5 Ways to Reduce Food Spending

Are you looking for ways to cut costs on food, but still eat well? This post will show you 5 easy ways to reduce food spending that you can implement this week!

Last year around this time, I sat down and did a three month audit of our spending. And do you know what I discovered? We were consistently spending (brace yourselves) $3000 dollars per month, on food! Wow. Let me just step away from my computer for a minute and do some yoga breathing.

Seriously, $3000.

Now please don’t think that we have that kind of extra money to spend on food per month, because we don’t. Instead, half of it was going straight to a credit card, which also happened to have an 11% interest rate. Insert mortified emoji, here.

There was also another problem going on in our kitchen during that time that was directly related to our food spending problem. Cleaning out the fridge every week was an ominous chore!

Each week, you ask?

This is precisely the question I wasn’t asking, Readers! I thought I was doing the right thing by buying groceries on the same day each week, no matter what. Never mind that to make room for these groceries, I had to go through and toss the stuff we hadn’t eaten.

For some reason I didn’t take into account what was left in the fridge when I made my weekly meal plan. Like a closet stuffed with clothes, we often opened our fridge and thought, “There’s nothing to eat. I need to go to the store.” I know. It’s embarrassing.

But I’m not sure I’m alone in this, and that’s why I’m writing this post. If you’re in the same boat, read on, my friend. I’ll show you the 5 things I did to cut our food spending in half.

Determine Your Actual Budget

When we sat down and looked at our monthly expenses we quickly saw how much we could spend on food. It wasn’t $3000.

Shop for Groceries Online

This might sound nuts, but buying my groceries online is the single greatest thing I did to cut our food spending in half. Shopping online through QFC Pick-up, allowed me to more effectively use coupons, and the weekly savings flier they send me. It also means I double check what’s in my fridge and pantry while I’m grocery shopping. That way, I don’t get things I don’t need, and I’m not tempted to throw extra things in my cart. I also see the total as I put things into my cart, and I can adjust as needed.

They only charge $5 for the pick-up service, which I usually cover in coupons. Plus, I don’t have to argue with my kids about whether or not they can have every piece of candy they see at eye level! These grocery delivery and pick-up services are becoming very popular. Look for one in your area!

Meal Plan with a Calendar

Each week I’d meal plan based on what I felt like eating that week, and I’d randomly assign days to make each meal. What a horrible plan! This didn’t take into account the meeting that I had, the dinner date, the potluck. The food I bought was wasted or forgotten.

Now, I look at my calendar while meal planning. If I see that I have an early evening meeting coming up, or a long play-date out with my kids, then I plan a crock-pot meal for that day. When I see that I have a date night with my husband, my meal plan only includes a meal for the kids. If a dinner party night is coming up, I make sure to buy enough to make a meal for my family and our guests right along with my weekly groceries. It saves so much food, money and stress!

Shop Only When Needed & Shop for Multiple Days at Once

I don’t buy groceries on a set day each week anymore. Instead, I buy them when the fridge and pantry are mostly empty, and I try to buy enough for five days at a time.

Have a Leftover Night Each Week

I used to end up with a little bit of leftovers from a few different dinners. Instead of tossing them, we now have a “choose your own adventure” night. We get everything out of the fridge, and we each get to pick the leftovers we want to make a meal. The kids think it’s fun, and it takes care of cleaning out my fridge and dinner at the same time! A win-win! This has been a game changer.

That’s it! Not bad, really. I’m happy to report that after revising our meal planning and grocery routine, we’ve cut our monthly food budget in half! We still eat healthy, mostly organic food, host parties, and go out. We just do it more mindfully, and with a lot less waste. I realize that my reduced food budget may still seem too high for many out there, but I’m taking things one step at a time.

If you also have great tips on how to budget your meals or meal plan, I’d love to hear them! Post a comment in the comments section below, or send me an email. Please share this if you found it helpful! You might also enjoy this post, “How To Organize Your Refrigerator to Save Meal Prep Time.”

Happy Meal Planning,
Lauren

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