Health and Wealth
Maybe its just me, but grocery stores are expensive. Ever wonder how you can spend $45 in a matter of minutes and walk out with two bags of groceries?

USA Today recently released the costs for an average family of four and their food expenses. The latest numbers for a four-member family: a thrifty food plan, $146 a week; a low-cost food plan, $191 a week; a moderate-cost plan, $239; a liberal plan, $289 a week. Ranging from $7,500 to $15,028 annually, with the median falling around the $12,000 mark. Learning to keep a budget of $800 a month can save a traditional family  $2,400 a year!

 

There are 600 grocery carts in the store and I keep picking the one with the front wheel that spins around like a ballerina on speed.

Everyone

 

Without kids, but maintaining two somewhat on the go careers (Physical Therapist & Teacher), working our side hustles and keeping an active lifestyle, we were not about to eat rice and beans every meal like suggested by some blogs. It is not sustainable and in my opinion can lead to failure due to difficulty maintaining the rigor.  

Agree to disagree, but I still love eating a  nice dinner that meets the caloric needs of someone who runs and works out somewhere between 4-6x a week.

With our active lifestyle, my wife and I decided on a $400 a month budget to include all groceries and any occasional meals out. The cost per year: $4,800. On average, we wound up saving at least $4,000 annually compared to when we first met (I would spend $400 in one week). So how did we manage to slash our grocery budget in half, with a goal of working towards $350 a month?

 

Here are 7 ways to save on your annual grocery bill!

 
 

1.Planning

Meal prepping is a word commonly associated with fitness fanatics. But planning ahead is essential when working on a budget. Having a plan prior to going to the store in addition to planning out meals will almost ensure you stay within your budget. Planning also encourages healthier consumption habits. Know what you like, be open to trying other foods and follow a weekly plan. Meal prepping doesn’t have to mean you eat chicken and broccoli for every meal like I did most of my bachelor life. Try to limit meat, especially red meat that comes at a premium.
 
Our go to food groups and menu

 

2. Shop around

We primarily use four stores, Costco, Walmart, Wegmans, and Lotte. Depending where you live this can be different for you. The reason: each offer really good deals in some categories, but are not so good in others.

Costco – Great for paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and SOME bulk foods. Some things, like a bag of 25 apples seem to go bad before you can use them all. We typically get our frozen foods, yogurt, liquid egg whites, ground turkey, and tortillas from Costco. This trip is typically once a month, maybe twice to refill on a few items. Sometimes all the frills can be distracting, I once came home with a beach chair so be careful. 

Walmart – We personally do not like getting any fresh vegetables or meat from Walmart. In our experience, the vegetables are not hardy and the meat I just don’t trust. Walmart is good for canned goods (.14 per can cheaper than Costco) and I will occasionally get things like eggs or cheese. If we need packaged products we go to Walmart. 

Lotte Plaza Market – 3 Bell Peppers, 2 Zucchini, 1 Cucumber, Sweet Potatoes, 2 Onions, Pita bread and a partridge and a pear tree.  On our most recent trip we walked out with enough vegetables for more than a week and under $10. The same amount of food when compared to Wegmans pricing would have costed us well over $20.

Wegmans – We used to be huge Wegmans people. It is like they suck you in. But stay away from all the good foods (see #4). They have good beer prices, but we go for the family pack of chicken. $1.87 a pound. Typically we will get 5-6 pounds, which lasts approximately 3 -4 weeks.  Cooking about 1.5 pounds at a time, we often freeze most of the chicken for later use. Our most recent trip $11.37.

 

Total for two weeks of food: $127

 7 ways to save

 

3.Use rewards cards

 

In my recent post on how to make $600 extra a month I described how to make $62.00 just by using a rewards credit card for groceries only (Here is a list of reward cards). 3% on a $400 budget will net $12.00 back, paired with reaching spending terms most will give somewhere between $100-150 (we just got the BOA card). By month two you now have an extra $174.00 to use on groceries just for being thrifty. With anything, if you can’t control your credit card use then just stick to cash each week for groceries!

 

4.Don’t shop when you’re hungry to prevent impulse buying

 

Caution: Never go to Wegmans when you are hungry. The $9.49 per pound hot food bar can burn a hole in your wallet in a matter of scoops. We had two friends who accidentally rang up $56.00 in hot foods. Their processed and prepared foods are extremely over priced, but they are appealing and appetizing. We never go to the store before dinner. Consumers will tend to impulse buy and target less healthy options. A slice at Wegmans is $2.99, that is 1.5 pounds of chicken that would feed me for 5 days! Don’t take my word for it just check this out.

 

5. Go off brand & eliminate processed foods

Easier said then done with the processed foods, but it is a great choice for not only your budget but your health as well. Dr. Thunder was what we got as kids, Dr. Pepper was for the adults. So I still really do not care if my mustard says Heinz or Great Value. 
 
 

6. Have fun with it!

 

Have fun when you grocery shop & make saving a game. We challenge ourselves to find the best deals and come up with new recipes to eat. Two, on the go people, we have to meal prep and we realize when we have kids a few things will change. In the meantime, we wanted to stop wasting money at the store because we were lazy. Sometimes while we are shopping I will put random stuff in the cart. Plus you never know when you will meet John Daly!

 John Daly loves Walmart

7. Go shopping 1x a week

 

I have read that Wednesday is the best day to go shopping. With the new deals starting and the previous week’s deals ending, Wednesday is great for saving. However, when you have a plan, know where you’re going and you use rewards cards, it doesn’t matter to me when you go shopping, but we go once a week. The more frequent we went to the grocery store the more frequently we spent money. We typically go on Sunday. Sunday marks the day we do most of our planning and half the meal prepping. Wednesday is typically our second meal prep day to get us to Sunday. Friday and Saturday is when we will cook a sit down dinner. Limiting yourself to four trips a month, with lets say $100 to use, you will stay within your budget and cut down on impulse buying.

 

Q: What are some ways you save at the grocery store?

 
Read more about saving here:  Ways to Save Monthly
 

Your future self will be glad you read.                  – Josh

2 Replies to “Save Money Meal Planning: 7 Shortcuts to Slash your $12,000 Annual Grocery Budget”

  1. I like the creating new meals idea.

    I save money on groceries by (besides your suggestions):
    -Shopping once a month
    -Use what I have in my pantry and refrigerators (and make them into meals)
    -Make recipes around the sale items

    I spend around $120 per month on groceries.

    It would probably be less than that if I had an Aldi close by.

    Enjoyed the article.

    1. I am so with you on the shop 1x a month! I am trying to convince my wife….

      We have turned to this, so I need to write a new post – Lidl. Just got 24 pounds of chicken for $40 to throw in our freezer! I think we can get our budget to below $300 in the future.

      Do you have a lidl yet?

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