10 Tips For Shrinking Your Food Budget To $60.00 a Week

We've announced our challenge of cutting our food budget to $60.00 per week and now the question is.......How in the world does a person, let alone a family, eat on $60.00 a week?  Well, the answer isn't as difficult as you may think.  Here are a few tips and tricks on managing your food budget:

1. Cook From Scratch - if you're used to going out or purchasing pre-made items, this may seem overwhelming, but it really isn't.  There are TONS of recipes for quick & easy meals as well as freezer meals and slow-cooker meals that will save you time and money.  And, you'll be eating real food!

2. Use A Meal Plan & Make A List - if you've never tried doing this before it can seem very overwhelming.  It is for the first week or two and then it gets so much easier!  I can't stress enough how this one little item will save you time and money.  This is going to not only help you control what you spend, but it's going to cut out food waste since now you'll only be buying what you can use in that week.  Take into account what items you have in your pantry and freezer as well as what's on sale at the market that week.  More on meal planning in these posts.

3.  Eat Seasonally - first, you can grow a few things yourself which will reduce your spending.  Second, you can purchase high quality food at their lowest by buying them when they are in-season.  Farmer's markets, road-side stands and even many supermarkets offer local, fresh fruit and veggies in-season.  If you can swing it, stock up on some of the items that you are able to can or freeze for use during the winter months.

4. Stock Up During Sales - try to put a percentage of your weekly spending aside for stocking up when staples you use hit their lowest prices.  Meat, grains, veggies, etc. all have different times of the year they go on sale and if you can work into your budget the opportunity to stock up when this happens, it will reduce your spending throughout the year.  For those of you on a very tight budget, this may seem realistic.  What it takes is a few weeks of eating very inexpensively {think basics like soups, chicken and rice, pasta, etc.}so you have the opportunity to put aside a portion of your budget for purchasing sale items in bulk.  Once you can start purchasing in this manner you will start to drastically reduce your weekly spending.  Now, you're shopping to re-stock your freezer and pantry more than to fulfill your meal plan list.

5. Shop Your Pantry & Freezer - if you stock-up as suggested in #4, then make sure you're shopping your own pantry and freezer first, before buying something needed for a recipe.

6.  Use Coupons Where You Can - I use very few coupons because there are very few items we eat/use that offer coupons.  If I bought things just because I had a coupon and it was a great deal, I'm not saving any money because it's not something we would typically buy.  And, it may be a processed food, which I'm not interested in.  I don't spend a lot of time cutting coupons, and only use online sources such as GroceryCouponCart.com or RedPlum.com.  Pair the coupons with store sales {see #7} to get your best deal or it may not be worth purchasing the brand you have the coupon for.

7.  Shop The Store Flyers - this is where you can really save money.  We shop from 4 stores:  the commissary, Fresh Market, Hannaford and Price Chopper.  {and BJ's very rarely - we use that mostly for business} The commissary is for our staples, unless we can purchase them cheaper on sale at one of the other stores.  For the other 3, we watch the sale flyers weekly and stock-up on items that are on sale only.  That is key - they get you in the door with the rock-bottom sale items, hoping you'll pick up other things too.  Don't fall for it - stick to your list.  And the best way of getting the most savings is to stock up enough on those sale items to get you through to the next sale.

8. Grow What You Can - obviously this poses challenges in the winter, however, if you grow some of your higher cost veggies and/or those you use most often {i.e. potatoes, onions, tomatoes}, this will result in a nice little savings.  Then, freeze or can your abundance, and you'll be saving all year long!  If you have very little space try container gardening.  We used to live in a rented condo and could not till up land for a garden.  We used containers on the patio for tomatoes, potatoes, onion, lettuce, & herbs and grew a few other veggies in the flower gardens.

9.  Right-Size Your Recipes - do you regularly have leftovers?  If you will use them for lunches or additional dinners, great.  If not, cut your recipes down so you are making only what you will eat.

10.  Buy Expensive Ingredients On Off-Weeks - my husband LOVES steak and he also LOVES lobster.  We can still purchase both of these items, but may not purchase them in the same week.  I will usually try to plan the rest of that week's meals with lesser expensive ingredients to off-set the expensive ones.

Additional helpful posts:
12 Ways To Save Money and Reduce Food Waste
10 Easy Things You Can Do To Save Money
16 Ways To Effectively Cut Your Food Budget
 $60.00 A Week Food Budget Challenge

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