We’re kicking off the year with an 8-week Cut Your Grocery Bill Challenge. I’ll be sharing a weekly post here every Thursday with a task or challenge for you to complete/focus on to help you tweak, improve, or overhaul your grocery budget.
My hope is that we can all work together to crowd-source new ideas and fresh inspiration to be more thoughtful and intentional in our grocery budgets + hopefully save some money and instill some practices and principles and habits that will continue to save us money throughout the rest of the year.
Last week, we talked about setting up a grocery budget. If you haven’t completed that challenge, be sure to read last week’s post and follow the directions. That’s the most important first step in cutting your grocery bill.
Week #2: Recognize Your Roadblocks
This week, we’re going to talk about what might hold you back from success. I think it’s important to acknowledge those things that might make it difficult to succeed. Not so that we’re dwelling on the negatives or letting them be excuses, but so that we can not be surprised by potential roadblocks and can anticipate them and come up with creative solutions.
For instance, maybe you need to eat gluten-free, you have other allergies, you live out in the country, you don’t have a lot of time to invest in grocery shopping, you don’t have many stores that offer deals, etc.
Think through what might hold you back from succeeding. Be honest. What immediately jumps to your mind as pushback when you think of setting up a grocery budget. Why does it feel daunting or difficult?
My hope is that by assessing this ahead of time, it will make it much easier in the long run. Plus, I’m hopeful that by people being willing to share honestly their struggles and potential roadblocks in the comments on this post, others will be able to share ideas and encouragement if they are in a similar situation or have been in a similar situation. Let’s all encourage one another with ideas and inspiration!
I had two packages of sausage in the freezer that I’ve gotten recently in a great sale + an onion and some cabbage I’d gotten on sale. I chopped it and sauted it…
And it made for a yummy dinner this past week! You could also add potatoes or serve over rice, but I had neither, so I just made do with what I had — which is the name of the game around here!
This Week’s Grocery Shopping
I went to a different Kroger store this week than usual. I decided quickly that I wasn’t a fan of it. Not only did they not have as a great of a selection of markdowns, but they also didn’t have good signage. A number of the weekly digital deals weren’t marked with signs.
And then, when I got out to the car, I was thinking about how my total was more than I was expecting it to be. I started looking closely at my receipt and realized that multiple items were price-marked incorrectly. They had sale signs on them from last week’s deals… but the sales weren’t still running. So I paid full price or significantly more than I thought I was going to pay on 6 items due to this — which is why my total was higher than I thought.
That said, I’ve gotten so many great deals at Kroger over the years and it was partially my fault for not looking at the ad or paying closer attention and just trusting the signage. So I decided not to go back and ask for money back — because I had Kierstyn with me, I was already out to the car with all my groceries loaded in, and I needed to get home.
But let this be a good reminder of two things: 1) Not every shopping trip is an amazing experience. You win some, you lose some. But you’ll never win if you don’t try. 2) I should have checked the ads and checked the prices more carefully as they rang up today. I usually do, but I didn’t pay as close attention today.
If you’re interested, you can see my full grocery shopping trip video + all the prices I paid in the video here. (I totally spaced and forgot to get a picture with all of my groceries laid out!)
Our total was $86 for all the groceries in the video, so we are $14 under our $100 weekly grocery budget. I’ll roll the $14 over to next week.
Week #2 Project: Recognize Your Roadblocks & Share Them
Are you in for the Cut Your Grocery Bill Challenge? If so, I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know what your roadblocks are when it comes to setting up and sticking with a grocery budget.
If you have a few minutes, I’d love for you to read through some of the other comments and reply with ideas, suggestions, or encouragement you have for some of the commentors who are struggling. Thank you, in advance, for helping to give others practical ideas for making the most of their situation!
