Updated: Sep 16
How to save money on your grocery budget:
See the end of the post for items that are making my life easier right now!👇
Seven kids is a lot in today’s world, and they can be expensive, but they don’t have to be! One of the questions we get asked often is, “What do you feed all those kids?!” I’m never good at answering things like this when strangers at the grocery store ask. But, I thought I would share some tricks that help us make our grocery budget go a little further and save money on groceries each month, in hopes that it might be helpful to you too!
1. Stay out of the store.
I know that sounds silly, but one thing that has helped me, is shopping only once a month. That may sound impossible, but we started doing monthly shopping about 4 years ago, and it has helped us tremendously! I found that the more trips I made, the more I would spend, AND its just hard taking all those kids to the store every week! Plus, my husband is paid once a month so it helps with budgeting.
2. Buy a combination of fresh and canned/frozen.
We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, so early on that was a struggle for me. I started buying a combination of fresh and canned/frozen fruits and vegetables and with that approach I was able to make them last all month. We obviously eat the fresh produce first and then we fill in the rest of the month with the canned/frozen items. There are some things that are just better fresh, so I don’t even waste money trying to keep those all month, and we just enjoy them the next month. I do NOT buy organic produce and you can read about my reason to do that HERE. Since these are oftentimes more expensive than traditionally grown produce, this saves us money also.
3. Grow it, can it!
This is something we need to be better about, but having a garden can seriously save you some money! Even if you just have a few raised beds, like we currently do, you can raise quite a few vegetables. If we don’t grow it, I try to buy large quantities during the summer (or whenever its in season) and can it myself. Many fruit farms even offer a pick your own option for a discounted price. I seem to have more time in the summer for these projects since the kids usually like to help, and we are not doing school per say. It sure is nice to have fresh corn or green beans during the cold winter. If you have never home canned, it may seem intimidating or too time consuming, but with a little prep work, it can really be a simple money saving solution.
Canning is just one way we save money on groceries!
4. Make it from scratch.
You can read my post where I fell in love with cooking from scratch out of necessity HERE, but it is habit that can save you money with just a little extra time. From apple sauce, seasoning mixes, breads, or whole meals, the more you can make from scratch, the better! My mom always said the more whole ingredients, that haven’t been processed, that you can buy, the better. For instance, I don’t buy frozen waffles, but make the batter and have on hand, or freeze them for later. Its a little extra time on the front end, but it saves money and you know exactly what is in what you are eating. Plus you can make just the right amount for your family at that time and have no waste.
My kids’ favorite thing is to help make dessert!
5. Limit (or eliminate) snack food.
This made me not so popular with the kids, but really helped us save money on groceries. I’m not a big believer in snacks anyways, so it didn’t take too much convincing for me to cut them out of the grocery budget. I found that my kids were snacking all day and then wouldn’t eat the healthy, well balanced meals I was slaving away to make them. So the snacks had to go, and they learned (the hard way) that we eat at meal time and that’s it. This keeps me out of the kitchen all day and cuts down on costs. Y’all, snacks are expensive! We eat breakfast around 8-8:30 (don’t judge, I’m not a morning person), lunch around 12-12:30, a homemade snack (pumpkin muffins, carrots and dip, fruit, homemade popsicles, or yogurt and homemade granola) at 3-4:00 and supper around 6-7:00. The summer is one of the busiest times on the farm, and we feel like it is VERY important to eat together so summertime suppers could be anywhere from 5-11:00 PM, and happen anywhere from the back porch to the tailgate.
6. What about the milk?
We love milk so yes, it is the one item that I will go back to the store gas station to buy. Did you know that?! Maybe its a local thing, or maybe its always been this way, but the gas station usually has the lowest price milk. It’s a scientific fact, I’ve done studies. 😁 And many time you don’t have to go inside the store to buy it! I know you Mom’s with little ones know the value of a DRIVE THROUGH WINDOW! It is the exception to my rule. If we run out of anything else, we just make it or use what we have to get by, but milk I can’t go long without.
7. Skip the big store.
I don’t hate the “Big Stores”, but you pay for what you get. You pay for the convenience of having everything in one place. I am not good about shopping around for what is cheaper “here” vs “there”, but I do know where I can get the most food for my money and that is not at a store like Walmart or even Kroger. Yes, I’m talking the store that’s not got as many options and you may have to bring your own bags. This isn’t for everyone, I know, and with a new baby, I probably will do the “big store” pickup a few times, but if you are looking for the best bang for your buck, skip the “big store”.
8. Buy generic.
I know everyone has their favorites, and for me its coffee creamer, but for the most part, things taste about the same no matter what name is on the box. Again, I know there are probably a few exceptions for you and your family, but if you can buy the same exact tomato sauce for $.50 less because its the “Save a Ton” brand and no one can tell a difference, then save the $.50. In today’s world we have SO many options when it comes to food so don’t be fooled by marketing and fancy labeling. Expensive doesn’t always mean better, just better marketed.
9. Dried beans and rice.
I joke about living off grid one day, and even though I’m partly serious, I think its always a good idea to be prepared. I grew up listening to my parents talk about the 80s. For those that don’t know, the 1980s were a terrible economic time for farming, especially hog farming, which was a big portion of my family’s farm income at the time. Also, my Dad’s parents lived through the Great Depression so I guess some of that fear of economic ruin rubbed off on me. For this reason, I try to always keep a stash of dried grains and staples on hand for emergencies or hard times. I keep them in sealed 5 gallon buckets inside our house. Some of the things I have on hand are 10 gallons of sugar, flour, powdered milk, and cornmeal, and 5 gallons of black beans, pinto beans, white rice, black eyed peas, lima beans, coffee, and salt. I use these to cook with too! Its cheaper to buy a big bag of rice and add whatever seasoning you like than to buy the same amount of rice in pre-made packages. I do dip into these when I need to, but for the most part, they will keep for long periods of time so that’s a plus!
10. Meat and eggs.
We try to raise our own meat and eggs, which cuts down on the cost significantly. Even if you have a very small amount of land, you can raise chickens and even a few larger animals. Many cities even have cut back on the ordinances so families can have chickens in town. Maybe you aren’t in the position where you can do that, but I would suggest looking at buying in bulk from a farmer who does. Many will sell you a 1/2 or 1/4 of a cow or hog and sometimes at a discounted price from the grocery store. Just with produce or other items, remember when buying meat, the less processing they have to do, the cheaper its going to be. Buy (and learn to cook) the whole chickens, or the meat with bones, not the pre-cut and seasoned packages ready to cook. You pay for processing and convenience. Also, if I see meat on sale, I buy a bulk of it and freeze it. Sometimes this forces you try new recipes, but in doing so we have found some of our family’s favorites dinners.
Can you guess which is a double yolk?
Here's some things I love:
These are the main things we do to save money and help stretch our grocery dollars. We hope they might help your family make the best life with what you have!
Just a few things that have made my life easier lately! Go check them out!