In March, by meal planning and using mostly what was in our pantry and freezer, I was able to feed all 9 of us (plus some extra people here and there) on a wee bit less than $200! That works out to less than 72 cents per person a day! To read a list of the dinners we ate and some of the lunches, visit The Grocery Challenge. To read some of the things I learned that month, read The Grocery Challenge Results.
Now obviously, it is not possible to continue to feed our family on so little because the freezer and pantry were pretty empty after March, but the experiment completely changed my perspective on our grocery budget and how much of it is in my control. When you have set aside only $200 in cash for 31 days, you take notice of the price of every little thing and start to see patterns in your family’s eating habits and past spending habits.
Before The Grocery Challenge, I was able to get our monthly bill to $1200 including cleaning supplies, toilet paper, Goodnights for Dancing Queen, and all food and beverages. Even only spending $1200 for a family our size was no easy task. In order to stay within that budget, I had to meal plan, make freezer meals, cut down on our meat, buy in bulk, and shop on 15% off day. I thought that $1200 was as low as I could get it until The Grocery Challenge of course!
After The Grocery Challenge, I realize that I can probably spend half of that on a consistent basis, not including the months when we cut it down even further by using up what is in the pantry and freezer. I estimate that we will be able to have a month like that once every six months and again only spend $200. That means that I will spend $600 a month ten months of the year and $200 a month two months a year, for a grand total of $6400 annually spent on groceries. That $6400 compares to the over $14,400 we had been spending annually. Just by making this one change, I will be able to save our family $8000 a year! I think that Dave Ramsey would be proud!
One of the things that I am doing now is couponing. In Canada, it is more difficult to coupon as stores don’t double or triple coupons like some do in the States, but it doesn’t mean that the savings don’t still add up. I didn’t used to bother with coupons, as I didn’t think that 50 cents here and there mattered, but only having $200 to spend in March showed me that it all matters and that the little things really do add up. If you want to learn how to coupon in Canada or just want to hear some of the incredible savings I’ve experienced through coupons so far, read Couponing in Canada.
Here are the ways that I have cut our grocery bills in HALF:
-signing up for all the free store loyalty cards
-meal planning while taking into consideration the sales
-buying in bulk with a group and make freezer meals
-planting a garden, raspberry bush, and strawberry patch
-reading the weekly fliers, finding the best deals (especially when I can also match those sales with a coupon), and writing my grocery lists accordingly
-buying items on sale with a coupon on 15% off day!
-taking advantage of 2 for 1 sales and Dollar Days to stock up
-being purposeful when it comes to snacks and breakfasts
-planning ahead for snacks
-only serving oatmeal or Puffed Wheat for breakfast during the week and homemade pancakes, waffles, frittata, quiche, or omelette on the weekend
What ways does your family use to save on groceries?