Our biggest roadblock in our area is that we have a limited amount of good grocery stores. The Sprouts stores are all over 20 minutes away and they shut down an Albertsons close by so I have to drive 10 miles away instead of 2 if I want to use their sales on the app. The closest things to our house are a Sam’s Club and a Walmart Neighborhood Market. There are a couple of Mexican brands grocers in the area but they are very limited, too. They are good if you want something for Mexican dishes but not much else. We do have a Korean market but again… limited. To be honest the Sprouts is my favorite but it feels like a luxury to shop there. I wish we had more competitive grocery stores like HEB or Kroger. Prices are so high here. OK, done complaining.
Challenges for our 8-member family: husband works a very physical job/workouts, so he has to consume a lot of proteins. He’s also deathly allergic to many proteins (and dairy), so his meals are separate and meat-dense. So while I try to do meatless meals, or casseroles, his needs are a significant portion of our budget. Also, he shops for our family and is less budget-conscious/aware than I would be. So if I saw that something was significantly out of line, price-wise, I would adjust my meal plan on the fly if I were the one shopping. But he doesn’t know to do that (he’s just following the list I made), so often pays more than I would like for certain items. (Don’t get me wrong–I’m SO grateful that he does this for our family, I’m just trying to figure out how to cut costs in the meantime.)
There are only 2 of us but grandkids visit on the weekends. I do great with planning our menu for the week. I usually do well at sticking to my menu plan for a few days and then if I’ve had a long day at work, etc., I don’t feel like making things, so we might order out.
Also, I LOVE to look for bargains/clearance. So I end up spending more than I intended.
What kind of bread and Turkey is that
Posted in week 2? Is that salad with avocado? Looks great! Trying to eat healthier so thought I’d ask.
Crystal Paine says
That’s some bread I got marked down at Kroger and froze and Oscar Mayer turkey I got on sale at Kroger last wee. And yes, lettuce with avocado.
Our biggest roadblock is severe food allergies (carries Epi). We have started using plan to eat, even though it’s subscription based you can set your allergies and then only see recipes without your allergens in it. It has a shopping list feature and you can use delivery services as well.
We are huge fans of delivery (extra cost due to tip) but no impulse buying, no waste of gas, and it’s a huge time saver. We stick to one delivery a week and then I might do a curbside pickup if we need a few specialty items from another grocery store.
Crystal Paine says
Such great tips for families with allergies! Thank you for sharing!
My challenges- three teenage boys, super busy schedule, and two gluten free family members. We have one grocery store close (Kroger) and the rest are about a half hour away.
I think about what I struggle with and I read the comments and notice a similar thread: first world problems.
So many choices and abundance that we have become picky. People with food issues/allergies also feel like they have to have (expensive) substitutes. We all feel like we “deserve” to eat expensive cuts of meat or simply a wide variety of foods or we get bored. This causes problems for the budget and meal planning. I want variety in my monthly plan when repeating simple meals would be easier.
Credit cards or just enough disposable income allow us to go over budget. A cash envelope system definitely helps but only if you truly stick to it instead of “borrowing” from another category or eating out. “I’m out of money for the month but the kids have to have milk or cereal (because they don’t like oatmeal or whatever else I have on hand).” It used to be that when you were out of money then you literally couldn’t buy things. So you were forced to go without.
Boredom is definitely a problem I have with meal planning. I like to cook and I like to be creative. But with a busy schedule and six people I need to focus on simplicity. Save the creativity for special occasions.
Crystal Paine says
I think such a good gift we can give our kids is teaching them gratitude for what we have and that almost everything is a want not a true need. We can take so much for granted!
