZY on the weekends. This usually results in me NOT eating the food that is in the fridge and spending too much money at restaurants. I also feel pretty lazy on weekends. SO what I decided to do was pick foods on weekends that remind me of my favorite take out and aren’t difficult to make.
OKAY so now for the method.
Plan your month
That’s right, your MONTH. Now for me it’s important to remember it’s not set in stone. Okay? It’s okay to write it in pencil. For example you don’t know what will be on sale, and if chicken is on sale rather than chuck roast, then make a change, but it’s not final. I planned out my menu for the month KNOWING it would be flexible. I read several articles and ideas on how to do this. I plugged in some meals that I really like, some that I’m craving and some that I’m just really interested in trying.
Know what you have
One thing I haven’t done yet is take an inventory of my “pantry” yet, which is one of the things you’re SUPPOSED to do, but let’s be real, my “pantry” is tiny. I have a pretty good idea of what’s in there, but I did take an inventory of my freezer. This way I know WHAT i have and how much that way I can add them to meals or make sure my meals include foods I already have. For example, I found 3 unopened bags of steam-in-bag green beans and steam-in-bag rice some rice, so guess what was added to the meal plan for Friday? You guessed it.
Plan “left over” nights
Putting in planned left over nights helps with a few things. For one, it alleviates some of the stress of coming up with meals for the month. It also helps you feel less wasteful.
Utilize your left overs as lunch
Every meal we have for dinner becomes lunch the next day. Boom. Easy. I’ve done this method before and do really like it and it really helps with portion control.
Keep breakfasts and snacks simple
The key to this is filling in your other foods with simple items. Breakfast in our house is pretty easy so I try to keep certain things on hand, and I don’t like over complicating snacks so here are some things I keep on hand just in case.
- Frozen Whole Grain Waffles
- Whole grain bread
- Milk/Cashew milk
- Fruit (see what I did there 😉 it works for both)
- Cheese sticks (2% sharp cheddar is our fav)
- veggies like sugar snap peas and carrots
- Shakeology (knowing I have this every day helps take up a whole snack making it super easy not to over think)
You can also consider buying a bag or so of salad mix and a dressing you enjoy to keep in the fridge for days you just want to grab a salad rather than left overs. Some days I just want something different.
NEXT I printed out an empty calendar and penciled stuff in. I looked at when we would be out of town, when we had plans and wrote those in first. THEN I added in meals I KNEW I wanted. For example I’ve been in soup mode so I added in chicken noodle, and wedding soup. Then I added in some of the meals I’ve been wanting to do at home like trying home made pho, healthy general tsos, tacos, etc. Then added in some basic staples like buffalo chicken pasta. I made every Thursday a “left over” night but also know there could be other “left over” days during the week and will adjust accordingly. If you’re doing this method invest in some good tupperware.
Next I moved the meals to a spreadsheet.
Then I built my “grocery lists.”
This is kind of a weird week to share my “plans” for because we had a LOT of thanksgiving left overs that made it into our lunches so excess soup will be frozen for “I don’t wanna cook” days
Now, I still haven’t gotten it down as LOW as I want (the goal here is between $70 and $80 a week. Right now I’m around $100 which is STILL less than I was spending (between $150 and $200)
If you look at the list, you can see a few things.
I placed the meals at the top of the list, along with the ingredients that I need to make each meal. I only wrote the things that I needed to buy, not what I already had on hand.
- I broke up the items I needed based on the location in the store.
- I have 4 columns.
- What I think the the product will cost based on previous purchases (and I’m sure I’ll get better at guesstimating with time)
- a column of what it ACTUALLY cost (which will help me with knowing costs in the future)
- If the product was on sale
- Where it was purchased
- I added “extras” in red – these are items I forgot to add to the list in the initial budget and added them when I was at the store, I then came back and added them to the spreadsheet when I got home.
- I made a printable copy of this list and took it through the store with me and noted the price as I went. This helped me stay on track with my spending and kept me from adding unneeded items.
After I test this method for a few weeks, I’m going to build a guide along with a downloadable template BUT I want to make sure I have it all figured out first!
Does this look like a method you use? Would you use this method or try it out?