Feeding a large family will get expensive fast! When I stray from the things I talk about below, I find our food bill quickly going out of control. Typically, I average about $150 per week. Sometimes a few dollars more, sometimes a few dollars less. And, yes, that DOES usually include the other misc. household items: paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc.
The first and largest impact on our food budget is where we eat. We do not eat out a lot. I make 3 meals a day, just about every day. Spending $50 for us to eat out for dinner is almost half of our weekly grocery budget, and I can’t do that in good conscience!
Also, I make the majority of our food myself. It’s cheaper than buying boxed or canned food, tastes better, and is much, much healthier.
Currently, we live in the city so I have an abundance of grocery stores to choose from. I do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi. That is a discount food store. Before you knock it, if you haven’t been in one please check it out. 90% of what they sell is under their own brand and they use much cleaner ingredients than in most other super market brands: no added MSG, trans fat, or artificial dyes. They also have their own organic line as well as a gluten-free line. I can buy organic, free range chicken broth at Aldi and still save .20 compared to regular old chicken broth at another store. So I shop at Aldi and can get an entire buggy-ful for under $100! Where else can you still do that?!
Everything else I usually pick up at Kroger. I buy almost all of my meat there, which I usually get on clearance. I can afford to buy better meat that way and still save money. The clearanced meat is typically half price, even the sale price, and I can get some produce this way too, but that has to be used quickly. Another bonus to shopping at Kroger is the rewards points. I get 1 point per dollar spent, then I can use the accumulated points for a gas discount. My Kroger marks things down everyday as they restock, but yours may be different. Check with the department managers to be sure.
We also hunt. That is the biggest savings on meat we get. It’s not technically free due to the hunting license and butchering fees, but the more we can harvest, that price per pound goes down. It’s the best meat you can possibly eat and the price for grass-fed/free range meat is unbeatable. Plus, because we take it to the butcher, I still get it wrapped up in neat little packages. When our kids start to hunt, we will probably begin processing at home again to save the money and teach the skill.
We save so much money every month by eating our leftovers! Even if there is not enough for all of us to eat another meal, I still save it. Either I can eat it for lunch, or Little Sister can. Her appetite is smaller than the boys so we will share leftovers a lot.
I do not clip coupons. I’m not organized enough for that and a lot of what I buy doesn’t have paper coupons available. However, I do use apps that are super easy to get money back with, no coupons required. Savings Catcher from Walmart is one, Checkout 51 is another, and I have recently been introduced to Ibotta. They are all easy and quick to use and small savings add up over time.
I also meal plan. I tend to make a lot of soups, chili’s, and casseroles since those are a little cheaper, they tend to have leftovers, and they use less dishes. *Can I get a round of applause for those of us who don’t have dishwashers!* This is a little difficult in the summer time since no one wants chili in July in the South. So it does change sometimes, but I look forward to making these hearty meals again when it cools off.
When I meal plan, it saves me multiple trips, which saves me on gas money AND impulse purchases. It keeps me focused on my list, OH-and that is a BIG point of meal planning. YOU HAVE A LIST. You know what you need, instead of just winging it. I am highly unorganized so a meal plan helps me tremendously in other areas of my life as well.
One thing I would LOVE to implement in the future is freezer cooking, but haven’t gotten there yet. What do you do to keep your food bill in check?