One of my roadblocks has been that I don’t have a menu plan so supper time comes and everyone’s in a whirlwind. Working on it though. 😁
My husband works close to 80 hours a week and I have PTSD + chronic fatigue. My problem is I’m too ambitious with my grocery savings / meal planning, run out of time and/or energy and then we order dinner because I realize I literally can’t do it all. I need to realize that before I place our Walmart grocery order and not after 😉 Walmart budget might go up but food budget overall would definitely go down…
Liz M. says
Three big obstacles for me: (1) my kids eat a LOT; we have 3 boys and a girl and the boys especially have voracious appetites most days; they’re active, they typically need to eat a lot as a result, and they also need to replenish minerals/electrolytes from sports so we also include Gatorade or Gatorade powder, both of which I ration. (2) With 6 of us in the family, there are varied tastes and two of my eaters are VERY picky, which limits my ability to stretch meals by adding different veggies or grains or whatnot. (3) Everyone eats meat (beef, chicken and pork, in particular) and seafood, but I need to buy at least 2 lbs for each meal to feed everyone, and sometimes that doesn’t even make it. (4) Snack – my kids like snacks, so I’ve been rationing them and doing lots of baking on my own, and making things like no-bake energy bites, but it seems that the kiddos have bottomless pits for tummies.
I do meal plan, shop sales, and can do a lot on my own, but it’s just hard with prices where they are. I like the idea of praying before grocery shopping – going to add that in!!!
This is a specific tip but I have to be careful about electrolytes. I found that I can take orange juice, cut it by half or a third with cold water and add salt and it’s a decent homemade citrus Gatorade. The electrolyte profile is better than Gatorade and it’s generally healthier. It sounds gross but it’s actually pretty good cold. It works well for around the house or in a water bottle in the summer. And you can scoop out a spoonful of frozen OJ concentrate if you don’t want to keep a jug of it in the fridge.
Liz M. says
Great tip, I will try it, thank you!
Random tip I’ve been using when my kids feel like they are eating and eating. Like last night my son had dinner an hour ago and asking for a snack. I have him drink a whole glass of water, set a 10 minute timer and if he’s still hungry, I let him have a snack. Generally he’s just thirsty and filling that void with fruit.
Weird tip: if you have time to stop at multiple stores, try the expensive ones. Our Sprouts has higher regular prices, but marks down stuff they need to get rid of to 99 cents. Things aren’t consistently cheap, but I’ve found milk, cheese, salad kits, prepackaged veggies, nuts, and even meat at this price in the last few months.
In our area at least, the “budget” stores are getting more demand and then raise their prices and are often sold out. My mind was blown the other day when our Walmart had no eggs, and Whole Foods had lots of eggs that were $2 cheaper per dozen.
Again this won’t for everyone but if you have the time to look you might find some surprising deals.
I have approximately eleventy-billion allergies and have gotten used to eating with little variety. I know what’s “safe” and I try to stick to exactly that. I forget, though, that my family prefers more variety. I’ve also been too lazy to take money from the appropriate categories and have been paying with everything with the grocery budget: copays, Amazon, prescriptions, etc. I guess those are my primary roadblocks right now. I was much more careful when our budget was $100 a week instead of $200. But you have inspired me to work commit to halving that so we can use the extra money to pay off debt faster.
I always forget something on my list or someone eats something that was panned for. Then I end up going back to the store later in the week and always end up impulse buying random things.
This is our problem. Forgot sour cream. Ran to Aldi for sour cream. Spent 13 dollars. WAH!
Crystal Paine says
Idea: Commit to only shopping once per week. If you forget something, get creative and make do with what you have. Or, you could also say that if you make any extra trips for a specific item, you only bring enough cash in to buy that specific item so that you’re not tempted to impulse buy.
My husband has high blood pressure for his age and we have to eat certain foods in order to help keep it down. It’s really expensive to make sure we have 4-5 pieces of fruit a day for 5 of us and avocados, etc.
I like grocery shopping. I meander down the isles frivolously, tossing anything that catches my eye into my cart. We throw away so much fresh fruit, herbs, and veggies. It’s sad.
I’m also a sucker for a deal, so even if I don’t need it and know the sale will rotate back around, it’s added to the cart. I get excited when I see the “you saved $$$$ today.”
I’ve tried meal planning, lists, online grocery pickup, and shopping in my pantry or the store perimeter, but nothing seems to work.
