A few months ago, Naomi left a comment on one of posts and said:
“We are also a family of five but we have special dietary issues. My goal this past week was to reduce our weekly food budget to $100 and it was $99! Previously, I thought that I couldn’t save money because of our food restrictions but I wasn’t really ready to try.”
I wrote her back and asked if she could share some specific tips she had implemented. Here’s what she said:
First of all, our restrictions are soy, nuts, and seeds allergies (including their oils). I myself am supposed to eat as preservative-free as possible with high fiber thrown into the mix because of a chronic medical condition. As a point of reference, I was spending about $180 a week on our food.
Here was my strategy:
1) Create a food shopping budget. I based this off of the MyPlate recommendations for food consumption. On my shopping list, I put a dollar amount next to each category that I was shopping. For example, Fruits were allotted $20. Grains were $13 and so on. (My categories are Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Dairy and Protein.)
2) Don’t make a meal plan until I see the local sales. I got this tip from you! I looked all the sale leaflets up online and filled in my shopping list categories, being careful to write down the price of what I was expecting to buy to stay with my category’s budgeted amount.
3) Shop the sales at my local Kroger, Aldi and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. For us, Thursday is “Double Ad Day” at Fresh Thyme, where the previous and coming week’s sales are all up for grabs.
4) I did all my shopping on one day and kept a running total of each category on my shopping list. I knew when I hit $13 for grains.
5) Don’t buy pre-packaged items. A big key for me to make this work for our family was to buy only “ingredient items,” no prepackaged foods. For breakfast this week, we are eating muesli but instead of buying an allergen friendly muesli, I bought the ingredients to make my own.
6) Allow some wiggle room for extras. I gave myself $25 for extras. Fats and sugars fell under this category, along with coffee beans and tea. I used some of this to buy marked down ground beef I hadn’t been planning on purchasing ahead of time. I saved so much, we used some extra money to buy our favorite allergen friendly pizza.
Thanks for inspiring me to try to save! Our pantry and refrigerator are stocked for the week and I feel pleased with myself for saving money.