I lack the motivation and control to stick to a lower food budget. I’m not sure how to tell my brain, so it will stick that “a deal isn’t a deal if you don’t need it.”
Cynthia terwilliger says
It’s just my husband and I, I’m going to try to stick with 75 a week. The road blocks however are the fact that we both are diabetics. The summers are great because we can go to our farm market and get a lot of stuff for a little. Winter time everything is so high for fresh vegetables and fruits. I did have a garden last summer and froze so much stuff in a freezer we had in the garage, well the freezer went out and had to throw it all out. Since then I have asked for canning jars for gifts and have found some great deals online. So I will be canning a lot and saving a lot of money. Wish me luck as I have not canned more than jam and pickles so far.
We are a larger family and just eat a lot! We had a season where we could relax a little and could spend a little more but now we are tightening up and I am just not as motivated to going back to a tight budget. I also eat gluten and dairy free which can be more expensive.
I am really thankful for this challenge and ready to get motivated! So thanks, Crystal!
kelli w says
i hate grocery shopping 🤘🤘
great at planning, like baking, LOVE cooking, often make food for others, etc etc do not enjoy grocery shopping. (it’s okay, i’ve learned to adapt, i promise! just answering the question honestly 😉)
Crystal Paine says
Idea: Try grocery pickup for the next three weeks. This way, you get the best of both world — you get to plan but you don’t have to mess with going in-store to shop. This can also help if you struggle with impulse shopping, too.
One of my struggles is that my son and I have to be milk, cheese, (all dairy products) and egg free. This means anything that has any of those ingredients processed into it we can’t eat it.
So I have to buy us some plant based cheese or dairy free cream cheese which is about $5 for each one. Then purchase some silk almond milk. It’s about $4-5 for a half gallon now. So all that speciality food adds up on top of what I’m already buying for the other three folks in our house who can eat foods with no issues. I try to stock up on a few items for my son and I when I go to the special Natural Grocers or The Truck Patch in the bigger city about an hour from us. We have a local Walmart and small town grocery store but it doesn’t carry any of my dairy free items. Walmart has a small selection and I’m so proud but still adds up.
We homeschool also so we are always home and hungry 🤣
I try to meal plan but then get frustrated when no one really eats what I’ve planned. I usually make the same old recipes then throw in a new one or we end up eating cereal.
A few ideas, that may or may not work for you but trying to get creative:
• You can make your own nut or oatmilks with a blender and cheesecloth. It can take a little time but its usually more cost effective since its water and oats, almonds, or another nut. You just might need to supplement the vitamins elsewhere since homemade milks aren’t fortified like store bought ones.
• You could ask the dairy manager at your local Walmart to ask if they could carry a few more specific products that you get in the bigger city. It might not change anything, but you never know unless you try.
• Not directly budget related but depression/wacky cakes are delicious and crazy easy to make with a handful of pantry staples and no eggs or dairy. I’m never buying a box mix again.
If you don’t already use Ibotta, that may be worth a try. I have seen many rebates for dairy-free items, some $.50 cents off to BOGO, but those savings can add up. 😊
This sounds harsh, but have you tried just generally going without the imitation dairy, specifically cheese? My dad can’t eat cheese and related products (sour cream, etc.). So he doesn’t. We eat pizza, he orders a sub. My mom generally just doesn’t cook with it. My mother in law has to be very careful with dairy. Mostly she just goes without. For a special occasion she’ll buy the imitation stuff or eat a little bit but generally she just doesn’t eat it. In both households, people that want cheese add it as a condiment and cooking is done without it. My youngest has a cow dairy intolerance. I substitute goat milk in some of his foods but I don’t buy any other substitutes. Lots of cultures survived without dairy, he can too. Asian food has a lot of options.
We are currently renting a house in the country, but my husband passes every grocery store our metro has to offer on his way to and from work. I would say our biggest roadblock is being able to stay within our budget (550) for 6 people. We do a lot of fresh foods, as I have one very selective eater (would be vegetarian if we could), and three other moderately selective. I do bake often, and make most of our meals from scratch, but still feel stuck with the cost of food. It’s hard when your income doesn’t go up with rising costs.
Charlotte W. says
I actually started praying over my grocery trip. I started asking that the Lord provide just like in the Bible Story of Ruth. Her kinsman redeemer, Boaz, started leaving extra grain for Ruth.
I asked the Lord to do the same for me.
Plus, I bought a bread machine. I’m making bread for about half of what it costs at the store.
I hope I stay the course in making my own bread.
Whole lot cheaper!!
Looking to make other things rather than buy from store.
Biggest problem I have is staying the course.
I’m not on Facebook so I couldn’t see the video. Will it be posted on another platform like YouTube?
Crystal Paine says
It’s not, but I think maybe you can access it without a FB account? I’m not sure on that. I totally forgot to take pics this week on accident and had already put everything away and needed to head out for David’s therapy… hopefully I’ll remember next week! It’s also up on my instagram stories through this afternoon: https://www.instagram.com/stories/themoneysavingmom/3014299956726853735/
I couldn’t access it that way either.
Going through the comments works just fine!!
Thanks for the challenge and encouragement!!
This is so beautiful and I do the same thing. Asking him to provide good deals for me. Asking him to help me make wise choices. You got this!
It’s amazing knowing God has provision for you.
All you have to do is ask for it and that we are sensitive to his leading.
Look forward to this Challenge!!
You got this too!!
Thanks for the response!!
Michelle Zang says
This is so good… I’m embarrassed that I never thought to do this. Starting it right now! Thank you!
I find the best way for me to keep grocery costs down and stick to my budget, is to buy what proteins I can on sale. I then plan my meals around them. I prep/cook them over the next couple of days to use in recipes throughout the week, and freeze what I don’t use right away. Pork, ground beef and Turkey, and chicken breasts are my go to proteins. I use them in soups, casseroles, salads, pasta or rice bowls and sandwiches. I also freeze every leftover, no matter how small a portion. Once I have enough, they’re great for soups, or protein bowls.
Our biggest obstacles are multiple people with multiple food allergies each and not a lot of stores to choose from. Only one store sells safe bread, safe butter, safe plant based milk, etc and that store is not cheap. If I run short on time I like to keep safe canned biscuits or sage canned cinnamon rolls. Again only store sells them and they’re expensive! One can of 5 cinnamon rolls is $8.29! It takes at least 2 cans to feed my growing boys. To make them myself is a lot of time and as a working mom, I run short on time a lot.
Emily M says
I think the biggest thing for me is how busy we have gotten even in the last few months. I need a better plan for easy & quick meals on the nights we have things scheduled. Sometimes I’ll buy the ingredients to make something that will take too long too cook. Part of it is feeling like I need to make more complicated meals for my family (like mom guilt) & accepting that a simple meal can be just as appreciated.
My biggest roadblock to a grocery budget (and my waistline, frankly) is that I can’t seem to keep from treating myself. I started ordering in the app and picking up curbside, and that has been a game changer. If I don’t see the treats, I don’t buy them – cuts way down on impulse buying. If there have been substitutions in my order, I can get them removed if they don’t fit my dietary needs. The ingredients are listed for each item in my grocery store app, so I don’t have to wonder what’s in anything.
I make a weekly menu, write my grocery list, but then impulse buy in the store. Sometimes I justify that it is a “stock up price”, but usually it’s just extra food, snacks, whatever….I’m so busy, and so tired, and don’t want to come back to the store later. I usually end up with multiples though and things go bad….which just makes me more frustrated and tired. Ugh. So hard.
I’m an impulse shopper too! Have you tried curbside pickup? At first I deemed it lazy, but I realized it curbs my impulse buying immensely.
Mine is almost always time related. But really, it’s an excuse. Meal prepping and realistic shopping have helped me a lot. I’m not a fan of freezing meat and meals so that hinders me as well.
Jill W says
I find my struggles within these comments. We only eat real food and mostly fresh foods at that. It’s just more expensive. We meal plan//stick to a strict list//only go to the store once weekly//and never, never go to the store hungry! Can I get an amen on that? It’s hard! Glad I’m not alone in this!
I make meals for others in the community and host at our house a lot. It’s not fancy, but it definitely adds up. Factor in that we eat mostly real foods and produce is expensive! I shop sales and buy the cheapest fruits and veggies and that helps a lot. I do realize that I need to up the budget to set myself up for success overall- we want to eat healthy AND stay in budget!
My biggest roadblock is my husband won’t follow a budget or meal plan. I meal plan and buy groceries and then he’ll go and spend another $30-50 on something that he will cook only for himself.
My husband and I did that for years.
This year is different. We have never seen these kind of food prices before.
We sat down together and finally had a real conversation about finances and how the food budget was astronomical.
We are having daily conversations about money now. It’s a daily thing to converse with my husband about at least the food budget now since a week ago.
Listened to Dave Ramsey on a livestream this evening as well with hubby and I finally feel that we are getting on the same page.
It won’t be perfect but at least we are acknowledging that it takes 2 of us if we want to stay the course to tame the food budget.
I’m hoping this gives you some hope.
My roadblock is that living in a rural area I only have a Walmart and a small regional grocery store from which to shop. The Walmart is small enough that they don’t carry a big variety of brands and items. I shop the ads for the small grocery store but it’s not enough of a bargain to shop there every week. I use Ibotta and Fetch but I rarely buy name brand items since I buy almost exclusively Walmart brands so I’m not earning much from those apps. I was able to go to Aldi in the next largest town 50 miles away today and got some nice produce and cereal. It’s bad enough that I have to modify most recipes because I don’t have access to a lot of different ingredients and brands.
I’m having the same problem being in a very small town.
My grocery store does markdowns the day before the new flyer comes out.
Also they do markdowns Thursday afternoon to get ready for the weekend flow of consumers.
I shop either on Tuesday or Thursday to get the markdowns.
We are in a similar situation. The closest Costco is 2 hours away. The best I can do to help the budget is stay away from buying snack food and make my own when I’m craving something. I wish that our Walmart was better stocked. You can really tell when there’s a storm and the supply truck hasn’t made it in a while.
My biggest challenge is 2 very active teenage boys. They eat EVERYTHING. It blows any budget I set out of the water. I’m not talking snacks, because I only buy a limited amount and generally only whats on sale at Costco in the giant bags. I’m talking 4 gallons of milk a weeks, a box of cereal lasts 2 days, tacos with 2 lbs of meat is ONE meal. At current grocery prices I’m really struggling to keep our weekly grocery spending under $200 and I buy most of my meat in bulk from a local truckload sale twice a year, so there’s not much meat in that budget. Add to that my husband is a truck driver and is addicted to Diet MT. Dew and needs it in cans or 20 oz bottles – a case a week. He doesn’t drink any other form of caffeine and all attempts to get him to cut back or try generic brands of pop have failed. It used to be $5.99 a case and now a good sale is $10.98.
Are there any ways to “bulk up” the meals for the boys? Instead of all meat in tacos, sub in some beans, lentils. Here is a post with ideas. https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-stretch-ground-beef-1388332#toc-ground-meat-fillers
If they tend to go for the meat alone if you have separate veggie sides, maybe try recipes that incorporate the meat with the vegetables. Include more rice, potatoes, pasta, quinoa. Not that veggies are super inexpensive, but maybe start meal with a green salad.
My adult daughter drinks a lot of Mountain Dew. You may want to download the Fetch app for free. Fetch gives a fairly good reward on Mountain Dew…..with every purchase. The points from Fetch can be traded for different gift cards. The app is easy to use and I think safe. There is no record of your credit card or debit information. I think the are just interested in the kinds of things that you buy.
It might be helpful to talk with other moms of active teenage boys. You can do things to help with the bill, but they just need to eat a lot. I have younger boys right now and my husband and I recently had a conversation where he said, “If you need to increase the grocery budget to buy more food then do that. I know you’re careful but they just need to eat a lot.”
Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Don’t look at other people with young kids.
We joke that our boys are going to have to get jobs at restaurants so they can eat as teens. But there might be something to that: maybe anything that’s not directly for meals they have to buy themselves, like prepackaged snacks or pop.
Crystal Paine says
YES! I’m a big fan of teens working at restaurants!! They can often get a lot of free food that way + earn money and learn character! It’s a win-win-win!
If you look at the average cost per month for a teenager for food it is $300 per kid on the lower cost plan per USDA. Not that we can’t do what we can but if you have a family of five and spend around $1500 that is average. Just a helpful guide to see where your budget stands.
So I have a plan…have my list for my weeks menus. Then I get to the store and see things on sale so that puts me over budget. Or my husband buys stuff not on list because it’s a “deal”.
Country living and our limited stores reflect that. I’m gluten free, and high protein eaters. Hubs is a meat and potatoes kinda guy
Carol Coots says
What’s hard for my family is special diets. I am diabetic and can not have caffeine. Cheap drinks have sugar and/or caffeine. My spouse is lactose intolerant so buying milk like Fairlife is twice as expensive.
Maybe work on decreasing “drinks”, and switch over to water. Possibly try crystal light that you add to water? They are sugar free, and largely caffeine free. Can add fruit to flavor water. Drinks and milk could become more of a treat, rather than every day.
I guess I’m also my biggest obstacle. Growing up my mother had severe health problems. So, I never really learned any of the basics of meal planning or meal preparation from anyone. It was continuous survival mode in our home. We ate a lot of microwaved frozen dinners and sandwiches or spaghetti. So menu planning cooking and feeling confident in my cooking is a huge challenge for me. Over the years I’ve taught myself to follow recipes to a T. Yet that involves buying a lot of specific ingredients=$$$. When cooking for others I feel like what I have on hand won’t be good enough so I must buy name brand top quality straight from the grocery or it won’t be fresh or taste right, sometimes shopping on a daily basis. =$$$. Instagram has been a blessing with so many accounts who share meal planning ideas and recipes and food budgeting. To see how others meal plan, grocery shop and make simple meals that are tasty nutritious yet frugal is so helpful. 🙂
Taking my teens to the store with me is a roadblock. I try to stick to my list or use Instacart. I pay a little in fees but less than the extras that get snuck into the cart!
My biggest struggle is allergies for my 6 year old coupled with feeding and swallowing issues in general with her. By the time I’m done figuring out what can safely get for her to eat, I’m either over budget or to tired to even follow thru with what’s remaining on list leaving in frustration or her being frustrated as rarely am without both my kids. I’ve been resorting more to curbside pickup but then that adds in I have a pantry of things she can’t eat from substitutions not looking at allergens I’m trying to avoid for her safety.
I find it hard to stay on my budget when using my Ibotta…
Oh, I can be the same on this, unless it’s something I regularly use! I don’t use it as much as I used to, but it had become something of a game/competition between myself and another. It isn’t that way anymore.
This so so important to keep in mind!
My biggest roadblock is taking the time to cook the meals I’ve actually planned, and often ordering out during fall/spring kids sports seasons. Working on this now by planning a block of time each day to PREP dinner, and making some freezer meal components for easy meals when sports start back up in a few weeks.
I’ve really dialed in my nutrition and that comes with eating primarily fresh foods…which are generally more expensive than processed and do this for our family of 5. So not impossible to try to stay within a budget – but a little more challenging.
My biggest roadblock is myself. LOL Sometimes I am just lazy. I plan for meals and have food in stock I just don’t want to cook. My husband is my accountability partner. Which can be bad or good. 🤣
I don’t think to budget for foods I want to serve to others. I don’t shop sales/my freezer when hosting because I guess I don’t want to be (or be perceived to be) cheap. Like I’ll buy new coffee to serve rather than the cheap coffee that I drink. Or I’ll overbuy snacks so I don’t run out when a guest is here and then not eat the leftover because it wasn’t really something we eat. I don’t host that often and it’s usually just like one or two people and casual but it does ruin the budget and I need to shift my mindset with it.
I struggle with a busy schedule and low energy (autoimmune and fibromyalgia). We also have food allergies and a college age boy in the summer and on break and 2 pre-teens.
I have found planning to my schedule helps but I have to be realistic. I also have to plan a couple of easy meals my kids can make without me.
I have fibro too so I feel you! I used to feel guilty for not doing all the things, but I’ve realized that even something as simple as prechopped onions can be a life saver, and usually doesn’t really run into extra expense.
Major food allergies interfere with the budget. There are few foods I can eat. I do watch sales & try to stock up on things I can eat.
My biggest roadblocks are that I hate cooking, I don’t like many foods, I hate shopping, and I don’t have the time for any of it anyway. Please don’t judge… not all of us are wired to have the same likes and dislikes (and I have no problem cleaning, etc.). However, it’s costing more than I have to spend on food eating out all the time… anyone have solutions (and motivation) for when you feel this way?
I’ve been wondering if:
1) Hiring a personal chef may cost less than eating out all the time? This seems iffy to me, but with the cost of eating out being what it is, it may be. Anyone have experience with this?
2) If one of those meal services (like Hello Fresh) would be worthwhile to someone like me, but then I wonder if they would even have meals I like anyway…
I’m actually pretty simple. I could live on ‘dump’ soups made with canned broth, canned beans, canned vegetables, and pre-cooked rice (remember, I hate cooking, so canned anything is fast and makes it tolerable for me). Problem is, I feel bad for everyone else… not sure that my kids want the same dump soup every single day. Breakfast is a smoothie… milk, protein powder, bananas, maybe other frozen fruits, sometimes nut butter, and oats. Otherwise I go to Starbucks for their oatmeal a lot, because I’m picky about oatmeal, too.
I will take any advice anyone can give.
In busy seasons, we’ve discovered that costco especially, and sometimes also meijer and our local “fresh” grocery, have pre-prepped meals that just require heating up (or not even!) Stuff like: rotisserie chicken, mac and cheese, bagged sakad kits, premade soups (but good and not canned–more like panera), frozen lasagna or stirfry, meatloaf, salmon bake, fajita meat and veggies fully seasoned so they just have to go in a pan…. It’s more expensive than scratch but WAY cheaper than eating out, and can come up with actually fairly fresh-feeling, balanced meals.
If you have a local costco, it would be worth checking out!
Thank you for your response.
Ugh…my oldest two struggle with textures and have become so picky. I’m so exhausted and planning and actually cooking what I plan is hard! I do it most of the time, but it’s hard. My go to dinners are becoming outrageously priced (eggs, for example). I love in a tiny town with Walmart and a couple of mom and pop over priced food places. I miss aldi and kroger!
Just sharing something I recently learned. We tried two different grocery stores in the last week. Both times I wasn’t impressed. There were a few things cheaper but not the stuff we use all the time. Sticking to our regular store where I know how to use the digital coupons and how to look for mark downs makes more sense for us. So maybe Walmart might not be the cheapest but it could be the smartest if that’s what you know. I hope that makes sense.
Going to the grocery store without a plan is a HUGE roadblock for me. I find when I have a menu plan, I spend less and have more success staying within my budget.
Crystal Paine says
So just to clarify: are you often going to the store without a plan? What’s something you can do to help prevent this from happening?
I sometimes only take a few minutes to look at the ad (something I didn’t do this week!) and then the digital coupons and then take a quick minute to jot down things we need to buy. It usually takes me no more than 5 minutes, but it makes such a difference. I also reverse meal plan, though, so that saves a lot of time!